In a moment of honest reflection, I finally admitted defeat. When it comes to prayer, I need help, I need to grow, I need to learn. Make me a man of prayer – was my cry! I was fed up with the empty repetitious words that would stream from my mouth when I stopped to pray. I was done with falling asleep in bed at night, trying to muster up prayers, and waking up eight hours later to say amen. If I was going to break the cycle of shallow and fruitless prayer life, I was going to need help.
I dedicated myself to learning. I surrounded myself with great books from great men and women and read everything I could get my hands on about praying. I tried different routines and rhythms to maximize the best and most focused times in my day- trying to minimize the sleepy eyes syndrome! I attached myself to discipline, forcing myself into the place of prayer by wielding guilt and shame as my motivation.
Each of these efforts brought with it some measure of help and corrective practice, and while I could feel that my prayer life was developing, in my heart, I was aware that something was lacking. The answer wasn’t more knowledge, more discipline and more energy- it was actually the practice of making it less about me!
Prayer, I am learning, thrives in the place of surrender. It grows in the simplicity of relationship, and it is awakened in the practice of worship.
In other words, prayer, I am discovering, is about relationship, worship, and authenticity. What was broken in my prayer life was my relationship to the Trinity. It was the idolatry of my heart. It was my lack of transparency before the all-knowing, all-sufficient Christ.
Here are a number of practical changes that have helped me reimagine and reignite a passion for prayer:
Come To God As Your “Abba”
The practice of calling God the Father, “Abba Daddy,” in my personal prayer life, has allowed me to change my perspective on how the Father welcomes me to come to him. Choosing to come to God in the same way that the Son came to the Father has broken down confusing ideas that I have had about my approach to the Godhead.
If the Spirit invites me to pray, and if Jesus has made the way, then the one that I come to, I can come to as my Abba.
Come To God With A Repentant Posture
In dealing with my idolatrous heart, I am learning that a repentant posture is a prayer posture. I have within me – sometimes evidently, sometimes concealed – unknown agendas that are often driven by my sinfulness and rebellious nature. These are roadblocks to relationship. They hinder my human relationships and they have the potential to hinder my relationship with Christ.
Developing a locker room mentality has greatly helped me in my prayer life. In the same way that I need time in the locker room to get my head sorted before a rugby match or a fitness class, I need a time of honest reflection and examination before running onto the field. I need to prepare to pray. I need time to allow God to search my heart and, if needed to absolutely wreck it, make room for his agenda and his game plan.
Come To God To Worship
Finally, adoration and worship have cultivated the soil of my soul. It has been impossible to develop my prayer life apart from the intentional development of my worship life. Men who don’t learn to worship and adore Christ within a worshiping community and in private don’t really learn to pray.
Men who don’t learn to worship and adore Christ within a worshiping community and in private don’t really learn to pray.
That may sound like a bold statement, but I believe it because I can testify to it. When my heart is like stone, my prayer life is as boring as a concrete pad. Saturating my life with worship, word, and wisdom have been like putting an AED on my soul to shock it back to its steady-state: a Spirit-filled relationship with Christ that fuels a life-giving, prayer-based relationship to the Father.
Make me a man of prayer – was my cry! Come to me as Father – was his response.
Make me a man of prayer – was my cry! Make room for me in your life – was his answer.
Make me a man of prayer – was my cry! Allow me to ignite a fire your heart so that your prayers flow from a heart that is alive, fuelled by passion and praise.
Men, if you are ready to join me on the journey of becoming a man of prayer, then step into your true identity as a child of God. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in the deep, broken and fragmented parts of your life. Finally, surrender your reluctance to worship God.
As you sing and praise, as you repent and are renewed, and as you relate to our Heavenly Father, Abba, prayer will become second nature. You will be becoming a man of prayer.