In the simplest term prayer is communion with God; a conversation with our heavenly Father. You talk with God and He talks with you. Is this your goal when you pray? Or is it just to give God a shopping list, telling Him what you want Him to do for you?

As children of God we have the privilege to approach our heavenly Father for our needs. But prayer is much more than asking God to meet our needs and do our hearts bidding.

Prayer to a child of God should be first and fore most a means of intimate fellowship with God. Prayer should transform us, and deepen our relationship with our heavenly Father. The time of prayer should be a time we look forward to and long for because we are meeting with the One who loves us most. Unfortunately that’s not how it is with many of God’s children.

When l first became a Christian , I saw prayer as a necessity, a life line for a believer , which is quiet true, after all it’s said that, “a prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian.” As Christians we must pray. We must read our Bibles. We must attend fellowship amongst others. So it was important I pray, read my Bible, and observe a quiet time.

But l had my struggles in prayer. I was often frustrated in my prayer life. Many times l came out more frustrated than l went into prayer. Sometimes I’ll determine to pray one or two hours or more but ended up feeling as if I was not breaking through into heaven. There were times the emotional tensions were so much my head would start to ache. But thank God for His Holy Spirit, for His abundant grace and encouragements.

How did I overcome my struggles and frustrations in prayer? How did l learn to pray under ‘an open heaven’ as people would normally say?
*. I found out my emotions were hindrances in my prayer life. My strivings only worked up emotional tensions in me , nothing spiritual. I didn’t need it to bring God to the scene, He was already on the scene!
*. I realized my own agenda were hindrances. I must lay them down(Matt.6:10, 26:39). For example : Are you seeking for supernatural manifestations or an emotional hype when you pray? Lay them down. If you don’t you will remain frustrated even after you’ve prayed, because you didn’t sense God as you planned or expected. Seek God alone in prayer. Let Him be the object of your focus. Allow Him to reveal Himself to you as He wills. You can not dictate to Him to reveal Himself to you in visions, audible voice or to see an angel etc. If not careful you could be deceived.
*. I realized the doors of heaven were already opened and never shut against me. “And l saw a door open in heaven saying, “come up here.”(Rev. 3:8, Rev. 4:1-2, Hebrews 12: 18-24).
*. I realized l have to pray to Him from a position of knowing that I am joined to Him and therefore one spirit with him (1Cor.6:17). There was no need to work myself up and create unnecessary emotional tensions that did no good but rather wore me out.

* I learned simply to approach my heavenly Father by faith, knowing He is more willing to welcome and receive me in His throne room more than l am willing to approach Him. (Hebrews 4:16, Hebrews10 :22 – 23,Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 12: 22-24).

Does this mean l no longer have any struggle in my prayer life? Well, not completely. I still do at times, but it’s not like it used to be. I discovered that God has to allow some struggles at times in order to draw us deeper into intimacy with Him. He does this so that we don’t become too sure of ourself. He does this to make us seek and run under the shadow of His wings, the only place of safety and rest. But now the struggle comes before prayer, not after l’ve met or have been with my Father. Usually the struggles subsides as soon as l enter into His presence in prayer. I am not just praying under an open heaven, l am in His courts, His throne room, in His very presence (Hebrews 12:22-24).

God withdraws the sense or awareness of His presence in order to woo us into seclusion with Him. His presence never leaves us, He only withdraws the awareness. We must go to Him by faith.

What l guard most jealously in my life is my alone time with God. It is the breathe l breath. That’s my place of safety, of rest, of nourishment, of empowerment and strength. I am never in a hurry to leave. It’s like Jacob wrestling with the angel. It’s almost the break of dawn, but Jacob will not let go of the angel untill he blesses him (Gen. 32: 24- 31). My prayer life changed from being a burden to a delight. From struggle, striving to intimacy – a deep, loving relationship with my Father.

Praying without ceasing (1Thess.5:17).
But it does not end with those special intentional appointments with Him. I discovered l don’t want to leave the prayer closet because l was enjoying His presence, but there are things waiting for me to be done , to take care of. Leaving the prayer closet l find myself saying usually ” Lord, l ‘m not leaving Your presence. Be with me at the kitchen sink, be with me at the backyard etc.” My prayer life extended beyond the prayer closet into my daily routines. Through out the day l learnt to commune with Him. Off course, l do not keep talking to Him 24 hours of the day. There are necessary things needing one’s attention and concentration. I need to ponder over things too and so on. I learnt to commune with Him while going about my day.

And off course, there have been (and will always be) times l have been too tired or too ill to get up to pray. And all l can mumble on my bed is” God have mercy on me. Walk with me.” He is a loving, compassionate Father, not a harsh task master. I believe during such times God Himself seeks us, puts His arms around us, silently ministering to us even if we don’t feel or sense it. He wants us to rest, get well and be refreshed. It’s the position and disposition of our hearts that matters.

Alone time with Him
You have to look for the time and place when and where you are undistracted. That’s your time of appointment with God. For me, it’s a particular single seater armchair in my living room, where l can sit, kneel or lie beside it on my face before Him, before dawn. It’s not that l can’t pray any other time of the day, l can and do, but this to me is my time alone with my Father.

Susannah Wesley had nineteen children of which 10 survived. Aside from managing the entire household, the children’s education was her sole responsibility because of their poor financial standing. She would teach them for six hours every day ( for 20 years) before she prayed. She trained them not to disturb her once they saw her throw her apron over her head because that meant she was in prayer. That was her prayer closet, her alone time with God. She gave to the world two great men of God – John and Charles Wesley – founders of the Methodist movement.

When her husband was away from home for a while, he appointed a young curate to take the Sunday services in his absence. The man”s sermons revolved around the same topic. For the sake of her children and servants she organized Sunday afternoon family service which held in her kitchen, in which they would sing a psalm then she would read a sermon from either her husband’s or Father’s sermon files followed by another psalm. Word soon got around and people began to ask if they could attend. Over 200 people attended the Sunday afternoon services. “Her kitchen prayers” were believed to be the seed of the Methodist movement.

You will have to find what works for you. Middle of the night, early hours of the morning, after the kids are off to school, on your bed in the middle of the night? while commuting to work in the morning? A quiet place during office break? If Sussanah Wesley could make time to pray so can you.

Hindrances in prayer

1. Unconfessed and unrepented sin is the major hindrance in prayer (Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:2). If there is any sin in your life confess and repent of it before you start praying.

2. Another is wandering thoughts. This happens to even the greats in prayer. You will have to continually learn to discipline your mind by bringing it back from it’s wanderings as soon as it’s realized and continue to focus on your prayer immediately.

3. Inconsistency. Be constant, steadfast in prayer(Romans 12:12, Col. 4:2). Inconsistency will hamper the growth of your prayer life. The story is told of John Wesley being invited to supper. When it was around seven he was about to leave. His host expected him to stay for a chat. But he said he couldn’t because he’s got an early hour appointment. His host surprised, asked, “an appointment, with who? And for how long?” He replied, with God. And for a lifetime.”

How do l pray when l come to the place of prayer ?

Talk to God. Just talk to Him – honestly, sincerely, simply from your heart! Tallk with Him like you would do if you could see Him physically sitting beside or before you and listening to whatever you are telling Him. Have open-hearted discussions with Him. Pour your heart out to Him. Talk over your concerns with Him. Ask Him questions which bothers you. Just talk with Him! Be natural. You don’t need to put the good foot forward. You don’t need a prayer formular. You don’t need a special vocabulary. You don’t need to yell. You talk to Him confidently but reverently.

Exodus 33:11 Says that God spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend. That’s exactly how God wants to speak to everyone of His children : face to face as a friend. You can see and talk with God everyday. You can hear His voice and touch Him everyday like Moses (Hebrews 11:27).

Remember when God wanted to destroy Sodom and Gomorha? And Abraham pleaded with God for the righteous in those two cities? God and Abraham just had a conversation about it. Infact God Himself initiated their conversation(Genesis 18;16-33).

Read about Moses intercession with God when He wanted to destroy the Israelites in the wilderness, He and Moses just talked it over (Exodus 32: 9- 14, Numbers 14: 10- 20).

What about David? The Bible tells about King David sitting before the Lord and talking with Him (2 Samuel 7: 18 – 29, 1Chron. 17: 16- 27). Our Lord praying to the Father in John chapter 17? Read the Lord’s prayer. He just talked to His Father and the Father talked also with Him.

If you don’t know what to tell the Lord in prayer just sit quietly before Him and enjoy His presence. “Father, l love you. l just want to be with You.” And if all you have to say takes only a few minutes don’t keep repeating yourself. keep quiet and just spend time with Him. Learn to linger more in His presence. I promise you that you will touch God and He will touch you.

Listen. Learn to hear Him speak to you. I am not talking about hearing an audible voice or seeing a vision. God speaks to us in our hearts usually. Sometimes it’s just a quiet knowing in your spirit, could be about what to do, a direction given, an answer to previous questions, something He just wants to share with you etc. (1John 2 : 20 – 23,27). At times it’s a verse or passage of Scripture or a Bible story brought to your heart. Or a reminder of a sermon you ‘ve had before brought back to mind. Sometimes it’s just God’s quiet, gentle reassurance of His love and presence. Sometimes it’s the endowment and availability of His peace into the heart. Or of the gifting of His faith. There may be no words; one thing is sure you will know that God and you have met in a heart to heart relationship. “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfall” (Psalm42:7).

All kinds of prayers

Worship. Sometimes l just lay on my face before the Lord, in holy adoration of His Holiness and majesty, of His goodness and kindnesses.

Hymns. ( Mark 14:26, Eph.5:19). Some Hymns are worship and adoration, some are praises, some are hymns of dedication or consecration, supplications etc. Because my best hours of prayer are usually in the middle of the night, ( because of the lack of distraction) and with the lights out l downloaded a few hymns on my phone, so l sing some hymns to the Lord at times.

Praise. Praise Him in words and songs (Ephs.5:19).

Requests. Make your request known to God. He loves to give good gifts to His children(Matt.7:11). Personally, I realized l don’t spend hours petitioning for personal needs because l ‘ve come to trust Him more, so l know l can depend upon Him to supply my daily needs. It’s a lot easier now to simply tell Him my needs in few words. Prayer deepens our trust and reliance on God.

Intercessions. Are there people you are praying for? Pray for them. God can also lay others who are not on your prayer list on your heart: the church, a minister, your country etc.

Travailing prayer. The Holy Spirit sometimes leads and help us to travail in prayer with groanings, cries too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

Bible reading and prayer. I’ve also learnt to pray as l read and study the Bible. I usually pause, meditate and pray about verses the Lord highlights to me. l may ask Him for illumination about the verse(s) or just talk to Him about it or ask Him to help make it a reality in my life if it isn’t already, or worship, give thanks etc. before further reading. So my Bible study time is also a communion time with God.

Not a prayer formular
The above is not a prayer formular. These are not written to be followed one after the other. Be led by the Holy Spirit in your prayer life. He alone knows the Father’s heart. Start where He leads. You will know whenever you come into God’s presence to pray. For example when l start praying, one of the first things l usually say is ,”Lord, have mercy on me.” Today as soon as l said that, the names and faces of two people l pray for came to my mind almost immediately and I started asking God for mercy concerning them. l didn’t even start with praise and worship. And it’s not necessary to go through every facet of prayer either.

Worship? Praise? Intercession? Request? Or just sitting quietly before the Lord? Follow His lead. You actually learn to pray by praying and depending on the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18, Jude 1:20, Rom. 8:26 -27).

Above all remember that prayer is communion, a conversation with God. This will take the burden off of your prayer life.

This is my heart desire Lord: to walk with you in unbroken communion, to know You more and more every day, to set You always on my right hand, seeing You who is invisible ; to see Your face and hear your voice, to touch You and be touched by You. To be a picture of You; Your living epistle for all to read and want to know you. For You to live Your live in me and through me ; that Christ alone may be glorified.

I am not a prayer champion. l’m still in the Holy Spirit school of prayer, of which l will not graduate till l see my Lord face to face. I pray this article will be of help to you. If it does l will love to hear from you. God bless you. Thanks for reading .

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