A Historic Jewel that can Help in Developing Consistent Prayer

practice presence of GodProbably one the best books every written about living in an ongoing daily awareness of God’s presence was a book titled “The Practice of the Presence of God” which was written in the 1600s.

Brother Lawrence started out life as Nicholas Herman of Lorraine. He lived in France from 1610 to 1691.   He worked as a soldier and footman.  Later he decided he wanted to walk in a closer relationship with God and joined a monastic order called the Carmelites as a lay brother among them.  He was not a priest but just an ordinary man who wanted to walk closer to God.

He worked in the kitchen as a cook for 15 years.  It wasn’t something that he necessarily wanted to do.  As a matter of fact he had an aversion to kitchen work.  But he decided to do it to the glory of God and cultivate a sense of God’s presence as he did.

The book is largely a compilation of letters.  It can be read for free online at www.ccel.org.   One of the features of the book is his cultivation of a continual sense of God’s presence.

Not only would he participate in his regular extended times of prayer in the mornings but he would also cultivate a habit of praying to God continually throughout the day.  In doing so over the course of time he cultivated a sense of God’s presence throughout the day.

Thus by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I am come to a state wherin it would be a difficult for me not to think of God, as it was at first to accustom myself to it…As for my set hours of prayer, they are only a continuation of the same exercise.

Listen to some of his approaches to developing the habit of continual prayer.

It’s possible to accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with God, speaking to Him freely and in simplicity. We need only to recognize God intimately present with us and to address ourselves to Him every moment… God requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration: sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you and still gives you in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can…. It is not necessary for being with God to be always at church; we may make an oratory of our heart, wherein to retire from time to time, to converse with Him in meekness, humility, and love. Every one is capable of such familiar conversation with God, some more, some less: He knows what we can do. Let us begin then; perhaps He expects but one generous resolution on our part.

He also addresses the issue of feeling God’s presence.  We pray continually not to feel God’s presence, but to cultivate a sense of focus upon Him.  The awareness of feeling God’s presence often follows but it shouldn’t be our aim.

We should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s Presence, by continually conversing with Him…. In order to form a habit of conversing with God continually, and referring all we do to Him; we must at first apply to Him with some diligence: but after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficult.

The Practice of the Presence of God is a short book that I would encourage everyone to read.

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Tips to Develop a Consistent Prayer Life

God has designed us in such a way that our ongoing relationship with Him is sustained through regular prayer.  Prayer is communication and almost any relationship is sustained and maintained through communication.

Our everyday regular prayer life is an accurate reflection of our belief in the reality of two of God’s truths.

  • Joh 15:1-7 for apart from Me you can do nothing
  • Php 4:12-13  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Many Christians would admit that they struggle with consistency in their everyday personal prayer life.  It is something that everyone knows they need to do, but often struggle with consistency.  Why is it so hard and is there anything that can be done to help?

We must understand that we have an enemy within us (flesh), and outside of us (the demonic) that works to keep us from prayer. Why, if we are consistently with God in prayer we will tend to overcome both enemies, and they fight against that.

I remember how difficult it seemed in my early years of serving Jesus to gain a consistent prayer life.  I remember a book by Andrew Murray called “The Prayer Life” as well as other books on prayer that really helped me reach the tipping point in going from an inconsistent to a consistent prayer life.   You can read Murray’s book “prayer life” free online at http://www.onread.com/reader/1145974.

Prayer is a spiritual experience and the first thing we need is spiritual discipline.  In prayer we are forcing our mind to focus on things outside of the five sensory realms.  Our mind is use to operating based on stimulation from the five senses.  The more we pray in a disciplined fashion the more prayer will become “spiritually natural” and consistent.  Here are some essential tips if we are going to be more effective in consistent prayer.

Tips for the prayer closet

  • It needs to be regular and consistent (a date with the Divine).  As with anything else it is better to set a consistent time every day and get into the habit.  In doing so we fit our life around prayer rather than trying to fit prayer into our life.  Trying to fit prayer into our life will never work.  Other things will always come up to sidetrack it.  The Bible puts a premium on Morning Prayer.  It is a first-fruit time in which we are the clearest before the day begins.  If you can’t do Morning Prayer make sure you set another time (that works in your schedule) that is a priority you attend to every day
  • Real language, not religious eloquence, is the language of prayer.  Prayer is above all communication with God.  Jesus always seemed to frown on religious language but wanted real communication from our heart.
  • Find a private place where you can be alone and undistracted with God.  This is what Jesus met by the “inner room.”  As He said it is the “secret place” before for the Father who “sees in secret.”
  • Thanksgiving praise and worship are essential to entering God’s presence and staying alert there.  These things work to draw us to God and keep us alert in His presence.

Psa 100:4  Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

Col 4:2  Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.

 

  • Shouting is a good way to create alertness and focus.  Shouting is by far the most common expression of prayer, praise, and interacting with God mentioned in Scripture.  It is used 265 times.  The next most mentioned expression is “playing musical instruments” 58 times. The least mentioned expression towards God is “silence” used only 4 times. Shouting brings our foggy mind to a sense of focus and alertness.

Psalms 95:1-2  us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.  (2)  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

Psa 77:1  My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud; My voice rises to God, and He will hear me.

Psa 142:1 I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.

 

  • It is good to alternate praying in the Spirit (praying in tongues) with praying in your understanding.  The helps cultivate a Spiritual atmosphere and engages us with the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 14:15  What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

 

  • Use Scriptural Prayers as a pattern and example.  I have all the prayers of the Bible recorded on my computer and I regularly pull them up and pray them.  It is part of Jesus’ instruction about His word abiding in us as we pray in John 15.  I would be glad to send them to anyone who emails me to ask.  I will reply with the attachment.
  • The biggest thing is to just do it.  Prayer is not just a good intention or a good concept.  It is a practice.  The only way to develop a consistent prayer life is to consistently pray!  In order to get started, get started.  There are no magic pills or secret spiritual formulas that will get us to the prayer closet apart from our own effort.  Nike launched one of their most successful advertising campaigns that had a tag line which expresses the foundation of consistent prayer, “Just Do It.”

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