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Practical Steps For An Effective Prayer Life (Struggling in Prayer)

"To learn more about prayer, consider listening to the following sermons from Dr. Caldwell as he digs deep, mines out, and delivers the truth from the Word of God: Contrasts In Prayer: The Model Prayer: The Motivation For Prayer: Prayer, God's Willingness & Our Reluctance: Our Prayers & God's Will: This week on the Straight Truth Podcast, host Dr. Josh Philpot speaks with Dr. Caldwell about prayer and the Christian life. Dr. Philpot has several questions he presents for discussion: Should we have a specific time devoted to prayer? Is praying in our prayer closet the same as praying without ceasing? What does Pastor Caldwell mean when he speaks of laboring in prayer? How do our prayers work since God is sovereign? Dr. Caldwell jumps right in and says there is probably nothing harder or more difficult in our Christian life than prayer. Prayer has a work aspect to it in that it requires our time and devotion. He shares that in Colossians 4:12, we read of Epaphras struggling in prayer for the Colossians. The Greek word translated as 'struggling', means to agonize, to labor. But, it isn’t just something that we labor in time devoted to it that pleases God; it's not offering up long prayers for an extended time that pleases God. In fact, Jesus warns about these kinds of prayers in Mark 12:38-40. So then, we need to think about what prayer is and what it expresses. Prayer is a discipline, but it’s a relational discipline; it isn’t something without fellowship. Prayer is communication from our hearts and minds to our God. There ought to be a motivation that stirs us and moves us to pray based on what God teaches and promises us regarding it. We have to come before Him aware of our own needs and the needs that are all around us. Dr. Caldwell explains that to pray without ceasing is about ongoing prayer that happens throughout the day. No one prays 24/7, but what is intended is that we live our lives mindful of God and the spiritual needs around us. Prayer in this sense is somewhat spontaneous, where there are ongoing conversations that are taking place in our hearts and minds all day long with the Lord. Yet, there is this other kind of prayer, the going into our closets, where we need to pull away from other things. This kind of prayer allows us time to be alone with our God in undivided devotion. Dr. Caldwell has said that he doesn’t want people to think in terms of prescribed times for prayer, as much as he wants them to understand the spiritual discipline. Having said this, he does think it’s a good thing to begin our day with prayer, believing that it sets the trajectory for everything else in the day. He also believes that it is good to end our day in prayer, communing with our God as we prepare to close our eyes in sleep for rest. Lastly, Dr. Caldwell tells us that if we are constantly aware of our neediness and are mindful that without Christ we can do nothing, we will pray. If we are unaware of our needs, we won’t pray. Our lives will be prayerless because we are self-dependent. A self-dependent, prayerless life is a proud life. But, if we are praying, depending on God to work in situations, bring salvation to the lost, and more, then we are believing that God is sovereign over these situations and He alone can bring the change. This is true about everything in life; there is not anything that God is not sovereign over. He is Lord over everything He has made, and there is nothing too difficult for Him. Prayer doesn’t change the mind of God, but prayer is the means God has determined to work through, so prayer matters. So, when we come to Him in prayer, we come submissively. We come asking God to do things, desiring His will to be done and for Him to be honored and receive glory in it. While we don't always know what His specific will is for a situation, we can humbly surrender the outcome to Him, being content and satisfied with whatever He deems as best. Prayer is difficult, it is hard, it takes time, and we must discipline ourselves for it. God has provided it as a means for us to come and ask, seeking Him in love, reverence and humble adoration, submitting and surrendering our needs, requests and, desires to Him. While our prayers do not change God’s mind, prayer does change things, and it changes us." from video introduction.

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