By Elizabeth De Jesús
I have often struggled with fasting – depriving myself of food is not an easy thing for me. But I have learned to cherish my seasons of fast because I am naturally and fully drawn closer to God during this season. One thing that I look forward to is more time I have for prayer. The times that I would spend preparing meals, eating meals, thinking about meals – I just take for prayer and Bible reading. I look at it like depriving my flesh, and feeding my spirit instead. Since there would be more dedicated time to prayer I thought I would re-introduce myself to the topic of prayer and I ran across this article by Pastor John Piper.
I learned that I had to pray more specific prayers, especially for myself, my own soul. If we want to grow spiritually, if we need to break a bad habit, or if we want to understand more of God’s word, then we need to get serious about our prayer life.
I learned that sometimes we just have to talk to our own soul, asking in prayer for those things that affect the core of who we are, our soul or heart.
Following are seven new ways I learned to pray during my fast that gave me a fresh new focus to my prayer life and I wanted to share it with you. I pray that it blesses you.
Note: I have taken most of these prayer tips from Pastor John Piper and added more thoughts and ideas that I found as I was reading the word for myself.
Prayer for my Soul:
1. Pray for an inclination to God and His word. The first thing and most important thing our soul needs is God and his word. Without God and his word nothing of value will be added to my life.
Psalm 119:36 teaches, “Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to gain”
Inclination is understood as a natural tendency. It also speaks of a slant. Pray that your natural tendency, your slant towards God and his Word would not be forced, instead that it would be natural and easy; that you would naturally lean towards the commands and the principles laid out in his Word.
2. Pray for the opening of the eyes of our heart, so that when our inclination leads us to the word we see what is really there and not just our own ideas. Who opens the eyes of the heart? God does.
Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from your law.”
3. Pray that your heart would be enlightened. Once the eyes of our heart is open, pray for the enlightening of his word so that we would understand the miraculous and not just the facts; so that the word of God would not stagnate in our mind through routine and familiarity but would flood our hearts with the wonder of God.
Ephesians 1:18 teaches us to pray, “That the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.”
4. Pray that your heart would be united. I have learned that our hearts may be fragmented and divided. It may be that parts of our hearts are receiving enlightenment while other fragmented parts remain in the dark. Pray for your heart to be united, for the Holy Sprit to expose any dark and hidden places. To have hearts united in the fear of God rather than fragmented over worry and concerns.
Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, “O Lord, I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.” verse 12 says “I will praise you Lord with all my heart…” (not just part of my heart – but all)
5. Pray that your heart (soul) would be satisfied with God and not with this world.
Psalm 90:14 teaches us to pray, “O satisfy us in the morning with Your loving kindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
6. Pray for a strength that comes only through the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 3:16 teaches us to pray, “That God would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
7. Pray in the Spirit in order to build up your faith. I try to pray in my heavenly language everyday, to build up my spirit and to keep myself focused on God’s love, because the Spirit knows what I do not. Praying in the Spirit is praying according to the Spirit’s leading. It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for.
Jude 20-21 teaches us to pray, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
Ephesians 6:18 teaches us to pray in the Spirit, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…”
Praying in the Spirit is the Holy Spirit praying for us – “with groans that words cannot express”
Romans 8:26 tells us to pray, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
Here is an acronym to help remember these prayers –
I = Incline
O = Open my Heart
E = Enlighten my Heart
U = Unite my Heart
S = A Satisfied Heart, Strength from the Holy Spirit and pray in the Spirit
This acronym can help guide your prayers for yourself and for your loved ones everyday.
My Prayer for us today:
Father, incline our hearts to you, may our natural tendency be to lean into you and your promises, Lord that we would easily trust and surrender to your will. Open our hearts Lord that we may receive all the good things you have prepared for us. Flood our hearts with your light, enlighten our minds with your word, increasing knowledge and discernment, that our ways may honor you. Unite our fragmented hearts, make us one in you and not divided in fear and worry, Satisfy us every morning, you are our portion and strength, an ever present help. Finally, build us up in your Holy Spirit – lead us with your Holy Spirit and intercede for us when we are unable to understand or see. I pray all of this in the all-sufficient name of Jesus. Amen.