Living In the Spirit’s School of Prayer

I can still taste the humidity that night, the insects buzzing around the fluorescent light above my desk while I flipped open the book I had been waiting for. With its jade cover and scripty font, Let Prayer Change Your Life was this 13-year-old’s answer to prayer. Literally. I was ready for a powerful change.

That was the summer I took my commitment to Jesus seriously. Though I knew praying and reading the Bible is important to spiritual growth–and I even helped my Mom teach Gypsy kids’ Sunday School classes–I didn’t have first-hand experience of the transformative power of prayer. And it bothered me.

So, in a major turning point in my spiritual journey, I confessed my weakness to God. It wasn’t a fancy prayer. In fact, it was probably the simplest and most sincere cry of my heart at the time. But I knew I was in good company because the disciples needed help, too:

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1

Taking their cue, I simply said, “Lord, this is kind of embarrassing, but I don’t really know how to pray. I thought I did, but my prayers are all about me and what I want. You did some amazing things in answer to people’s prayers in the Bible. I want to pray like that, to see big things happen. So, um, would You teach me how to pray?”

It was a humbling prayer for this girl who felt she had to have it all together.

It was a ground-breaking prayer.

It was the prayer that unleashed the power of the Holy Spirit to transform my heart and my mind when I willingly asked Him to become my Teacher.

A Prayer Journey Together

Over the next few weeks, we’ll journey through a new series called The Inner Life of Powerful Prayer, learning how to pray in a way that transforms our inner lives as well as those around us.inner life of powerful prayer: a series on learning  how to pray in such a way that it transforms our inner lives and those around us

We’ll discover what the Bible says about prayer, how to start praying, why we should pray God’s Word, what other Christians have discovered about prayer throughout the centuries, and we’ll end with power prayers for our husbands, children, and ourselves. It’s going to a be a wonderful series, and you can sign up here to get every post in your inbox. 

This is a journey we’ll take together, and I’m praying (yes, really praying!) that God works in our lives to bring greater clarity, courage, and commitment to our prayers lives.

And, as goes on a journey, there will be stories. Lots of stories. That’s what makes a journey fun. I’d love to hear your story about how prayer has changed your life, or even when your prayers hit the ceilings. I’ve got stories like that, too.

Enrolling in the Spirit’s School of Prayer

After that first timid prayer under the fluorescent bulb, I began discovering that God eagerly desires to teach His children to pray.

After all, it’s our way of talking with Him, and He wants us to be in constant communion, not just throwing up a “Help me, Jesus, not to scream at my kid” SOS-type prayer, but an easy ongoing conversation as I make my toast in the morning and get stuck in rush hour traffic. He’s got a vested interest in teaching us how to pray, you know. That summer, the Holy Spirit became my Teacher and the Bible my textbook.

I’ll share some of the steps He took me through in my next post, but know that our journeys may not look the same. That’s the beauty of having God as our Tutor: He personalizes our coursework to fit each of our unique spiritual needs.

With this prayer growth came a deeper hunger for God’s Word. As I read the Bible and wrote down observations in my journal, I also responded to the text in my own words, often writing out prayers to God. And sometimes–ever so infrequently–I would sense an answer in my spirit. Not an audible voice, but a strong assurance, usually paraphrased Scripture, that gave me the direction, peace, or answer I needed.

As I memorized Scripture, hiding God’s Word in my heart, those words became alive to me and became part of my vocabulary as I prayed. The Spirit was teaching me to pray God’s Word and He often responded to my prayers with (surprise!) God’s Word, verses I’d read in the Bible.

Over the years, He has continued to grow me and stretch me in my prayer life, whether through scripted prayers (gasp!), prayer walks, prayed circles, group prayer nights, or silent prayers.

I’ve learned the power of binding evil spirits with prayer and the powerlessness of moaning for the Spirit to intercede for my broken heart.

 

I’ve been humbled by His generous answers to prayers before they even left my mouth and prayers that were much labored over.

And don’t imagine for a second that I’ve been a star student this whole time. Far from it! I’ve gone stretches of time without praying at all, angry, confused, and disappointed because God didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted.

And through it all, the Spirit has been my constant Teacher and Guide. Even now, fifteen years later, I still feel like I’ve only just begun to grasp the rudimentary stuff of what it means to live a life of prayer. But looking back on the journey, I’m astonished and humbled by how far He has brought me.

The Starting Point

Regardless of where you are in your prayer life, if you’re a beginner just learning the ABC’s of Worship or if you’ve been a prayer warrior for ages, enrollment in the Spirit’s school of prayer starts with a simple prayer, one that has been echoed through the centuries, one that requires a tremendous amount of humility and courage: “Lord, teach me to pray.”

teach us to pray

And God will be faithful to answer that prayer. Every single time.

Will you pray that prayer?

There’s plenty of room in the classroom.

What about you? Are you enrolled in the Spirit’s school of prayer? What has been your experience with praying? What topic would you like to see tackled during this series?

Featured Resource

If you haven’t already, make sure to grab May’s Scripture Art calendar. It makes a great prayer calendar when you’re looking for a place to jot down all your prayer requests. May’s will only be available for a few more days, but you can sign up here to get each month’s printable delivered to your inbox.

I'm loving this beautiful Scripture Art design in calednar form. It's the perfect way to remind myself when I'm busy and frantic to rest in Jesus' arms. Download it here: