Shane Willard iaa personal mentor of mine. I have long been thankful for the great insights and revelation that he carries. I was reading his newsletter and saw this fantastic piece on prayer. May it bless and encourage you:
Not too long ago I was really challenged in my walk with God in the area of prayer. Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray and He tells them..."when you pray, do not go on babbling like the pagans do, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." I was so challenged by this phrase. I asked myself, "what separates you from the pagans?"
I tend to go on and on when I pray. I remember being challenged as a young man to pray for an hour a day. To me, that meant talking for an hour. I would literally run out of things to say, so I began compiling a list of needs and working through them. This became an extremely monotonous exercise in spiritual discipline.
The problem is obvious and even gets more convicting when Jesus' next instruction is basically do not make your praying about listing your needs before God for don't you know that God knows what you need before you ask Him.
Well, this created a huge issue for me to work through with God. Jesus seems to be saying that the most powerful prayer life is not one of many words or a list of needs. No wonder my prayers seem to have no power. That is all they were about....words and needs. I mus admitthat if I took the words and needs out of my prayers that I literally have nothing left. Mix that with the fact that Jesus seemed to have His life in unisowith the Father, and I was left with an empty feeling inside.
I finally realized that I did not know how to pray. I had a two degrees in theology and on ordination and did not have a clue about how to pray without the focus being words or needs. Maybe what I learned next will help all of us who have struggled with this.
There is a law in Hebrew Hermaneutics that is called first mention. It means that whatever the first mention of something is in scripture defines with precedent the other mentions in scripture. What is the first mention of the idea of prayer in the Bible? It comes from Genesis 4 and says that the sons of Enosh called upon the Lord.
To fully understand this, we have to understand that the Hebrew Language was originally pictures. Every Hebrew letter was a picture, and every Hebrew word was a comic strip. The word translated called in Genesis 4 is three pictures. All three are heads. The first is the front of the head; the second is the back of a head; and the third is an ox head going into a yoke. You have this sense of a head turning front to back to look at an ox head going into a yoke. Therefore, when the Hebrew people read the word called or prayer, they read "a turning of the head in order to face the one who can bear the burden."
This makes all the sense in the world to me. That prayer is a change from self-consciousness to God-consciousness. It is an internal change of focus. It is realizing that God is as close to us as the air that we breathe and then becoming aware of it. Allowing our consciousness and imagination to feel the truth of the felt presence of God. This is how Jesus prayed for an hour and yet the words take 90 seconds to read. It was not about the words. The words were simply a manifestation of what had been built in quiet and in secret.
What would happen if our prayers could become that? Every word in the prayer built sufficiently in our spirit before they are spoken. Try it. Try praying without saying anything. Just sit quietly and become aware that the mighty One is close to you....as close as the air that you are breathing. Out of this awareness of God will come the most mighty prayers you have ever experienced.
Fantastic... wasn't it! Shane has numerous resources available on his web site. Click HERE to go and check it out.
Leave a comment and share some of your revelations on prayer.
Godspeed & Kaizan