rowing up, I could think of many things to do better with my time than to pray. We had church twice on Sundays. An hour before the evening service started, prayer began. To this day, I can still remember my Dad taking me to that prayer room. It was there the power of prayer came into my life and something I will never forget. The lessons I learned in that prayer room were by watching and listening. Rarely did anyone pull me aside and say, "Kyle, this is how you pray." They didn't have to do so. The passion behind each person praying spoke for itself. It was only years later did I realize how much it all meant to me.
Prayer, the Forgotten Weapon
It's sad to say, but for most churches, the prayer room is one of the least frequented places in the entire building. If you take a closer look inside most of our churches, you'd be hard-pressed to find one in the building. Why is this so? In large part, I believe the reason is because most of the church itself doesn't know how to pray. It's as if they have not discovered their great conversation with God. I say this honestly because I've spent the majority of my life not knowing how to pray. For this reason, I feel confident that I, as I share my own prayer story, you will find yours.
Prayer changed my life, and it will change your's too if you are open and willing to spend the time to develop it. Having a template prayer will help exercise the prayer muscle. Too much dependency on the template, though, will create a mundane and static prayer life. I once heard Bill Johnson, the Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, say on the subject of prayer, "If you have 10 minutes to pray, spend the first 8 minutes in praise and worship." I liked this when I heard it, and have grown to love it each time I've thought about it since. The reason I love it so much is because it puts the emphasis not on routine, but relationship.
Pursing the routine of prayer will quickly die out and become stagnant. Pursing the presence of God in prayer is the most powerful thing one could ever be apart of in their entire life. Prayer is the life source between man and God. In prayer, we discover God's desire to be the one answering our prayers, not the things of the world.
Dr. David Yonggi Cho, Pastor of one of the largest churches in the world with over 800,000 members, says this on prayer, "As air is the breath of life, so prayer is the breath of faith."
Faith will increase your prayer life, and a healthy prayer life will strengthen your faith. They go hand and hand. For more on the subject of faith, please read this post as it is vital in one's prayer life.
Although prayer templates can sometimes be relied on too heavily, they do serve their purpose. After all, Jesus Himself gave us a model in the Lord's prayer. I have three primary templates that I pray through each week: Psalms 23, The Lords Prayer, and the Tabernacle Prayer. All three models are incredible, and life-changing! For today's post, I would like to focus on Psalms 23 as it has become the template I follow the most often. It's highly flexible and can be broken into short prayers or longer prayers, depending on your day.
Praise is the preparation ground for an encounter with the Holy Spirit.
Psalms 23 is one of the most quotable portion's of Scripture in the Bible. Often, this becomes one of the main problems for us when we study it. We are too familiar with it. Because of the familiarity, we lose the nuisance that has made it one of the most impactful passages in the Bible. When we begin to pray over the 23rd Psalm, the Word of God get's into our Spirit, and the Spirit of revelation begins to guide us into truth.
As Jesus taught us in the Lord's prayer, the first part of prayer should always begin with praise and worship. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:9, to start our prayer like this "Abba Father, hallowed be thy name."
Praise is the preparation ground for an encounter with the Holy Spirit. God hears the prayers of His saints. When we begin to call on the name of Jesus, the Spirit of God begins to move. If you recall in Exodus 33, God reveals to us the nature in which He encounters us.
"Moses said, "Please show me your glory." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The Lord.' (Exodus 33:18,19)
"And the Lord said, "Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by." (Exodus 33:21,22)
For Moses to encounter God's glory, God's name had to pass before him. This is fundamental in prayer. The presence of God is released into the atmosphere when we call upon the name of the Lord. Moses hid in the rock, and the tangible presence of God passed before him. This is a great illustration of prayer. In the privilege of prayer, we hid in the foundation of God (the rock) and encountered His presence when we magnify the name of Jesus.
Praying Through God's Covenant Names
Now, in the Old Testament, our Father in Heaven revealed Himself to through covenantal names. Praying through these names helps us encounter the truth in God's Word. In Scripture, God has revealed Himself to His people as the following:
- Jehovah Raah (The Lord Is My Shepherd)
- Jehovah Jirah (The Lord Will Provide)
- Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Our Peace)
- Jehovah Rapha (The Lord Who Heals)
- Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
- Jehovah M'kaddesh (The Lord Who Sanctifies)
- Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Who Is There) (first found in Ezekial 48:35)
- Jehovah Nissi (The Lord Our Banner)
As you begin to pray through the 23rd Psalms and the covenantal names of God, you will make faith declarations that align your heart with truth. My advice is to pray out loud. Praying inside your head is more on the lines of biblical mediation. With that being said, let's take a look at the Psalm verse by verse.
How to Pray To God: Step 1 - Align Your Heart To His Word
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." (Psalms 23:1)
This is the first faith declaration I make in prayer. As I focus on the Lord as my Shepherd, I declare to Him who He is in my life. Mainly, that I will have no other shepherding voice in my life besides His voice. I remind myself of John 10:4,5, which reads:
"4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."
As I pray, I align my heart to His voice and position my spirit to follow the only good shepherd. To say it another way, I position my heart under the Lordship of Jesus and that God loves me no matter what. Because Jesus is Lord of my life, I now "want no other" Shepherd in my life. Because God is my shepherd, all of my needs are taken care of. I declare that I have only one voice that guides my life: The Word of God. Because I have His voice through the Word of God, I will not look for any other voices to guide my life. I tell the Lord that because I am so familiar with His voice, I will not recognize the enemies.
I remind myself that under the new covenant, I now have a heart that "knows" him and is positioned to follow His voice above every other voice in my life, according to Ezekiel 36:26,27, which reads:
"26 And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."
How to Pray To God: Step 2 - Declare His Provision Over Your Life
"He makes me lie down in green pastures." (Psalms 23:2)
The second faith declaration I make is centered around the Lord is my provider. He is our Jehovah Jirah, the Lord God, who provides. I remind myself that the pastures God provides are "green." I declare His divine provision and good gifts over my life. Green, in an agricultural sense, is the best of the land. So, I confess that God has the best of the best, waiting for me. For me, this means that God will provide everything I need to advance His Kingdom and to live in abundance. I declare 2 Peter 1:3 over my life.
"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness." (1 Peter 1:3)
As I center my heart around God as my provider, I remind myself that I am not my provider. Although I have a great job and position, at the end of the day, God provided me the opportunity. Through His Word, I have access to green pastures. Without His Word, I do not. At this point, I remind my heart of Phillipians 4:19 and declare that God will supply all of my needs.
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Phillipians 4:19)
How to Pray To God: Step 3 - Fix Your Mind On Jesus
"He leads me beside still waters." (Psalms 23:3)
The third faith declaration I make is patterned around God as my peace. As Jehovah Shalom, God is not just an orchestration of peace; He is peace. Peace is not just a principle, it is a person, and His name is Jesus! He is the son of God. After this, I declare Isaiah 26:3 over my life. It reads:
"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3)
Some translators translate the word "fixed" for "stayed." So, I confess that I will fixate my mind on the Word of God. I decree that I will not fixate my mind on any other things that may serve as a distraction from the promises beheld in scripture. When I fix my mind on His word, the peace of God promises to rule my heart. I remind myself of what Jesus says in John 14:27.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)
How to Pray To God: Step 4 - Declare Healing
"He restores my soul." (Psalms 23:4)
The fourth faith declaration I make is situated around God as my healer. As Jehovah Rapha, God's desire is for my life to have complete healing in my heart, mind, soul, and body. This was promised and confirmed for me at the cross. Isaiah 53:5 states:
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)
I declare perfect health over my life, my wife's life, and over my children's. If I have any personal prayer requests or if I know of any for my church or friends, I begin to pray for them at this point. I remind myself of a Bill Johnson quote, which goes like this:
"Sometimes, we have to pray for the answer, but sometimes we have to pray to be the answer." - Bill Johnson
How To Pray To God: Step 5 - Set The Bar for Righteousness, Not Sin
"He leads me in paths of righteousness, for his name's sake." (Psalms 23:3)
The fifth faith declaration I make is centered around God as my righteousness. As Jehovah Tsidkenu, God's plan for my life is to walk in righteousness between Him and man. This is an overcoming portion of my prayer time. Righteousness is something Jesus gave us on the cross. Romans 3:22 says,
"This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:22)
At this point, I begin to give thanks for what Jesus did on the cross for me. I picture Joshua the High priest in Zechariah 3:10 and begin to receive my new "garments" of righteousness. The fantastic gift of righteousness never ceases to amaze me. I also remind myself that righteousness is not only something I received but also something I live from. As Todd White greatly puts it, "you cannot allow the sin against you to produce sin within you." As I remind myself of this truth, I make a promise to God that I will not pay evil with good. In making this declaration, my heart fixes itself on righteousness and to not allow sin into my life. I set the bar for righteous living, not for cheap grace (link another article).
How to Pray To God: Step 6 - Stand in Faith, not Fear
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalms 23:4)
The sixth faith declaration that I make is focused around God being my "present help in times of trouble," as Psalms 46:1 puts it. As Jehovah Shammah, God promises to "never leave me or forsake me," according to Deuteronomy 31:6. Because of this, there is no reason for me to be afraid or allow my heart to be influenced by a spirit of fear or timidity. At this point, I decree Joshua 1:9 over my life.
"Have I not commanded you to be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
If a person truly fears the Lord, they will not have any room to fear anything else.
If a person truly fears the Lord, they will not have any room to fear anything else. At this point in prayer, I speak to anything that may try to bring fear into my life. I encourage myself through His Word by faith. I begin to take up the shield of faith, which will "extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:16). I come into agreement with the Word of God that I will not allow fear to control or rule my life.
How To Pray To God: Step 7 - Raise a Banner of Victory
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." (Psalms 23:5)
The seventh faith declaration that I make is directed to the victory of Jesus. As Jehovah Nissi, God is our banner of victory. This is one of the most exciting parts of prayer for me. I raise a flag of victory and praise over my children's lives, my marriage, my finances, my church, and my job. I begin to bind the plans of the enemy over these aspects of my life, and loose victory through the Holy Spirit. This is according to Matthew 18:18, which states:
"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 18:18)
As I pray, I keep in mind another amazing quote by Bill Johnson, "Prayers that don't move you, won't move Him."
If I am not convinced of my victory in Jesus, how can I live from it? As I raise a banner of victory, I position my heart towards triumph. If I proclaim this victory effectively, I will push back the power of darkness and release victory into the atmosphere. Because of this victory position, my faith will not be overcome when the enemy brings evidence that I do not have victory in my life by circumstances or negative news surrounding it.
"No weapon formed against you shall prosper.." (Isaiah 54:17)
How to pray to God: Step 8 - Finish In Faith
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalms 23:6)
The final faith declaration I make in prayer is just that, a decree of faith! At this point, my spiritual bank is full, and I can now begin to rejoice and sing praises over the enemy. I make declarations over my day and my family.
Psalms 23 is a weapon in the arsenal of a prayer warrior. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says for us to "pray without ceasing." Luke 18 teaches us to be persistent in our prayers. Every day, prayer is our position of power to triumph over the powers of darkness and to release the Kingdom of Heaven into the earth.
Today, I hope that this article gives you the confidence you need to begin a lifestyle of prayer and to talk to God. Prayer is living in the good news of Jesus, every day! As I mentioned earlier, this is just a template and is not meant to be followed religiously. Actually, the point is to step away from that and into a relationship with the man who hung between two criminals.
Discovering the Jewish Jesus. “Hebrew Covenant Names.” DiscoveringJewishJesus.com.
International House of Prayer. “Characteristics of Effective Prayer.” ihopkc.org. March 3rd, 2016.
Bill Graham Evangelistic Association. “Prayer 101, How Do I Talk To God?” www.billgraham.org. May 1st, 2019. https://billygraham.org/story/prayer-101-how-do-i-talk-to-god/