Extended Times of Personal Prayer
“Like flying over the battlefield in a reconnaissance plane, a day of prayer gives opportunity to think of the world from God’s point of view. Especially when going through some difficulty we need this perspective to sharpen our vision of the unseen and to let the immediate, tangible things drop into proper place. Our spiritual defenses are strengthened while we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.” Lorne Sandy
During the past three months I have been in Kansas City at the International House of Prayer (IHOP). It has been a great joy and blessing to me personally. During this time I have experienced several extended times of prayer. I invite you to make it a part of your life with God. You will find that it is not as hard as you think. It goes by fast and is such a great blessing. In the future, I will be giving you some tools to help you stay engaged in the prayer room.
We all need to sharpen our vision of God by fixing our eyes on the eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). He is always with us, longing for our attention. I encourage you to spend extravagant time with Him in personal prayer and devotion. Your view of what is really important will sharpen dramatically. We are made to dwell with God. He inhabits our lives and desires our relationship.
We are called to be men and women with a steadfast, single gaze at God.
The length of time you spend in an extended time in personal prayer can be a day, a week, or even a month. Some incorporate it into their weekly lifestyle. If you don’t have time available right now, make it a half a day. It depends on your personal situation. I know a Christian leader who spends one week every quarter of the year in personal prayer and meditation. He and his wife look forward with anticipation to this time apart with God. It is a vital part of their life and ministry. Others like to spend a day in prayer monthly. Here in Kansas City many spend 24 hours in the prayer room per week!
However God leads you, it is very important to make time for those valuable periods of personal prayer. God is looking for those who are desperate for Him. It would seem that in the coming days we must seek Him with more passion, more intensity, and with singleness of heart. We must have the mind of Christ and see from His eternal perspective. We are His earthly habitation. King David said in Psalm 132:4-5: “I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.”
There are many Biblical examples of extended times of personal prayer. The men and women God used mightily spent extended times in personal prayer.
Jesus, our greatest example, spent whole nights praying to God (Luke 6:12).
Moses spent forty days and nights with God before receiving the Ten Commandments.
Elijah spent extended time alone with God as a preparation for ministry.
David spent extended time with God and took every situation to the Lord in prayer.
These men sought after one thing – God Himself. Your greatest victory, your deepest revelation, your highest joy is likely to come when you give God extended time. You will ascend the heights in prayer when you do. We are made to behold His beauty. Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” Andrew Murray in his book, Andrew Murray on Prayer, expresses man’s response to God’s desire to dwell in us.
“Here we have man’s response to God’s desire to dwell in us. When the desire of God toward us begins to rule the life and heart, our desires are fixed on one thing, and that is to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives… Our faith begins to see how high our calling is and how indispensable God has made fervent, intense, persistent prayer as the condition of His purpose being fulfilled. We are then drawn to give up our lives to a closer walk with God. We will wait unceasingly upon Him and will become a testimony to our fellow believers of what God will do in them and in us.”
Perhaps you are thinking, “This sounds good, but I’m a busy person. If I’m going to invest my time in an extended time of prayer, I need to know why it will help me! I need to know the benefits for my life personally.” There are so many beneficial reasons why we should spend longer lengths of time with God. Extended times of personal prayer have helped me personally to evaluate my life and prepare for future ministry. Let’s look at some reasons you may personally want to spend a day in prayer and how you can prepare for it:
- For renewed perspective – Because of the struggles of everyday life, a day of prayer can give you a new perspective on your life.
- For extended fellowship with the Lord – Your relationship is deepened as you spend extended time with God. It can help you to focus on one thing, your being a habitation for God.
- For personal evaluation of your life before the Lord – With extended time with the Lord, you are able to personally evaluate your life, narrow down your interests to what is really important, and build up those areas that need strengthening.
- For help in making important decisions – God has all knowledge and wisdom and knows the best way for all of us. Time with Him will give you heavenly revelation for every important decision in your life.
- For preparation in ministry – There is no greater way to prepare for ministry than to spend extended time with God, who is the author and supplier for all our service. He knows exactly what He made you for, and He can prepare you in a way that will give Him the greatest glory.
- For more time in focused prayer – You must make time for undistracted and focused prayer. God changes the world through your prayers, and you can be His channel of blessing.
How to Prepare for a Day in Prayer
“Finding and preparing a place for personal prayer should not be taken lightly. Christ’s invitation to us is of infinitely greater value than a visit from the president. The eternal God of the universe has asked for an invitation to dine at your house. When you pray, open the door and invite the Lord to sit with you in your heart and reveal His secrets to you. You are not merely finding a quiet place to pray. You are preparing a place to dialogue with almighty God, the King of Kings!” Eddie and Alice Smith
- Decide on a place – Try to decide on a place that is free of distractions, telephones, and other people. You want to concentrate on God. You may spend a day in nature, a cabin in the woods, or even in your home but be sure to unplug the telephone.
- Fix a date in your calendar – If you don’t plan a day of prayer, it may never happen. The devil will try to distract you. Write the date in your calendar and let nothing change it. It is your time with the King of Kings.
- Ask God to prepare your heart – You want to enter a day of prayer with expectation. God is going to speak to you and meet with you. Begin preparing your heart before your extended time of prayer.
- Bring the needed equipment – You may want to bring a map or globe, CD player, a light, a notebook and pen, your Bible and commentaries, a prayer journal, hymnbook, or devotional books.
During a day of personal prayer you want to read, pray, and meditate on Scripture. You want to spend time in worship and meditation. You want to confess your sins to the Lord, and take time to write down your thoughts.
I remember when my little four-year-old, blond-haired and blue-eyed niece, Madeline, was on her yearly vacation with her dad. It was an exciting time of flying alone with dad, visiting family and experiencing life in Minnesota. I had the privilege of watching her interact with my brother, Jeff, for a week.
As I carefully watched Madeline relationship with her father, I couldn’t help but compare it with our relationship with God, our heavenly Father.
Madeline has an unusual confidence in life – She is not afraid of trying new things – She loves to boldly climb the tree outside my parent’s house as her dad watches. We went to the Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the U.S., and watched as she fearlessly and quite boldly went on the scariest rides with her father. She trusted him completely and held his hand as they went from ride to ride. She is trusting, she has no anxiety, and she enters into each day with joy and zeal. It energized me and excited my heart to watch her. I felt revived in a special sort of way. It felt a little bit like touching heaven.
Her father is good to her. He listens to her, reasons with her, and is there to help her through the ups and downs in life. This vacation was very important for her because it was an extended time of personal relationship with her father. This was very “special” because dad was with her and he cares.
This is so much like our relationship with God. Our personal prayer life is so significant. God can’t wait for us to spend it with Him. Just as my brother enjoys time away with Madeline, God enjoys us.
He will reward you for spending extended time in prayer. You will definitely come back an enriched person with an overflow of His love and life shining through you. God will help you grow in your joy, trust, and zeal for life. I have so much enjoyed the extra time I have spent in personal prayer. It definitely changes my perspective. I feel as if I touch heaven. And I know it will do the same for you.
You will be a person with a passion for one thing, for God Himself.
I invite you to join the free prayer room webstream here at the International House of Prayer any time day or night at: http://www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=1000058181
To view this article or send it to your friends – http://intercessorsarise.blogspot.com/2010/03/extended-times-of-personal-prayer-like.html
“The viewpoint of an intercessor for God must not be as near the highest as he can get, it must be the highest. Be careful to maintain strenuously God’s point of view. It has to be done every day, bit by bit, (and especially during extended times of personal prayer); don’t think on the finite. No outside power can touch the viewpoint. The viewpoint we are to maintain is that we are here for one purpose only, to be captives in the train of Christ’s triumphs. We are not in God’s showroom, we are here to exhibit one thing – the absolute captivity of our lives to Jesus Christ.” Oswald Chambers (adapted)
This article is adapted from a book I am in the process of publishing called Ascending the Heights in Heaven: Touching Heaven – Changing Earth.
Together in the Harvest,
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