As part of an intensive discipleship group, I have been reading “Growing in Prayer” by Mike Bickle.
The first part of the book is spent on setting up what I consider the basic concepts of prayer: Why we’re called to pray, characteristics of effective prayer, how/what to pray and grow in prayer, etc. Having already discussed why pray, let’s move on to:
Bickle talks about the fact that effectual prayer energized by relationship (ie. Honoring my wife) and righteousness (which is a person with a heart set on obeying God, not necessarily someone who succeeds at it all the time!), because those are things that are important to God. This includes scriptural concepts like “abide in Christ” and “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”. Therefore, in order share in the love of God, to have an effective “fellowship of the burning heart” relationship with the family dynamics of the trinity, we are called to live righteously and respect relationships.
This overall theme of closeness with God, being both a prerequisite and an effect of prayer, runs throughout. He also discusses how God made us to enjoy fascination, pondering, mystery…and pondering Christ’s ministry and God’s beauty are the ultimate form of this! Personally, I’ve often been stuck assuming I haven’t been getting the answer I hope for because of something wrong with me, like righteousness or relationship. However Bickle also notes that prayers may be answered in different ways than we expect, or a different time than we expect because God’s timing is different than ours, which is the mysterious will and way of God, even if it can be tough to understand at times.
How and What to Pray and Grow in Prayer
Bickle’s first and most important point in discussing how to pray and grow in it is the need for us to 1) set regular prayer times, and 2) create a prayer journal. As I first read this, I was immediately resistant, believing I could pray just fine without it because the list is already inside me, and my schedule is too crazy for a set time and maintaining another list. However, as I continued to read, the number and types of things I became inspired to pray for grew so fast that I had to start a list! The incredible picture Bickle paints of a higher life following God was so powerful that I am willing to stop making excuses and even redo priorities in order to grow in this.
Types and Themes of Prayer
The other most pivotal part of the beginning of the book for me was the section on organization of prayer. He discussed:
three types of prayer – intercession, personal petition, and devotion
which is the rough organization of the rest of the book. Intercession is praying for others- people, places, organizations (ie. country or government, business). Personal petition is prayer for our own personal needs (sorta self-intercession). Finally devotional prayer is love, communion, and worship of God and asking for strengthening of the Spirit.
Next he discusses:
three themes of prayer – gifts of the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit, and wisdom of the Spirit
which can be used in all three types of prayer. So if you are following along, that creates 9 types of prayers, and he gives extensive examples of all 9. An example might be intercession for our president to receive wisdom. Or for you personally or a fruit of the Spirit like peace. Or you may pray devotionally thanking him for gifts of the Spirit like a prophetic word or healing you might have received or witnessed.
So by taking any one person on my prayer list, and creating at least 3 (if not a whole lot more, ie. praying through all the fruits of the spirit), you can see how I soon felt like I needed to write down that prayer list!