What is Prayer?
“For me, it’s talking and communicating with God. It’s nothing fancy or complicated. I’m communicating with someone I love as I grow in understanding how deeply He loves me.
I came to Christ when I was 20 years old, but my parents were divorced then. So I rarely saw my father. We had a very strained relationship, and he stopped speaking to me when I was 13. So when I was 20 and I came to Christ, I was home alone in my room, and one of the first things that hit me was that now I have a Father.
That’s the way it’s always been for me with Him. Ever since then, it’s been 48 years since I’ve been walking with Him, and He’s been faithful and generous through all my mistakes and failures. I feel so lavished upon, as it says in Ephesians 1:7-8.”
What Would You Tell Someone Who Believes Prayer is One Way?
“First, I would ask you, ‘Do you have a Bible?’ He’s told me so much in His word about what prayer is. Jesus himself has told me what prayer is. All of these prayers have been given to us so we can pray back to the Lord. We are praying the very word of God to Him. Go back to see what he said about us. It’s astonishing to me when you look and see how much He tells us that He loves us.
Every morning when I get up, the first place I go to is the Psalms. Because it’s filled with prayers to the Lord, it’s a vital two-way conversation. It’s not a dry, stale exercise. It’s just like with my husband, Spencer. When I see and talk to him, I like for it to be energizing and insightful. He speaks to us in many different ways if we have the eyes and the ears to open up, like in Ephesians 1:18. “
How is Prayer, Both Communication and Discipline?
“Getting back to the marriage example, Spencer, apart from my walk with the Lord, is my number one priority. I want to set aside time to be with him. We had four kids in six years, and so for a long time, we had hardly any time to do what needed to be done.
Many times, we would stay up until five o’clock in the morning, talking. Then, once the kids were in bed, we would have that time together to invest in one another, and as we invested in one another, we have seen dividends throughout the years. It does take effort. We had made a prior commitment that we were going to invest our lives in one another and spend that time together. We can take that and parallel it very closely to our relationship with the Lord.
Do we want to invest time with the Lord? How much do you want to know the Lord? Do you understand and know how much God truly loves you? That He accepts you for who you are?
He has made you and lavished upon you goodness, kindness, and great motivation for Him. But how well do you know His character? Why would you be motivated to talk to somebody you didn’t know loves you?
I mean, whenever I’m thinking about the Lord, it just blows me away. When you think about the fact that Jesus created all these things in the universe, our hands and feet, everything from our bodies to nebulas and planets, we don’t even know about. Are you telling me that He loves me? He tells us in His word over and over again that He does. So am I going to bank my faith on the character of God as revealed to me in the scripture?”
The Starting Point For Many Believers.
Do you believe that you are forgiven? You are truly forgiven. The enemy of your soul will tell you lies only. He will whisper in your ears, ‘You are such a sinner. God didn’t forgive you. How could God ever forgive you for this?’ But God is so different from this. What does God think about us?
Are we that special in His sight, in His eyes? Then you go into the idea of Jesus coming to die on the cross for you and me. It’s amazing to think about all that He has done.
How Do You Get to Know Your True and Perfect Father?
In a recent episode with Dave Gibson, we discussed his book ‘In My Father’s Wake.’ It is metaphorically about living in our father’s wake of good and bad.
It seems like more women, especially if their father wounded them in profound ways, have a tough time with the truth that God is their Father. So, again, it goes back to prayer. Why would I appeal to Him, petition, praise Him, and lament if I don’t understand who He is?
“If you want to get to know this Father who says He loves you, cares for you, and wants to answer your prayers, start with Jesus. He is that expression of God. Passages like Hebrews 1:1-3, Ephesians 1, and Colossians 1 are hard to wrap my mind around. All of these things come down to Jesus. We talk about intercessory prayer and the discipline of prayer. Still, we must cement the foundational blocks of belief before seeing any real growth and understanding in the depths of a prayer life with the Lord. First, we need to get to know this God we’re talking about.”
True Obedience From Conviction
“When I first came to Christ in 1974, I thought I was the only one in the world that this had ever happened to because no one had ever really told me about Jesus.
I always loved it [the Bible] as a piece of literature. I loved Genesis and the New Testament. So I was stunned when I read the Sermon on The Mount in Matthew 5:23-24. Jesus said, ‘Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.’
It was as if the Lord was saying to me, ‘Barbara, your father has something against you; even though he’s mentally ill, he was the one that sinned against you. He’s done much damage to you. So I want you to lay down your gift. I know you love me. You know I love you, but for your sake, I want you to go and make amends with your father.’
I was terrified. And it continued to haunt me. I put it out of my mind. However, it was such a conviction of the Holy Spirit. It was one of the deepest convictions I’ve ever experienced from Him in my life. It boiled down to becoming a matter of obedience. Was I going to obey this God that I had just now given my life to?
When I came to Christ, I was not going to try it and see if it worked. I had surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, so I was going to obey what I believed He had just revealed to me in His word.”
Obeying The Lord At Any Cost
“I got my directory, got his phone number, and to be perfectly honest, I was hoping that he had died. I was so fearful of calling him. So as I began to pick up the phone and dial, I hoped he had moved, and I didn’t have the right number.
Then I’d say, ‘Well, look, Lord, I tried. I obeyed.’ Well, he answered the phone and as soon as he heard my voice, he began to cry, and he was so overwhelmed that I called him. Then, in the next breath, the second thing he said was, ‘Well, Barbara, it’s about time you call.’ It was as if the Lord said to me, ‘Barbara, welcome to forgiveness 101 because it’s an ongoing act of obedience.
Eventually, I had the privilege of introducing him to Christ. The last ten years of his life were very precious. So that did wonders for my prayer life because I don’t believe you can have a clear and focused prayer life if you are not walking in obedience to the Lord. Is there anything in your life you have neglected in being obedient to the Lord that you know He wants you to do?”
The Lord is healing those wounds. He tells us in the Psalms that He heals the brokenhearted. He cares for their wounds. Often when you have to heal something, you have to scrape out the infection, and that’s not very pleasant. You must be willing to work on these areas of your heart. If you’re not willing, ask the Lord to make you willing.
Once you get to that, you begin understanding what it means to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Lord tells us that we have the ability in Him to walk in the power of the fruit of the Spirit every day.”
Thanksgiving to God, Our Creator
“Anybody who has an open heart and wants to learn and to grow, who’s willing to invest in getting to know Him can pray. We’ve been given Jesus Christ, our righteous advocate, so that we can go to Him at any moment of any day perfectly accepted. We can share our hearts, our concerns, our worries, and our fears, and Jesus is there to walk with us through it, and He has in His word answers.
It comes back to trusting His word. Am I going to bank my faith on how He tells me I can get out of this problem right now? I’m taking Him at His word and banking my faith on certain things, whether or not I can see them right now. Faith sees the invisible. So I need to trust that what I see in front of me is the very word of God. So I’m going to lay my hand directly on this word of God. I will believe that this is what Jesus is telling me right now.
I was amazed going through the word about how many times thanksgiving is intertwined with prayer. We always go back to Philippians 4:6-7. How often does God answer our prayers, but we don’t even thank Him for it? I need to be alert to the ways that God has answered me. When it comes to thanksgiving, I need to be thanking Him by faith, which goes back to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.”
The Pros and Cons Of Prayer Guide Books
Some notable prayer books include Joy and Strength, The Valley of Vision, and Handbook to Prayer. In Valley of Vision, the theology and language are more cumbersome for the modern reader. In the book Private Devotions by Lancelot Andrewes, he says there are eight forms of prayer. Adoration, confession, renewal, petition, intercession, affirmation, thanksgiving, and what he calls ‘closing prayer.’
He also has a list of ten morning affirmations. Number seven is called ‘The Purpose Of My Life.’ It says, “I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind. I want to love my neighbor as myself. My purpose is to love God completely, love myself correctly, and love others compassionately. I will seek first your kingdom. I’ve been called to follow Christ and be a fisher of men. I will be a witness to those. I want to glorify God.”
How Do You Rejoice in The Fellowship of Suffering?
“There have been times I knelt down on my bed and wept for my children. If you want to call that lament, I guess so. I’ve never thought of it in those terms.
I’ve experienced brokenheartedness, and I know that Jesus has too. No matter what I’m going through, He’s not at a distance. If you have to lament, absolutely do. If you need to go to the Psalms where David says, ‘Where are you, Lord? Why do the wicked prosper? Why is this happening? Why is that happening? Why are you allowing that to happen?’
There is a myriad of things that we each have gone through that have been unfair. The one that has experienced the most unfairness in life is Jesus. So He’s not standing at a distance watching how we will respond when we get this news. No, He’s right there. We want to know and experience that Jesus is carrying us along the shoreline. We don’t want to go to the end of our life and say, ‘Where were you?’
There have been many times when I was carrying my children, and they were crying. But I was carrying them, and they knew I was carrying them. And they were based on that security of knowing they were being carried by the person who loved them the most. So I think that’s what’s important.
No matter what we’re facing in our lives or how heartbreaking, it’s important to know that we know. But in the Christian life, as long as we trust Him in obedience, we might be crying and weeping, but are we in the middle of His will? Do we believe that it’s the safest place to be? What do we believe?”
Barbara’s Final Encouragement For Those Who Struggle With Prayer
One of the things that we do in this day and age is compartmentalizing prayer. We get up in the morning, have our quiet time, pray, tell God certain things, then go on with the day. Maybe we think about Him in the middle of the day, but it’s not fluid. The truth is, He is here in our midst at this moment. When we make lunch or have conversations, it’s not quiet time, but we can speak to the Lord in it.
It’s not a matter of doing but instead a matter of being. Go back and look at the life of Jesus, the Lord’s prayer, and look at Hebrews 4 and Hebrews 6. We have a God who loves us and understands us. We can go before the throne of grace with confidence. “He wants that for us. He’s there, and He’s praying for us. He lives to intercede for us.”
About Barbara Brand
Barbara has been a dear friend to Michael and Cindy for many years. Michael often comments he “takes off his shoes” when talking to Barbara. Barbara has been bedridden for much of the last two decades due to multiple sclerosis. Her prayer life, ministry, and journey with the Lord will humble and inspire you.
Barbara lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, Spencer. They have three adult children and one precious grandson.
Dave Gibson- In My Father’s Wake
Mary Tileston- Joy and Strength
Arthur G. Bennett- The Valley of Vision