I hear it in our singles ministry all the time: “Please pray for me!” Then they will tell me they’re still looking for a job. Or they aren’t sure what to do with their job now that they realize they don’t have the heart for their original career; they wonder if they’re being called into the ministry. Or their son or daughter has wandered from the Lord and they are concerned for their soul. Or they’re lonely and sad and they want to be married and have children, or remarried.
I get it. I ask for prayer all the time myself. Life is hard. Life is harder without prayer. (BTW Did you see the meme I created for today’s blog on my Face Book page, “One is a Whole Number”?)
Sometimes they tell me they’ve been praying for a long time about this situation and want that added prayer support. Sometimes they tell me they have given up on prayer because they haven’t gotten an answer yet. Or maybe they haven’t gotten the answer they want. Once in awhile someone says they think God hears my prayers “better” (whatever that means), so they want me to intercede on their behalf, kind of like an intermediary with a secret connection to God.
Listen: I do not have a secret connection to God. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even get all my prayers answered all the time the way I would like. It’s probably a good thing.
If God would have let me marry my first boyfriend after many months of our praying about it, I probably would have been divorced by now and nowhere near the destiny and growth I have experienced since. If, after praying about it, the Lord would have allowed me to audition to be in a traveling troupe for a professional theater, my life would definitely have taken a different turn. God did not answer my prayers the way I wanted and heal my mother and later, a good friend I considered like a younger brother, before they died many years apart of the same complications.
Prayer has definitely affected me and guided me. I know it does you, also, or you wouldn’t be reading this. Prayer is simply talking to God, but it is so much more than that. There are hundreds of great Christian books on prayer out there, so I am not going to give you a book list today.
I tend to lean on the saints’ observations on prayer from many generations ago because they said it first. I have discovered that the “newer” books tend to be more expensive and flashy, but say the same things using more words and more complex, unnecessary phraseology. Those “old” books from “the old guys” have deeper insights and more practical, direct applications based on the Word of God and objective reality, not unreasonable, illogical, value-drained emotions.
Look up keywords like D. L. Moody, A. W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, Jonathan Edwards, E.M. Bounds, Brother Lawrence, Charles Finney, brothers John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, George Mueller, Charles H. Spurgeon, and anyone who was a missionary overseas. I love to read the autobiographies from these old guys; they’re serious faith-boosters!
I will say, my single Christian friends, that prayer is our lifeline, our vessels and veins, for the reality of God in the Christian life. Colossians 3:4 says that Christ is our life. We can only access His life in us by faith, by obedience, and by prayer. It is essential as Christians who are single that we lean on our prayer lifeline at all times. Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Christian single, while better or while worse, in sickness or in health, whether rich or poor, cultivate your life in God through prayer.
8 is the number of new beginnings in the Bible because the resurrection of Christ occurred on the eighth day. Well, my single Christian friend, here are 8 things you need to know about prayer that I hope the Lord will use to restart your prayer life.
1) Prayer is a two-way street: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know,” said the Lord in Jeremiah 33:3 (NASB). Yes, my single Christian friends, He invited us to pray for ourselves and for others’ needs. However, I cannot—and you cannot—assume that just because you’re single, you have more time to do whatever you want to do. As in any relationship, you have to create time to do this.
Also, just as communication must be a two-way street for anyone in a committed love relationship with another person, it must also be in our relationship with the Lord. When you’re in a fresh love relationship with someone, you don’t just tell them what you think; you love to hear them talk and share their heart. You want to know all about them. You compliment them and encourage them and sympathize with them. You don’t want to hurt them or sin against them. Well, how hard is it to see the Lord as someone you love?
Compliment Him, which is praise and worship. Give thanks for what He has done in your life and in the lives of others. Keep short accounts with Him and confess your sins as soon as you become aware of them to keep your fellowship with Him always open and sweet. And be quiet once in awhile! Don’t forget to listen to what He might be saying to you. Be sure to check that what you are hearing is aligned with the Bible. Finally, just like you might be on the phone with your new romantic flame for hours late at night and first thing in the morning, so go to the Lord last thing at night and first thing in the morning.
2) Prayer is a two-way street all day long; “evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice,”said the Psalmist in 55:17. When you’re in a fresh love relationship with someone, you love to be with him or her all the time. Remember those lovelorn days? Just like that, talk to Him all day long. You don’t have to wait till you can take a break from class or work and get your hands on your device!
3) Prayer is an attitude of the heart; “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water,” Psalm 63:1 NASB. Christian single, prayer is not a duty or a ritual or words you have to say to an angry, sin-sniffing God so you can get what you want from Him. You don’t have to say prayers to get Him to let you get married. It’s a posture of your heart that is always looking for Him and is open for Him to interrupt and intervene in your heart and life at any time, for any reason. God is not trying to distract you from your responsibilities; He knows your time with Him will enhance your ability to accomplish them.
Remember Martha and Mary? They were sisters Jesus knew and loved. The Bible says that Mary was not only helping in the kitchen; eventually she got herself out of that place to sit with their special guest and spend time getting to know Him. He gently chided Martha, not Mary, for trying to be the perfect hostess with the mostest. She was working hard without setting aside time to worship and love Jesus. He encouraged her not to be so consumed with tasks and accomplishments; see Luke 10:38-42.
He wants to love on you and breathe the life and peace and strength you need to fulfill your responsibilities. Let Him!
4) Prayer is the bridge of access to God’s heart; “my heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘LORD, I am coming,’ ” Psalm 27:8 NLT. Christian single, when you can’t see His hands move in your situation, seek His heart and His purposes for you. It doesn’t matter if the question is whether to buy this house or that other one, who to marry, where to finish your degree, whether to go on this mission trip, how to confront your best friend on a particular sin, or which child to sponsor at a child sponsorship booth. Trust His character and sovereignty. It will be hard to trust Him if you haven’t built up a track record of getting to know Him through seeing answers to prayer.
5) God’s responses are Yes (Nehemiah 2:1-6; Acts 4:29-31), No (1 Samuel 16:1; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10), and Wait for Further Information/Keep Praying (1 Kings 18:42a-43; Luke 18:1-8). Remember: “No” “Keep praying” and “Wait” are also responses to prayer, as much as we hate them! Persist in prayer, my single Christian friend. You’re not going to wear God out with empty repetitions; sometimes you’re being tested as to how much do you really want this (Matthew 15:21-28 and 20:20-23).
6) If you are harboring sin, He will not hear you; see Psalm 66:18 and Proverbs 28:13. Christian single, once the Holy Spirit has made you become aware of some area of sin, whether by commission or omission, you are responsible for that light. It doesn’t matter if it’s no big deal in your family or circle of friends, or something you’ve done most of your life. Deal with it!
Sin is like a bunch of heavy trees that fall across a brook during a storm, stopping its life-giving flow. Eventually those dead trees will create a dead pool seething with dead leaves, algae and vermin stopped up behind them. That temporary dam may even dry the creek out as the edges begin to evaporate closer and closer to the middle! Deal with whatever the Lord is showing you. I’m always working on something to get rid of, or add, that I should be doing. Don’t delay dealing with it; the sooner you get it out of your system, the sooner answers to prayer will flow.
7) Pray for others as much as you pray for yourself; see Philippians 2:3-4 and the real Lord’s prayer in John chapter 17. My single Christian pals, you are expected to pray for yourself, but not only for yourself. The Lord wants you to introduce Him to others by praying for them. There will never be a shortage of people and situations to pray for. Please share the heart of God by offering to pray for them; so much the better, if you pray for them on the spot. When was the last time you offered to pray for a neighbor, coworker, classmate, or enemy? I offer to pray for people on the spot so I don’t forget later!
8) Prayer does not take the place of obedience or suffering; Nehemiah chapter 4; Luke 22:39-44. It’s always easier to pray than to act, but there always comes a time when one must act and no longer only pray. Faith in the Lord is demonstrated by supportive obedience, action, and character. Sometimes, my single Christian friends, answers to prayer, faith, and obedience will lead to suffering. Persist even then, my sister, my brother, and let Him bring out the full character and His outcome prove the divine purpose for all He allows (Romans 5:3-5 and 2 Peter 1:4-10).
Jesus started a new work, the church, from His resurrection on the eighth day of the week. As you are reminded of these 8 basic principles of prayer, my single Christian friends, I pray that His awesome and glorious love, wisdom, and imparted holiness will resurrect a new work within you. Have a blessed week!
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” Oswald Chambers