“Lord, teach us to pray.” — Luke 11:1
Prayer is hard! It takes work. I often feel guilty that I don’t pray enough. Even when I do, I wish I prayed longer. When my prayer life is lacking, rushed and forced, it unfortunately becomes a last resort instead of a first response.
Prayer is the one thing that can have the greatest impact on our lives and the lives of others, yet it becomes an option, not an absolute. Prayer is a discipline we need, want and value. It gets pushed aside to the never-ending demands and busyness of life. This can minimize and marginalize our prayer lives. Prayer becomes a 911 call, a plea for help, instead of a continual conversation with our Lord. There’s nothing wrong with 911 prayers, but when they become our only prayers, there’s something wrong.
Often, I ask people about their prayer life, and I usually get a similar confession. We like the effects of prayer but not the hard work of prayer. We want the results, benefits and blessings without the surrender, sacrifice and sweat. We resort to microwave prayers instead of crockpot prayers. Quick and short instead of slow and long. God longs for us to commune with Him. Instead, we give him “quick words of prayer.”
“To fail to pray, then, is not to merely break some religious rule—it is a failure to treat God as God.” — Timothy Keller
The crazy thing is I have never met someone who says they feel great about their prayer life. Engaging God through prayer can be an ongoing battle. Recently, I talked with a friend who started a prayer ministry 20 years ago and has mobilized 20,000 full-time prayer missionaries. He spends over 25 hours a week in their prayer room and guess what… he told me he struggles with praying! We are never satisfied with our prayer life because there is always room to grow when it comes to praying.
Unfortunately, learning how to pray doesn’t come naturally. I believe the best way to learn is from a mentor. Barry Spofford, who passed away in 2015, was my spiritual mentor who taught me how to pray. For 23 years, I had the joy and honor of serving on staff with Barry and starting FCA in many countries around the world. God used Barry as a spiritual coach to show me the importance of spiritual disciplines, especially prayer. Spending hours of prayer on my knees with Barry, I saw God move mountains. I learned how to pray, not just talk about prayer.
When we met, Barry slipped off his Timex watch, set the timer for an hour, put the watch on the table, and then dropped to his knees. No talk; just prayer. He modeled how to pray right away, instead of waiting, which was the key. He lived by the motto, “Pray it, don’t say it.” He seized the moment and prayed instantly. Barry taught me the power of constant, unbroken, continual, spontaneous prayer. Activating prayer was as simple as calling upon the Lord at all times.
Over the years, I have read, memorized and even written hundreds of prayers. But there is one prayer that I believe has the power to transform lives. I usually utter it dozens of times throughout the day–most of the time out loud. It is a two-word starting point. This prayer has helped me understand both the simplicity of prayer and the power of God. What is the one prayer that will change your life?
When we pray these two words, we acknowledge God is in charge and we are not. We give up control and place all of our trust in Him. The Lord is constantly moving in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit, and when we simply pray, “Yes, Lord!” we are responding to His leading and direction. We are placing Him in charge of our lives.
“Yes, Lord!” is…
a prayer of surrender
a prayer of obedience
a prayer of faith
a prayer of confession
a prayer of gratitude
a prayer of humility
a prayer of brokenness
a prayer of sacrifice
a prayer of trust
Every time I pray these two words, I place God first in my life. I reboot my heart and return to what is most important… God as my Savior and Source. We start a spiritual journey when we pray these two words, and we stay connected when we pray them too. When we say yes to God, we are saying no to everything else. It places the Lord Jesus Christ at the center of our lives.
God can even use the weakest “Yes, Lord!” for His purposes. Pray the prayer that can change your life and the lives of others. “Yes, Lord!” is a breakthrough prayer that can be used to revitalize your prayer life. The Lord is pleased when He hears you speak these two words. Pray them aloud. Pray them silently. Whatever you do, just pray “Yes, Lord!” and experience His power and presence.
Yes, Lord! I give you my life. I need Your power and presence. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Guide me and direct me to increase my prayer life. Teach me to pray. I need Your help today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.