On June 4, 2017 I decided to start a new daily prayer habit.
So for the last 3 weeks I’ve been praying at least 30 minutes a day. Some prayer sessions have been great. I sense God’s presence and feel like I’m praying in power and with authority.
But most days I feel like I’m just going through the motions.
My prayers feel lifeless and I fight thoughts that whisper, “Josh, you’re becoming so religious by turning a life-giving thing like prayer into a dead habit. You’re wasting your time.”
Thank you Accuser, you’re so “encouraging.”
When I get thoughts like that I go back to the Word to meditate on the truth.
I did that today. I read James 5:17–18 that says:
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
I love this story because it’s an example of a specific prayer that was either going to be answered or not.
Specific prayers are scary. It takes guts to pray like that!
It’s risky business to boldly pray for someone to be healed because if they’re not then everyone knows your prayer didn’t work.
So a lot of us avoid specific prayers.
Instead we say generic prayers like, “I pray you would be blessed and that you would sense God’s love and peace in your life.”
Nothing wrong with that but how do we really know it was answered? We don’t.
On the other hand, if you command blind eyes to open in Jesus’ name you’ll know pretty quick if your prayer worked or not.
This is another reason why it’s important we pray for the sick.
When we do it moves us into the realm of results. It actually grounds us in reality because we get to see if our prayers are influencing reality or not.
When Elijah prayed it really rained. It didn’t just “rain in the spirit.” Clouds formed and rain drops everyone could see and feel fell down from the sky.
This is also why Jesus said to pray in this manner:
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On Earth as it is in Heaven.”
Heaven is just fine. Nobody is sick or blind or hopeless up there. So we need to bring that reality to Earth. Again, this is the realm of results.
So as I was meditating on “specific prayers and getting results” I thought about how I focus on results in nearly every area except my spiritual life.
During the day I work as a direct response copywriter and I measure everything!
When I email a list I know exactly:
- How many people opened the email (open rate)
- How many clicked on the email (click through rate)
- How many people filled out the form on the landing page (conversion rate)
- How many of those people turned into clients (closing rate)
I operate like this because if you don’t then you end up throwing marketing dollars down the toilet. I do not advocate just “putting something out there” to see what happens.
Businesses do this all the time. They’ll pay for a billboard but have no way of tracking results. Or they’ll buy a newspaper ad with no tracking mechanism setup. It’s foolish.
Then I thought about my health. I used to just go “work out for 45 minutes a day” but I got sick of not seeing results. I got tired of just going to the gym and going through the motions without getting stronger, faster, etc.
So I joined CrossFit. Why? Because they measure everything too! It’s all about results. Are you beating your max? Did you lift more than you did last time? Did you run faster? I love it. And it works.
So I thought, “What’s keeping me from applying the same type of thinking to my prayer life?”
If I’m going to really make a lifelong commitment to prayer then I have to know if my prayers are working or not. I’m not content to just go through the motions and check off a list that said I prayed for X minutes a day.
I want to know if that person I prayed for got healed.
I want to know if that prophetic word I gave someone came to pass.
I want to know if that person I was praying for got baptized in the Spirit.
But if I want to know this then it’s going to require that I track my prayers.
It means I need to take prayer more seriously. I need to take it at least as seriously as I do business and working out.
So that’s where I find myself today. With an awareness that if I want to know if my prayers are working then I need to pray specific prayers more and also track my results.
Now the next step is “How.” I’ll give it some more thought and update this post later once I figure out a good way to track my prayers.
Some people may think this is weird but that’s ok.
I think it’s weird to spend so much time doing something without ever asking, “Is this working?”
If there’s a better way, if there’s room for improvement then I want to know. So anyway, hope this gets you thinking about prayer in a new way and gets you excited to see your prayers work!