“How is your prayer life,” I asked recently of another pastor. I could tell by the hesitation in his voice that his prayer life was suffering. In a year that has been challenging for all leaders, it is not surprising that their situations have negatively impacted a leader’s prayer life. So, how do you turn around your prayer life when the spiritual well becomes dry? As I shared that day on the phone, it is time for the leader to prime the prayer pump to renourish the spirit inside of them by following four necessary steps to priming the prayer spirit.
Pray with a purpose
We know we should pray. Since childhood, we have been taught to pray first thing in the morning, before every meal, and right before we go to bed. But going through the motions of praying loses the purpose that prayer was to establish. Praying with a purpose keeps the main thing the main thing, and that is an open line of communication with God daily. Praying with a purpose focuses on God rather than on the prayer needs being sent it up. Each prayer prayed is directed to God in a way that honors him and enables him to act on behalf of the needs being lifted.
Pray with passion
How many times have you prayed and fell asleep? How many times have you rushed through prayer so you could eat? If you are honest, it has probably happened more than you want to acknowledge. God has convicted me over the last year if I am going to pray, I need to do it with passion. Praying with passion does not mean you have to scream and shout, but it does mean you have to dedicate your heart, mind, body, and soul to him and not be distracted by what is happening around you. Sometimes it takes me three to five minutes to calm my mind before I can truly focus on God and the needs I am petitioning him with. I have concluded that I do not want to pray for praying’s sake; I want to commune with God by speaking and listening to him, and if that takes an extra five minutes to clear my mind to become a passionate prayer warrior, I am willing to do that.
Pray with people
I love praying alone, there is something special about getting alone with God, but I am learning that there are times I need others to pray for me and with me. When your spiritual well is running dry, it is great to pray with other people who have the spiritual maturity and trust to help you overcome the obstacles before you. As you pray with other people, you are seeing modeled before you a prayer position that will encourage your spirit and effectively invite your soul to take in their prayer posture and renourish what is empty in you. The most effective prayer times have been where I have submitted in humility for a group of guys to gather around me and prayed over me by allowing the spirit to refill my soul by the pouring out of their prayers.
Pray over the problem
The word ‘release’ has been a recent prayer of mine. It is giving the problem or burden over to God and asking him to take it from me. Too many people are carrying around issues and responsibilities that are not meant for them, but they cannot release them and give them to God. One of the most effective ways to prime the spiritual pump is to release whatever is holding you back to living a spirit-filled life over to God. Sometimes I walk around my house when I am alone and shout, “I release it God! I release it God!” I know that may sound hokey, but I am verbally doing what I am asking in my prayer life, and that is praying over the problem and then giving it to God. For me, it is an action step to what my heart has already done in my spirit.
Whatever you are facing today is not a surprise to God. Your spiritual health is just as important as the health of your parishioner. Do not be so quick to dismiss the emptiness that you are feeling in your spiritual walk. It is okay to ask for others to pray for you, with you, and encourage you. It is okay to be vulnerable to God and to speak with him through a broken lens. The only way to refill your spiritual life is to reprime the spiritual pump in your own life by letting go and allowing God to work, and that starts by praying.
Dr. Desmond Barrett is lead pastor at Summit Church of the Nazarene in Ashland, Kentucky