Prayer is Intimacy with God
We are meant to be superheroes, but we've forgotten that this is who we are when we partner with God (so we make action movies about superheroes instead) - but, dive in to scripture and you'll find Elijah running faster than chariots, Phillip translocating and people walking into locked rooms! Along with sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky and dead people coming to life! We've gotten distracted by the things around us and neglected our relationship with the one who gave us our identity.
This is the crux of prayer, it's about our connection to God - sure, this involves talking and listening but these are individual parts of a close, intimate relationship. I don't just want to talk and listen to my wife on the phone, I want our conversation to take place when I'm WITH her, close and intimate so we can fully communicate with each other, I want to be one with her. This is God's desire for us, this is prayer.
Pitch a Tent
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6: 5-8)
Not all of us like being alone for extended periods - but Jesus did this lots and throughout history lots of his followers have made this a priorty. Although in truth, when Jesus and his followers have been 'alone', what they have actually been doing is spending quality time With God, getting to know him intimately.
In most of our lives it is crowded, noisy and fast paced - this makes it super important to be intentional about being alone (with God), being silent and being still.
Tents are really cool - and they are super useful when camping at creation fest!
You can move a tent and pitch it in different places
They create a space that is distinct from the craziness of the outside world
But, they are also thin, they are still very much connected to the world around them. They are not a permanent hiding place but a temporary place for sleep/rest that allow us to more fully engage in the world around us when we emerge from them - just like prayer.
Our personal prayer life with God can be like pitching a tent. Available anywhere. We access God's presence in a distinct way. Then, God's distinctive presence starts to become apparent in us as we step out into the world (Think about Moses, his glowing face and all of the superhero stuff he did!)
Praying in Jesus' Name: we learn to do this as we spend intimate time with God. This has nothing to do with how we end our prayers by the way. To do something 'in someone's name' means to do it as they would do. This is all about praying for the things that God wants to pray for. How do we know God's desire? By being intimate with Him. I know what stuff my wife likes because we hang out a lot. Praying in Jesus' name is no different. So, instead of praying for what you want and adding a magic formula to the end of the prayer; listen to Holy Spirit, pray what he inspires you to pray, then see what crazy kingdom adventures unfold...
Prayer is Connection Across Space & Time
Paul says to the Ephesians that we are all "seated with him (Jesus) in the heavenly realms".
For those who belong to Jesus, our position in the spiritual universe is seated with him in the throne room of the father.
Think about it, if I'm there with Jesus and you are there with Jesus then we are both there together.
When you pray, no matter where you are on planet earth, you are connected to every other follower of Jesus who has ever walked the earth. Prayer is a like a gathering of superheroes gathering to hatch plans of the Kingdom together with the King - now that's a cool picture.
When we pray we should expect to have Holy Spirit lay people and situations on our hearts that we are to pray for. We can hear about what is happening on the other side of the planet (without even watching the news) and then join in with seeing the Kingdom come in those situations through prayer, but how does this actually work...
Prayer is Prophesy - It Unleashes Heaven on Earth
"Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake."
Our prayers, like firework powder, are gathered up in heaven and then hurled back down to earth. Fire in the Bible brings refining and cleansing, it burns away the stuff that is less than perfect and allows goodness to be re-revealed.
Once the heavenly fire power has shifted things on earth we then, with a new ease and flow, join in with heaven's agenda and are filled with holy sprit power to practically be part of the answer to our own prayers and the prayers of countless other saints - that's pretty cool.
Prayer is like reaching into the coming kingdom of God and dragging heaven's reality into the here and now.
Family Prayer Ideas
Mark out an area of your house/garage/shed/garden which can be a space for alone time with God.
Write the verses above from Matthew's Gospel on your bedroom doors and a reminder to spend intimate time alone with God.
Make a Prayer Map. Use string to join pins that represent everyone your family is praying for and everyone who is praying for your family. When you see an answer or action to/from prayer colour in the string or mark them with a bit of coloured tape. Watch the rainbow of answered prayer unfold.
Draw or make a throne, write names of people on there who you are committing to pray for about specific issues. When you know of an answer to prayer put on your favourite song and dance with joy, celebrating that your prayers are powerful and effective.
Make a habit of walking around your local area and laying hands on places that people hang out or even on specific homes (you could just touch the end of their driveway) - speak blessings over these places, knowing that as you pray, things shift in the heavens. You could try marking the places you've prayed on a map. When you have or hear of a kingdom encounter in the places you have prayed, add a fireball to the map. You could even leave a little fire sticker on the actual places you've prayed (remember to be respectful and ask permission if you need to - also, use biodegradable materials).
Write prayers of blessing on your shoes. Walk these out onto the local area. They'll gently rub off your shoes onto the places your feet go. You can do this monthly, weekly or daily. Use this as a reminder to pray at all times as you walk.