Book Excerpts

Excerpt from: 30 Days to Taming Your Emotions

Day 1 : Building a Firm Foundation: Fighting Prayerlessness

Men always ought to pray and not lose heart.

LUKE 18:1 NKJV

The remora fish is a great role model of the importance of staying connected to a source bigger and more powerful than ourselves. This fish has an oval sucking disk on the top of its head that allows it to attach itself to the underside of other large fish or sea vessels. The shark is its favorite host. Once it attaches to the shark, the remora does not have to concern itself with daily issues such as food, transportation, or safety. It feeds on the food that falls from the shark’s mouth as it devours its prey. Of course, the remora has the option of swimming on its own, but when it decides to connect to the shark, it goes where the shark goes. It does not attempt to go in an opposite direction. Protection? It is a non-issue for one who is connected to such a powerful and fearless creature. Inadequacy? No way! The remora knows the shark can carry it to places it could never go alone.

Hmmm, doesn’t this sound like the relationship God desires to have with His children? He wants us to feed on the Word that comes out of His mouth. He wants us to follow Him where He leads and not to take off on independent excursions, assuming He will tag along. He wants us to live with the assurance that He will protect not only our lives, but also our relationships and all that pertains to us. Oh, that we would emulate the remora. We would then find ourselves securing our attachment to God on a daily basis through prayer. He is waiting to carry us to places we fear to go alone. Prayer connects us to this inexhaustible Source that supplies our every need. Unfortunately, too many people wait until a crisis forces them to make the connection. The prophet Isaiah admonished the Jewish leaders to “pray to the LORD day and night for the fulfillment of his promises. Take no rest, all you who pray. Give the LORD no rest” (Isaiah 62:6-7 NLT). It is so easy to slip into the habit of giving God too much rest. Being a schedule-driven person, I find that I tend to be more consistent in prayer when I use the prayer guidelines that I established using the word “pray” as an acronym:

Pause. I stop all activity and focus completely on God. Worship is total preoccupation; we can only be preoccupied with one thing at a time. I understand many people pray while they exercise or drive to work. However, the greatest honor and respect we can give to anyone is our undivided attention. I slow my pace when I come into His presence. I breathe deeply and slowly. With each breath I absorb His holiness and His power. I have my prayer journal and a pen ready to record His thoughts to me throughout the time of prayer.

Reverence. I express my admiration for all His attributes. I hallow (make sacred; bless) His name. At this point, distractions start to pop up like dandelions. I will notice a dead leaf on a houseplant or something out of place in the room, or I will suddenly remember a task I need to put on my to-do list. I have learned to jot down the task in my journal and ignore the other issues for what they are—mere distractions that can be dealt with later. I have also learned that praying audibly helps to minimize wandering thoughts.

I come into His presence singing songs that exalt Him. I thank Him for all He has done and will do. I express several things I am particularly grateful for that day. I read and meditate on a passage of Scripture. I recommend that beginners read a chapter in the life of Jesus from one of the four Gospels, or a chapter from the book of Proverbs that corresponds with the date of the month (there are 31 chapters). Further reading options may include a chapter from the book of Acts, noting the power of the early church, or a chapter from the book of Psalms. I personally enjoy studying particular subject matters, such as faith, forgiveness, pride, and so forth.

Ask. I ask for forgiveness of my sins, making every effort to be specific. I pray for the power to live a Christian life and ask God to give me a passion for His Word and for prayer. I ask for His will to be done in every aspect of my life: spiritually, physically, financially, relationally, vocationally, and emotionally. I pray for each one separately.

Using a prepared list, I ask for God’s will to be done in the lives of my family members; friends; coworkers; neighbors; pastor/church; national, state and local government; and others. Rather than launching into a “let it be…” mode, I ask the Holy Spirit to make intercession for me according to the will of God.

Yield. I must subordinate my requests to God’s sovereign will, trusting that He knows what is best. I strive to maintain a “nevertheless” attitude. Therefore, I am careful to conclude my prayer by saying, “Nevertheless, not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.” I leave the prayer room knowing I have made the connection and have been refueled. Why? God is always listening to the prayers of His children.

The old adage that it is not what you know but whom you know that gives you the advantage in a situation is true—especially from a spiritual perspective. When we have a relationship with God, we come to understand that He is sufficient to handle any demand placed upon us. That kind of confidence comes from knowing we are connected to omnipotence.

To develop good prayer habits, start with a 15-minute commitment to prayer for five days per week. Further, take mini-praise breaks throughout each day and make faith building declarations such as:
“Lord, I thank You that You are with me.”
“Father, You are awesome. Nothing is too hard for you.”
“Thank You for life, health, strength, wisdom, and a sound mind.”