Praying with Your Heart
Prayer is not about mindlessly dictating a list of requests to God. Matthew 6:7 says that people who repeat meaningless words will not be heard by God. If your heart isn't in it, it's worthless!
You don't have to cry to pray with all your heart. I'm going to give you examples of when I've wept while praying for people, but I do not cry the majority of the time, and I'm still fervently praying with all my heart. I never cry on purpose (I prefer not to cry because it drains me, and God requires me to take care of my family), but only when I'm overwhelmed by the burden of what I'm praying. Maybe it's the Holy Spirit loving that person through me, or maybe I'm feeling the Holy Spirit's emotion about that prayer request. (Jesus was also found weeping when He prayed, and He is our example.) God says that fervent prayers are heard (James 5:16), so if your prayers aren't fervent, why would God listen to lukewarm prayers that you don't even mean?
Having said that you don't have to cry, don't be afraid to cry. People that are afraid to cry are afraid to love. Some people say that love is not a feeling, that is is commitment and a set of actions, and they use I Corinthians 13 to prove it. However, the Bible also says that love is compassion, and compassion is definitely a feeling. If someone is crying and I don't care, I have no compassion for them. I just keep walking along like the guys who were not the good Samaritan. Our heart is supposed to be moved. It is a command from Scripture that most people disregard.
For example, I have been praying for years for the salvation of the husband of a woman that I know. When she asked me to pray for him, I saw pain in her eyes. I knew there was more to the story that I didn't know. As I was praying one day, the Holy Spirit put a heavy burden on my heart, and I wept before God for the salvation of his soul. I have prayed for this man hundreds of times, and I've wept maybe 4 or 5 times for him, only when God overwhelmed me with the burden. To this day, I still pray for him. Only God knows the day of his salvation.
Another time God placed a woman on my heart that I was counseling. I felt a heavy burden to pray for her for a full hour one afternoon, and water kept coming out of my eyes that entire hour. To this day, I still don't know what God was doing during that hour in her life. I just knew that I needed to pray for her, and I did.
Another time I felt the need to pray for my sister, and I felt the Spirit striving in the background, praying through me during that hour. There were no tears that time, but my heart was strongly engaged. After an hour, I felt released, and the intensity went away. I didn't decide to pray for an hour, by the way. Many times during that hour, I would want to get up and leave the room, but the Spirit wouldn't let me. I must have asked at least 5 times, may I please go? God knows that I am willing to do whatever He asks. God's compelling is a sweet compelling, and I just can't let Him down, even if I'm worn out and tired.
I pray for many pastors. I asked one pastor what he wanted me to pray for, and he said, “That God would make my heart bleed, that I might know Him better.” The first few times I prayed this for him, I cried because I didn't want God to hurt him. I stopped praying it because it was too hard for me to ask. But then I felt convicted because I told him I would pray, and I didn't want to be a liar. Now I've prayed it so many times that I'm calloused about it. (Either that, or I've realized that the eternal treasure for him far outweighs the pain now, so I'm actually praying that God will reward him by making his heart bleed.)
Sometimes I don't see answers to prayer right away, and other times God answers miraculously in a short amount of time. When you pray for so many people, you see a lot happen. Even on sanctification issues, I see growth in people in areas that I'm praying for. When someone excitedly tells me how they overcame anger that week, my heart exults. Because my heart is involved, my reward is greater. The more you love people, the more your heart will be in your prayers for them.
I had prayed hundreds of times for a man from the Czech Republic to be saved. I had never met him, but a friend of mine passed her burden to me to pray for him. I prayed every day for years for his salvation. I threw my heart into my prayers. Over time I grew to love him as a brother, and I wanted so badly for him to be saved. (I shed no tears, though.) Last year our church announced that he had been saved! I felt so much joy – my heart was soaring! I nearly screamed, “Wooohooo!” except for the fact that I did not want to cause a disturbance. I felt like I was walking on clouds the rest of the day. I had a taste of what the angels felt because of my obedience to put my heart into my prayers.
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