“Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.” - (1 Timothy 2:8) In Bill’s new book, Simple Skills for Every Man: Success in Relationships, Work and Walk with God, he shares the true secret of success in life and love, including talking with the God who created men!
“During my years as a lead pastor, I looked for ways to help men shine. I believe men have everything they need inside to be successful in their purpose and influential in their families. I also find many men get bored with prayer. The main reason is that we don’t know how to listen to God in prayer. Any man who hears from the God of creation, author of salvation and inventor of risk will look at prayer as an adventure rather than a boring duty. So, how do we learn to listen to the God who created us as relational beings? Here is one skill that has transformed my prayer life, as well as men I have mentored.
Listening Skill: God, you go first. Often men feel their minds wander when they try to pray. Periodically, begin your time of prayer with the statement, “God, you go first today.” Then assume any thought that comes to mind is something God wants to talk with you about. Don’t worry about whether the thoughts are positive, negative or neutral.
I fought this for a long time. I would set aside time to pray and then I would get flooded with thoughts that were ugly, dark and focused on areas of my life I wanted to ignore. I assumed this was Satan or his cadre of demons trying to distract me from praying as I should. Then I became a dad. I noticed that when my kids approached me, I was eager to bring up issues I knew were holding them back that they were trying to ignore. I started a habit with them that went something like this:
“Dad, can I talk with you?”
“Sure, I’d love to.”
“Can I spend go to dinner at my friend Bob’s Friday?”
“Well, I’ve noticed you have been lazy about cleaning your room lately and you’ve been mean to your brothers. Are you going to act that way at Bob’s house?”
“No, dad. I wouldn’t do that.”
“Is there a reason you act that way at our house but wouldn’t act that way at their house?”
“I see your point dad. I am sorry and I will work hard this week at being better at home. If I do that, would it be okay if I go to Bob’s?”
“If you follow through, I don’t see a problem.”
God is a much better Dad than I am. If I can figure out as a dad that there are issues I need to bring up with my kids, certainly God wants to bring up issues with us. It makes sense then to willingly open ourselves up to the process.
Once you pray, “God you go first,” use the thoughts that come to mind to form points of conversation with God. Confess the sins that come to mind. Talk over the decisions that confront you. Admit to the fears that are holding you back. Agonize over the people you love who have real needs. Celebrate the victories. Report the areas that make you angry. Let every thought become a reason to talk with God as it gives God the opportunity to be in charge of your prayer time. Keep this going until things go silent. At that point, you can bring up whatever you would like and see where that conversation leads. By letting God go first, you forge a friendship with the powerful God who created you and wants the best for you and you are giving Him permission to speak wisdom into your life.
*Bill and Pam Farrel are the authors of 40 books including two newest: Simple Skills of Every Man: Success in Relationships, Work, and Your Walk with God and Simple Skills for Every Woman: Keeping It All Together.