Prayer for most of my life felt like the mountain that I couldn’t climb. Not that I didn’t want to climb it, but because every time that I started the journey I failed miserably. When I was in my mid-twenties I became the pastor of a wonderful country church. The first Easter we had a prayer challenge, that would prove my weakness in prayer. We had people signed up to pray from Good Friday to Easter morning. Let’s just say my prayer time was an epic failure. I prayed at most five minutes out of the hour that I was signed up for. Can you say pastor fail? I know I felt the weight.
Yep I just admitted that the senior pastor of the church fell asleep fifty-five minutes out of the hour of prayer. But God would use that experience and a few other prayer mishaps to bring me to a crisis so that my heart would be conditioned for change. God would take me from praying minutes to being about to pray hours. And here’s the secret, it’s not in the want to, rather for me it was in the how to. I would study prayer over the next 18 to 24 months about prayer. Here’s what I came up with, prayer needs to be in two sections. First prayer needs to be focused vertically and then prayer needs to impact horizontally. As you learn this prayer method you will find this being a helpful tool, that’s all it is. At the end of it prayer must be about getting to God, trusting him, loving him, and giving to him your life.
Vertical Prayer is about getting focused on God. I learned to do this by exalting God and humbling myself. When we are focused vertically I want to be right with God. I use scripture because scripture is from God, revealing truth about who God is to humanity. So here’s how I pray vertically.
Adoration – prayer that focuses on God’s character.
I begin with scripture, such as Psalm 8, Colossians 1:15-21. Then I follow praying scripture to God by using words that only describe God to say God you are this… (examples: transcendent, awesome, wonderful, steadfast love) When I do this I am growing in faith. As I ascribe truth about who God is I look at God righteously and I place him higher.
Confession – prayer that focuses on my character, my sin.
After telling God who he is, I confess my sins of who my flesh is. Yes we are forgiven in Christ, but confession is good because we must not be submitted to the flesh, but rather growing in godliness. So when I confess my sin I am saying God I live accordingly to your word. I love you and your ways greater than I love my sin.
Thanksgiving – prayer that focuses on what God does, in spite of me.
After I raised up who God is and humbled myself, I am now in a place to be grateful for his provision. God has given me great and kind things.
You see adoration, confession, and thanksgiving is climbing the mountain. It is getting vertical. After going through these three sections of prayer, after getting vertical I find myself at the top of the prayer mountain and now I am able for the first time during this prayer to see others and my needs clearly. God wants to answer our prayer but the reason why he doesn’t is most of the time because of one of two reasons. 1. My prayer is lowering who he is or 2. My prayer is heightening who I am. God will never answer a prayer that is detrimental to his character and you don’t want him to answer a prayer that’s detrimental to your eternity.
In closing understand this, when I climb the mountain of prayer, God wants me at the peak. He wants me to see things that are horizontal, the way he sees them. When we see things horizontally before vertically we cannot see the whole picture. When I climb the mountain of prayer I must begin with seeking who God is before I seek what he can do for me.
Horizontal prayer - Horizontal prayer should always be impacted by vertical power. After I spent time seeking the Lord Vertically I am now ready to view my relationships, needs, hurts, unforgiveness through God’s eyes. God already knows what I need so asking will be easy. Now after vertical prayer I am ready to ask the Lord for the Holy Spirits power to impact the horizontal.
Intercession – praying for others.
I believe it is important that I pray for others before I pray for my needs. Jesus served others (Mark 1045). Jesus expects me to pray for others (1 Sam 12:23). So I will follow Jesus. Here I pray for the lost, hurting, for my family, people’s jobs, and many other things.
Ask -praying for my wants and needs.
At this point I am ready to ask the Lord for what’s on my heart. Funny thing is, by this time in my prayer my heart is usually changed. I usually ask sometimes for different things than I would or maybe I ask in a different way.
Surrender – pray of handing over all of my prayer to God
Prayer of surrender is about submitting to God and asking God to reveal anything that isn’t vertical.
The beautiful thing about climbing the mountain is the view on top of the mountain. If you want to see God impact in amazing ways get vertical first in your prayers and then seek for vertical impact on the horizontal.