Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 23 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “My Seven Essential Daily Prayers.”
In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing some thoughts from the introduction of this book I wrote a couple of years ago about my journey into a new experience in my prayer life. As this podcast/blogpost goes out, I will be praying that each listener/reader will be blessed and inspired to a deeper walk with God through prayer.
(For information on obtaining a copy of My Seven Essential Prayers, click on the picture for a link to my “author page” on amazon.com)
Prayer has always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my mother taught me to “talk to Jesus” every night when she tucked me into bed. I grew up attending church, and early on I was often asked to lead our church youth group in prayer. At home, our family paused to pray before every meal three times a day. My turn to “say grace” at the table happened regularly.
The idea of prayer was such an integral part of our lives that I didn’t think very much about it. That changed when I was about half-way through my teenage years.
One night when I was sixteen, I had a hard time settling down for the night. I tossed and turned on my bed for an hour or more, but sleep wouldn’t come. Everyone else was already chasing dreamland fantasies, but not me. Our big old farmhouse was lighted only by faint moonlight streaming through the windows. Everything was quiet—except for the heavy breathing of my slumbering family.
I often went for nighttime walks, so on that night when sleep wouldn’t come it was not unusual for me to get up, get dressed, and head out the back door. I glanced up at the clear sky and shining moon and began walking along a lane that led to the fields of our farm. It was a beautiful night, a cool evening with a gentle, almost imperceptible breeze.
Out there, under the moon and stars, I began to talk with God.
I was no stranger to prayer, but this time was different. God was talking to me! There was no physical presence I could touch with my hands, but I could truly feel Him walking beside me. There were no audible words—except mine—but I knew when He spoke to my heart.
I gazed up into the star-studded sky.
“Jesus,” I said, “tonight I accept you as my personal Savior and invite you to be Lord of my life. I open my heart’s door to you. Please come into my heart and live in me!”
In all the years of religion through my childhood and youth, never once had I taken this step. But that night, alone on that dusty lane under the moon and stars, that prayer became an anchoring milestone in my spiritual journey.
“Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?” I asked.
At that moment I heard God’s voice inviting me to a lifetime of Christian ministry. The compass of my life was reset to highways and byways I could never have imagined. Now, six decades later, I look back with amazement. On that dusty road my first baby steps of personal faith began a journey that continues even to this day.
In June 2011 I retired from 40 years of pastoral ministry.
I didn’t know it that evening when I walked that moonlit path, but—looking back—I can see God’s hand at work, leading, guiding, and empowering my walk with Him—and teaching me new lessons in prayer all along the way.
By early December after retiring, I had decided to reconnect with my blue-collar roots by leasing out my Dodge Ram pickup truck to deliver fifth-wheel RVs and travel trailers from factories to dealerships for their market. I genuinely enjoyed my “owner-operator” status in this tiny niche of the trucking industry. The job involved many, many miles of driving—and many hours of solitary reflection—as I traveled the highways of The United States and Canada. I was blessed to see some incredibly beautiful places, and I often found myself praising God all for the beauty of His Creation.
But the devil was out there on the road with me, too. At times during those long hours of getting from one place to another, I found my mind wandering into unhealthy areas of imagination. I knew that indulging in impure thoughts would sow bitter seeds of tragic loss in my spiritual experience and could inevitably destroy everything I held dear if I allowed them to grow. The fruit would be bitter, indeed. There’s no way I wanted to go there!
The only recourse I had was prayer. I spoke right out loud—right there in the cab of my truck—traveling sixty-miles-per-hour on the freeway, with a 38’ fifth-wheel trailer behind me.
“Lord,” I cried, “I want purity in my mind! I don’t want these evil thoughts. I reject them, and I pray for the purity that only you can give!”
To my utter amazement, immediately my thoughts were freed from the devil’s trap, and I could focus once again on healthy, life-building matters.
Over the next several months that simple prayer for purity expanded with several more. I began adding “righteousness in my heart,” and “integrity for my life” every time another tempting thought would rear its ugly head. And each time, God graciously delivered me by removing those errant, dark imaginations and replacing them with hope, peace, and light.
Eventually, I began to sense that God was taking me into a new journey I never anticipated. Those basic three prayers—purity, righteousness, and integrity— were joined by another four: “joy for my spirit,” “strength for my body,” “wisdom for my counsel,” and “to be a godly influence in the world.” These seven became my personal “essential daily prayers.” Of course, my prayers are never restricted to those seven only, but they are where I still begin my day, every day. I cannot survive spiritually without making this vital connection with God.
Witnessing the progressive growth and development of this journey has been wonderfully exciting. I have presented my experience and the ideas of My Seven Essential Daily Prayers series in live devotionals, and numerous sermons. And, if God opens the door for it, I’d love to develop a retreat-type seven-session seminar for “My Seven Essential Daily Prayers.”
My deepest prayer of all, however, is that every reader of these pages might find a rich personal walk with God, a vibrant spiritual journey, an abiding hunger for purity and righteousness, and to be filled with the Creator’s Agápe love.
Now, what I want to do is share a small summary of each of the seven prayers I write about in the book.
- “Purity in My Mind.” Because I recognize my imperfection and natural sinful inclinations, I must pray for purity as a gift from God, brought to me through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Purity is the soil in which God’s agápe love flourishes. Agápe love is unconditional and unbroken, and this was commanded by Jesus to his followers that they love [agápe) one another. We cannot generate this from our own choices. It must come as a gift from the source of love–God himself.
- “Righteousness in My Heart.” In the list of beatitudes given by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (v. 6). The spiritual “heart” is the seat of our wants and desires–the place of our innermost cravings. Since I truly desire the infilling promised by Jesus, in this prayer I open my life to him to create that hunger and thirsting I need.
- “Integrity in My Life.” Integrity involves both character and competence. My sinful nature wants to compromise for imagined short-term self-centered gain without the necessary investment of time and effort to do the right thing honestly and transparently. Only the Holy Spirit living in and through me can accomplish the goals of serving others with true excellence which will rightly represent Him.
- “Joy in My Spirit.” The Bible tells us “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). So, if I want the strength only God can give me, I need to have the joy in my spirit which only He can give. Thus, I pray for His joy to fill my spirit every day!
- “Strength for My Body.” Our body actually belongs to God since He created it. We are stewards (i.e. “caretakers”) of our physical being, and as such we should care for it as faithful stewards, living as much as possible to achieve the best health we can. Healthy living is God’s ideal for us, not to work our way into His good graces, but as a testimony of His amazing love (agápe) and grace. Praying for (physical) strength is good, but we must not work against God’s answers to our prayers by unhealthful practices.
- “Wisdom for My Counsel.” Once again citing the Apostle Paul, “Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). This prayer (#6 in my list) is simply to have the Cross of Christ as the heart of every communication–spoken or unspoken–that comes from my life.
- “To Be a Godly Influence in the World.” To live in this world is to bear influence in the lives around us. The question, then, is what kind of influence will it be? Will it encourage “godly” living (i.e. “”wholesome,” “morally upright,” “positive,” etc.), or will it contribute to the moral decline of those it touches? As I look back on my life, I see innumerable times when my influence was anything but helpful to someone else’s spiritual health. (“God, forgive me!”) Titus 2:12 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
I hope all this doesn’t blow you away! Writing this book was not an attempt to sway others to my way of thinking on any of these points. Nor was it an attempt to just “sell a lot of books” (as if, that is ever going to happen! LOL). Instead, it is part of my testimony of how the Lord has been working in my life, ever since my very young years. A believer’s testimony cannot be divorced from Christian witness. Revelation 12:11 says, “And they [the saints of God] overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
Perhaps my testimony can be an encouragement to another hungry soul.
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll begin a special six-part series on the Book of Romans. Next week’s title is “Romans, Part I: State of Man.”
Be sure to tune in, and invite someone else to listen with you!
If you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please do share the links with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!