by Fred Kawashima
I’ve been a member of the prayer ministry for over 10 years or so. However, the Lord has been teaching me how to pray since the day I received Him in high school over 44 years ago (gasp!). But it really wasn’t until the last 10+ years that I gained a deeper understanding of this thing called prayer. For most of my Christian life my prayers were like throwing jelly against the wall to see what stuck. I often viewed God as my personal genie using Scripture verses out of context such as Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you...” John 14:14 “If you ask me anything in my name I will do it.” John 16:24 “...Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full.” I did not purposefully take scripture out of context, I just did not study it enough to get its true meaning. There is more to prayer than just asking. It’s about understanding the Word of God. It is also about hearing from the Holy Spirit. It is both the logos, written word of God, and rhema, God personally speaking to us. You need to know what you are praying is scripturally correct and appropriate for the situation.
The best example of how we are to pray is in Matthew 6:9-13, the “Lord’s Prayer.” One thing that jumped out to me was verse 10, where it says, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” With the Holy Spirit’s clarity, I gained a deeper discernment of how to pray. In a nutshell, it is to pray according to God’s will. His will is what is happening in heaven and we want the same thing to happen on earth. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). Well, how do we do that? I am still learning but it involves knowing His Word, having an intimate and ongoing relationship with the Father through just talking to Him, and being led through hearing the Holy Spirit (distinguishing His voice from ours like sheep hear their shepherd’s voice).
Of course, this takes consistency, similar to spending time with friends and family where after a considerable amount of time you know their voice, their likes and dislikes, etc. You know how they will react and respond. You become more intimate with them. So, it is with our Jesus. When we pray with that type of relationship, we can pray specifically, not general, and with greater faith because we have a greater understanding and sensitivity to what God is doing. That is the objective which I am still pursuing: a work in progress indeed!
Not too long ago a good friend of mine from college was very ill. I was able to visit him in the hospital and went with “great faith” believing the Lord would heal him: he died. What happened Lord? Did you not hear me! Well, I did not ask Jesus how to pray for my friend. I had my own agenda and so did God. I prayed according to my will on earth and not that of heaven/God’s will. I wasn’t listening to the Holy Spirit either. It was a heartbreaking lesson to relearn. Since then, I’ve had other opportunities to pray over our church members and remembered that lesson. My dear sister Donelle Murakami passed away recently. Before that, we were able to visit and pray for her. This time my prayer was different. I know that God's ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not mine, they are much higher (Isaiah 55:8-9). She was my sister and prophetic prayer partner for a long time. She will be missed.
We are all called to understand how to pray and do so without ceasing. Praying is not only for those in the prayer ministry or church staff but also for every believer. As you learn how to pray effectively, you can pray for yourself, family, or others in specific ways. Essentially you will be in the prayer ministry which is our calling. You will be equipped to go anywhere and to pray for anyone.