From Discipline to Delight
by Lavoy Newton
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rayer is an essential to our spiritual life as food is to our physical body. There are many different types of prayer mentioned in the Bible—prayers of praise, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praying in the Spirit, just to name a few. They are all important and useful. There are times I feel led by the Holy Spirit to pray in a particular way, and this may change from day to day.

The most important element of prayer is the simple fact that we pray. Prayer is dependence on God. It is where we humble ourselves before God and He turns our weaknesses into strengths through a transfer of His power.

James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (NKJV), so our first step is to simply talk with God. We must establish a pattern of prayer in our life.

This is the beginning of a new year and a good time to set a new pattern in our lives. It takes about 21 days to establish a habit.

I set aside time for prayer early in the morning. I love the stillness of the morning, and this time works best for me. It is important for you to find the time of the day that works best for you. My grandpa, Rev. E. L. Newton, found that late at night, after everyone else was in bed, worked best for him.

Whether it is morning, noon, or night, put together a pattern of prayer in your life. If you do not have a plan of action, you will not have a successful prayer life. However, if you do establish the discipline of a daily quiet time, you can move from a discipline to a delight! Once your prayer time has become a delight, it can then move to discipleship.

I begin my quiet time with God through reading the Word of God. It has become such a delight for my life that each night as I go to bed, I anticipate this time of reunion with my God. During these early morning sessions, God speaks to me in powerful ways.

I also like to take a daily walk with God. As the hymn says, “He walks with me and He talks with me.” Each day presents new circumstances and challenges, but “the Lord’s mercies . . . are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22-23).

The next step of my pattern is intercession, which for me includes worship and praying in the Spirit. I have many responsibilities, so I have found this type of praying to be essential. There are times I feel overwhelmed and do not know where to even start praying, but the Holy Spirit is always there to lead me and intercede through me according to the will of God:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26-27 NKJV).

Here are some suggestions to help you in establishing a daily time with God. These are taken from experience and have been used in discipleship training.

    Make Prayer a Priority

Jesus spent much of His time in prayer. Luke 5:16 says Jesus “often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (NKJV). We need time to get alone with God to hear His directions and receive His strength. Battles are waged and victories won on our knees in prayer.

If Jesus, who was the Son of God, needed to get away to spend time in prayer to maintain a life of victory, then how much more do you and I need to pray?

Are you facing a battle today? Are you in need of peace or direction for your life? If so, pray about it. You have worried about it long enough. Pray today in expectation of meeting with the God of heaven.

    Listen for God’s Voice

Over the years, I have learned God will rarely interrupt my busy life nor shout at me over the noisy activities of my day. However, God does speak to me when I take time to get away from the busyness and sit quietly in His presence.

Elijah found this to be true as well. He did not hear the Lord speak in a mighty wind, a powerful earthquake, or a raging fire, but in “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12 NIV). God speaks clearly but quietly, so we must listen closely. True prayer involves both talking and listening.

Could it be that God wants to speak to you today? You might never know unless you get alone with Him in a quiet place. Do you have a quiet place to get alone with God and pray? This is an essential element in developing a deep relationship with Christ.

The Word of God says those who know the Lord will know His voice (John 10:27). The Bible is one of God’s ways of speak- ing to us. Listen to what He says to you through His Word, and listen to His gentle whisper as He speaks to guide your life.

    Practice Persistence

Jesus instructed us to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1 NIV). Persistence in prayer is another secret to our victory.

Not only do I set aside regular time to get alone with God, but I also like to have a continual conversation with Him. This sometimes takes the form of an outward talk, but many times it takes place in my head and spirit. That might sound strange to some, but I have found this continual walking and talking with the Lord to be very helpful. It follows Paul’s instruction to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

Try it. Such prayer can be transformational.

    Learn to Wait

Have you been praying and waiting on an answer from God? Sometimes the answer is not “yes” or “no” but, rather, “wait.” But we don’t like to wait! We want instant gratification. We have microwaves, fast-food restaurants, and instant messaging. . . and we expect the same “quick service” from God. However, God doesn’t always move on our timetable. The psalmist said, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him” (Ps. 37:7).

    Start Now

Establish a daily quiet time that works best for you. Pay the price of discipline, and in time, praying will become the delight of your life. Once this time is a delight, you will grow as a disciple.

God speaks to me through His Word and prayer each day as I seek Him. I daily dig out nuggets of truth and encouragement and listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Out of this overflow He has allowed me to grow in discipleship.

I now share these daily words of encouragement to others through Facebook, Twitter, texting, and a daily radio program “An Apple for Today.”

Don’t wait another day. Set a new pattern in this year to have a daily time alone with God.