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From Ken Raggio's Book:
"Praying On Purpose, Praying For Results"
A Place To Pray
by Ken Raggio
So, now it is time to pray.
Talking about prayer is not praying. Telling stories about prayer is not praying. Reading books about prayer is not praying. Listening to sermons about prayer is not praying.
Sooner or later, prayer is going to have to find a TIME and a PLACE.
Maybe we should speak of the PLACE first. Do you have a PLACE to pray? Where will it be?
There are many places that will suffice to pray when you are not bent down in major intercession. I spend a very large part of all my driving time praying. If I am in the car, I am usually praying. I have a pocket-size voice recorder that has my entire prayer list on it. I call hundreds of names out to Jesus as often as I can. But that is not my most serious prayer time.
You can pray throughout the course of your day in every imaginable situation. If you are eating lunch alone, you can pray for a while. Anytime you are waiting, for whatever reasons (an appointment, an arrival, you name it), you can pray.
But if you want to be a true intercessor, you need an appointed time and place to pray.
Do you have a solitary place in your home? Consecrate it to daily prayer. Move the furniture around to facilitate your praying. I know people who even had a cabinetmaker build an altar where they could kneel and pray in their home. I cannot fault that practice.
But the most important thing is that you find a place where you can forget about everything else and be uninterrupted for whatever period of time that you need to pray.
I owe a debt of gratitude to two praying grandmothers who influenced me profoundly as a child. One of them, my "Granny" used to go to the ladies' prayer meeting each week down at the old church house. Several of the older ladies met in the church auditorium one morning each week, for no other reason than to pray.
Although I was only about eight or nine years old, I was already playing the organ for Sunday services in our church. The ladies who attended the weekly prayer meeting asked me to softly play hymns while they prayed. I played songs like, "Sweet Hour of Prayer," and "What a Friend We Have In Jesus," "Take the Name Of Jesus With You," and so many other songs while they prayed, usually for about an hour.
Those were defining moments in my childhood. The images of those old ladies kneeling around the altars and among the pews are etched into my mind. There is no more beautiful sight on earth than the sight of godly men or women on their knees in earnest prayer, lifting their voices, often with tears, calling on the God of heaven in behalf of themselves and all those they love.
That experience helped me learn the importance of prayer. By the time I was a teenager, I had already learned the significance of fasting and prayer, and had established those routines in my own life. I believed that every time a major decision needed to be made, I should fast and pray for direction. I can think of dozens of times when my choices or decisions were completely determined by an answer I received during a time of fasting and prayer.
When I finally went off to Bible College at the age of 17, I felt the first order of business was to enter into prayer for my own future and ministry.
I lived on the fourth floor of the Bible college dorms. On the third floor there was a large, open prayer room where all the male students living there could find a place to pray. Altar benches were built all around the walls of that room, and a row of altars went down the center of the room, from one end to the other.
Right away, I decided that I needed to enter into a three-day prayer and fasting vigil. I wanted God to show me clearly what I was supposed to do with my life. First thing in the mornings, I went to the prayer room and prayed until I had to leave to go to classes. As soon as classes were over, I returned to the prayer room and stayed for the remainder of the day.
At the end of the third day, God gave me several verses of scripture that I believed were His explicit answers to me. I memorized those verses, and quoted them often to myself for many years to come. The answer that I received during that time of fasting and prayer literally guided my decisions for several years.
A few years after I married Dixie, and our children were small, I reached another crossroads in my life. We were on staff at a large church in Texas when I began to feel a great deal of consternation about being there, and sensed the need to get alone with God for prayerful intercession.
This time, I chose a spare bedroom in our home. I took a three-day Sabbatical, and told Dixie that I planned to spend the next three days alone in that room, fasting and praying for an answer from God about our destiny.
I literally closed the outside world out for three days. I prayed and studied the Word, wrote notes, and meditated on spiritual things. On the third day, I wrote down a list of five things that I felt particularly distressed about, and asked God to give me clear answers for all five of those particular things.
That evening, as the sun went down, I came out of that spare room, and asked for something to eat. Just as I sat down at the dining room table, the telephone rang. The caller was from out-of-state, from someone I had never met. A large church near Atlanta, Georgia was seeking a pastor, and our name had been given to them. When I hung up from that phone-call, ALL FIVE of the things on my prayer list had been answered - in less than THIRTY MINUTES after completing my prayer and fasting vigil. Within about thirty days, we were elected to become the pastor of that church, by a unanimous vote. Not one single member in that congregation voted against us.
Now, I am telling you these things because I want you to see that PRAYER CHANGES THINGS. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. God honors an honest pursuit of His will. And He will intervene.
So, find a place to pray. If you cannot find any privacy in your home, your church is the next best choice. Day or night, God's house is supposed to be a house of prayer.
I would not expect the average layperson to be so powerfully attracted to having a solitary prayer meeting alone in a darkened church building, but in over forty years of preaching in hundreds of churches across the United States, those experiences have been absolutely critical to my salvation. I am reminded right now of so many times when I stayed, locked up in an empty church sanctuary, alone with God and the angels, seeking the blessings and the will of God for my life.
But you do not have to be in a church house to pray. It could be anywhere you find a place that can be sanctified unto prayer.
In the early 1980s, my wife and I went through a great trial. We sought God for several months about a complex situation. One night, I was the guest preacher in a church in Bryan/College Station, Texas. After the service was over, my wife and children went on to bed, but I stayed at the church. I intended to stay at the church and pray through the night until I got an answer from God about our situation.
I walked those aisles and prayed until five o'clock in the morning. I told God everything I could think of to persuade Him to work out a particular situation for us. Finally, I could stay awake no longer, and went home and went to bed.
Only three hours later, at 8:00 AM, I received a very important phone call out of the blue. That phone call was probably the most important phone call I had ever received until that time. After about six hours of intense prayer, our lives changed dramatically.
"Oh, what peace we often forfeit! Oh, what needless pain we bear! All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!"
If praying in your local church is not an option, then find a place. Any place.
One of my old pastors suffered a massive heart attack in the early years of his ministry while he was still young. Those were the days before open-heart surgery was an option. He faced the prospect of either dying, or at least having to give up the ministry. He said good-byes to his wife and children, and checked into a small hotel nearby to get alone with God. If my memory serves me correctly, he spent five days entirely alone in that hotel, fasting, praying and asking God for a miracle.
When he left that hotel days later, he went back to his church and ministry, and never again IN HIS LIFE did he have another episode with his heart.
Find a place to pray. Sit in a chair, lie on the floor, kneel by a bed, walk the floor, or whatever suits you. Just find your place to pray, and get started. Now is better than later.
Even as I write this, I am saying a prayer that the very next time you set out to seek the Lord in this fashion, you will find Him to be more real, more powerful and more wonderful than at any time before in your life.
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