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Purpose: The Developing Prayer of the Young Christian Believer analyzes how prayer develops at the young believer stage (Stage 2) including the identification of what problems occur when prayer does not properly develop and how to strengthen our prayer lives at this level of spiritual growth. Special training is given to overcome temptation.
Prayer develops as we grow. At different stages of our spiritual lives, prayer develops in differing ways. We might think about the conversation between a little child and a teen. The words one uses, the content one uses, and one’s purpose of communicating all differs.
With the development of trust in the first stage of spiritual life (the new believer), the Lord is able to train the faith of the believer to grow with much ease. How does one grow in one’s faith especially at this stage?
Faith grows by a developing trust in our Lord even when it seems impossible. The Lord creates circumstances in which we can trust Him and find Him faithful. The circumstances will at times seem to go against our feelings, or against what everyone is saying, etc. We need to trust Him in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Sometimes like Abraham, it will take a long time such as when he had to wait for his promised son. Joseph in Genesis needed to trust God’s sovereign design for his life. Daniel had to see that God could deliver him if need be.
We are at once fighting inexperience, instability and temptations. We might think of this training like this. When a little child grows up, he no longer thinks like a little child. He wants to do things himself. Before this time, he is heavily protected by his parents but now, away from his parents at school or traveling, he has to feed himself, take care of himself, make decisions on his own, etc.
When doing things for the first time, a believer wants to succeed, but he does not know how to trust the Father in these new situations. As a child, he has been somewhat sheltered by the Father in heaven, but now the Lord is training him. He is still protected, but he needs to use his own faith to trust God and succeed.
This development is part of life. And so spiritually, God wants him to grow up and not always be protected as a little child. It is time to extend his faith so that he can begin to help others. These trials, however, mean increased exposure to the evil one’s wicked schemes.
The Lord is always by our side moderating events and situations we find ourselves in at every stage of spiritual life. However, one needs to learn to trust that He is there and take the appropriate action.
Did you ever have very strong feelings that you ‘had’ to do something wrong such as yell at someone or look at pornography? These thoughts and feelings can at times overwhelm us and undermine our confidence that the enemy has been defeated.
We only can win in such circumstances when we live by what is true rather than by what we feel. This is the reason God’s Word is important. God’s Word is the truth and tells us what is true even though we might hear differing thoughts.
“And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
In many cases we might not look or feel like overcomers, but in Christ we have overcome.
Reaching Beyond Medicocrity provides many resources and exercises to help a young believer overcome temptation.
Now the big difference comes about when we actually act on that faith that we have overcome in Christ and apply His Word. We will find that we no longer have to trust our feelings or even minds, which are very deceitful at times. We can trust the Lord.
If the trust from the first stage was properly developed, then trust at this level is more natural. But if not, then it might seem like a fierce war. Prayer is so important at every stage of our Christian living.
The Lord will give us what we need to endure. He wants us to be victorious just as a father would delight in his son achieving some award.
John’s words again have us focus on special development at this second stage of our spiritual lives. We will, however, focus on the development of our prayer life here.
“I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one....I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13-14).
The young believer needs to grow in three levels.
Confidence that through Christ has overcome the evil one.
Knowledge of God’s Word and promises.
Ability to use God’s Word to fight off doubt and the evil one.
All these lessons are learned through prayer. If we do not pray, our attempts will not be successful. We will discuss these three areas of development below.
Prayer is the means we commune with God and seek Him for help for the problems we have. Prayer is the way we come to Him in time of need. Such prayers are found throughout the scriptures. When we come to Him in genuine prayer, we are exercising our faith.
I have found that if we start with a humble and honest prayer, admitting our failures and weaknesses, and then proclaim the truth about His power and greatness, that the Lord somehow builds up my faith.
In other words, at the beginning of my prayer, my faith often feels inadequate. I feel like giving up. I believe I need to give into my anxiety or anger. I feel a strong urge to give into my sexual urges. It is urgent that we recognize such feelings and that it is quite okay to observe those strong desires. We only must not give in to them.
Without the Lord, we would not have a chance. But we do have the Lord on our side, and the enemy stands defeated. By starting with an honest admittance of our weakness, then it is most natural that we pray and seek the Lord for help.
If we remain where temptation is trying to push us, then we will stray into failure. But when we turn to the Lord, faith starts developing. I have seen this happen so regularly in my life, that I see it now as steps to take.
I was recently woken up by calling throughout the house. The hot water is running. We can’t shut it off. I had taken an allergy pill and felt very tired. Now being disturbed for some reason, I felt angry. I had work to do.
I didn’t want to bother with this faucet, but I had to shut the house water off to shut the tub water off. It needed to be fixed. But I could see that though I did not act angry, I felt it strong inside.
I am not usually this way. In any case, I spotted this angry spirit just begging to be unleashed and sat down in my study (after I shut off the house water). I had a good talk with the Lord. I admitted I did not want to get involved in this faucet matter. It might take a long time. But I quieted myself down before Him and asked for grace to get it done.
Fixing the faucet was His work. It needed to be prioritized. Since my time was His time, I allowed Him to guide and protect my time as He wanted. The urge to be outwardly angry went away soon after I prayed. I could then continue on with this repair with His grace. I had those feelings but did not have to give in to them.
The importance of the Word of God in combatting problems is regularly mentioned in the Scriptures. It is “because the Word of God abides in you” (1 John 2:14) that this believer is empowered.
“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
￼Notice how God’s promises (His Word) enables us to avoid these lusts that destroy our lives. It was through obedience to the Word which God had spoken to Abraham that pleased God.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
We need to take the truth of God from his Word and use it to guide our perspectives about our own life and God. I have found that the more I understand and sincerely confess my weaknesses, the more glorious I can apprehend His greatness. His Words and promises become like guiding lights in very dark times.
I have written a whole book just on this second stage. I have included a number of sample prayers. We need to pull together in our minds and words proper thoughts about God and ourselves. When we mobilize the truths of God and act on them in prayer and otherwise, we can think of it as ‘being strong.’
Let me give you an example here. Perhaps in this instance I feel critical to my fellow teacher at church. What do I do? Satan will first try to make you think you need to stay that way and incite you to think bad things toward him. If you allow, you will begin to talk behind his back. However, if you break through, you will end up being thankful for him and somehow encourage him.
I am so humbled by my sin. (Be open about confessing your sin). I didn’t even realize how much what he did bothered me (be honest in assessing the situation). But now I see my bitterness. I really feel like hurting him and getting back at him. Lord this is so wrong. Please forgive me. Through the blood of Christ fully cleanse me.
But Lord, I can’t stop there. I do not want to be neutral to my brother. I need to love him (notice how one is using truth of God’s Word (to love his brother) to guide his words). Lord, I sense a bit of jealousy and pride in me. It is like I don’t want him to be so admired (because I want the attention!). O Lord, this is all so wrong.
He is your child and my brother. You have gifted him and the people of God need him, including me. We need his teaching and companionship. (This is where I can sense my faith being built up). Lord bless Him. Bless his teaching. May you do more work through him than you have been doing. I will be content (guidance for where you need to be) with what you gave me. I will work hard but glad I can have such good models around me. That is a blessing that you have given to me. Thank you. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Now notice where the prayer went. We went from Satan’s pit to a glorious end all in a short prayer. The prayer was real honest. That is why it is so powerful and helpful. This is true for all areas of our lives, whether it be regarding bitterness, lust, pride, etc.
When prayers are not effective and faith building, either we have not gone deep enough confessing our frailties or have not rightly discerned and sought what God wants.
I recently heard a person say, “I asked our pastor (of 150-200 in church) how many couples had a healthy marriage. After thinking for a while, he said, “One.”” I didn’t dare ask him whether it was the pastor who thought he had a healthy marriage or not. What a great need!
Before moving on, let us ask a few questions. As we honestly answer them, then we can go the next step and make room for the Spirit of God to work in our lives.
On a level of 1 through 6, evaluate how you handle temptations.
1 (not really) 3-4 (some) 6 (very much so)
1 (not really) 3-4 (some) 6 (very much so)
1 (not really) 3-4 (some) 6 (very much so)