Don't use prayer as a last resort

Use it as a first resort. This will help you avoid many unnecessary disappointments. Story: I remember such times in my own life-when my father suffered a heart attack, when a job possibility blew up in my face, when a friend was overdosing on cocaine, when my child got involved in the wrong crowd. There was little I could do except plead with God. Sometimes these prayers are prolonged. Twice in my life I've spent the entire night in prayer.

Other times, however, my prayers are quite short. I've recently learned a new prayer technique from the writings of missionary Amy Carmichael. She learned it from the famous Bible teacher Dr. E B. Meyer, who once told her that as a young man he had been irritable and hot-tempered. An older gentleman advised him to look up at the moment of temptation and say, "Thy sweetness, Lord."

Amy Carmichael developed many variations of that prayer. When meeting someone she didn't like, she would silently pray, "Thy love, Lord." In a crisis, she'd whisper, "Thy help, Lord," or "Thy wisdom, Lord."

Sometimes when I'm worried, I just lift my heart to heaven and say, "Lord .... " followed by the name of one for whom I'm concerned.

Looking back over the years, I've never faced a crisis in which, in response to earnest prayer, whether prolonged or instant, God didn't make a way. James 5:16 tells us: "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results" (NLT). That's the great secret of those who put their hands in the hand of the One who can part the seas.

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