BY ZIFISO MASIYE
Our budding socialisation is keen on teaching us math, geography and science as critical skills of life and sundry tools of solving ours and the problems of the world we grow into. Many of us have reaped great rewards from academic education…
Yet you realise as you mature that perhaps life is packed with a little more humps and intricacies than your classroom grooming may have prepared you for.
It may have been implied at home and in the school yard, but I did not imagine just how important the art of building inter-personal relations and networks would become as a primary building block of life. To this day, there’s no such subject in all syllabi. Yet nothing appears to me more important than the ability to interconnect, to reach out and network with the next person, even with those that are not in your immediate circle and those that you so often disagree with.
It was vaguely implied, but I don’t remember anyone deliberately teaching us to love, to be pleasant, to be courteous, to care and to look out for each other… I have memories of the reverse training and all around me I feel the tensions, the competitive angst, the selfishness… Yet I have grown to learn that nothing in life is greater than love, compassion, integrity, companionship and sound relationships with family, friends and other people.
I know just how hard it is for me and many out there even to utter the words “I was wrong. I am sorry…” Yet nothing, no words are important today for the world, for our country, for our communities, our churches and families! But there’s no school of apologies out there. No school of forgiveness. No school of love.
Isn’t it jus weird that we tend bump into these absolutely critical life-giving lessons almost incidentally. Is it a wonder, therefore, why we are erratic and often so clumsy as a people at these positive attributes of life?
I was thinking about these things when I realised, committed Christian that I am aspiring to be, that I am so poor at one of the first and most important duties of a Christian. Prayer. Life has taught me that prayer is perhaps the most important weapon of life in my entire tool box! Yet it is the one weapon I know least about.
I kind of understand why no one bothered to teach me how to make love… I fumbled along. But how is it that they forgot to teach us the precise method of as important a life tool as prayer?
Are you as clumsy at praying as I am?
And when you pray, don’t be clumsy and amateurish like myself. Often I feel I am all over the place, like one who’s only fulfilling a Christian ritual. Hardly coherent. Mumbling some mumbo jumbo you have had repeated by others which hardly issues from deep within your own heart.
You need to pray for the spirit and the knowledge to know how to pray, pray for the ability to enter that prayer-zone. It is not automatic, it must be learned.
Be structured and focused. Let the spirit lead you, but by all means have a knowing method towards your prayer session. The time and timing is very important. I pray, often spontaneously as I go about my stuff around the yard … I use the long two-hour walks on the road to pray, (the mask helps a lot, you can mouth your words without anyone noticing!) I pray in the bathroom. I pray as I trim the lawn, as I drive down the road…Everywhere, I find that moment to slot in a prayer. I make it a habit to speak to Jesus, to invoke His presence in whatever I touch, say and do. I find it takes away so much of my grind, the anxiety that follows me around subsides. I feel ever so calm, in control and confident.
Yet it is not enough. You must reserve a special prayer time everyday in your schedule. Alone. Undistracted. Free. In a private prayer space. Completely at the disposal of your Lord, God. Unpretentious. In your complete humility, dedicate an hour or two of deep prayer and special, personal connection with God. It is that prayer and that personal meeting with God that gets you in the correct God-zone and sets up all the factory settings for your day, your week, your work, your thoughts, your relationships.
My brother and guardian angel, David Munyaka, said to me when we met in the Holy Land last year, “My man, don’t meet God by accident. You have not one room in that house if you don’t have a Prayer Room.” My Prayer room is work-in-progress!
Without that deep personal engagement daily with God, you often feel exposed, you’re weak and timid, like one unclothed, you’re anxious, you’re alone and vulnerable. Well, don’t be!
Create your personal vava voom for life, for your day… Uvuke, uyebangena in total faith and divine confidence.
Structure your prayer
I already taught you the appropriate times, good preparation and approach effective prayer… ie don’t just Boom! God bla bla bla… No! Approach prayer with more seriousness and greater preparedness than you do a job interview. Prepare. Plan. Think through it. The brain is a minefield of millions of criss-crossing thoughts every 3 seconds. Most is bin-worthy junk. Empty your thoughts of all junk if you intend to have a useful chat with God. Meditate and zoom into that Alone space with God…
Everyone has their preferred time and place … Mine is between 0230hrs and 0330hrs in a special corner of my study… There, in the dead quiet of the night , in my baptism gown and my rosary, I pursue some measure of sincere connection with God.
I am not young, but in matters of God I am still wet behind the ears… I am no authority at all but I encourage my own spiritual growth by sharing my stuttering steps and experience. I got God’s angels encamped around me that guide me, advise me, protect me and suggest lil spirit nuggets that reap great rewards for me… I’ve kinda followed this 5 point Prayer guide which my sister re-affirmed with me lately.
Step 1) Pursue God…
It’s like knocking into God’s private quarters and seeking permission to be allowed in. It is a deliberate process that you must learn to pray though effectively. Look here. God can’t speak to you or hear you if He doesn’t know you. Get the correct introduction and protocol of entry.
How do you get to know God and be known to God? Not one person, even in the bible claims to have met the person of God… But only through the Son, Jesus Christ. Get to acknowledge Jesus first as your Lord and Saviour and as The emissary-in-chief of His Father to you. Ungeke ufike kuYise ngaphandle uhamba ledombo lakho uJesu Kristu.
Pursue a connection to God through Jesus Christ. There are several verses that enable you, in prayer to get permission, in Jesus to enter the parlour of God. (Will give you a few)
Suffice to say, many fumble through prayer and jump from this to that, feeling lost in themselves , precisely because they skip this important first step, introductory step to effective prayer. Knock as you would on your Boss’ door. Jesus Christ is your key to The Father … “Mina ngiyiNdlela leQiniso. Akekho ofika kuBaba ngaphandle kwami” There are special ways of handling that Key to enable it to open The Door. Know them, learn them, find the correct relationship with the Key before you deal with the Door.
So, there you are Nonoe, be deliberate and ensure to complete this entry phase of Pursuing God at the beginning of your prayer, otherwise you may invest many prayer- screaming hours when in fact you are speaking to yourself and haven’t entered the courts of God.
Doesn’t He say somewhere in John 16: 23 « Until now, you have not asked the Father anything” It is until you truly find the Son,you can’t find the Father!
Step 2) Praise the Lord
Once you have pursued and found the presence of God, you won’t doubt that you are in Holy space, in His Presence. What an Honour to command the total attention of the Almighty!
It is such an honour to be able to praise God.
Now, do as they did with the earthly Kings. There would be a dedicated Albert Nyathi, the Kings poets.. Their business was to praise the King and warm his grand entrance with song , dance and great praise. This was a deliberate process by the subjects of the King to praise the King and assure him of their awe and total allegiance to him and to his authority. If little mortal kings are deserving of that measure of praise, what more the Lord of Lords ,the Lion of Judah, the King of all Kings, the Alpha and Omega. God is a higher being than you and I… He is a supreme diety to all gods…He is a pure and a jealous God and His territory and space cannot be shared. And the praise of God must be a humble submission and acknowledgement of our sinfulness, our absolute incapacity and vulnerability … It is an affirmation of His awesome power and absolute authority over our lives.
Thus, this second phase of your prayer must be dedicated to Praise. Perhaps nothing in all your mission of worship is half as important as Praise. David I’m pores us to enter God’s Court with high praise and thanks- giving… Praise God in all His might and Glamour.
Besides His generic splendour as God, you have specific and personal reasons to praise God, haven’t you…? Things, favours, graces, blessings you’re personally grateful for to God. Praise Yahweh’ hallowed name… and Say them out loud , one after the other. Praise Him for your life, for your wife, for your health, your family, your job, your house, your relationships… the rain, the peace… your dog and your cat, the breath you take for granted which many have lost to corrona even as you pray… Praise God abundantly . This way God will acknowledge you and pay special attention to you. You want to command His full audience. So, commit to woo Him and praise Him and give Him a reason to want to hear more.
Is this not how a man gets the attention of that woman who’s the apple of his eye…? Praising her eyes. Praising her incomparable stature ! Praising her ahead of every other woman out there. If it is so with mere mortals of the world what more with God!
High praise of God is a monumental power and one of your greatest spiritual weapons in the Christian war. Very few use it. Even fewer use it appropriately.
Learn to be in the habit to praise God all the time even as you go about your daily hassle. But particularly when you pray… Be deliberate about your purposed Praise of the Lord.
Step 3) Petition God
“Give us this day our daily bread…. “ The Lord has not only allowed us to ask him to fulfil our sundry needs, in fact He implores us not to burden ourselves with battles that we were not designed to carry. So much of our daily struggles and painstaking efforts in life are truly misplaced and out of sync with God. If only we listened and garnered enough faith to offload the burdens on our shoulders , to unload them and transfer them to Him through Jesus Christ… we would all be less scared, less anxious, less stressed, less grumpy and less angry at ourselves and each other. This simple formula of faith and faith prayer is so available , but remains so unknown and so unused by many that call themselves Christians.
At this stage of your your prayer learn to offload your desires to God, beseech His grace and bounty… being mindful that He is ready and willing to grant you any of your wishes that ask in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is useful to know that wanton requests of vainglory that are purposed for your personal pleasure and have little significance to the glory of God are not His business. How is what you’re asking for meant to advance humanity, to grow you in Christ and to glorify not yours , but the name of God?
Step 4) Protection
The Devil is real. The war for the soul of humanity is real. Lukewarm children of God and Complacent Christians are in perilous danger. Without the complete armour of Christ, walking around in our own human strength, we are totally exposed to the wicked schemes of the Evil One. Lord, protect us from the Evil One!
Your prayer must acknowledge your personal vulnerability to the elements, to danger and confess your incapacity to temptation and to spiritual assaults of evil. Acknowledge the overwhelming power of world forces and confess frankly your transgressions and sinful thoughts and acts.
Pray for the Lord’s guaranteed protection. Although the devil purports to walk like a lion, you know who the real lion, the lion of Judah is .. Although Satan is present now and then and here n there, you know that God is omnipresent and all conquering… Pray that God may redouble your faith in the midst of the Judas moments of your life.
There’s absolute power in the tongue. Your mouth heralds immense change. Words, proclamations uttered by your lips matter greatly.. “ For thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory…!”
Always your prayer should conclude by strong proclamation of the glory and prude of place of God in the lives of humanity.
It must be a closure of consummate gratitude that recognizes that we live and thrive because Jesus elected to die on the cross to save us. It is the ultimate sacrifice that brought forth our ultimate conquest.
In finding myself in Christ and trying to grow in prayer, I have tried to beseech the Holy Spirit to guide me and attempted to follow those simple steps … You are younger , but I know you are are deeper and more knowledgeable in the ways of God. I learn a whole lot from younger people and least likely sources … I would love to hear from you how you pray … It will enrich me.
Zii Masiye firstname.lastname@example.org