It was the first Sunday of my mission trip to England.

My team and I gathered in the home of our British leader, James, for a time of fellowship and to cook him a traditional American breakfast for dinner- pancakes and bacon.

After we ate, James suggested we pair off and pray for each other as we begin our week of work in the school and church, as well as praying for any spiritual gifts we wanted to receive.

Abigail and I awkwardly sat down in the corner of his living room. “So we’re just praying for our week here, right?” She asked.

I nodded. “And for any gifts we wish to receive.” I wonder what that means.

We held each other’s hands, bowed our heads and quickly prayed for each other. When we finished, we glanced around the room and noticed the other groups were finished as well, except for James and his partner.

James eventually realized that everyone else had finished talking. “Yous are done already?” he asked, surprised.

We all nodded.

He raised his eyebrows.

“You guys need to learn how to pray!”

Now my eyebrows went up. Learn how to pray? Excuse you, I’ve been praying my whole life!

James motioned for us all to gather in the middle of the living room. “Alright, Vonne you stand here in the middle and everyone else place your hands on her.”

Hesitantly, Vonne took her place in the middle and we all stood around her.

“I want yous to be vocal as you pray,” James said. “I know you can pray quietly in your own hearts, and some of yous may prefer to do that. But when you pray vocally it encourages everyone around you. And you can pray vocally at the same time as someone else. Just pray as you feel led.”

He then started praying for Vonne, and a few of us joined in afterwards. Then it was Katie’s turn. Then Abigail’s. As Abigail took her place in the middle, James said, “Get ready, this one is going to be deep.”

I briefly wondered what he meant as he began to pray for her. Then we all began to pray for her, voice on top of voice, prayer on top of prayer. The Holy Spirit’s presence filled the living room, and Abigail began to cry.

I heard a voice deep inside of me whisper, “Sing.” My heart began to pound. I never, ever sing solo, especially in front of other people. And this was prayer time, what would they think of me? Sure, James had sang during prayer time before, but that was different- he’s really good at singing. What if I messed up?

As the whispered prayers continued around me, I could not get the feeling that I should sing out of my head. So, I took a deep breath and decided to follow the Spirit’s prompting. “Then sings my soul, my Saviour, God, to Thee. How great Thou art. How great Thou art.”

And to my surprise, a few other of my teammates joined in on the song and Abigail began to cry harder. After that, more of my teammates started singing songs as prayers to God.

The presence of God was so strong in that room I myself began to cry. Never before had I felt the Spirit give me words to pray like this.

The praying and singing lasted for about an hour, but it seemed like merely a moment.

Later in the week, Abigail came up to me and said, “I just wanted to thank you for singing the other night during our prayer time. How did you remember that worship was my Spiritual Pathway?” she asked, referring to a test our leader had us take back in February.

I looked at her, stunned. “I- I didn’t!” I admitted. “That was totally a God thing. I never just sing aloud, so that was very new and scary for me. I just felt God telling me to sing.”

“Wow!” She paused, “Well, thank you! Once y’all all started singing, I felt so much at peace. That night was amazing!”


That night was amazing.

And I am so thankful it happened at the beginning of the mission trip. My entire team had a breakthrough that night and truly learned how to pray.

In those few hours, I learned more about prayer than I have learned my whole life. And today I want to share them with you guys.

The Secret to Deep Prayer

It’s no secret, really. In fact, the key to deep prayer is so obvious I don’t know how I’ve missed it all these years. It took me traveling across the ocean on a mission trip to finally learn how to truly pray. So in case it’s been hidden from you as well, here we go…

The Secret to Deep Prayer: Be Moved by the Spirit.

Often times when I pray, I know what I want to pray for, but my heart doesn’t know how to express the sentiment into words.

Typically when that happens, I use key phrases I have heard all my life.

“God, bless so-and-so.”

“Place a hedge of protection around her life.”

And I tend to throw in holy sounding fillers so I sound more confident than I feel. You know, words like “Father” or “just.”

But finally, that Sunday I realized what I had been missing all of these years:

I don’t need to sound cool or holy when I pray.

Hallelujah!

Me trying to impress others by the words I use when I pray is not the point of prayer. In fact, doing so turns my focus onto me, when really my focus should be on God. It is Him I’m praying to, after all.

Remember that parable in Luke 18 with the pharisee and the tax collector?

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 

I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14 ESV

Notice the difference between these two prayers? The prayer of the pharisee was all about him and how great he was, whereas the prayer of the tax collector recognized his need for God.

I strive to be like the tax collector, focusing my heart on God rather than myself.

How to Experience Deep Prayer

So when we pray what should we do?
Be open to the Holy Spirit in us speaking to God through us.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

That’s it.

The Holy Spirit will form our deep heart-felt desire into a prayer for the Lord. That’s why we don’t have to be vocal when we pray, because God already knows what we need.

But God already knowing our heart and knowing what we need isn’t an excuse for us not to pray vocally. However, this truth should enable us not to feel pressured to use big fancy “holy” phrases and fillers when we pray.

It should free us to pray as if we’re just talking to our best friend.

That Sunday night I was so overcome by the presence of the Spirit that I became speechless. All I could softly utter was, “You’re cool, God. So cool.” In my mind I knew that probably sounded lame, but my heart knew that didn’t matter.

All that mattered was that I was longing to glorify God.

So if while you’re praying you get the overwhelming desire to praise God for all He has done for you but the only words you can think to say is “You’re so cool, God!” then don’t just sit there in silence until you can think of a more spiritual way to phrase that thought (like what I used to do).

Just exclaim it! “YOU’RE SO COOL!”

Who cares what other people think? Be honest with God in your prayers. He isn’t interested in holier-than-thou attitudes anyways.

On the other hand, if the Holy Spirit is leading you to pray what I classified above as a “typical prayer phrase,” then by all means still use it!

I don’t care which words you use, and neither does God.

So when you pray, pray with humility from your soul as the Spirit leads you.

And that, my friend, is just the beginning of deep prayer.

9 thoughts on “The Secret to Deep Prayer

  1. Doris Roberts

    I have come through so much in the last 11/2 Bound by Psychiatric disorders in and out of mental institutions the last 12 yrs of my life all at the same time teaching Sunday School putting on my happy face Working in the church like all good Christians Do,but hurting inside with no one to help me understand from a Christian point of few on Mental illiness and What the abuse I had dealt with most of my life as a child then later by the very first husband of 21 years Who was abusive our whole marriage while Preaching behind a pulpit but on the other side I was the only one ti seem to know and see what he was doing,the pastor seemed to be blinded by his Sins,We have been divorced 12 yrs and he is so far away from God along with our youngest child who lived with me til she was 16 now 26 and Has suffered so much in her life I began a journey of healing in March 2015 Just layed before the Lord one Sunday Morning Praying poring out my soul before the Lord I haven’t cared who Hears how I pray Because U was in a battle between hell and eternity and that was a place U have feared all my life and I didn’t intend to go I got real with myself and real with the Lord I’ve got to have a change not a touch not a blessing I was so tired of the vicious cycle Satan had me caught up in,Alone so much of this time but not alone because The master of my soul Jesus stepped on the scene of my heart that day,We started on a Journey of me building a friendship and relationship not since I had had as a little girl of 12 yrs old who hadn’t even experienced Who Jesus was within a church building only in a little girls vivid imagination of pretending to play in the woods taking with this person I had seen in Bible stories with this special person Jesus I had heard in a Sunday school some people picked me up on bus ministry I learned how to Pray and really communicate with the king of kings Im not a very eloquent speaker or writer but I believe people need to hear what I have experienced and come through and I am not a victim but I am a victorious child of the king I will be 53 yrs old Dec 16 but feel so young in my spirit and hunger every minute of the day for more of Jesus and also everywhere I go I see the hurting broken life’s and been able to minister in the streets more than I ever had in the church I’m at a Church that understands Where I’ve been and leading and guiding me on the road to recovery The Word of God is the only thing that Heals emotional wounds,Prayer is always the key and the answer to our problems and the World’s condition Without a vision the people perish Without God America will not be Restored I intend to stay on my face in Prayer I have lost children and I see a World full of lost dying souls without the Love ofGod My Prayers Have gone beyond My WarRoom And I see and feel it changing life’s around me I have learned how to Pray through all this And I give God all the Glory and Honor and Praise for his Mercy and Love in My life Prayers in Jesus Mighty Name Be Blessed Today

    Reply

  2. Doris

    I have come through so much in the last 11/2 Bound by Psychiatric disorders in and out of mental institutions the last 12 yrs of my life all at the same time teaching Sunday School putting on my happy face Working in the church like all good Christians Do,but hurting inside with no one to help me understand from a Christian point of few on Mental illiness and What the abuse I had dealt with most of my life as a child then later by the very first husband of 21 years Who was abusive our whole marriage while Preaching behind a pulpit but on the other side I was the only one ti seem to know and see what he was doing,the pastor seemed to be blinded by his Sins,We have been divorced 12 yrs and he is so far away from God along with our youngest child who lived with me til she was 16 now 26 and Has suffered so much in her life I began a journey of healing in March 2015 Just played before the Lord one Sunday Morning Praying Lord I’ve got to have a chsnge not a touch not a blessing I was so tired if the vicious cycle Satan had me caught up in,Alone si much if this time but not alone because The master of my soyl Jesus stepped on the scene of my heart that day,We started in a Journey of me building a friendship and relationship not since U had had as a little girl of 12 yrs old who hadn’t even experienced Who Jesus was within a church building only in a little girls vivid imagination of pretending to play in the wood with this special person I had heard in a Sunday school some people picked me up in bus ministry I learned how to Pray and really communicate with the king of kings Im not a very eloquent speaker or writer but I believe people need to hear what I have experienced and come through and I am not a victim but I am a victorious child if the king I will be 53 yrs old Dec 16 but feel si young in my spirit and hunger every minute if the day for more if Jesus and also everywhere I go I see the hurting broken life’s and been able to minister in the streets more than U ever had in the church I’m at a Church that understands Where I’ve been and leading and guiding me in the road to recovery The Word if God is the only thing that Heals emotional wounds,Prayer us always the key and the answer to our problems and the World’s condition Without a vision the people perish Without God America will not be Restored I intend to stay on my face in Prayer I have lost children and I see a World full of lost dying souls without the Love ofGod My Prayers Have gone beyond My WarRoom And I see and feel it changing life’s around me I have learned how to Pray through all this And give His alk the Glory and Honor and Praise for his Mercy and Love on My life Prayers in Jesus Mighty Name Be Blessed Today

    Reply

  3. Antoinette G

    Thank you for your beautiful message, couldn’t sleep and decided to read your post – really beautiful and so true……

    Reply

  4. Beth Martin

    Absolutely amazing our God is. So powerful, wonderful, majestic, holy, but because of his Son, Jesus, and the sacrifice he made for us, we can talk to God with such ease. Thank you God for giving us the opportunity to worship you, glorify you, and just talk with you. How great is our God?

    Reply

  5. Allie

    This actually really answered some questions I had deep in my heart. I thought, I can’t pray because I don’t know exactly what to pray for. Plus, I’m no good at it!” Thank you for opening your heart with this story.

    Reply

    1. Kara Beth Post author

      Thanks Allie! I’m glad it helped you. I’ve thought that before too; isn’t it freeing that God hears us regardless of what words we say? :)
      Blessings,
      Kara

      Reply

  6. Megan

    That sounds like such an amazing experience. There is nothing like pouring your heart out to God and having him respond to you with such incredible love. Thanks for this encouragement!

    Reply

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