It’s a shame how often some people associate the word prayer with unrealistic expectations. We’ve been conditioned to think of prayers as only possible, calling them “a wing and a prayer” or saying “she doesn’t have a prayer…”.
On the contrary, prayers are not unreal. Prayers are mental pictures given to God for His support that should inspire every worthwhile human endeavor.
Prayers contain nearly limitless power to lift us up in a world that sometimes seems determined to hold us down. Prayers have the power to let God help pull us forward in the face of adversity. Prayers have the power to sharpen our focus and fill our lives with energy and passion, which is so needed to worship Him. Prayers have the power to renew our strength and shield us from criticism and negative thinking.
But most of all, prayers have the power to remind us that the biggest accomplishments always start with the biggest prayers. To use a classic quote from Napoleon Hill: “Anything the mind can conceive and the heart can believe, you can achieve.”
Praying His Way to the Top
Here’s a story about a man named Al who personified Napoleon Hill’s famous observation that if you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it!
When Al was in his mid-twenties, he showed up to work one morning only to be greeted by the news every employee fears–he’d been fired. A proud, determined man, Al was deeply hurt by his dismissal. He hung around the house for several days, feeling sorry for himself and blaming the world for his misfortune.
But Al understood that feeling sorry for himself was getting him nowhere fast! So one day, shortly after being fired, Al decided to turn his negative experience into a positive one by using the time between jobs as an opportunity to plan the rest of his life.
Al started by sitting alone in a quiet room and praying about all of the things he would like to accomplish in his life. Then he took out a piece of paper and began jotting his prayers down as fast as he could.
When Al finished, he had a list of 107 prayers. Some involved adventure, like mountain climbing. Some were lofty, like accepting an invitation to the White House. Some involved his family, like seeing all five of his children graduate from college. Some were so ambitious they were almost impossible for Al to reach.
Become a Possibility Thinker
While Al was making his prayer list, he didn’t worry about being overly realistic. He didn’t want to think about all the things he could not do in God. He didn’t want to dwell on limitations because he knew God has no bounds. He wanted to concentrate on the things he could do–possibility thinking, not pessimistic thinking. He made it a point to pray over and over again!
Because Al dared to pray, he not only turned his life around, he became one of the most successful people in the history of his field. Al accomplished not only a few of his prayers, but almost all of the others from his original list of 100 prayers. Just think, Al accomplished almost 90 percent of his prayers! Al’s accomplishments are living proof that praying has the awesome power to transform people’s lives.
The Power of Praying
Everywhere I look around this great country of ours, I see overwhelming evidence of the real power of praying, starting with the most cherished possession of every American–our freedom.
Can you imagine where you and I would be if our founding fathers had not dared to pray to God? We would still be a colony of England! Without prayer, America, the Land of the Free, would still be the land of the world’s largest plantations. But because the signers of the Declaration of Independence dared to pray more than 200 years ago, America is today the international model for democracy and the leader of the free world. That’s what I mean when I say there’s power in praying big prayers.
Now that we have established the importance of praying, let’s turn our attention to a proven method for turning your prayers into reality. There are three simple stages necessary to start turning your prayers into your destiny.
• Stage one is to THINK your prayer.
• Stage two is to VISUALIZE your prayer.
• Stage three is to PLAN your prayer.
• Stage four is to TAKE your prayer to the Lord.
Think Your Prayer
When you think your prayer, it means you do what Al did when he was a young man just starting out. You have to sit down and brainstorm about all the things you would like to achieve in your life–and then write them down.
If you get “writer’s block” trying to think of prayers, you might try asking What If questions. What If questions get your imagination clicking again. Ask yourself, “What if I could have any job in the world . . . what would it be? What if money and time were not a problem . . . what would I do with the rest of my life?” Answers to ‘What If’ questions like these can get your prayers flowing faster and stronger than ever.
Visualize Your Prayer
Stage two in turning your prayers into reality is to visualize your prayer. When you visualize, you start with a vague idea of what it is you want, and then you sharpen the focus until the picture becomes clear and sharp in your mind. It’s sort of like watching a Polaroid picture develop right before your eyes, except the picture is in your mind. In other words, you are developing your prayer into something you can envision!
My favorite definition of Vision comes from the great Irish writer, Jonathan Swift, who said, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible to others.” A vision is nothing more than a prayer so clear, so vivid, that nothing can discourage you from achieving it and no one can ever steal it from you.
If prayers are fuzzy, a vision is in sharp focus. When you have a vision, you see the place you want to be. Your vision becomes like a preview for a soon-to-be-released movie. When you have a vision, it’s not a matter of if your prayer will happen. It’s a matter of when your prayer will happen.
Plan Your Prayers
Stage three is to plan your prayers. The planning stage separates the participants from the spectators, the drivers from the passengers. You see, when you start drawing up a plan for your prayer, it shows that you are serious. Planning means you have committed yourself to “walking the walk” instead of just “talking the talk”!
What do you think would be the first thing a banker would ask if someone requested a loan of $100,000 to start a new business. How about, “Where’s your business plan?” The banker knows from experience that new businesses without solid business plans seldom succeed. Why? Because anyone who would try to open a new business without taking the time to plan where they are going and how they will get there is planning to fail, plain and simple! Like Yogi Berra used to say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never gonna get there.”
There are three steps you need to take to draw up a plan for realizing your prayers:
1. Write a personal mission statement
2. Break your prayers down into goals
3. Write daily “to-do” lists
Let’s take a look at each one of these steps in more detail, beginning with writing a mission statement.
Step One: Write a Mission Statement
A mission statement is really nothing more than a written statement of your purpose in life. It could be a one-sentence statement, like a slogan. Or it could be a couple of paragraphs. That’s up to you. No matter what the length, a mission statement has the power to inspire you to levels of achievement never dreamed possible.
I refer to my personal mission statement regularly because it reminds me of who I am and what I should be doing with my time and talents. Without a clearly defined mission statement, I could be drifting all over the place, like a boat without a rudder.
Step Two: Write Down Your Goals
I think most people don’t have written goals because they tell themselves they don’t understand how to go about writing them. The real reason people avoid writing down goals is because they fear they won’t be able to live up to them. Secretly, they think, “If I write down a goal and don’t accomplish it, that will mean I’m a failure.”
Life is not about results, but about efforts. It is more important to measure efforts than results. If you work hard enough on the things in God’s plan for you, that is success.
Now that you’re ready to write down your goals, you may want to start with these five categories, which I call the “Five F’s”: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, and Finances. You may wish to add to, or delete, some of these categories. Now, for each one of these categories, set long-term (three to five years), short-term (six months to a year), and immediate goals (30 days).
For example, if under the category of fitness, you write down that you would like to lose 30 pounds, here’s how this goal would break down:
Long-Term Goal: I will reach my ideal weight and maintain that weight.
Short-Term Goal: I will lose 30 pounds over the next 10 months, which is less than four pounds a month, or less than one pound a week.
Immediate Goal: I will limit the number of calories I consume to 1,800 per day; I will walk 30 minutes every morning; and I will lose three pounds by Saturday night.
Just as you need to break your prayers down into specific goals, you need to break those goals down into a daily “to-do” list. I use them every day and, I must say, I get more productivity out of my prayers than I do from any other business tool.
Step Three: Expand Your Horizon By Praying Big Prayers
Remember that the prayer itself is the real key. With a prayer and the right actions to make it come true, the sky is the limit.
Why not expand your horizons by daring to make prayer your number one tool? The worst that could happen is that you aim for the tree tops, fall short of your prayers, and only clear the fence. But, by failing to clear the treetops, you would have succeeded in clearing the fence, wouldn’t you?
I give my day up to the Lord. I realize that He and I have different timetables. Only by loving and following Him do I gain the satisfaction of the proper job well done.
I want to assure you that on the other side of the fence is a big, wonderful world full of endless opportunities just waiting to be discovered. On the other side of that fence is a wonderful world of endless adventures just waiting to be experienced–if only you dare to pray!