Midwives Of The Holy Spirit #4
Have you ever been in that tense, uneasy position of praying for someone on your own – maybe with a friend in a café or at the mall? Your heart’s pounding, the adrenaline is pumping. A sense of trepidation comes over you as you fight to keep your mind from going blank. The only thought you do have is, “Oh, crap. I’m gonna blow this.” So you shut your eyes and start praying the first thing you think would be helpful that pops into your mind, rushing through it as if the room is on fire. And when its over there’s relief and a little weirdness hanging in the air. It’s in moments like this I bet you wished you had a guide to tell you where to start and what to do. Well there is…
How did Jesus manage to pray under the most pressurized, unfriendly conditions? Did he have help? Did he follow some model that kept him focused and on track? A casual look at the gospels doesn’t reveal any discernable pattern. Jesus prayed all sorts of ways. He prayed publically and privately. He used commands, touch, touch and command. He even used spit and mud! It seems his prayers were tailor made for whatever the situation called for. But when pressed to explain how he did what he did he simply said he paid attention to his Father and followed what he was doing. (see John 5:17) His method was to watch, listen and obey. He later told his disciples that with some help they could learn to do the same thing.
John Wimber developed a model based on this watch, listen and obey pattern called the five-step prayer model. The steps are easy, quick to learn and can be used any place, any time without attracting undo attention. Think of it as sort of a simple map to follow so you don’t lose your way especially when you’re under pressure. It answers basic questions that help us proceed: What’s the problem? What’s God doing? What’s the best way to pray? What’s the Spirit leading me to do? (and once the prayer has begun) What’s going on?
You can find these five steps explained in detail in Wimber’s book Power Healing and in other Vineyard resources so I’m not going to elaborate on them here other than to say that I’m so thankful for this model. I use it all the time. Over the years it’s dramatically increased the effectiveness of my prayers.
But there are a couple of drawbacks with using a prayer model that you should be mindful of. First, as with any pattern that makes you more successful there’s the danger of attaching magical powers to it. The prayer model is not a formula insuring success. It’s just a simple way to get started and stay on track with what God’s doing. It helps remove the fear of praying for others and removes the weirdness. The second drawback is that it can become mechanical and legalistic. This model is not sacred. It doesn’t have to be followed to the letter. My friend Todd Hunter compares it to training wheels that we use until riding a bike comes natural. As you practice and grow you may discover a pattern of watching, listening and obeying that works better. But until you do keep the five-step prayer model handy for those unexpected moments when God shows up and wants to use your prayers to reveal his love and power to those he brings your way.