Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.  Psalm 4:1

New Year’s Eve 1971/1972 I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior – almost 48 years ago.

I started praying at night in bed before I went to sleep. During my prayers, I fell asleep.  I woke up in the morning and, with embarrassment, said, “Amen!”

Realizing that prayer should be more intense, relational, and personal, I asked God to teach me how to pray. He did not speak to me in a Passion Translation Version of the Lord’s Prayer.

Jesus simply said, “Pray early and in one place.”

First lesson on prayer:  Pray early and in one place! I asked for His help getting up in the morning and it has been easy for me to pray in the morning for 48 years.

Why does praying early and in one place work? Years later I learned that ancient Celtic prayer warriors talked of “thin places”. They believed that the Spirit saturates places as well as people. Find a “thin place” in the morning to pray. It can be a chair or a back porch.

Answered prayer will not happen unless you ask. James writes, “You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2

I began listing my prayer requests a couple of years after I became a Christian. I noticed that God answered specific prayers; I could not even tell if He answered the general requests.

Second lesson on prayer: Ask specifically!  If you ask God for great blessing, how do you know if the request is answered? Were you more blessed today than yesterday?

Sit in your chair tomorrow morning, your “thin space”, and ask for a specific amount of money for a need that you have. Try it tomorrow. When God provides, you will be excited about prayer.

I’ve heard hundreds of testimonies of answers for this type of provision. A specific ask and a quick specific answer. Remember that James said, “You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives!” James 4:3

Twenty years into my ministry, a woman asked me why our church, and particularly why I, was not involved in world missions. I said that our church had enough to do in our community. Her answer was, “You have a big God. You need to have bigger prayers than this city.”

Frustrated and almost angry at her bold challenge, I realized that she was right.

Lesson three on prayer:  Ask Big Prayers! Small prayers keep you focused on small things – like your problems. Big prayers allow you to see a perspective from which your inadequacies are minimalized. In my case, I began praying about missions.

I’ve been on at least 80 mission trips since then.

From my chair “thin space”, I asked specifically this morning for revival to begin in Springfield, and I asked an even bigger prayer that God would use our community to impact the world.

I also asked for three million dollars. It’s a big prayer request for a huge specific need.