The Prayer Sandwich
By Dewey Compton
What if I told you there was a sandwich that is so delicious you can eat it every day, and it never gets old, stale, or moldy. In fact, it gets newer, fresher, and tastier each day. I call it the prayer sandwich. What if I told you it is God’s will for you to eat it. It comes from one of my favorite verses. I have it on the wall in my living room and every morning, I stare at it. I meditate on it. Then I read it and eat it. It is crazy how certain days it tastes very different than other days. Nonetheless, it’s always satisfying. I’ll try my best to describe what it means to eat it. But you will just have to try it for yourself to truly experience how satisfying it is. Oh and another thing, it has changed the way I pray as well. It’s a short, simple little verse, but very powerful. OK, here it is:
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Let's deconstruct this sandwich, shall we? Rejoice always! To rejoice means to show great joy or delight over something. One part of the definition says this: cause joy too. One morning, I was extra tired and dreading a situation I knew I was going to go through later in the day. I was not feeling joy at all. When I saw my verse that morning, I thought, “I am going to cause joy to that situation. I am going to cause it to happen.” We can do that in our life. We are supposed to rejoice always, not just during the good times or when things are going great. The Passion translation says, “Let joy be your continual feast.” Wow, feast on this sandwich you guys. Are you hungry yet? That second part says always. If we only rejoice when things are going well, we miss out on an opportunity to change the atmosphere around us. Since we are to rejoice always, it’s actually fun and exciting to see how the Holy Spirit will show us ways to rejoice during times or situations we naturally wouldn’t. Practicing this builds our faith and trust by showing God is included if the situation. By simply obeying this simple command, we grow in maturity. That was the top bun.
Here is the meat: pray continually. First, let’s look at this a bit differently. If you are like me, I was taught early on as a young believer we pray to God up in Heaven. Prayer should be a simple conversation with God. It’s talking back and forth and listening. The Bible says He lives in us. Jesus and the Father have made their home in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. The trinity is closer to us than heaven. So prayer is not calling up into the skies toward a distant God in heaven. It’s conversing with the present Presence living inside us. I used to pray to God asking Him for things or to fix this or cure that. Because of the sandwich, and because He is always with me, my prayers have become more like rejoicing, declaring, and giving thanks. Since His divine power has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness, what else do we really need? What if we just rejoice and give thanks. I think our prayers can be so off the mark, God doesn’t want to answer them. For example, I used to start off my prayers by inviting God to be present and be here in the situation. Then one time it was like a whisper in my ear. “Psst, You know I am always with you right.” That’s when I realized I had been praying like God was distant, far away, or busy.
Okay, so the bottom bun as you can see is giving thanks. As I just mentioned, we have all we need. God has already given us Himself. The Three live in us and made their dwelling in us as Jesus says in John chapter 14. Plus, He said He will never leave us nor forsake us. One time I was put on administrative leave at my job because I slapped a student. It was part of a skit for a video project and the student wasn’t hurt, but my administration was afraid and didn’t bother to get my side of the story and trust me. I was so hurt that my administration took things out of context. I was at home staring at my verse on the wall: “give thanks in all circumstances.” This thing I am going through fits in the “all” category. How am I supposed to give thanks for this? Even though I didn’t want to, I did and I said, “It’s Your will Lord that I give thanks. So here I am. I thank you for this circumstance. I trust your word.” It turned out to be the best two weeks of my life spending time with God. We created a notebook where we put all my crafted prayers, prophetic words, inheritance words, dreams, and some brilliant writings into a binder. I call it my X files, and it has become my Identity journal that I now refer to and go back to and remind myself who I am and how God sees me. It is powerful. It all came from a time in my life when I chose to give thanks over a difficult situation instead of wallowing in it. Wow, I would have never guessed that could have happened. I am so thankful.
Lastly, when it comes to praying, it’s very important that we pray from a new creation mindset. For many years, I prayed from my old nature mindset. When I struggled with stuff, I would ask God to help me with my anger, selfishness, my bitterness, bad attitude, and fill in the blank. Everything changed when I read a book called Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke. It taught me a better way to pray. It’s not praying to God to get an answer. It’s all about praying with God about the answer. Look at these verses: Hebrews 7:25, Jesus lives to intercede for us, Romans 8:26-34 Holy Spirit prays for us when we don’t know how or what to even ask. Jesus continually is praying for our triumph. Since they are totally for us, and Jesus lives to intercede for us, doesn’t it make sense to find out what they are praying for? That is what crafted prayers are: finding out what Holy Spirit, Jesus, and Father God are praying and agreeing with them to do it in our lives. It’s brilliant. I have proof that this works. When I wrote my first crafted prayer, I had to identify something that was not quite working and write a prayer about it. So, at that time in my life, I was having a difficult time hearing God. I was reading John 10 one day and Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” So I used that verse as the basis to write a crafted prayer. Here it is:
#1 4/21/14 Hearing God
Lord, I thank you that you are my gate. I enter through you to the Father. Your voice is clear and beautiful, and I am your lamb. I will listen and hear You and go in and out and find pasture. Because You speak clearly to me, I will hear and listen to Your voice just as the Father hears and listens to You. You and I are one just as the Father and You are one. The Holy Spirit leads me into Your presence. I thank You for speaking to me, and I praise You for the work You do in my life.
Every morning I got up and prayed this prayer for months. I was amazed at how quickly I began actually hearing God in a way like never before. I was hearing his thoughts in my mind, I was seeing images in my mind I had never seen before, and I began having dreams from God. I am convinced He loves answering these prayers because they are based on His true nature and His word.
Next time you pray how about sandwiching it between form rejoicing and some thanksgiving and see how tasty it is. I just know you will taste and see how good and delicious God really is.