Comfort Measures in Labor: Prayer
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
“There was an officer in the city of Rome who appointed to have his doors always open, in order to receive any Roman citizen who applied to him for help. Just so the ear of the Lord Jesus is ever open to the cry of all who need mercy and grace. It is his office to help them. Their prayer is his delight. Think of this. Is this not and encouragement?” ~ JC Ryle (A Call to Prayer)
How does prayer work?
People have always been welcome to approach the throne of God and pour out their soul to Him. Job, Abraham, David, all of them humbled themselves before God in a personal way.
However, there was another process that included the worship at the Temple. The people offered various sacrifices depending on what they could financially afford and on what sins he/she had committed. Once a year, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies and offer a sacrifice for all the people. There was nothing magical in this process but it was a shadow of what was to come. (Leviticus 4:3-21, 16:14-15, Exodus 30:10)
Jesus lived a perfect life (1 John 3:5) and then willingly laid down His life as the Sacrificial Lamb (John 10:18) for the sins (past, present, and future) of His people (all His chosen people throughout history, including Gentiles) (Romans 4:25). He was crucified and buried. Three days later, He rose again and walked this earth for forty days appearing before and teaching hundreds of people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). He ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:9). He sent the Holy Spirit to His children to regenerate, comfort, illuminate understanding of Scripture, and help in prayer (John 14:15-31, 16:13-16, Romans 8:26).
In Hebrews, we see the full form and fulfillment of what was once just a shadow in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Hebrews 4:14-16 says,
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In his book “A Call to Prayer,” JC Ryle references this when he states,
“There is an Advocate and Intercessor always waiting to present the prayers of those who come to God through him. That advocate is Jesus Christ. He mingles our prayers with the incense of his own almighty intercession. So mingled, they go up as a sweet savor before the throne of God. Poor as they are in themselves, they are mighty and powerful in the hand of our High Priest and Elder Brother.”
When the curtain of the temple separating the people from the Holy of Holies was torn (Matthew 27:51), this symbolized that we no longer needed a human priest as a mediator between us and God (Hebrews 10:19-20). God the Son is now our Advocate, Intercessor, and Mediator.
“By prayer the Christian can open his heart to God, as to a friend, and obtain fresh testimony of God’s friendship to him.” ~ John Bunyan (Prayer)
How does one pray?
“There is the Holy Spirit ever ready to help our infirmities in prayer. It is one part of his special office is assist us in our endeavors to speak to God. We need not be cast down and distressed by the fear of not knowing what to say. The Spirit will give us words if we seek his aid. The prayers of the Lord’s people are the inspiration of the Lord’s Spirit, the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within them as the Spirit of grace and supplication. Surely the Lord’s people may well hope to be heard. It is not merely those who pray, but the Holy Spirit pleading in them. Think of this. Is not this an encouragement?” ~ JC Ryle (A Call or Prayer)
Prayer is not like a magical incantation in a spell book. We do not have to place our bodies in a particular position, we don’t have to say specific words, we don’t have to meet any requirements to cast our cares at the feet of our Savior.
There is no formula required for prayer to reach God or be effective. However, there are many methods that organize our prayers in a way that helps us to focus and align our prayers with the heart of God rather than with the eyes of man.
My favorite prayer model is the ACTS arrangement.
- A = Adoration
- C = Confession
- T = Thanksgiving
- S = Supplication
Adoration is an acknowledging of who God is. It helps to set our minds straight of Who we are approaching. We are not coming to a genie, a mafia boss, a nice grandpa, or another human. We are approaching the throne of the Sustainer of all creation, the Eternal, the Immutable, the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent God. We do not approach Him with flippancy but with all honor and respect.
My favorite way to do this is to make a list of the attributes of God and pick a couple to focus on. I have created a free printable with a list of some of the attributes of God along with a definition and verses supporting each attribute. This is not an exhaustive list so feel free to list more.
A great example of adoration is Psalm 8.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Adoring God raises our view of God higher and lowers the view of ourselves. The better we understand who God is, the more clearly we see how sinful we are. Confession is an opportunity to unburden the weight of shame and guilt we carry from our sinfulness.
Confession comes from the Greek word “homologeos” which means “to same speak.” It is to speak of our sins as God speaks of them. It is to admit guilt and to acknowledge or declare responsibility of sin committed.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:8-10)
Confession silences the accusations of Satan, restores our relationship with God, removes guilt and restores joy, it humbles us, causes us to hate sin, and leads to thanksgiving.
“The aim of confession then is not to erase consequences, it’s to restore joy. And then the consequences are what they are. Your sins have consequences. They’re rocks thrown in the pond and the ripples go and they touch every shore. But God does promise when you’ve confessed and repented that He will show you loving kindness and compassion because you are His eternal child.” ~ John MacArthur
The Christian who has laid the burden of sin at the feet of the Savior has no other response but to break into thanksgiving. To realize who God is and what He has done humbles the Child of God. She can do nothing but open her mouth in praise to the Lamb.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Supplication is when we ask God to fill our needs. Often what we see as a need, God does not. So we have to always remember to pray as Jesus did, “Thy will be done.” (Luke 22:42)
After adoring God, confessing sin, and praising God, what we came to prayer with as what we wanted to ask of God often changes. Personally, what I often expect to ask of God when I first start to pray doesn’t always seem quite so important when I reach supplication.
For example, I may come to God worried over finances. I expect to ask God to somehow supernaturally move to make us suddenly have more money. However, when I reach supplication, my prayer may be asking God to help me to be more financially responsible and to find more ways to honor Him with our money.
How can prayer be used in labor?How can prayer be used in labor? Click To Tweet
Labor is a time of great physical stress and emotional changes. Many women and husbands get anxious at some part of the labor. They wonder if they can continue. They wonder if everything is ok. They worry and their body responds by producing adrenaline.
Adrenaline is a great hormone when needed but in the birthing process, it often slows down labor, makes it more painful, and makes contractions less effective. It can also lead to stress on the baby.
The Believer has a great tool for combating anxiety and stress…prayer.
If you feel your anxiety level rising when you are in labor, pray, ask your husband to pray for you, or ask your doula to pray with you. Lay your worries, your concerns, all your anxiety at the foot of the cross and let the peace of God wash over you. Rest in the knowledge that we serve a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God. He knows what you are going through is able to handle everything. He loves you and all things work for the good of those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5b-7)
“Help me to be all prayer and never to cease praying.” ~ Valley of Vision
It is a joy to the Creator when His children come to Him in prayer in worship, humility, and thanksgiving.
“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for[d] a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)
If you are in the Denton, TX area and are interested in hiring a doula for your birth experience, contact me today to schedule a free consultation. If you are interested in learning about more comfort measures in labor, check out my Comfort Measures page.