It’s not surprising that Vic Black became the prayer director for The U.S. Navigators. You could say that prayer is part of his “spiritual DNA.” Vic was discipled by a Navigator when he was in college—and prayer was a big part of that process.
“Sometimes we’d spend all night in prayer for the ministry on campus,” says Vic. “To me it was a normal part of ministry.”
It was so much a part of his spiritual life that he would often walk around the campus late at night, praying for the students—a habit that caught the attention of the campus police on more than one occasion!
What drove him to fervently pursue a discipline that many of us struggle to master? “I realized,” says Vic, “that prayer is primarily about relationship. The items on my prayer list shouldn’t be the driving force. It’s about spending time with God in order to know Him better and to deepen my relationship with Him.”
Vic says he observed that in the Scriptures. “So many biblical prayers are all about knowing God and relating to Him.” He also observed that when prayer times began with a focus on God’s character it actually changed how people prayed.
While leading a group in prayer recently, Vic noted that the group began reading and praying over certain Scriptures that described particular attributes of God. “As we shifted into praying for one another,” he shared, “those attributes of God deeply flavored the way we prayed. We asked Him to be the protector, deliverer, and rescuer in specific situations.”
So what can help us make prayer part of our own “spiritual DNA”? What can move us from simply bringing a list of concerns to God that result in a dry recital of requests? “One thing that makes a huge difference,” says Vic, “is to approach prayer with a sense of curiosity.” He often asks himself, “Why are all those prayers (such as the prayers of Paul) recorded in the Bible? Those prayers are inspired—just like the rest of Scripture.
These are the prayers of God for His people. Our focus should be on God and His character—not primarily on our needs or concerns.” One of Vic’s favorite verses about prayer is Ecclesiastes 5:1,2: “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.”
Vic says, “Instead of being in a hurry to offer up our requests, we need to slow down and listen to what God wants to say. We need to make adjustments in our hearts to orient ourselves to the reality that we are in the presence of God!”