Prayer

One of the most amazing and powerful things about Christianity is prayer. Prayer is fundamental and an essential part of a Christian’s life. It is Christianity at its core. It is so easy to do but often the most neglected part of a Christian’s life. The quicker you learn to pray about everything, the faster you will grow in your relationship with God, and in the strength required to face each situation, the way God wants you to respond.

Jonathan Edwards once said, “Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life.”  As true as that statement is, I’ve discovered that some people are not real comfortable with prayer.  I hope to eliminate any fears, reservations, or hindrances you may have about this common Christian practice.  Prayer is as easy and as natural as breathing.  It just takes a little practice.  A little know-how doesn’t hurt either.

What Prayer Is

Prayer is communicating with God.  Prayer is sharing our thoughts, feelings, requests, fears, anxieties, concerns, and wishes with Him.  It is also listening to God through his Holy Spirit.  It’s just talking to and listening to God.  In other words, prayer is simply letting your requests be made known to God and knowing that he hears you and will answer you according to his will for your life.  Bible Professor Walter Elwell describes prayer as “an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins.”

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Call to me, and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

What Prayer Is Not

Prayer isn’t demanding things from God.  It is not treating God like He is our fairy god-mother or Santa Claus.  God is a real being that has the power to dramatically change events in your life, in the lives of the people you love and in the world.  You don’t need to demand things from God or ask him for anything that goes against his will.   In our prayers, we need to remember that God sees and knows all.  There is no “Name it and Claim it” policy when it comes to prayer.  This is insulting and offensive to God.  Don’t do it. 

How to Pray

Posture

When praying, the truth is you can pray at any time and any place and in any position. There is no wrong way to approach God physically. You can be standing, sitting, lying in your bed, sitting at your kitchen table, driving down the highway. Some people lie face down on the floor and pour out their hearts to God. I imagine God doesn’t mind what position we’re in when we pray. He looks at our hearts, not our bodies. I have noted that Paul mentions that he kneels before the Father when he prays.

For this reason, I (Paul the Apostle) kneel before the Father.  Ephesians 3:14

Words

It does not matter what words we bring to God. There isn’t a list of acceptable words or formulas or style of speaking that is required when you are speaking to God. You can speak out loud and have a conversation in your mind. Remember, God already knows your need before you ask. The most important aspect of praying is authenticity with God. If something is bothering you, tell him. If something is irritating you. Tell him. If you’re afraid of something. Tell him that too. If you are having trouble doing anything at all – even trouble praying -tell him and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will hear you and help you. Sometimes, the best prayer you can pray is Lord make me willing. You don’t want to clean your house? Lord, make me willing. You don’t want to be nice that particular, snotty mom at your child’s school. Lord, make me willing.

And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” John 11:41b-42

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:7-8

Attitude

Now, this part is critical. You should always approach God confidently and humbly, and although that seems like an oxymoron, it isn’t. Think about approaching your parent. You know your mom or dad sees you, hears you, and has your best interest in mind. They would do whatever is necessary to help you, but only if you approach them with the correct amount of respect. Parents don’t well with demands and, God probably doesn’t either. Approaching God with this manner of being is showing confidence and humility. You know and recognize that he is the superior being and has authority over your life – just like your parents do during your youth.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:16

All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:5b-7

You have not because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  James 4:2c-3

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.  Matthew 7:7-11

Authority

You have to pray to the Father and ask in Jesus’ name. I have sat in church for a long time and am still bewildered at times when people don’t pray to God the Father or end their prayer with “in Jesus’ name.” Not long ago, my husband and I were sitting under the teaching of a dynamic seminary professor. Despite his in-depth and enthusiastic teaching, his decade long professorship and his very likable personality, I couldn’t get past the way he ended his prayers. He would end every prayer with “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” The ending to his prayer struck me as odd because this is an educated man who educates others on the Bible. I believe the Bible clearly states that we are to present our requests to God the Father and everything we ask for should be in Jesus’ name.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name (Jesus is speaking), the Father will give you. John 15:17

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  Matthew 18:19

And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”  John 11:41b-42

Faith

When we approach God with anything, we are expected to have faith. Faith pleases God.   If we feel like we don’t have enough faith to believe, well, you can ask God to increase your faith.

“Now, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. “ Hebrews 11:1

 “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:23b-24

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  Matthew 21:22

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

What to Pray

The most wonderful thing about prayer is that you can and should pray about everything:  big things, little things, important things, and trivial things.  Pray to the Lord about everything.  But, if you need a specific list of things to pray for, we are given a sample of how to pray and what to pray for by our very own Lord and Savior, Jesus. 

9 “Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:9-13

Verse 9 Our Father in heaven Recognizing God as God the ‘Father’ by addressing him properly. (Matthew 23:9) 
  Hallowed be your name Hallowed means holy and consecrated (set apart from the ordinary, special) This conveys respect and honor.
Verse 10 Your kingdom come In God’s kingdom, he rules and his word reigns.  We are asking for his kingdom authority and government to be in effect on the earth.  You are inviting the holiness of God’s kingdom into your life and your sphere of influence here on earth. 
  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven This is a submissive declaration.  We are giving supremacy to God’s will in our lives and the manifestation of his will on earth.  In essence, we are inviting heaven to earth.
Verse 11 Give us this day our daily bread Bread is nourishment.  Our body, soul, and spirit need daily nourishment.  We are asking God to give us what we need to sustain our life on earth.  We need food and the word of God.  (Matthew 4:4)
  And forgive us our debts Forgiveness is a crucial element in walking with God.  We must continually confess our sins and ask for God to forgive us.  It is a cleansing mechanism.  The Spirit of God uses this self-awareness to help us become more like Jesus.  We see our sin, confess our sin, and relinquish our human weakness. This allows the Spirit to give us mastery over that sin that permits us to continue walking in fellowship with the Lord.  Sin separates.  Forgiveness heals. (1 John 1:8-10)
Verse 12 As we forgive our debtors It is equally important to forgive others quickly.  Don’t wait for them to apologize.  Forgive them immediately and wholly.  Unforgiveness breeds self-exaltation, also known as pride.  Pride will kill your spiritual life.  You must learn to walk in humility.  God despises the proud but gives grace to the humble.  Jesus teaches extensively on the forgiveness of others. (Matthew 6:14-15)    
  And lead us not into temptation When it comes to walking around on this earth, we do have free will.  By asking the Lord to lead us down a path of righteousness, we are asking for his guidance during our daily life.  This too is an act of submission by releasing our free will to walk/do/see what we want and trading it for God’s superior path.
Verse 13 But deliver us from evil The earth by default is under the dominion of Satan and his cohorts.  By inviting God into this dominion, we are declaring war.  By asking God to deliver us from evil, we are asking that he protect us from the very thing that surrounds us – things we can’t see.  We are asking for his supernatural protection.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people –   for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  1 Timothy 2:1-4

 

When to Pray

You can and should pray all of the time. This is easier than it sounds.  We are constantly distracted, so cultivating continuous prayer into your life takes deliberate intentionality.   You might start by practicing Daniel’s method.  He made it a point to pray three times a day, every day – presumably morning, noon, and night.  The key here is to create a routine.  You want to pray first thing in the morning because that is what Jesus did.  The rest of the day is up to you.  I say, pray often. 

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Where to Pray

It also doesn’t matter where you are when you pray. You don’t need to be at church or in a special prayer room. You can be anywhere. You can be all alone or in a crowded room. You can be standing in line at the grocery store or sitting at your desk.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret, will reward you.  Matthew 6:5-6

Why Do We Pray

We pray because we are weak, and God is strong.  It is through the dependence on God through prayer that we become strong. 

The prayer of a righteous person (Elijah) is powerful and effective.  James 5:13-18

“Prayers are prophecies.  They are the best predictors of your spiritual future.  Who you become is determined by how you pray.  Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.” – Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

“God shapes the world through prayers.” – E.M. Bounds

“Prayer is the most important tool for my mission in the world.  People may refuse my love or reject my message, but they are defenseless against my prayers.”  Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life

 “The reason some men and women of faith rise above the rest, you decide, is that they think and pray differently than those around them.” – Bruce Wilkerson, The Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

Goal of Prayer

The goal of prayer is to reshape our heart. Sadly, our hearts are naturally sinful and selfish. When we pray, the Lord has this wonderful way of aligning our hearts with his. This verse below is not saying that God is going to give us everything we want. It is saying that he will shift our hearts and give us the right desires. Our heart’s desire will align with Gods desire for us. In the end, we get sanctified desires. Yay God!

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

2 Comments Add yours

  1. ChristDisciple says:

    God Bless you, what a great information on prayer. I am going to put this in my daily reminder, I want it to be in my heart! I reblogged it and shared it in my Bible Study group on FB! God Bless!

    Like

    1. Thank you, and thanks for sharing it! God bless you!

      Like

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