Prayer

 

The importance of Prayer

 

Have you ever known someone who really trusts God?  Rachel, an atheist had a good friend who prayed often. She would tell her friend  every week about something she was trusting God to take care of. And every week  she would see God do something unusual to answer her prayer.

Do you know how difficult it is for an atheist to observe this week after week? After a while, "coincidence" begins to sound like a very weak argument and Rachel has to ask does God really answer prayer and  why would God answer the friend's prayers? The biggest reason is that she had a relationship with God. She wanted to follow God. And she actually listened to what he said.

In her mind, God had the right to direct her in life, and she welcomed him doing just that! When she prayed for things, it was a natural part of her relationship with God. She felt very comfortable coming to God with her needs, her concerns, and whatever issues were current in her life.

Furthermore, she was convinced, from what she read in the Bible, that God wanted her to rely on him like that. She pretty much exhibited what this statement from the Bible says,

                "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us."

                 "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer..."

God always answers prayer. Sometimes He says, "Yes." sometimes He says, "NO." Sometimes He says, "Wait for a while," and we need to remembera day to the Lord is as a thousand years to us (2 Peter 3:8). So we need to ask in faith, but rest in peace-filled patience.

Surveys show that more than half  of the uk prays daily. No doubt they pray for health, wealth, happiness, etc. They also pray when grandma gets sick, and when grandma doesn't get better (or dies), many end up disillusioned, and some end up bitter. This is because they don't understand what the Bible says about prayer. It teaches that sin will stop God even hearing your prayer (Psalm 66:18).

                                                                     "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me"

It teaches, among other things, that if we pray with doubt, we will not get an answer (James 1:6-7).

                                                               "For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."

People who are new in the faith may have never studied about how to pray. Some members do not pray properly so their prayers are not even answered. All of us can improve in this aspect of worship.

We need to learn what to pray about. Should we make requests, be thankful, offer praise, intercede on behalf of others, offer petition? And what power does prayer have? Does God really answer prayer? If so, how should we pray and what conditions must prayer meet in order for God to hear and answer?

What is prayer? Note Acts 4:24,31. Prayer is simply man talking to God, expressing his thoughts to God (Rom. 10:1; Matt. 6:9ff). Hence, it is a form of communication similar in may ways to simply talking to our earthly father, except that we must remember whom we are addressing and must meet conditions of acceptable prayer.

I. What Should We Pray About?

What should we include in our prayers? Some cannot seem to think of much to say. Others say things that are inappropriate or even unscriptural. Some just repeat memorized phrases they have heard others pray.

Let us examine Bible examples of prayer. What did God's people in the Scriptures talk about in prayer? How do our prayers compare? Can we improve our prayers by considering what Bible characters prayed about?

Here's how to be heard....

  • Pray with faith (Hebrews 11:6).

  • Pray with clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:3-4).

  • Pray genuine heart-felt prayers, rather than vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7).

  • Make sure that you are praying to the God revealed in the Holy Scriptures (Exodus 20:3-6).

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How do you "pray with faith?" If someone says to you, "You're a man of great faith in God," they may think that they are paying you a compliment. But they aren't -- the compliment is to God. For example if I said to you, "I'm a man of great faith in my doctor," it's actually the doctor I'm complimenting. If I have great faith in him, it means that I see him as being a man of integrity, a man of great ability -- that he is trustworthy. I give "glory" to the man through my faith in him. The Bible says that Abraham "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." (Romans 4:20-21). Abraham was a man of great faith in God. Remember, that is not a compliment to Abraham. He merely caught a glimpse of God's incredible ability, His impeccable integrity, and His wonderful faithfulness to keep every promise He makes. His faith gave "glory" to a faithful God.

 

As far as God is concerned, if you belong to Jesus, you can boldly come before the throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:16). You have access to the king, because you are the son or daughter of the king. When you were a child, did you have to grovel to get your needs met by your mom or dad? I hope not. So, when you pray, don't say, "Oh God, I hope you will supply my needs." Instead say something like, "Father, thank you that you keep every promise You make. Your Word says that you will supply all my needs according to Your riches in glory, by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Therefore, I thank you that you will do this thing for my family. I ask this in the wonderful name of Jesus. Amen"

 

It was the great missionary, Hudson Taylor, who said, "The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see Divine power wrought in the place of weakness, failure, and disappointment, let us answer God's standing challenge, 'Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things of which thou knowest not of.'"

 

How do you get "clean hands and a pure heart?" Simply by confessing your sins to God, through Jesus Christ. His blood cleanses from all sin (1 John 1:7-9). When you confess them to God through Jesus, God will not only forgive your every sin, He promises to forget that sin (Hebrew 8:12). He will even justify you, on the grounds of the sacrifice of the Savior. That means He will count it as though you have never sinned in the first place. He will make you pure in His sight -- sinless. He will even "purge" your conscience, so that you will no longer have that sense of guilt that you sinned in the first place.

 

That's what I mean "to be justified by faith." That's why you need to soak yourself in Holy Scripture -- to read the letters to the churches and see the wonderful things that God has done for us through the Cross of Calvary. If you don't bother to read the will, you won't have any idea of what has been left for you.

 

How do you pray "genuine heart-felt prayers?" Simply by keeping yourself in the love of God. If the love of God is in you, you will never pray hypocritical, or selfish prayers. In fact, you won't have to pray selfish prayers, if you have a heart of love. When your prayer-life is pleasing to God, the Bible says that He will reward you openly (Matthew 6:6). How do you know that you are praying to "the God revealed in Holy Scripture?"

 

Study the Word. Don't accept the image of God portrayed by the world, even though it appeals to the natural mind. A loving, kind fatherly-figure, with no sense of justice or truth appeals to guilty sinners. Look to the thunderings and lightnings of Mount Sinai. Gaze at Jesus on the cross of Calvary -- hanging in unspeakable agony because of the Justice of a holy God. Such thoughts tend to banish idolatry.

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