When I first fell in love with my future wife, I wanted to know everything about her. I wanted to spend every waking minute with her. The more time I spent with her and the more better I got to know her, the more I fell in love with her.
It’s a simple formula, really. The more you love someone, you want to spend more time with them. The more time you spend with them, the more you love them. It’s an ever expanding upward spiral. It feeds on itself.
One of the ways of getting to know Jesus better, of loving Him more is thru prayer. Just as getting to know my wife better was by conversing with her, so prayer is conversing with Jesus. It’s spending time with Jesus and talking with Him. It’s listening to Him and just being in His presence. It may involve talking, listening or just pondering His presence. It’s sharing your thoughts, feelings, problems, hopes and joys with Him. It’s making time for Him. It involves praising Him, confessing our weaknesses to Him, thanking Him for who He is and all He has done for us and making requests for ourselves and others. Prayer can be an extended time or just a sentence. We should be in a prayerful attitude all day long. Prayer and bible study work together to immerse us in God’s attitudes, values, directions and goals for our lives.
Please note that in a limited study as this is, all aspects of prayer cannot be covered. Whole books have been written on prayer. In this study, we’re just skimming the surface.
If you want to know how to pray, read the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and the Psalms. Prayer usually involves one, many or all of the following;
– listening (Psalm 130:56 & Romans 8:26)
– talking (1st Chronicles 16:11, Ephesians 1:18 & James 5:13)
– just being in His presence (Psalm 119:11,97, 148 & 46:10)
– worshipping Him (1st Chronicles 16:23-31, Psalm 99 & 86:9-10)
– praising Him (Daniel 2:12, Deuteronomy 10:21 & Jeremiah 20:13)
– adoration (1st Chronicles 16:29 & Revelation 4:11)
– confession (Psalm 51 & 10:1-11 & 102:3-11 & 1st John 1:9)
– thanksgiving (Hebrews 12:28-29)
– petition, asking God for something (Philippians 4:6 & James 5:16)
– be rooted in God’s word (Psalm 119: 11,97, 148)
Questions about prayer;
#1, What’s the purpose of prayer?
– to get to know Him better, to learn of His ways and for Him to guide us in life
(Isaiah 30:21 & 58:11 and John 16:13)
#2, Why should I pray?
– because you love God and want to know Him better by spending time with Him.
#3, Does prayer really work? Does it change things?
– this is a tricky question. It depends on what you mean by “works” or “change things”.
It’s not something that can be quantitatively measured or proven. But from a Christian
perspective, God would not put such an emphasis on it if it didn’t produce results. The
problem is, God’s answers to our prayers could be yes, no, wait awhile or just silence.
Or He may answer it in a way we didn’t expect.
A) some prayers He will not answer because they go against His will. Praying for God to
tell us when Christ will return is one such prayer.
B) we may pray for someone’s salvation but never know if they get saved or not.
C) there are some things that require our prayers for them to happen, but if we don’t
pray, they won’t happen (Luke 11: 9-10 & Romans 15:30-32 & James 4:2).
D) sometimes God encourages us to pray for something. When we do, it happens.
– apart form prophesied events, like Christ’s return, we don’t know what God has
decreed for us. What we do know is that He has commanded us to pray and leave the
results up to Him. So we must acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all of life’s events
but at the same time passionately ask Him to intervene in our lives.
– we must put aside the notion that we can harmonize the relationship between God’s
sovereign foreknowledge and our responsible charge to pray for certain things.
#4, Why should I praise God? Is He an egotist?
– Absolutely not! We praise Him because He deserves it (Psalm 30:1 & Revelation 4:11)
Praise helps us become God centered instead of self-centered. Praise is one avenue to
experience and commune with God (Revelation 19:1-8 & Psalm 66).
#5, Why should I confess my sins to God when He already knows them?
– sin that is not confessed to God turns to bitterness which corrupts, divides and destroys
us (Hebrews 12:15). It makes it impossible for God to hear and answer our prayers
(Isaiah 59:1-2). Confession brings forgiveness, freedom and restores our relationship
#6, Why do I have to ask God for what I need? Doesn’t He already know?
– of course He knows. Talking with God deepens our relationship to Him. It lets us see
our need more clearly and our dependence on Him to answer that need (Psalm 143:1
& Philippians 4:6).
– it teaches us perseverance, which builds our character. Asking for something once
takes a little faith but persevering in faith produces godliness in us (Galatians 6:9 &
Romans 5:3-5 & Luke 11:5-8).
#7, How does God answer prayer?
– Yes (Psalm 91:15)
– No (Acts 16:6 and Romans 10:1). In Romans, Paul prayed for Israel to be saved but, as a
nation, they rejected Jesus. Paul also prayed for God to remove his thorn-in-the-flesh
but God didn’t do it (2nd Corinthians 12:7-9).
– Wait awhile or not now (Daniel 10:12-14), or God may need to prepare you in
answering your prayer. He may need to mature you first or smooth out some rough
edges in your life (Proverbs 24:27 & 6:6-8).
– when God is silent. Submit to His will and pray Matthew 26:39. Learn patience and
believe that God is working out His plan in your life. Live your life based on what
you already know from the bible. Don’t seek what you don’t know.
– thru circumstances.
– by closing one door and opening another.
– thru other people ministering to us or having a change of heart toward us.
– by supernatural means.
– by giving us wisdom to make the right choice.
– by guiding us by speaking in a still, small voice (1st Kings 19:10-12).
#8, Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?
– Sometimes it’s because we’re asking for things that God hasn’t promised us. He hasn’t
promised long life to every Christian.
– He may not answer your prayer because you ask Him to take away things He doesn’t
want removed. He promises trouble to every person (Job 5:7). So we should pray for
wisdom and perseverance in the midst of our troubles (James 1:5).
– We can also realize that God will use these troubles later on to bless other people
(2nd Corinthians 1:3-4).
– Sometimes our prayers don’t get answered because we don’t persevere in prayer
(Galatians 6:9 & Luke 11:5-10).
– sometimes we ask with the wrong motives (James 4:3, 7-10).
Prayer is also a weapon in the Christian’s arsenal to fight evil and the devil (Ephesians 6:11-17 & James 5:16-18 & Zechariah 4:6 & Luke 10:19 & 1st Timothy 6:12 & Psalm 44:5).
The power of prayer has overcome enemies (Psalm 6:9-10), conquered death (2nd Kings
4:3-36), brought healings (James 5:14-15), defeated demons (Mark 9:29) and demolished
strongholds (2nd Corinthians 10:4-5). God, thru prayer, opens eyes, changes hearts,
heals wounds and grants wisdom (James 1:5). Remember, prayer doesn’t change God’s
mind, it changes us.
For His Kingdom,