Over the years, I have met many individuals who openly admit that they do not pray. When asked why, they all provide the same answer,
“I used to pray, but God never answered my prayers. What’s the point?”
The Bible speaks often of the P O W E R of prayer.
In Acts chapter 12 we can read about a time when Peter was thrown into prison and was more than likely going to be killed. His church went to prayer on his behalf – the Bible says they prayed without ceasing. God sent an angel into that prison to loose his chains and take him out of that bondage!
In I Samuel chapter 1 we see Hannah weeping and praying to the Lord – not just for any baby, but specifically for a boy. Prior to that prayer, she had not had the ability to get pregnant. The very next day she conceived and guess what? It was a boy! Nine months later Samuel was born.
In Jonah chapter 2 Jonah prays to God out of the belly of a whale. He knew that whale had swallowed him up because of his disobedience to the Almighty. He repented of that disobedience. God answered his prayer by speaking to the whale and having it vomit Jonah up on dry ground!
In II Chronicles chapter 1 Solomon asked God for the kind of wisdom and knowledge he would need in order to properly judge the people God had placed him over. God was so impressed with that prayer that he not only gave Solomon the wisdom and knowledge he asked for, but also more riches, wealth, and honour than any king before or after him.
In Judges chapter 16 an account is given of Samson having his eyes put out by his enemies. The people thought it was fun to mock and torture him. Samson cried out to God in prayer and asked for the ability to avenge himself of the Philistines for the sake of his two eyes. God answered that prayer by allowing Samson to pull down the huge pillars holding up that building and it collapsed on the whole crowd of his enemies, killing them at once.
God answers prayers throughout the Bible. He W I L L answer yours too!
There is a catch – you have a little bit about prayer. Let me share a few pointers with you.
James 5:16 says, “… the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” That means the hot, excited, earnest prayers of an individual who is not only saved, but who practices obedience to God’s directives as recorded in the Bible. To be an effective prayer warrior, you have to get that sin out of your life! You can’t pray in a boring manner that sounds like you’re half asleep either. Show some excitement when you talk to the King of Kings!
James 1:6-7 says, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” Don’t get mad at God if your faith is so weak that you don’t trust Him to grant you the petitions you’re bringing to Him. If you don’t have confidence that God will answer your prayer, your prayers will not be answered. Harsh, huh?
I Thessalonians 5:17 says to, “Pray without ceasing.” That’s what the church did when Peter was put in prison. They prayed, and prayed, and prayed until God answered their prayer. Don’t give up because God doesn’t answer you during the second you call upon His name. Pray and pray and pray. When God sees that request is important enough for you to invest some time in talking to Him, He will respond. You have His Word on it!
Matthew 6:6 says, “…When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Don’t post your prayers on Facebook. Don’t tell everyone you know what you prayed for. Don’t pray for things publicly. Go off by yourself somewhere. Get alone with God. Talk to Him one-on-one.
Jesus taught His disciples how to pray in a passage of scripture many believers have come to know as “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13. Let’s look at verse 9 for a moment. It says,
“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
Our prayers should always start off with acknowledging who God is. When we write a letter, we generally start it off with a greeting such as, “Dear Mr. Rogers.” When we call people on the phone, we might say “Hello, Mrs. Sunshine?” When we start a conversation with God, we ought to acknowledge who we are talking to. He is Our Father. He is Our Creator. He is the King of Kings. He is the Lord of Lords. Acknowledging him should be the first step in our prayers. Next, Jesus said “Hallowed by thy name.” That means God’s name was sacred, holy, and to be reverenced. We should show God how much we adore Him. That gets our spirits right with God when we take time to think about how marvelous He is and what kind of power He possesses and what kind of miracles He has worked. Praise Him for those things early in your prayer!
Okay, let’s move on to the next verse,
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.”
Think about what this is saying. We are, before we ask God for anything else, to let Him know that we want to be in His will. In Heaven, we know that nothing is done that God is not in charge of. We should make it clear to God that because we reverence Him we don’t want to take one step outside of His will and let Him know that we honor and respect His desires. Talk to Him as our Lord.
Moving on, the next verse says,
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
After we’ve acknowledged who God is, after we’ve exalted His holy name, and after we’ve told Him we will respect His will and wishes, then, and only then, should we ask God to supply our needs. Did you notice, in this example, Jesus didn’t tell them to ask for wants? Bread was needed. It was necessary. He wasn’t saying to ask God for a brand new car or a fancy house or a huge paycheck. He said to ask for daily bread – for what was needed for survival. I’m not saying you can’t ask for other things. But I am telling you to pay attention to the example Jesus gave of what ought to be prayed for.
After asking God for one physical need, Jesus moved on. He said,
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
Many people will tell you, you have to ask God’s forgiveness before you ask Him for anything else. That’s not what Jesus taught His disciples. Look at that order again! However, we are to ask for forgiveness. Equally important, when we are asking God to forgive us, we need to forgive others at the same time. How often do you do that when you ask God’s forgiveness? Do you say “God, please forgive me for…” and that’s the end of it or do you continue “… as I forgive so and so for such and such?”
He went on to say,
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
The last part of our prayer should include asking for God’s protection – from temptations, from bad circumstances, from evil thoughts, from evil deeds of others, etc. We should then acknowledge that the reason we are bringing this petition to God is because we know that He is the Master of all creation and because He and He alone has the power to perform miracles and because we want Him to be glorified by taking care of those matters we have brought to His attention.
There is one more thing in this example of prayer I failed to mention.
Did you notice a pattern? Jesus didn’t say we should pray saying “MY Father which art in Heaven,” “Give ME my daily bread,” “Forgive ME my debts,” “Lead ME not into temptation,” etc. He said we should say “OUR Father which art in Heaven,” “Give US our daily bread,” “Forgive US our debts,” “Lead US not into temptation,” etc. Too often we get wrapped up in praying for ourselves. Our prayers out to be focused on “us” instead of on “me.”
What about our physical bodies? How should we position ourselves to pray?
The great thing about prayer is you can pray anywhere. You can pray while you’re at driving down the road or while you’re laying on your bed trying to go to sleep. However, as you study your Bible, you will see there are different ways to show humility and respect to God when praying. This article has already gotten rather lengthy so I’m not going to get into detail about that just yet.
If you would like me to write another article specifically on physical positions of prayer, let me know and I’ll get on that!