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Someone Cares Series
How to Pray
More important than any rule or law is our love-relationship with Jesus Christ, which is developed through spending time in Bible study, prayer and witnessing. When we study the Bible God speaks to us. When we pray we speak to Him. And when we witness we speak to others about Him. In this lesson we will discover the secrets of prayer and how we can enjoy this privilege.
1. Prayer is talking to God from the heart, as to a friend. How do we know that God will always answer our prayers in the best possible way?
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things" (Romans 8:32)?
Never is one repulsed who comes to Him with a contrite heart. Not one sincere prayer is lost. Amid the anthems of the celestial choir God hears the cries of the weakest human being. We pour out our heart's desire in our closets, we breathe a prayer as we walk by the way, and our words reach the Monarch of the universe. They may not be heard by any human ear but they cannot die away in silence, nor can they be lost through the activities of business that are going on. Nothing can drown the soul's desire. It rises above the noise of the street, the confusion of the people, to heaven.
2. How should we pray in these solemn times?
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (1 Peter 4:7).
Peter encourages us to always seek the Lord's direction in these solemn times. There is need to be diligent in our prayer life, to let nothing prevent us from spending time in prayer, to keep up a union of the soul with God, so that life flows from God into our life, and from our life purity and holiness flow back to Him.
3. What did the disciples want Jesus to teach them? In response, what did Jesus say should be included in our prayers? And finally, what principle did Jesus give for obtaining answers to our prayers?
"And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Luke 11:1-9).
The disciples had often heard Jesus in prayer and were much impressed by His prayers and by His habit of speaking with God. The disciples were deeply moved and asked Him to teach them how to pray (verses 2-4). The prayer that Christ gave to the disciples in answer to their request was phrased in simple words and expressed the daily needs of the soul.
When we come to ask for mercy and blessing from God we should have a spirit of love and forgiveness in our own hearts. How can we ask God to forgive us and yet indulge an unforgiving spirit? If we expect our own prayers to be heard we must forgive others in the same manner and to the same extent as we hope to be forgiven (verses 5-9).
We are to persevere in prayer, we are to believe that God will reward us if we diligently seek Him. We have a great need and should hunger and thirst after God and righteousness. Our hearts must be open to the influence of the Holy Spirit or God's blessing cannot be received.
4. In Luke 2 (above) Jesus taught us to pray to the Father. In whose name, or by whose authority, should we address the Father?
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you" (John 15:16).
Jesus taught us to pray to the Father, but we pray in Jesus' name because He is our Mediator and Saviour. Through the merits of Jesus we gain access to the throne of the universe. To pray in the name of Jesus is more than a mere mention of His name at the beginning and the ending of a prayer. It is to pray in the mind and spirit of Jesus, believing His promises and relying on His grace to do His works.
5. When especially should we pray?
"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up" (Psalm 5:3).
"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35).
"As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice" (Psalm 55:16, 17).
We are to come to the Father first thing in the morning, just as Jesus did while on earth. It is also necessary to come to Him throughout the day, committing our way unto Him. This was the life of Jesus. All day He labored, teaching, healing and feeding the people, but at evening or in the early morning He went to spend time in communion with His Father. Often He spent all night in prayer that He might be strengthened to meet the people.
6. What kind of prayers should these morning prayers be?
"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (Matthew 6:5-8).
Our prayers are to be short, to express just what we want, no more, always remembering to give gratitude. There should be no neglect of secret prayer. It is very important and should be heard only by the prayer hearing God. In secret prayer, the soul is free from surrounding influences, free from excitement.
Nothing will give such clear views of self as secret prayer. He who sees in secret and knows all things will enlighten our understanding and answer our petitions. Plain simple duties that must not be neglected will be open before us.
7. Besides our private prayers, is there also a place for public prayer?
"Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:19, 20).
There is also a place for public prayers. What marvelous results would appear if the united prayers of God's people were to ascend in living faith. The Lord has promised to be in our midst.
8. What attitude toward God should we exhibit in our prayers?
"O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
We should come to God in a spirit of reverence, shown by kneeling in awe and humility where possible. To kneel shows our complete dependence upon Him for it was He who created all things.
9. On what specific occasions did Jesus and the apostles pray?
"And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat" (Acts 27:35).
There are certain occasions when we pray. Before partaking of a meal we should give thanks to God for providing for our physical needs. It was when Jesus gave thanks while partaking of a meal that his friends recognized Him after the Resurrection (Luke 24:30).
Thus far we have noted four things that will make our prayers effective. We might call these the conditions, or principles, of prayer.
The four principles we have noted are:
1. being persistent,
2. praying with Jesus' authority
3. being personal, and
4. having reverence.
Now let us look at five more principles of prayer. See if you can remember all nine when we have completed the lesson.
10. What is a fifth condition?
"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass" (Psalm 37:5).
We must trust God, praying to God for guidance and believing He will do all that He has promised, and that He knows best what is for our good. Thus, instead of following our own way it leads us to choose His way. Faith that enables us to receive God's gifts is itself a gift, some measure of which is imparted to every human being.
11. What is a sixth condition?
"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:" (1 John 5:14).
We must want God's will to be done. The conditions for obtaining mercy from God are simple and reasonable. We must ask according to His will, we must want to glorify Him and do that which pleases Him. We may not ask to gratify self if we want the Lord to hear and answer our prayers.
12. What is a seventh condition?
"He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination" (Proverbs 28:9).
We must listen to God, and be willing to obey Him. When we bring our petitions to God, claiming His promises while not complying with the conditions, we insult God. There are conditions to the fulfillment of God's promises and prayer can never take the place of duty. We dishonor God when we ask Him to fulfill His promises, yet in our hearts we do not wish to obey Him.
13. What is an eighth condition?
"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6).
We need to praise God and be thankful for His goodness towards us in all things. Even in adversity we can be thankful for His power and grace that we might be strengthened and kept, becoming more dependent upon Him. All works together for the development of our character.
14. What is a ninth condition?
"And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses" (Mark 11:25, 26).
If we come to the Lord asking Him to forgive us, we must also be prepared to forgive others, for it is only as we are prepared to forgive, that we are forgiven. One of the most common sins is the indulgence of an unforgiving spirit. How can we cherish this spirit and then bow before God and ask to be forgiven as we forgive?
Will you plan to become better acquainted with Jesus by setting apart some time every morning to talk with Him in personal, private prayer.
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Page created: 7/23/98 Updated: 11/14/2006
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