Prayer is universal to most religions and is central to Christiainity. In more mainline denominations prayer appears more ritualized centering on the “the Lord’s Prayer”, and pre-written orations compared to the composed on the fly, free flowing petitions of Pentecostal and Bible centered churches. Nevertheless faithful followers in groups from Assemblies of God to Baptists to Catholics to Lutherans to Orthodox to Presbyterians to Pentecostals to Wesleyans all pray. So pray!
How to Pray
If you are at a loss for words the “Lord’s Prayer” (also sometimes called the “Our Father”) is a great place to start:
Therefore pray in this way: Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. (Mat 6:9-13 MKJV)
Many believe, and I am among them, that the Lord is not so much teaching exacltly what to say as he is teaching how to pray. Important elements in this prayer include:
- Speaking directly to the Father, calling him Father
- Praising God, “Hallowed Be thy name…”
- Asking God for what you need in all areas, physical needs, guidance, etc.
- Acknowledging his power and sovereignty.
“For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory”
“Give us this day our daily bread…”
“Forgive our debts”
Lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us..
The bible is not like a technical manual where all the specifications for how things work are spelled out in precise order. Other guiding principles for prayer were taught by the apostles and early disciples in other books of the new testament. Some of these follow:
Pray frequently and often
There is a old joke that goes like this: Why is it when people talk to God they are praying, but when God talks back, they are schizophrenic? Prayer is talking to God. God is our heavenly father. God is always near us, always listening. We get near to God when we pray. God wants us to pray constantly. God does answer prayer. It is a lifestyle of constant communication between us and our heavenly father.
Pray without ceasing.(1Thes 5:17)
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; (Romans 12:12KJV)
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; (Ephesians 6:18KJV )
The first century church prayed constantly.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
(Acts 2:42 KJV)
Paul and the people that ministered with him prayed constantly.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Col 1:9KJV)
Conditions of Prayer
There are some rules to prayer. If you want an answer you have to believe that God will answer.
Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.(Mark 11:24)
The next verses tell us a condition for receiving forgiveness, forgiving others.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.(Mark 11:25-26NKJV)
There are other things we are taught that interfere with our receiving answers to our prayers, for example, husbands that don’t honor their wives as joint heirs of the grace of God shouldn’t expect answers to prayer.
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.(1 Pet4:7NASB)
If we pray for things that come from our basic selfish desires we can’t expect an answer.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.(James 4:3)
The above verse shows good reason to not only pray but to study to learn what are good things to pray for and have in our lives. God’s word teaches us that we are to pray fervently, earnestly living righteously to get answers to prayer.
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.(James 5:16b-18)
Do you know what it means to be earnest? It means to do it with feeling, to have some passion in it. The opposite of praying earnestly is to pray and fall aleep doing it. The opposite of praying earnestly is to pray mindlessly with words that you are not focusing on. Praying earnestly means praying with focus and intensity. Pray like a child does when they ask for something they really want. That is praying earnestly.
Ready, Set, Pray
Have you ever been in love, or made a new friend? Did you talk to them? Of course you did. Do you ever get with friends, counselors, co-workers? Do you talk to them? Of course you do. God is all of those things, and talking to God is called praying. So pray. Pray regularly. Pray often. Pray when you are in trouble. Pray when something good happens. Pray when you want to do something. And if you are having a hard time getting started, pray about that.
© copyright 2009 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved