What is Prayer?
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? " Matthew 7:11
The reality of prayer for the Christian is that he is calling upon an infinite and all-powerful God, yet Jesus made this God accessible and to the believer this God has become a friend who "sticks closer than a brother."
The Bible sends a clear message throughout its pages that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, that if anyone acknowledges him he will direct their paths, and he knows those who trust in him and he blesses them with the desires of their heart. Yet to diligently seek him, or to acknowledge him, or to trust in him means first and foremost, to come to him according to his Word and not on the basis of works or ritual, or anything else. There is no religion that offers approach to the true God, and there is no good work that a man can do to earn the privilege of approaching God. Sin created an impassible barrier which made approach to God impossible by any man because all men have sinned.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23
God even goes to the extent of explaining in the Bible that to approach an infinitely holy God without the blood of a substitute is idolatry, and the prayers of the unbeliever are an abomination, and he will not hear them.
"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid [his] face from you, that he will not hear." Isaiah 59:1-2
The Man Who Conquered Death
God had to come to this world clothed in human flesh, a baby born in a manger growing up as a man experiencing life as a human being, and then was put to death. But in laying down his life he actually conquered death. The details surrounding this event we will leave for another day but one man of God said it this way "when death slew Jesus it slit its own throat." This is of course because as a man Jesus never sinned and death only has power over human beings that sin, and therefore death could not hold the man Jesus. When Jesus rose again he took with him multitudes of souls of the believers throughout history that put their trust in Gods promises and approached him in faith according to his promises, these were people that lived in Old Testament times.
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" Hebrews 2:14
Because of the Blood of Jesus
The Old Testament begins with the Garden of Eden, and God revealed in the Garden of Eden that once sin and death entered into the world the only approach to God was on the basis of the blood of a substitute. Cain made an attempt to approach God by bringing the best of his good works, the fruit of the ground, yet God immediately rejected him and Cain became angry. His brother Abel may not have been the better person but he came as God had commanded, he was a keeper of sheep and brought one of them as a sacrifice before the Lord, as a substitute for his sins. Abel was immediately accepted and from this point on Abel could approach God, and fellowship with God, and acknowledge God, and trust God, because the first big issue had been dealt with. Abel was God's friend, but that is because the sin issue had been dealt with first and then the glorious relationship could take place. Throughout the entire Old Testament every man and woman of God were friends of God, and had sought the Lord, and trusted him, yet they were all people that had first dealt with the sin problem. We know now by reading the New Testament that it was actually the blood of Jesus at work even in Old Testament times, the Old Testament believers approached God on the basis of an animal sacrifice but that was like cashing a check that would later be paid in full when Jesus died on the cross.
"For you know that God paid a ransom to save you ...and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God." 1 Peter 1:18-19
The Essence of Prayer
For the believer who has already had their sins forgiven by the blood of Christ, prayer is entering into God's presence happily and joyfully like a little child running into the house excited to share something with one of his parents. Prayer is like a wife who loves her husband so much, that she longs to spend time with him and enjoy the pleasures of being in love. This is what we see when we look at the life of Christ, he was obedient to God because his father loved him and he so loved his father. He continually prayed to his father because he knew that his father would give him what he asked for because his father loved him and wanted to give him his desires. He did everything to please the father, and his father would not withhold the best from his son that he loved so much. This is the essence of true prayer, realizing that the blood of Christ did everything to make that relationship with God possible with nothing lacking. The blood of Christ did everything, and Jesus said if we would ask anything in his name he would do it because he loves us. The Bible encourages us to walk with God, to fellowship with him, and he will give us the desires of our heart. This is because they are his desires and he loves us, and loves to see us happy. Prayer is not a ritual, there is no correct place to pray, there is no form that is correct, you can yell or whisper, you can stand or kneel, you can fold the hands or raise them to heaven. Whether lengthy or short, simple or filled with poetic grandeur. There is not one moment of the day that God is not longing for loving communion with his children, and spending time with his bride. True prayer is acknowledging Gods love at all times, seeking God in everything, and seeing God working. His desires become our desires and if we really want something remember this, he loves us infinitely more than we love our own children, and he wants to make us happy and give us good things infinitely more than we would for our own children whom are so precious to us.
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." 1 John 4:7-8
Prayer and Eternity
God is love. If you have a desire for the lost then love them and pray for them, God will hear your prayers because he puts his desire in your heart. When you gather with other believers love them, and pray for them and remember the words of Christ, "where two or more are gathered in my name I am there in the midst of you." God is preparing us for eternity and heaven is more than anyone can imagine. Heaven is all about love and making happy the one you love, and God understands how to make us happy and only God knows us well enough to truly make us the happiest. Every pleasure is a finger-pointing to eternity with God, the one who created true pleasure. God is love and prayer is all about God's love working through you.
This was Jesus' last prayer in the garden of Gethsemane:
"Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare [it]: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:24-26
Prayer is time spent communicating with God. We can speak, listen, pray for ourselves, others, situations, and just abide in the presence of God enjoying Him and waiting on His direction. Prayer is our relationship with the Creator of the universe and it is informed with many nuances unique to each individual, history maturity, calling and gifting and of course, scriptural understanding as we build our relationship with God through Christ. The invitation to pray is our greatest honor and blessing and we need look no further than the fact that Jesus prayed, …and it seems he prayed a lot!
"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." (Mark 1:35)
"After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone." (Matt 14:23)
"One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God." (Luke 6:12)
Read how Jesus prayed for you in John 17. "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…"
Paul says in Ephesians 6:18 "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." And in 1 Timothy Paul says, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." (1Tim 2:1)
And none of us knows everything about prayer. We are always learning. But thankfully the Holy Spirit is filling in the gaps. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." (Rom. 8:26)
Keys to Prayer:
Humility: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." (James 4:6)
Boldness: "Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16)
Abiding: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." (John 15:7)
Persistence: "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." (Luke 18:1)
Before we are even Christians, prayer begins with seeking God. The Centurion Cornelius was visited by an angel who said, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God." Cornelius was then led to Peter who gave him the gospel.
If you have never prayed, begin by seeking God in humility and look for his answers. Some keep a prayer journal to document what God is showing them.
"The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."
Heavenly Father, I adore and worship you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength! Please forgive me for all my sins and change me. Thank you for creating me, loving me, and leading me into relationship with You through the forgiveness I have in the death and resurrection of Christ. Please instill in me a new hunger to seek you and spend time with you in prayer. Remind me what I have been missing in this glorious relationship you have called me to. Thank you for revealing yourself to me.
In Jesus Name,
”But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:9, 10)
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Discover the captivating stories of forgotten empires, delve into the customs and cultures of our ancestors, and witness the remarkable findings unearthed by dedicated archaeologists.
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Bible Study Questions
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