Prayer is as old as man, as
universal as religion, and as instinctive as breathing (Gen. 4:26 OT).
It is practiced m some form by all men of all faiths. Prayer springs from
the heart with a need, a need greater than man's ability to encounter.
Prayer is man's acknowledgment of a being higher than himself.
Most men try to pray, yet so
few know how. There are two kinds of prayers: the prayer that does not reach
God and the prayer that does reach God. This is illustrated by our Lord in the
parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9-14). Both men went to the
same place, at the same time, for the same purpose, to pray.
The Pharisee prayed in his
religious pride, expecting God to answer because he thought himself worthy.
He informed God of his own goodness, that he was better than others. He
boasted of his good works. He said, "I fast; I pay. "This is the kind of prayer
that does not reach God. It is self-righteous prayer.
Now look at the publican and
his prayer. He came to God in great humility, conscious of his unworthiness,
confessing himself a sinner, and begging for mercy. This is the kind of prayer
that does reach God. This is righteous prayer.
It is a rare privelege to pray;
because it brings you into close fellowship with God, admitting your need for
Him and your utter dependence upon Him!
What is Prayer?
Read: Matt. 7:7-11
Prayer is asking and receiving;
it is talking with God. It is making your request known to Him in faith.
The above Scripture is so simple on the surface, that we are in danger of failing
to recognize its immensity. Our Lord instructs the believer to ask, seek,
and knock; because these three words cover the whole spectrum of prayer.
- Prayer is asking and receiving. When
you know the will of God regarding a need, whether it be material or spiritual,
you can ask and receive. This is prayer according to the revealed will of
God (1 John 5:14, 15).
- Prayer is seeking and receiving. When you
do not know the will of God regarding a need, whether it be material or spiritual,
then you are to seek His will in prayer concerning this need until you find
it. This is prayer for knowledge of the unrevealed will of God in a specific
need (Col. 3:1 and Jer. 29:12, 13 OT).
- Prayer is knocking and opening. When
you know the will of God, and yet you find a closed door, you are to knock,
and keep on knocking until God opens the door. This is tenacious prayer,
prayer for mountain-moving faith. Knocking prayer perseveres until the impossible
becomes the possible. This is miracle-working prayer (Matthew 17:14-21).
All things are possible when you ask, seek, and knock.
Read: Luke 18:1
- Because Jesus said, "at all times they ought
to pray" (Luke 18:1). Prayer is imperative. You are commanded to
pray (Matthew 26:41).
- Because prayer is the only way to get things
from God. "You do not have because you do no ask" (James 4:2).
- Because there is joy in prayer (John 16:24).
- Because prayer will save you out of all
your troubles (Psalms 34:6 OT).
- Because prayer can unlock the treasure chest
of God's wisdom (James 1:5).
- Because prayer is a channel of power (Jeremiah
- Because it is a sin not to pray (1 Samuel
- Because sinners can be saved when they pray
in faith (Romans 10:13, 14).
- Because Jesus, while here in the flesh,
prayed often to the Father. Now, if Jesus, the Son of God, needed to pray,
then we should "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5-17).
How to Pray.
Read: Matt. 6:9-13
"Pray, then, this way."
Our Lord gave this as a model prayer after one of His disciples said to Him,
"Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples" (Luke 11:1).
- We are to pray to "Our Father who art in
heaven," because He is all-wise, all-loving, and all-powerful. We are
also instructed to pray in the name of Jesus (John 14:13, 14), depending on
the mediative influence of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26, 27).
- We are to pray for His will be done in everything
- We are to pray for the coming of the Kingdom
- We are to pray for our daily necessities
- We are to pray for forgiveness, and practice
forgiving others (Matthew 18:21, 22).
- We are to pray for the leading of the Lord,
and deliverance from evil (Luke 22:42).
- We are to pray in faith, for "without faith
it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
This model prayer is brief,
to the point, and not repetitious. It is the perfect prayer.
Where to Pray.
Read: Acts 12:5
There was a remarkable change
in the prayer life of the disciples after the resurrection of Jesus, and it
is noted again after Pentecost. Before the death of Jesus, the disciples
slept while Jesus prayed in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46). But, after
His death and resurrection:
- They assembled in the upper room, waiting
for the coming of the Holy Spirit; and, they prayed. We should always
pray when assembled with
- believers (Acts 1-13, 14).
- They prayed as they went from house to house
- They prayed in the church when Peter was
in prison (Acts 12:5-19).
- Paul and Silas prayed in prison (Acts 16:25).
Here we see Christians praying in the presence of unbelievers, but not to
be heard of them. Never pray to please others present; pray only to please
- The most important place to pray is any
place where you can be alone with God (Matthew 6:6).
- We are instructed to pray in all places
at all times (1 Timothy 2:8).
It is a great joy to be able
to talk with God, any time, any place, under any condition or circumstances,
and to know that He will hear and answer!
Hindrances to Prayer.
Read: 1 Peter 3:7
When prayers are not answered
you should examine yourself in the light of God's Word. If you find anything
not pleasing to God, confess it, believing God for forgiveness that your prayers
may be answered (1 John 1:9).
- An unharmonious relationship between husband
and wife will hinder prayer (1 Peter 3:1-7).
- Selfishness will hinder prayer (James 4:3).
- An unforgiving spirit will hinder prayer
(Matthew 5:22-24). Many Christians go without answers to prayer because
they have wronged others, or have been wronged and have failed to humble themselves
and seek reconciliation.
- Unbelief will hinder prayer (James 1:6,
7 and Hebrews 11:6).
- Known sin in the heart will hinder prayer
(Isaiah 59:1, 2 OT and Psalms 66: 18 OT).
When you pray, go to God in
all humility. Ask Him to reveal anything in your life that is not pleasing
to Him. Then judge it; confess it, calling it by name and forsake it. Pray in
all simplicity and earnestness, believing, and God will hear and answer!
Does God Answer All Prayer?
Read: John 15:7
The Bible is filled with answered
prayers from Genesis to Revelation. You are commanded to pray, and God
has promised to answer (Jeremiah 33:3 OT). In (John 15:7), there are two requirements
for answer to prayer. First: You are to abide in Him; that is, to continue in
Him. It means to remain in His perfect will at all cost (Romans 12:1, 2). Second:
His words are to abide in you; they are to become a vital part of your life.
You are to be filled with, and guided by, His words (Colossians 3 16, 17). Meet
these two requirements, and your prayers will be answered.
- The answer is sometimes immediate.
Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, and he began to sink, he prayed,
"Lord, save me"! The answer was immediate. (Matthew 14:22-31).
- The answer is sometimes delayed. The
delay is according to His will (Romans 8:28). The resurrection of Lazarus
is a good example of delayed answer to prayer. Lazarus was dead and
in the tomb for four days. Then Jesus came and raised Lazarus from the
dead. The answer was delayed, but not denied (John 11 1-44).
- The answer is sometimes "no".
When God answers with a "no", He always accompanies the answer with
peace (Philppians 4:6, 7) and grace (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
- The answer is sometimes different from what
you expect. You pray for perseverance and God sends tribulation, because "tribulation
brings about perseverance (Romans 5:3). God answers all your prayers,
not according to your wishes, but according to His perfect will.
Proceed to Lesson 10