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A sister in Christ and I were recently debating subject of baptism, when she began to feel that I was questioning her sincerity. She told me that last few months had really been trying for her, and that without prayer she did not feel that she could have made it through her ordeal. She asked me, "Where do you pray?" I told her that I prayed everywhere, that I did not feel that there was any place that I could not whisper a prayer to God. God's word tells us where to pray: A solitary place (Mark 1:35); on your knees (Acts 9:40); in a place of prayer (Acts 16:16); in our closets (Matthew 6:6); and together (Acts 1:14 & 12:5). To say that we should pray in a solitary place or in a closet indicates that we should pray where we can be alone with God, just two of us. This is important for us to be alone with God as we talk with Him, so we can share with Him our innermost thoughts and cares. This also gives us opportunity to tell God how much we love Him, praise Him, and honor Him for blessings we receive. But we should also pray together for blessings that will help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, individually and collectively as church. To be sure, we can (and do) pray in other positions. However, we should not forget that when we pray we should humble ourselves before God. Getting down on our knees is one way to do this.
Who do we pray for? I'm afraid that all too often our prayers are for what we want or feel that we need. It is important that we make our desires known to God. However, we also need to pray for others and their needs. We should pray for friends (Philemon 1:4); enemies (Matthew 5:44); fellow Christians (Philemon 1:9 & 1 Thessalonians 5:23); for harvesters (Matthew 9:38); for sinning Christians (1 John 5:15,16); for sick (James 5:16); church officers (Acts 6:6 & 14:23); for those in prison (Acts 12:5); and preachers (2 Corinthians 1:11, 8:4, & Ephesians 6:19).
Wouldn't it be great if all Christians had a very active, sincere, fervent, daily prayer life? Just imagine how much better this world would be if all Christians united daily in this kind of prayer. Unfortunately there are hindrances to prayer, and Christians are subject to those hindrances. If we have an un-Christian relationship with others, our prayers are hindered. 1 Peter 3:7-12 speaks to relationships we have with others. We should "...be of one mind, having compassion for one another, love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous..." (1 Peter 3:8a). The opposite of these causes a hindrance to prayer. Having unforgiveness in our heart also serves to hinder our prayers as Jesus taught in Matthew 6:14.
I said earlier that we should not pray for material blessings so we can have our lives more abundant in things of world. In reality, when we pray this type of prayer, it becomes a hindrance to what we should pray for as well as answers to prayer. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." (James 4:3). Self-righteousness serves to hinder us in our prayer life, read parable of Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14. Other hindrances include Satan, lack of fasting, lack or persistence, unbelief, and iniquity in heart.
This has not been an exhaustive study of prayer, for there are more than eighty prayers in Old and New Testaments, as well as countless other references to prayer. However, I have tried to give you and overview of prayer which will teach you basic truths about prayer. Learn to pray to your Heavenly Father. Praise Him, thank Him, glorify Him, and seek His guidance in a daily time of prayer. But most of all love Him with all your heart and soul, and express that love for Him in your prayer life. Does God answer prayer? YES! Remember, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16b).
I have many favorite scriptures that help me make it through this world and live each day in Christ Jesus. Here are just a few.
"for all have sinned and fall short of glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
"Or do you not know that your body is temple of Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19)
"For I received from Lord that which I also delivered to You: that Lord Jesus on same night in which He was betrayed too bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance os Me.' In same manner He also took cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'" (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8)
All scriptures quoted are from New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Stephen Kingery is an author, preacher, teacher and founder of The Home Bible Study Institute.
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