PrayerWritten by Stephen Kingery
PRAYER! This is probably one of two most important aspects of our daily walk as a Christian. The other, of course, is Bible Study. Prayer is one way that we, as Christians, can commune with God on a daily basis. It is as important to our spiritual health as is water and air to our physical well-being. It is absolutely necessary that Christian spend time in earnest prayer.
Remember, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16)
To many Christians prayer is not a meaningful act. All too often people pray but do not realize full blessings that are available through this means of seeking God's will. They may be praying in a shallow meaningless way, or, they just do not really believe in power of prayer. God does hear and answer prayers of Christians. I sometimes feel that we are guilty of asking for God's will in our lives, but what we really want is our will in God's life.
There is power in prayer! You, as a Christian, have authority to enter God's throne room and ask for His blessing in your life. You may enter with boldness of faith and knowledge that God hears and answers prayers. "Let us therefore come boldly to throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) Why has God given us this authority? Because we Christians have been adopted into royal family of God, "... that we may receive adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:5b) However, "come boldly to throne" does not mean to come to throne in a disrespectful manner. It means to come with boldness that is present when we KNOW something to be true. In other words, to come with boldness of faith and knowledge that God will receive us, hear our prayers, and answer them according to His will. Honor, praise, glory, and reverence should always be given to our Heavenly Father.
How should we pray? Prayer should not be offered to God in a negative manner. Matthew 6:5-7 tells us that we should not be like hypocrites and pray to be seen, and use vain repetitions. Often we are called upon to pray in public for a particular purpose. On these occasions, we are to offer a community prayer on behalf of group assembled. These prayers should not be given to bring glory to our ability to offer those prayers, we should not do it to be seen. We should not do it with pretense as Pharisees did in Matthew 23:14, and Luke 20:47. Also when we pray, either in public or private, we should not do it with unforgiveness in our heart.
The Bible tells us how to pray. We should pray persistently (Luke 18:1-8), in faith believing (Matthew 21:21,22; Mark 11:23; James 1:6,7), expectantly, as from a friend (Luke 11:5- 10), assuredly, as from a father (Luke 11:11-13), fervently (Colossians 4:12), in Christ's name, or by His authority (John 14:13,14), boldly (Hebrews 4:15,16), and with confidence toward God (1 John 3:19-22).
Why do we pray? Jesus set example for us as indicated in Luke 6:12, "Now it came to pass in those days that He (Jesus) went out to mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." Jesus also taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:5-13). Taking our needs and desires to throne of God can do many things for us. It can help us to overcome temptation (Luke 22:40). Prayer can help us to realize those things which we need and desire (James 4:2 & 1 John 5:14,15). We can obtain forgiveness (1 John 1:9,10). We can help others to get well (James 5:16); to be forgiven (1 John 5:16); and to overcome sin (Luke 22:32).
It is interesting to note here that First Samuel 12:23-25) teaches us that we sin when we fail to pray for others. We can obtain wisdom as we see in James 1:5. Wisdom is not knowledge, but rather application of knowledge. We can gain soul winners (Matthew 9:38). Even when we don't know what is best for ourselves, or we may not even know what is proper to pray for or how to express them, our prayers will be answered (Romans 8:26-28). We should know that God wants us to pray. Know also the, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16b).
We have discussed how and why to pray, but what is it that we should pray for? I have some friends who feel that words of Jesus in Matthew 21:22 teach us that whatever we want we can have. "And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Does this really mean that if I want one million dollars, and I pray to God for that, and believe with all my heart, being and soul that He will supply it for me, that I will receive it? If above statement by Jesus was a universal truth, answer would be yes! However, to fully understand this statement by Jesus, we must examine other scripture to determine what God's word says we should pray for.
Here is what God's word says we should pray for: God's rule on earth as in heaven (Luke 11:2); our daily bread or necessities (Luke 11:3); forgiveness (Hebrews 7:25 & 4:16); shelter and rescue from temptation (Matthew 6:13 & Luke 22:40); for others (James 5:16, 1 John 5:16, & Luke 22:32); wisdom (James 1:5); soul harvesters (Matthew 9:38); for church (Ephesians 6:18); for our enemies (Luke 6:28); for government officials (1 Timothy 2:1- 3); for open doors that we may spread Good News of Jesus Christ to others (Colossians 4:3); and for word of God to have a free course to expand kingdom to all nations (2 Thessalonians 3:1). I can find no place in God's word where we are taught that we should pray for material blessings so we can have our lives more abundant in things of world. We should pray for those things which will make our lives here on earth more abundant in things of spirit.
In scriptures we are also given several examples of when to pray. We should pray for others when they are in need. Jesus prayed for Peter when he (Peter) was tempted, Abraham prayed for Sodom because of its sinfulness, Moses prayed for Miriam when she was sick, Job prayed for those who abused him, and David prayed for his enemies. There are countless other examples of prayers for others in scriptures. God's word has a lot to say about other times when we should pray. We should pray when we are tempted (Luke 22:40); when we are sick (James 5:13-15); when we are persecuted (Acts 16:25); always (Ephesians 6:18); continually (Acts 6:4 & Romans 12:12); without ceasing (Acts 12:5 & 1 Thessalonians 5:17); all night (Luke 6:12); night and day (1 Thessalonians 5:17); steadfastly (Acts 2:42); when fasting (Mark 9:29); and when eating to sanctify what we eat (1 Timothy 4:5).
Rightly Divide The Word Of TruthWritten by Stephen Kingery
Have you ever noticed how prolific is tendency to misinterpret God's word. If you watch very much religious programming on television, you will soon notice that some very basic scriptural truths are not being interpreted same by everyone who clams to preach Word of God. If you study beliefs of major denominations you will also see that there is not agreement as to proper interpretation of essential scriptures dealing with salvation. How can this be if we serve same God? How can this be if we read from same Holy Scriptures?
I think that Holy Spirit knew there would be a tendency for men to teach their own opinions instead of scriptural truth. Why else would there be over three hundred denominations and more than a thousand lesser "ism" in existence today who claim to be Christian. The Holy Spirit led Paul to write to Timothy concerning correct interpretation of scriptures: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
Is it really necessary for there to be one interpretation of scriptures? And if so, who's right? We believe that there should be unity and uniformity in such matters as deity of Jesus Christ, plan of salvation, infallibility of Bible as God's word and principles of Christian conduct. On other hand there should be liberty in non-essential matters dealing with aspects of our Christian lives which are not specifically dealt with in scripture.
Who's right? Wouldn't it be great if there was some form of litmus test for truth that we could use. A test that would register "right" or "wrong" when a preacher on TV, radio, or even in our churches interprets God's word for us? Unfortunately, for many Christians, there is no such test. But knowing truth is so very important. Is it possible for us to search out truth among all that is being taught under banner of Christianity? I think so, and Jesus teaches that we can, "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know truth, and truth shall make you free.'" (John 8:31,32) Jesus gives us answer to this dilemma, "abide in My word." We must be a person who seeks truth through honest, sincere, effective Bible study. However, there are some key ingredients necessary for person who sincerely seeks truth.
First, and foremost, our allegiance must be to Jesus Christ. Our allegiance cannot be to a denominational structure; local congregation; specific minister, Sunday School teacher, elder, deacon, or some other person; our favorite TV or radio evangelist; or even a particular translation of Bible. It must be Jesus Christ and His word that we give all our love and devotion. We must have an undying love for Him and a deep abiding desire for scriptural truth. We must hunger and thirst for righteousness which scriptural truth produces. Jesus promised that if we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we shall receive it: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6) He also promised that if we seek, we shall find: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)
The second key ingredient for effectively seeking and finding scriptural truth is prayer. If we are to have scriptures opened to us so that we may discern truths contained in them, then we must go to Lord in prayer and ask for His guidance and direction in our studies. James tells us in his epistle, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) It is rather ridiculous for us to assume that we can study word of God without first asking for His divine guidance in that study. And then we must allow God to speak to us through His word.
We must study Bible in a logical systematic way. There are those that say that average person cannot read and understand Bible, that it is too complicated. Brothers and sisters, that is just not so. For any man to say that is slanderous to God. Why would God deliberately make His word difficult for His people (whom He loves dearly) to understand. I have a daughter whom I love dearly. There are times when I must give her commands or instructions so she can know what I expect her to do at given times or under certain circumstances. Would I make those commands and instructions so difficult to understand that she could not possibly comply with my wishes? If I did, and she was not able to comply with my wishes, whose fault would it be, hers or mine? It is just not conceivable that our Heavenly Father would treat us in that fashion.
There are others who say that scriptures can mean different things to different people. That it is all in how you look at it. I have a friend who told me once that she believes that God is big enough to be whatever she wants Him to be. Are we really to believe that our all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God would give us His word in such a manner as this? I hardly think so! My response to my friend was, "I believe that God is big enough to be what He says He is." Truth does not mean a multiplicity of different things. If it did, then it would not be truth.
Daily, or at least weekly, Bible study is important. We cannot study God's word one day, and then allow days or weeks to go by without continuing that study, and expect to gain any knowledge from our study. We must have a regular Bible study if we are to obtain wisdom James was speaking about. Nor can we hop-scotch all over Bible reading a verse here and a verse there and expect to get anything out of study. We certainly would not read a novel, a newspaper or magazine article, or anything else in that fashion. Our Bible study should be systematic and planned. There are several methods we can employ to study Bible. We can study by: chapters, paragraphs, verses, words, topics, or through biography. The important thing is to have a plan of how you are going to study Bible, then follow plan.