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).