Prayer

Our nation has experienced many disasters in the last few years.  It is ironic to me that in a country that is arguing about the right to pray in public places we often hear on the news that people are praying for help or that they were thankful for the prayers of others.  Many people who never go to church or read the Bible will resort to prayer when a disaster strikes their life.  Why is that?  I believe it is because we are born with a God given knowledge that there is someone greater and stronger than we are who can help in times of distress.

The sad fact is that many of us, even professing Christians that faithfully attend church, do not pray except when we, or our loved ones, are in trouble.   Prayer is so simple.  Yet we humans want to make it complicated.  We resort to prewritten prayers that have no meaning to us or to God or we don’t pray at all. 
God wants us to share our hearts with him.  Prayer is simply talking to God like you would converse with your best friend.  When you talk to a friend, you share blessings, frustrations, needs, hopes and dreams.  That is what our Lord and Master planned for us when he designed prayer.

 

Remember, that God already knows all our thoughts and desires (Psalm 69:5; Psalm 139:1-2).  He is just waiting for us to share them openly with him so that he can help us and bless us.  The Bible tells us repeatedly that God wants us to pray.  The Lord even gives us instructions about where to pray, when we should pray, and how we should pray.


1.     Where should we pray?  The wonderful thing about prayer is that we can do it anywhere.  I know that many religions teach that you must go to church, or be on a prayer rug, or face a certain direction.  None of these methods are mentioned in scripture.  These are simply man made rituals that make people feel like they have done the right thing. 

Paul tells us in I Timothy 2:8 that we are to pray “everywhere”.  That doesn’t sound to me like we have to be in one certain place or position in order to pray.  Because we do not have to speak out loud in order for God to hear us, we can pray while we do housework, while we are driving (don’t close your eyes!), when we are lying in bed.  There is no place that we can go that God will not hear us.

There is a time for us to go into our “prayer closet” as the Lord Jesus talks about in Matthew 6:8.  God does want us to spend some time with him in a private place where we will not be interrupted and we can commune with him.  We need that quiet time to share our thoughts and feelings and listen for his still small voice of direction.  But the beauty of God’s plan for communicating with us is that it does not have to be in the same place all the time.  God made us and he knows our schedules.  He understands that there are times when the best we can do is ten minutes for devotions before we start the day running.  But we must not forget that we can still communicate with him wherever we are.

Some of my best prayer time is in the car on my way to work.  I have a 30 mile drive which translates into about 35-40 minutes of peace and quiet with no interruptions.  It is a great time for me to pray and meditate before I start the day dealing with the public.  I also find that I can talk to the Lord while I do housework.  Even when the children were at home, cleaning and gardening was a time when I could be alone with peace and quiet to think if I chose not to include the family.  Believe me, there were no volunteers to help with chores if I didn’t ask! 

The point is that there are many things that we do in a day that do not require our full attention.  These are great times to pray for our family, our friends, our country, etc. and to share our thoughts with the Lord.  If we are feeling discouraged and depressed this is a good time to praise the Lord for all the blessings that He has given us.  It is amazing how much better I feel when I take the time to praise the Lord for all He has done for me and for who He is.

Once you get in the habit of praying everywhere, you will find yourself talking to God as you park the car, “Lord help me to find a parking space”, as you shop “please give me wisdom”, you get the idea.  Prayer is just like asking for help from your best friend.  Only this time you are talking to the one true God who is omnipotent and omniscient.  He is far better than an earthly friend when we need help and advice.

2.  When should we pray?  The Bible has plenty to say about when and how often we should pray.  I Chronicles 16:11 says Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.  Even in the Old Testament God commanded us to seek him all the time.  When we pray we are seeking or searching for the Lord and his help and wisdom.  God wants us to do this on a regular basis not just when we are in church or when we are in trouble.

In Ephesians six the apostle Paul tells us the kind of equipment that we will need to win the battle against Satan.  In verse 18 he says that we are to be praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit….  In order to win battles for the Lord and live the kind of life He wants us to live, we must be filled with the Spirit and be in an attitude of prayer at any time.  Also in I Thessalonians 5:17 we read the very short verse Pray without ceasing. 

So what do these verses tell us about when we should pray?  The Lord tells us that we should pray continually, always, and without ceasing.  Does that mean that in order to obey God we must drop everything and go live in a monastery where we do nothing but pray?  Absolutely not!  That would be disobeying God’s definite command to go, preach and teach.

I don’t believe that scripture teaches us that we are to be on our knees with bowed head and closed eyes every moment that we are awake.  Rather the Lord is telling us that we should have such a close relationship with him that we can pray all day long, anywhere, at anytime.

God wants us to have such a close, sweet fellowship with him that it is like he is walking or sitting beside us all the time.  Therefore, we can talk to Him all day long.  Starting with when we first wake up and say “Good morning, Lord!” sharing thoughts, concerns, and praises throughout the day until we lay down at night and say “Thank you Father for a good day.  Help me to sleep well tonight.”  You see, our prayer life should be such that it is a running commentary of us talking and listening to the Lord all day long.

This kind of friendly, chatty praying does not mean that there is not a time for more formal planned prayer time in our lives.  We should all say a blessing before we eat showing our gratefulness to God for providing for us.  When we are in church we have a set prayer time and sometimes we recite The Lord’s Prayer together.  There may be other times in your day when you say regular prayers at family or personal devotions.  Yet none of these times take the place of our communicating with the Lord throughout our daily activities.

As you grow in the Lord, people should see that you seem to get your prayers answered and they will ask you to pray for them.  If you promise to do that you must keep that commitment.  That is hard to do on memory alone.  It is a good idea to have a prayer list to remind you of those that you have promised to pray for.

Years ago, I found that my list was entirely too long for one sitting.  Therefore, the people at the top of the list (family and close friends) got a lot of prayer and others seemed to get ignored except for occasions where I had an unusual amount of time.  One of the speakers I heard at a retreat had the same problem.  She said that she divided her list into seven days.  That way everyone got prayed for at least once a week.  I thought that was a great idea.  I bought bright colored index cards and wrote the days of the week at the top.  My husband and children were listed on every card then I went through our family members, church people, missionaries and evangelists and others.  I then made a second copy.  One set I keep with my Bible and the other set is clipped to the visor of my car.

This system has made a world of difference in my prayer life.  It keeps me focused when I pray and it helps me to fulfill promises to people.  When I tell someone that I will pray for him or her, I remember to do it on a regular basis.  Naturally, there are times that someone I know has a special need and that gets added to the daily list.  I even have friends who will call and say “I know I am on your list for this day, please pray for our family that day.”   Then she will proceed to give me her specific request.

If you put people on your prayer list, it is nice to remember to ask them about the results of your praying.  I remember years ago when Larry and I moved to a new church, we were amazed that when we gave a prayer request on Sunday several people would see us on Wednesday night and ask about the answer to that request.  We were both impressed that the people in that church actually cared enough to do more than pray about the requests of others just once on Sunday.  They obviously remembered and continued to pray until there was a reason to praise the Lord for his answer.

This is true Christianity in action!  Getting involved in other’s lives enough that we would actually take up some of our precious time storming the gates of  Heaven asking God to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.  So often we seem to have the attitude “bless my husband, bless me, bless our 2 children, us four no more, Amen!”  Instead we should be caring about other’s problems the way we would want them to care about ours.

I believe that this is the beauty of God’s plan that we can pray anywhere, any time, in any position.  Our creator knew that if we were going to be unselfish and care for the needs of others we would need more than a ten minute prayer slot in the morning and another short time at night.  We need to be able to talk to God as problems arise and ask for his help and wisdom.  Isn’t it wonderful that we do not have to make an appointment or stand in line for our turn to talk to God?

Wouldn’t it be sad if the Lord brought someone to mind that really needed our prayer but we couldn’t pray right then because it wasn’t the right time of day or we were not in the place of prayer?   Matthew 6:8 says …for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.  He knew before we were created that we would need to have an open line to his throne at any time of the day or night.

Our Heavenly Father even gave us the right to be our own priests (I Peter 2:5) so that we do not have to go to the temple and ask the priest to pray and make sacrifices for us.  Once we have accepted Christ’s death on the cross and the shedding of His blood to cover our sins then we have the right to go straight to the Father just as an earthly child would take their requests to their Daddy.  Don’t we have an amazing God?!

It is sad that God gave us all these privileges and we do not take advantage of them.  We are missing out on so many blessings when we do not develop a rich prayer life.  In this stressful world we all need a way to reduce our worry and help us calm down without drugs.  Scientists have discovered in recent years that people who pray and trust in God seem to heal quicker and be calmer than those that don’t.  Christians could have told them that 2000 years ago and we could have saved thousands of dollars in research money!

Don’t let the world’s attitude “I don’t want to bother God with my tiny problems” seep into your thinking.  God has told us to bring everything to him. He has plenty of time to listen and he wants to hear from us.  Spend some quality time with the Lord talking, listening, and communicating.  You can’t have a good relationship with someone you never talk to.

3.  How should we pray?  Hold that thought for the next blog.

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