God's Sword of Truth - The Word
There are two kinds of prayer: Prayer that does not reach the Lord God, and prayer that does reach the Lord 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, and boasted of his good works. He said, "I fast, I give". This is the kind of prayer that does not reach the Lord God. It is a 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 the Lord God. This is a righteous prayer.
It is a blessing to pray because it brings you into close fellowship with the Lord, admitting your need of Him and your utter dependence upon Him.
WHAT IS PRAYER? "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him"? Matthew 7:7-11
Prayer is asking and receiving; it is talking with God. It is making your request known unto 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 we know the will of God regarding a need, whether it be material or spiritual, we can ask and receive. This is prayer according to the revealed will of God. "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him". 1 John 5:14-15
Prayer is seeking and finding. When we do not know the will of God regarding a need, whether it be material or spiritual, then we are to seek His will in prayer concerning this need until we find it. This is prayer for knowledge of the unrevealed will of God in a specific need. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth of the right hand of God".Colossians 3:1
Prayer is looking for the will of God, and when we know the will of God we find the right door which He will open. Now, if we find a closed door then we ask to be shown the right door and wait for his answer - this is persistent prayer - prayer for mountain-moving faith. Knocking prayer perseveres until the impossible becomes the possible. This is miracle-working prayer. "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed; for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, because of your unbelief; for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Matthew 17:14-21 All things are possible when you ask, seek, knock.
WHY PRAY? "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;"Luke 18:1
Why pray? Because Jesus said, "Men ought always to pray." Prayer is imperative. We are commanded to pray. "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."Matthew 26:41 "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." Mark 13:33
We pray because there is joy in prayer. "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."John 16:24
We pray because prayer can unlock the treasure chest of God's wisdom. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" James 1:5. We must ask in faith..... "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." James 1:6.
We pray without ceasing I Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing". And "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." IThessalonians 5:18
HOW TO PRAY? "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but delivery us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." - Matthew 6:9-13.
"After this manner therefore pray ye". Our Lord gave this as a model prayer after one of His disciples and said unto Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." (See Luke 11:1).
We are to pray to "Our Father which are in heaven", because He is all-wise, all-loving and all-powerful. We are also instructed to pray in the name of Jesus. "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." John 14:13,14 "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26,27
WHERE TO PRAY? "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church of God for him". ("of the church" - meaning the Christians). 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 of Gethsemane (Read 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.
"And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." Acts 1:13,14
They prayed as they went from house to house. "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Acts 2:42-47
The Christians prayed, as one body of Christ, when Peter was in prison. See Acts 12:5-19.
Paul and Silas prayed in prison. "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them." - 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, pray only to please the Lord-God.
The most important place to pray is any place where you can be alone with God. "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6:6
We are instructed to pray in all places at all times. "I will therefore that man pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."I Timothy 2:8
It is a great joy to be able to talk to God, any time, any place and under any condition, and to know that He will hear and answer.
HINDRANCES TO PRAYER "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." I 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 the Lord-God for forgiveness that your prayers may be answered. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9
An inharmonious relationship between husband and wife will hinder prayer (Read I Peter 3:1-7).
Selfishness will hinder prayer. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." James 4:3
An unforgiving spirit will hinder prayer. "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool. shall be in danger of hell fire. (24) Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." 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. "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." James 1:6,7 Also "But without faith it is impossible to please him: For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:6 Unbelief is sin.
When we pray, we should go to the Lord-God in all humility. Ask Him to reveal anything in our lives 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 the Lord will hear and answer.
DOES GOD ANSWER ALL PRAYERS?"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." John 15:7
The Word of God (the King James 1611 New Testament Bible) is filled with answered prayers from Matthew to Revelation. We are commanded to pray, and God has promised to answer. In the above Scripture, there are two requirements for answers to prayer. First, we are to abide in Him: that is, to continue in Him. It means to remain in His perfect will at all cost. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:1,2
Second, His words are to abide in you, they are to become first in your life. You are to be filled with, and guided by, His words "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."Col. 3:16,17 Meet these two requirements, and your prayers will be answered.
The answer to prayer is sometimes immediate. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus and, as 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. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28. The resurrection of Lazarus is a good example of delayed answer to prayer. Lazarus was sick. Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come and heal him. But Jesus delayed coming until Lazarus was dead and in the tomb for four days. Then He 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 an "no", He always accompanies the answer with peace. Phil.. 4:6-7 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Also read John 14;27 and II Cor. 12:7-10. "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he saith unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
The answer is sometimes different from what we expect. We pray for patience and God sends tribulation - because "tribulation worketh patience". Romans 5:3 "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" God answers all our prayers, not according to our wishes, but according to his perfect will and plan for us.
PRAYER IS A REQUEST TO GOD IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST BY THE SPIRIT'S HELPEJACULATORY -(Uttered hurriedly) Luke 23:42 (One of the malefactors which were hanged next to Christ when He was crucified.) ......"And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom."
SECRET PRAYER -"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6:6
FAMILY PRAYER -"A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway." "And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing." Acts 10:2,30.
GROUP PRAYER - "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them." Matthew 18:20
PUBLIC PRAYER - "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks, well, but the other is not edified." I Cor. 14:14-17
CONFESSION - "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9
SUPPLICATION - "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For Kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior." - I Timothy 2:1-3
INTERCESSION - "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." James 5:15 (This is referring to the Christian who is sick among us, not the unsaved...read James 5:7-18).
THANKSGIVING - "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Phil. 4:6
PURITY OF HEART - "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: but verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer." PS. 66:18,19
FAITH - "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done." Matthew 21:21
IN CHRIST'S NAME - "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:13
ACCORDING TO GOD'S WILL - "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." I John 5:14
A FORGIVING SPIRIT - "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." Matthew 6:14
SIMPLICITY - "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. - " Matthew 6:5,6
HUMILITY AND REPENTANCE - "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."Luke 18:10-14
UNITY OF BELIEVERS - "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matthew 18:19,20
TENACITY - "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while; but afterwards he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard men; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke18:1-8
IMPORTUNITY - "And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity, he will rise and give him as many as he needeth." Luke 11:5-8
INTENSITY - "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 7:7-11
CONFIDENT EXPECTATION - "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Mark 11:24
WITHOUT MANY WORDS - "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." Matthew 6:7
UNCEASINGLY - "Pray without ceasing." I Thess. 5:17
JESUS PRAYED FOR HIS OWN - "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."John Chapter 17