Rose F. - How Important is Prayer to a Christian?

Prayer is a very important subject.   It is a Holy Communion with God.  It is the closest, most intimate relationship we can have with our creator.  Prayer is not playing magic games, spinning prayer wheels, reading off a list, or asking for things to be done.   It is communion. "Deep calls unto Deep," (Psalm 42: 7).  In prayer the depths of your spirit are in communion with the depths of the Spirit of God.  Out of this can come instruction, guidance, or a burden to pray for certain things?

Prayers are a life and death matter held in balance.  The most important link is our relationship with God through prayer.  Many who have lost their faith in God failed in prayer.  There is no quicker way to grow than by spending more time in prayer.

Our body has a definite need of food regularly; it has an even more frequent need of water, but it can survive only a few minutes without air.  If our body has such vital needs of food, water, and air - our soul/spirit has an even more urgent need of prayer. Prayer is like to our food, water, and air are to our body.  "We either pray or perish."  Prayer could be likened to breathing. You can breath by opening your lungs and giving the air a chance to enter.  God is like air, is all around us, we need to open our hearts and give Him an invitation to "Come in."

The apostle Paul said,
"For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which can not be uttered."  (Romans 8: 26)  There are times when we emit only wordless groaning because we don't know how to pray in a specific situation.

When we pray, it isn't the position of your body, but the attitude of your heart, that is the most important.   However, even the position of your body should be one of submission and humility.

* In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus "fell on His face" and prayed.

* Abraham did likewise in Genesis 17:3

* We read of kneeling while praying in Psalms 95:6

* They stood and prayed in Mark 11:25 and Luke 18:13.

* We read of praying in the sitting position in Chronicles 17:16

The following are some of the attitude of the heart we should have in prayer:

1) Attitude of reverence, of Godly fear.   We are human; God is divine.   We are sinful; God is sinless.  We are weak; God is all-powerful.   We should come in His presence with due reverence and respect.

2) Attitude of appreciation and of thankfulness. God has done so much for us and continues to help us unto the end. Anything that comes our way is only because of mercy, His love, His kindness, and His forgiveness.

3) Attitude of feeling our deep need of hopelessness and helplessness in ourselves.  We need to feel our own need, our utter dependence.

4) Attitude of "Persistence."  If possible, every child of God should have a special time and place for prayer.  The place should be one where we will NOT be disturbed.  Jesus said we should "enter the closet and shut the door."  (Matthew 6:6)  We need to "tune out all other voices" and get alone with God.  This may not always be easy, especially when there are children in the home, or when one lives in a divided home, etc.  However, this is true "where there is a will, there is a way."

One mother told her story that in morning, the family arises as early as she did and it was almost impossible to pray right then, but she did the necessary tasks first.  When her husband had gone to work and the children were off to school, then she had the little ones yet at home "trained" to respect her quiet time of prayer.

Some of the professing young men who were in the military service had problems along this line also, but most of them managed some way.

Daniel faced the lion's den rather than miss his time of prayer with God.  (Far less eternal consequences!)

We have found there are four parts to prayer:  private thankfulness and thankfulness/appreciation, confession, and intercession:

1.  Private prayer:  Private prayer should be a "two way" communion between God and ourselves.  When we visit a doctor, we not only tell him about our health troubles, but we also wait before him and let the doctor asks some questions.  We let the doctor examine us and let him give the advice and prescribe.  This is all the more necessary when we are in the presence of the Great Physician.  We should "pour out our heart to him," but we should "wait in His presence" to give God an opportunity to speak, to do a little searching in regard to our conduct and faith, and we should invite him to do the suggesting, give the counsel and the Answer.

2.  Thankfulness/Appreciation:  To begin with, appreciation, thanking God for our deliverance, our benefits in the Kingdom, etc.  Thank God for our peace and joy in Him.  Express our needs to Him.  God knows our needs already, but He wants us to ask, seek, and knock.  He wants to hear our own expression of need. It is good exercise for each of us to thank God for the multitude of benefits and blessings that are ours, materially and also spiritually.

3.  Confession:  We need to be cleansed of our sins.  A sin cannot be cleansed if held back from God.  We need to tell Him our sins.  Just lay them before God.  Confess them and forsake them and God will show mercy.  Every day, we should recognize and confess our failures, faults, fears, weaknesses, etc. to the above, with the attitude of desiring to forsake them and do better.  Bringing them out clearly in the open before the Father helps us to recognize them better.   Pave the way for God's forgiveness and cleansing and that helps us to move forward towards an unspotted future.

4.  Intercession:  We are never more "Christlike" than when we are praying in an interceding manner.  How profitable it is to be an "intercessor" in prayer for those we meet regularly in the church fellowship meetings.  How good for our souls and for others, when we intercede in prayer for others of the spiritual family in other parts of this country and others countries - all over the world.

* We should pray for the ministry. (Matthew 9: 27-28, Luke 10: 2, Colossians 4:2-4)

* Pray for our enemies. (Matthew 5:44)

* Pray for Wisdom. (James 1:5)

There are three possible replies from God to our prayers.  One may be "Yes" another may be "No."  Still another may be "Wait awhile."  God will hear our prayers if we ask "according to His will" if we abide in the vine.

1) If we pray for LOVE, God may reply by allowing us to live among some who hate us, unlovely people, and thus we are put into a "school" where genuine love can be worked into us.

2) If we pray for JOY, we may be put into unhappy situations where we can learn the true inward joy.

3) If we pray for PEACE, we may find ourselves in a situation of turmoil and, through this experience, He would like to teach us more of the genuine "inward peace" - the peace of God.

4) If we pray for long suffering, patience, and tolerance, God may allow us to be among those who are rude or unkind, in order to try to immunize us against these kinds of people and bring forth the beauty of true gentleness, and kindness in spite of the opposition surrounding us.

5) If we pray for faithfulness, God allow others to be unfaithful to us.

6)  If we pray for meekness, we might find ourselves among very greedy people to test us.

7) If we pray for temperance and self-control, we may be obliged to fight against much intemperance.  All those "fruits of the Spirit" are best grown and developed in their opposite environments.  God replies to our prayer in practical ways.

What about our prayers in public, in the fellowship/worship meetings??  Longer prayers are, for the most part, for the secret place. (Luke 6:12)

However, it is generally better to make our public prayers brief. (Luke 10:21)  When in public, we expose the quality and depth of our fellowship with God.

The following are some suggestions that it is good to remind ourselves of before we take part in prayer publicly:

1.  (I Corinthians 14:26) How it is then, brethren?  When we come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue (language), hath a revelation, hath an interpretation, let all things be done edifying.  14:31, "For ye may all prophesy one by one, that ALL may be comforted."  14:3, "Prophesied speaks unto men to edification, exhortation, and comfort."  14:23-25, "If, therefore, the whole church come together into one place, and all speak with unknown languages, and there come in those who are unlearned of unbelievers, will they not say, 'Are ye mad?'  But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believe not or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all. And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth."

Don't preach while praying.  This seems hardly in line with the spirit of prayer.  We should not "pray at another" but rather with divine love in our hearts.  Our public prayers should express our heartfelt Love for God, for His Kingdom, and for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Our prayers in public should be edifying to those who listen in the meetings.

2.  Have a "prepared heart" for Prayer.  We should prepare our hearts to seek God.  It would be profitable also to prepare our hearts and minds for taking parts in prayers.  Before we come to the meetings to search our own hearts and discover one or two things that desirous of and then mention these in our prayers

3.  Pray a "live prayer."  A "dead prayer" or a "routine prayer" is a prayer that we pray from memory and not from the heart; something we say over most every time we pray; a live prayer is one from our hearts, something we feel and desire first and foremost at the time and place.

4.  Our prayer needs not to be a complete prayer.  In the Sunday or Wednesday nights meetings, our part in prayer need not to be complete.  We need not go around the clock and back in our petition and thanksgiving.  There were many things Jesus could have mentioned in the example prayers, but He did not mention them.  He prayed for what was the most suitable for that special occasion.  All the prayers offered in the fellowship meetings blend together to make the "complete prayer."

How often do we pray??

1)  Nehemiah 1:6, "Thou mayest hear the prayer of Thy servant which I pray before Thee day and night."

2)  Psalm 55:17, "Evening and morning and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud."

3)  Daniel 6:10, "He Kneeled upon his knees three times a day and cry aloud."

4)  I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray Without ceasing.  Be instant in prayer..." when people ask about our faith.  Before we answer, be instant in prayer to God will speak through us to help others to know about Him.

The more we learn of the prayer life of Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Jesus, and others, we are inspired to learn better how to pray more effectively in the place of prayer.  Prayer is one of the most efficient ways of learning better how to communicate with our heavenly Father and Christ.

Misunderstood:  a little word misunderstood, can cause so much distress.  Misunderstanding blocks the way that leads to happiness.  Motives, actions, and intentions that meant for good bring suspicion, pain, and trouble, when misunderstood.

If you hold a grudge against a person - talk it out.  Grievances will thrive, nursed in an atmosphere of doubt.  Give him a chance to clear himself, to try to make things right.  Maybe you will both see things in quite a different light.

Oh!  The heartaches and the hurts and the word of anger spoken. 

Oh!  The Lives that have been ruins and the friendships broken.

Oh!  The feuds that have divided human brotherhood!

Oh!  All because some word or deed has been misunderstood.  All misunderstandings can be taken care of in the place of prayer, where we forgive others as God has forgiven us.