Prayer, as I mentioned last week, is talking with God not to or at Him as some people think. Prayer is having a two-way conversation with God. We don’t actually hear His voice in our heads, as with Old Testament prophets, but we do get answers. When we pray, God is faithful in answering if we are true Christians asking in the right manner, which I’ll get to below.
In the beginning Adam and Eve spoke to God in conversations with Him. And, Moses spoke with God at the burning bush and throughout his ordeal with the Pharaoh. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8 ). He still wants us to talk with Him, although how we hear His answers differs from Old Testament times.
God wants us to pray just like a father wants his children to talk with him. Readers who are fathers will understand how painful it is to have children who you love but who don’t talk with you. God wants communion with you on a one to one basis. He more than deserves our attention because He is our Creator and our spiritual Father. Jesus said that those who follow His will and do His work are His sister, brother, and mother ( Matthew 12:50; Mark 3:35 ). That makes the Father our spiritual Father. We are His family.
Conditions exist for God hearing our prayers. He only listens to those who are His children. He isn’t being snobbish. He only hears Christians because their sins have been forgiven. God cannot tolerate sin in any form and He will not allow Himself to be in its presence. Therefore, He does not hear sinners’ prayers. And, Christians need to call on God with sincerity, and repenting any sins committed, with submission to His will and having faith that God will answer our prayers.
Jesus’ prayer in the garden (Mark 14:36 ): “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Never the less, not what I will but what You will.” expresses the essence of prayer. Jesus knew what a horrible death awaited Him in just a short time. He know of all the pain, suffering, and humiliation He would have to suffer. He didn’t want to go through all of that. Yet He said not His will but the Father’s must be done. This is the same type of complete submission we need to have in talking with God.
Jesus told His disciples in what manner the should pray. When they asked how they should pray, Jesus said; ” And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathens do. For they think they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6: 5-13; Luke 11:2-4 ).
Notice that Jesus said this is the manner in which to pray. The Lord’s prayer is a list of topics for Christians to follow when praying. It is not a prayer in and of itself. Jesus explained further: “For if you forgive others their sins against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. For if you do not forgive others their sins against you, neither will the Father forgive your sins against Him” ( Matthew 6:14). That’s paraphrased somewhat, but it’s what Jesus meant. He explained this principle in His parable of the man whose boss forgave him a large debt, but who then did not forgive another a small sum owed to him, and the consequences that his boss put on him as a result. God has forgiven the sin of Christians, therefore He expects Christians who sin against them. Sin is a transgression against God. If we do not follow His example then He will not forgive us. Jesus during His crucifixion prayed to the Father that those responsible for the act against Him be forgiven, “for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
The New Testament gives examples of many needs we should pray for in faith that the prayer will be answered in God’s way and in His time (Romans 12:12): forgiveness; overcoming hindrances; intercession; praise and; thanksgiving. Basically we need to pray for the ability and strength to carry out God’s will for our lives, as did Jesus in the garden.
Prayer has power in it. Much of the power comes from the Holy Spirit’s help. He prays with us and gives His help in carrying out our tasks (Ephesians 6:18; Zechariah 12:10). Jacob’s prayer is more convoluted, but it refers to the Holy Spirit helping him and changing his name to Israel, and at the same time changing his future (Genesis 32:24-32).
You can know God’s answer to prayers offered in the spirit of fulfilling His will for your life. Sometimes the answer is dramatic, such as the unexplained healing of a terminal illness.. Other times The Holy Spirit will guide you in the right path when you’re not sure which way to go. Opportunities will present themselves unexpectedly. Some doors will open and others will close. You will know with conviction which way you should go.
The devil will try to obstruct your progress, and he will try to lead you off on the wrong path. He is very subtle and his enticements are very appealing. Money and sex are two of his biggies. He may try to entice you with worldly idols such as yachts, cars, movies, or human idols like on American Idol. Anything in this world that you put before God is an idol. God is always first in a Christian life.
The thing to remember is that anything of God will be consistent with His word to you in the Bible. Anything you get a feeling that you should do that is not consistent with the Bible is not of God, it comes from the enemy. Therefore, it is fundamental that you have a good foundation in what the Bible teaches. So, study the Bible and work at being the best ambassador for Christ you can be. I’ll be back next week.