Prayer is something most of us do, but we may not necessarily think about the condition or quality of it. We all know something about what prayer is, how prayer is done, whom we pray to, and how often we should pray.
Our main concern is: Does God hear our prayers? One reason why we want God to hear our prayers is Luke 11:13, which says that God gives his Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
Let's go over some general guidelines of prayer, then show how we can know that God is listening, and by a prayer cause God to do or not do something.
(1) What is the purpose of prayer? One purpose is to believe there is a God, Hebrews 11:6.
(2) To whom should we pray? Phil 4:6, John 16:22-24.
We should pray to the Father in Jesus Christ's name.
(3) What should we pray about? Luke 11:1-13, Matthew 6:7-13.
We need to pray about what's on our mind, something we are interested in.
One specific example is in Luke 6:12-16. Jesus Christ could have said, "I know what is in man, I can pick these men, I know God is there, but I don't want to trouble Him with something I can handle myself." Instead, His attitude was: I am going to pray all night or as long as it takes, because of mine own self, I can do nothing, John 5:30. Prayer was an integral part of Jesus Christ's life, and it should be of ours also.
(4) Where should we pray? Mark 1:35, Matthew 6:5-6. It depends on the situation, but prayer should be in private if possible. There are different types of prayer:
(a) opening and closing prayer for services,
(b) private prayers and repentance prayers,
(c) asking God's blessing on a meal, Matthew 14:19. Christ gave an example of asking God's blessing on a meal,
(d) Family prayer and husband/wife prayers,
(e) Emergency prayers when we need immediate help.
(5) At what times should we pray? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Romans 12:12, and Psalms 55:17. We should pray regularly and be in an attitude of prayer, that we could pray at anytime during the day. We can also thank and praise God for His blessings and always being there when we need Him, Psalms 119:164 and Psalms 113:1-3.
(6) Does every prayer have to be a complete prayer? Nehemiah 2:1-4. No, prayer has many forms in different circumstances, but in general, prayers should be complete.
(7) What is the physical position in prayer? Acts 9:40, I Timothy 2:8, Matthew 26:39, and Jonah 2:1. Physical circumstances may dictate our physical position in prayer. We should pray mostly on our knees before God, but more importantly, have the attitude of humility and worship. Here are some things we need to keep in mind about what prayer is and is not.
What Prayer Is
(a) Prayer is worship. It is a one-on-one relationship with God.
(b) Prayer is an opportunity to have contact with God. If we have sinned, we need to repent.
(c) Prayer is from the heart.
(d) Prayer is fellowship with God.
(e) Prayer is directly seeking and submitting to God's will.
What Prayer Is Not
(a) Prayer is not memorized, Matthew 6:7. It must be from the heart.
(b) Prayer is not make-believe. It is not just good therapy. Don't feel better just because you prayed for someone. Don't pray for someone with the intent of relieving your conscience.
(c) Prayer is not a means by which we can get from God what we want. We should not have the "gimmies."
(d) Prayer is not a sign of righteousness. Don't think that if we pray more than others, that we are better.
(e) Prayer is not seeking our will. We can have everything right, but there is still one thing we must do for God to hear us and intervene.
(8) Whom will God hear? Let's first go over some of the things that will cause God not to hear our prayers. People who say "Lord, Lord," actually believe their prayers are being heard, Matthew 7:21-23.
God did not say that what they said was not true, but because they lived in sin, God will not let them enter His Kingdom. If the husband does not give his wife honor, God will not hear that man's prayers, 1 Peter 3:7. It is not God's fault that He will not hear us, our sins cut us off from God, Isaiah 59:1-3.
Knowing that there is no power on earth that can cut us off from God, Romans 8:31-39, we should take steps to correct any flaws in our character. Psalms 15:1-5 shows the person whose prayers are heard and who will be in God's Kingdom. God looks to the man who is humble, and fears to mishandle His word, Isaiah 66:2. God looks for people to serve Him, 2 Chronicles 16:9.
Elijah was a man who was subject to the same passions we are, yet God heard his prayers, James 5:13-18. This shows that we can be subject to passions yet not give in to them and sin. We cannot free ourselves from this world until death.
When we really want God to hear us, He will, Matthew 21:17-22.
Christ told His disciples that if they believed, that whatever they ask in prayer they will receive. God calls us, gives us His Holy Spirit, and converts us, but He can not make us believe. Prayers of the saints are like incense to God, Rev 5:8; Rev 8:3-4. These are the people's prayers who daily ask for God's Kingdom to return, because they are yearning for God's Kingdom, knowing that this present world is an evil world. God, at this time, answers their prayers.
God's servants today are weak and lack the power that the First Century Church had. Most measure God's hand in their lives by the amount of this world's goods they posses or by how much tithe they receive. The first century church did not have the printed media, radio, or TV, yet they did a greater work than any has done today. God said that before He returns, the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached into all the world, Matthew 24:14.
Those who are God's true servants will do that work. It is yet future and it will be accomplished because God hears their prayers, and they have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them mightily, and they have the faith to believe.
Written by: Wayne Holmes