The Call To Prayer
The early Christians "devoted themselves . . . to prayer" (Acts 2:42).
Throughout the Book of Acts, prayer is emphasised again and again as being a key to their personal lives (Acts 10:9, Acts 10:30; Acts 21:5; Acts 22:17-21), to their ministry to others (Acts 6:6; Acts 8:14-15; Acts 9:40; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:36; Acts 28:8), and to their survival in persecution (Acts 4:21-31; Acts 16:22-26). But why is prayer so necessary?
If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, surely He would answer our needs without us having to tell Him about them. Prayer fulfils two vital functions in our relationship with God:
In any relationship, whether it is between husband and wife, parents and children, or between friends, there has to be communication. Without it, a relationship will soon wither. The two people need to share their desires and frustrations, and find the answers together.
It is the same with our relationship with God. How can we really love Him unless we share our heart with Him, and how can we begin to think like Him unless we ask Him what He thinks about the situations we face each day.
Prayer, for the believer, is NOT a religious duty. It’s part of our fellowship with a personal God - our Father. The more time we spend with God in prayer, the closer our relationship will become.
A JOINING IN PURPOSE=
We are living in the days when God is going to complete everything He has purposed since the beginning of time. God’s plan is winding up, and though the world looks bleak, God is still in control.
But now that we’ve been brought into relationship with Him as sons and heirs, God wants us to play a part in His purposes. He has actually gone as far as limiting Himself in His plan and waiting until we pray. As we pray, we join with Him in His purposes and have the thrill of seeing Him work.
The foundation for true prayer is a knowledge of WHO WE ARE and of THE POWER AND AUTHORITY THAT WE’VE BEEN GIVEN.
When we realise that we are sons of God (Galatians 4:6) and heirs of His throne (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:7), who have been brought into right standing with Him (1 Corinthians 1:30), then we can come before the throne without fear or condemnation, and ASK! (Ephesians 3:12). We have even been delegated His name to use in any situation. "You may ask me for anything IN MY NAME, and I will do it" John 14: 14.
In the light of the excitement of prayer - the thrill of sharing personally with God and seeing Him work His purpose in our lives and in the world - why don’t Christians spend more time in prayer? We seem to have a talent for organising prayer out of our schedule.
The fact that many Christians tend to avoid prayer indicates that something is seriously wrong. The figures of relative attendance by believers at prayer meetings would suggest that there is a sad lack of vision and understanding of the miraculous possibilities of prayer. There are three main causes that usually play a part in this spiritual maladjustment:
A LACK OF BURDEN FOR THE SOULS OF MEN
David said in Psalm 142:4, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul" (KJV).
Most people’s lives are filled with busy activities, but have you ever wondered how many, behind all of this, feel that nobody is really concerned for them? Many Christians forget what it is like to be without the Lord and have lost the understanding of what an eternity without Christ really means.
When we begin to realise that millions are being swept into a lost eternity every day, the Lord will place a burden of prayer on our hearts to enter in with Him in His concern (1 Timothy 2:1-4, 1 Timothy 2:6, 1 Timothy 2:8).
A FAULTY RELATIONSHIP
A faulty relationship, either toward God or toward another Christian, must be adjusted. If a believer knows that his prayer life is lacking something of the vitality that he expects, then his relationship with the Lord must be examined. No person can fellowship with a holy God if he has feelings of guilt, inferiority and rejection, or bitterness toward another.
"My dear children, l write this to you so that you will not sin. BUT IF ANYBODY DOES SIN, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins . . . " 1 John 2:1-2.
AN ATTACK OF THE ENEMY
Because prayer is so closely tied with our relationship with the Lord, Satan’s attack often comes in this area. He will try to discourage a believer, and produce in him feelings of guilt and condemnation. A feeling of unworthiness is the greatest enemy of prayer. But a Christian must learn to distinguish between the voice of God and the voice of the enemy.
Any influence that would seek to condemn (Rev 12:10; Romans 8:1, Rom 8:34; John 3:17-18; John 5:24), and thus hinder prayer or the reading of God’s Word, has to be an attack of the enemy. When we realise the importance that even Satan sees in prayer, we can take a step of faith, with God’s help, and begin to pray regularly. The Holy Spirit then plays His part (Romans 8:26-27) and brings the excitement that is generated by being involved with the eternal purpose of God.
FOUR REQUIREMENTS FOR ANSWERS TO PRAYER
Faith (Matthew 21:22; Hebrews 11:6).
Right-standing (John 9:31; 1 John 3:22).
Relationship (John 15:7).
Desire for God’s will (1 John 5:14-15).
PROMISES TO THE BELIEVER
Instant audience (Hebrews 4:16; Ephesians 2:18).
An answer (Matthew 7:7-8; Psalm 138:3; Psa 145:18-19).
Forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
Healing (James 5:15-16).
Guidance (Isaiah 58:9, Isa 58:11).
Comfort (Psalm 61:1-2).
Fulness of joy (John 16:24).
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church . . . "AMEN" Ephesians 3:20.
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