Part 1. WHAT IS PRAYER?Prayer is communication with God. It is how we start and continue to build a relationship with Him. Scripture tells us that there are three things which affect our prayers: ATTITUDE - CONFIDENCE - PERSEVERENCEATTITUDE is our frame of mind which in turn affects our thoughts and behavior. Jesus says (Matthew 6:5-15) that we are not to be hypocrites who pray to impress others; and not to use meaningless repetiton because we think we will be better heard by God. Jesus then gives us an example to set our attitude, and respectfully come to God. (Notice that this is an example, not THE actual prayer we should always use.) CONFIDENCE is the absolute certainty of the trustworthyness of God. Jesus says (Mark 11:22-26) that we are to “trust in God.” When we pray and ask, we must believe that we will receive. However, Jesus cautions us, that if we have anything against anyone, we must first forgive that person. (Remember Jesus’ example prayer mentioned above: “... And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors...”) We cannot expect God to forgive us if we do not forgive others. PERSEVERENCE is to remain persistent and constant in praying in spite of obstacles. Jesus tells us a story (Luke 18:1-8) about an unrighetous judge who was being continually bothered by a certain widow to resolve a legal situation. For a while he was unwilling, but then he reconsidered, and even though he neither respected God nor man, he did decide to resolve her situation, because by her continual persistence, she would wear him out. The thought here being that if the unrighteous judge would bring about justice for the persistant widow, how much more will God hear the prayers of those he loves and love Him in return
Part 2. HOW SHOULD WE PRAY?In part one we learned that prayer is communication with God, and that by our attitude, confidence, and perseverance in prayer, we develop a personal relationship with Him. This time we will discuss TWO very important parts that all prayer should contain.FIRST: We must ask according to God’s Will.In 1 John 5:14, 15, we are told that we can have confidence “that if we ask anything according to His Will, He will hear us. And, that since we know that He hears us, we shall have the requests which we have asked from him.”How do we know that what we ask is according to God’s Will? That depends on how much time we spend in building our relationship with Him. God is always ready, but we have our part to do toward building this relationship. God will not force Himself on us. The closer we come to Him through studying His Word, the better we know His Will.If God is important to us, we will spend time reading and studying and meditating in His word (The Bible).It is also important that we also study Scripture with fellow christians. This can help us to better understand those passages in Scripture we may find difficult. SECOND: We should pray in Jesus’ Name. Jesus says (John 16:23-27) that if we ask anything in His name, the Father will give it to us. (that is if we ask according to God’s will — beginning to see how this works?) Jesus also says here that we can pray directly to the Father. Why? Because the Father Himself loves us. Our Personal Relationship With GodGod wants an individual, personal relationship with each of us. The closeness of that relationship depends on us, not on God.Prayer doesn’t mean a fancy formal speech with lots of “Thee’s” and “Thou’s” in it, but just speaking plain everyday words from our hearts that we understand. After all, it’s not our “outward appearance,” meaning our words, that God hears, it’s our hearts He sees and hears. (1 Samuel, 16:7) As God speaks to us we will hear Him not with our ears, but with our heart.As we build our closer relationship with God, our attitude changes, we gain confidence toward Him, and we will discover that our perseverance in prayer is not for God’s sake, but for ours. If God is important to us, we will spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer.
Part 3. WHO SHOULD WE PRAY FOR?In parts 1 & 2 of this study, we have discovered that prayer is communication with God, and that by our attitude, confidence, and perseverance in prayer, we develop a personal relationship with Him. In addition, by reading, studying and meditating in His word (The Bible), we can know God’s Will for us. And when we pray, it is important that we pray in Jesus’ Name.In this part we will discuss WHO scripture tells us that we should pray for.Pray For Our Enemies Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44-48, that we should pray for our enemies. Why? Jesus says says: “So that we may be sons of our Father who is in heaven!” Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If God loved us so much that while we were His enemies because of sin, can we, as children of our Father in heaven, do any less toward others? PRAY FOR OUR CHILDRENIn Matthew 19:13-15 and in Luke 18:15-17, we find that people were bringing their children to Jesus that He might lay His hands on them and pray. His disciples thought this was a distraction to Jesus’ ministry. Jesus, however, set His disciples straight: “But Jesus called for them, saying, ‘Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”We must pray for protection and well-being of our children. SUFFERING? SICKNESS? SINS?PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER Read - JAMES 5:12-20“Is anyone suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.”Suffering in this context can mean physical and/or emotional stress. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us about the futility of worry. In Philippians 4:6-8, Paul gives us God’s prescription for dealingwith stress.Interestingly, James also gives us God’s prescription for being cheerful: “...sing praises!” “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the onewho is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” Sometimes sickness is just sickness, sometimes sickness can be the result of sin. James has given us God’s prescription: Calling for the elders and being anointed with oil. Sounds too simple? Read 2 Kings 5:1-14. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Acknowledging our faults to one another and praying for one another is God’s best counsel for strenghening our bond with Him and each other. PRAYER IS RELATIONSHIP BUILDING WITH GOD AND WITH EACH OTHERREMEMBER: NEGLECTING PRAYER IS NEGLECTING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD