The first mention of praying is found in Genesis 4:26, "And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD." If you notice, the men began to "call upon the name of the Lord." It wasn't wordy. It wasn't fancy. It wasn't an impressive "speech." In Matthew 6:7 we are told, "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words." God was making it clear that He didn't want any repetitious prayers or many words because it wouldn't be coming from the heart or the Holy Spirit, but rather, man. God knows our hearts and all He wants from us is to talk to Him, to communicate our love and desire for a relationship with Him, and to put our trust and faith in Him and His promises to us. Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, "Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few."
Prayers develop our relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, allowing us to grow closer and more intimate with Him. Think about ANY relationship you have in your life right now. If you NEVER spoke to them, never interacted with them or never listened to them and what they have to say, those relationships would quickly deteriorate. Well, the same goes for talking to and listening to God. Zechariah 13:9 tells us, "I will bring the one–third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” And in John 15:7, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." A wonderful promise to us for praying, communicating and listening to our Creator God! The Lord instructed us to pray as well. One of the simplest reasons to spend time in prayer is because the Lord instructed us to pray. Obedience is a natural by-product of discipleship. Simply put in Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” It's in His strength and might that we will be able to fight off our temptations and in order to obtain that strength and might, we first must communicate with God and build our relationships with Him!
Are there any requirements for successful prayer? Yes.
1) A humble heart - 2 Chronicles 7:14, "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
2) Wholeheartedness - Jeremiah 29:13, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
3) Faith - Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."
4) Righteousness - James 5:16, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."
5) Obedience - 1 John 3:22, "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight."
But what happens when our prayers DON'T get answered the WAY WE want them to? It can be so disappointing that it drives you to tears. It's especially hard when you asked God for something undeniably good like someones healing, a job, financial freedom or mending a relationship. You assume those are genuine requests and prayers that your Father loves to hear. You can't understand why God didn't answer the way you wanted. You then suddenly start seeing how God seems to be answering everyone else's prayers around you. You become extremely sensitive to those miracles happening all around you to others, but not to yourself. So then you begin to ask the proverbial question of the universe, "Why not me?" Isn't that doubt creeping in? Yes, it is. You start second-guessing yourself, thinking maybe there might be some hidden sin in your life that's keeping God from intervening and all you have to do is think of it, confess it and repent of it, all will be good and the breakthrough will happen. But the truth is, we are all sinners and can't ever come before God totally free of sin. We are sinners in need of a Savior. Fortunately for us, our great Savior is Jesus Christ, the spotless sacrifice who can bring our requests before his Father knowing God will deny his Son nothing.
Choosing God's will over our own can be so hard when we passionately want something in our flesh. It's torture sometimes to act as though it doesn't matter to us when it really does matter. Our emotions start to play with us and try to convince us that we don't have the ability to give in. But we CAN submit to God's will instead of our own. Why? Because God is absolutely trustworthy and faithful to who He is, what He promises and how He loves us! His love for us is pure and God has our best interest at heart, and He will ALWAYS do what is best for us, no matter how it appears at the time. Things aren't always what they appear to be anyway! Sometimes, though, in order to surrender to God's will, we have to cry out to Him as the father of the sick child did to Jesus in Mark 9:24, "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” We all have trouble surrendering to the will of God and to cry out, from the deepest parts of our hearts and with the angst of sorrow, is to humble ourselves before our Lord. Let's not surrender our will only when we hit rock bottom though as many do, and as that father did in Mark.
|Jesus in Prayer|
For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness." If we don't know His will for us, all we have to do is ASK Him to teach us to do His will and it will be done! Part of the communication with Him. We learn more and more about His character and how His perfect will is working itself out in our own life. Deepening our understanding of God also deepens our faith and desire to worship. And through prayer, God imparts wisdom and understanding as stated in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." As we become increasingly aware of our limitations, we can rest in the knowledge that our God is omniscient. Availing ourselves of God’s counsel is a blessing of prayer.
Because of God's omnipresence we are assured that no matter where we are on this grand earth, God will hear our prayers! Even from the belly of a fish as was the case with Jonah! "Prayer is an open door which none can shut," wrote Charles Spurgeon in "Morning and Evening." "Devils may surround you on all sides," he continued, "but the way upward is always open, and as long as that road is unobstructed, you will not fall into the enemy's hand." There isn't anywhere we go that God isn't present. How comforting to know that even in our darkest hours, when we are afraid and alone, God is right there with us, often times, holding our hands and wrapping His arms around us! How could we NOT want to talk to God, listen to Him and have a relationship with Him? Psalm 139:7 asks, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" Nowhere.
|The Lord's Prayer|
The first step to praying like Jesus is to believe in the incredible power of prayer!