Matthew 6:9-13 “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 debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Prayer is mentioned 375 times throughout the Bible. Every person who has desired to walk with God has understood the necessity of prayer. Oswald Chambers was quoted as saying, “We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.”
I know I want to get to know God more so my hope is to understand prayer and why it is so important. My attempts to grow my prayer life and bible study was a progression. Knowing I needed more time with the Lord, I started getting up earlier. At first, I set my alarm clock 15min early, but I soon realized it wasn’t enough. I then set it another 15 min early, which worked for a while, but the closer I walked with the Lord, the more I desired time with Him. Changing habits isn’t easy, routines seem set in stone and sleep habits are hard to break but I promise you, it is worth your while.
So I ask that you walk with me as I venture through the principles of prayer in Gods Word, examples given to us in how to pray and the reasons why it is so vital to our spiritual lives.
Self-sufficiency in the Kingdom of God is not considered an ideal that is worthy of praise or to be honored. It reveals a heart that is determined to go through life on its own merits and not with a reliance on God. Prayer is reflective of a heart turned away from self and toward the Lord.
Jesus describes to the disciples what prayer looks like. Many have taken “the Lord’s Prayer”, as a secret formula for God to respond. Many churches recite it in liturgies, defying the instruction Jesus gave to not repeat prayer as if the words will somehow sway God. Matthew 6:7 “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.”
Jesus, had just previously described what prayer in practice looks like:
Matthew 6:5-6 “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 you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
So we have first a model for prayer, then we have a method for prayer.
The model is meant to guide us in the way we pray. Recognizing Who is in authority and where that authority is, followed by praise, looking forward then in hope to the establishment of His Kingdom on earth (which consequently is in His people), then His will be done, not my will, His will. Looking to God as our supplier and being transformed through repentance, the forgiveness of sin. We recognize the dangers of temptation and His providence that leads us from this temptation. When evil attacks, the Lord is our protector. Finally reminding ourselves that He is sovereign, He is our focus, He is the One who holds all power and He will be glorified is gaining perspective.
If we pray according to this guideline, we pray not only according to His will, we bring all of our life into subjection to His purposes.
The method is an instruction in how to make your prayer time most effective. The process of separating yourself from distraction to taking a position of humility is the lesson. To quietly consider what you say before you say it and the ability to listen is key.
Jesus modeled this instruction in how He went about in ministry. He would draw in thousands, healing the sick while teaching and then, as if almost suddenly, He would remove Himself to pray.
It isn’t just recognizing that prayer is important but the ability to know when it is time to pray is vital in being effective.
Matthew 14:22-23 “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”
Why would Jesus just send the people home, send the disciples across the sea and then go up on the mountain?
The noise and at times chaos of the world around us has a taxing effect that continues to wear you down. Our bodies and minds can only take so much, then the need for a time of refreshing is paramount. Jesus recognized that those times of refreshing came from God and even though Jesus was God, His humanity was still a reality and needed to be addressed.
Psalm 23:1-3 “The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.”
These times of refreshing are God lead and are necessary. There have been many times I’ve witnessed God bringing dramatic change in a persons life (including my own), just to get us to slow down. Whether it’s job changes, relational changes, even prison (1 Kings 8:46-51), just to draw someone back into fellowship with him and out of the chaos they’ve surrounded themselves in.
The times of prayer and mediation become moments where we gain perspective and consider what is important.
Psalm 119:15-16 “I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.”
Coupling your prayer time with the Word of God is essential to a vibrant prayer life. What you meditate on is what eventually proceeds from your life.
If your thoughts are continually on fear, success, relationships, or your future, you will live like these all have more value in your life than anyone or anything else….including God. Before you know it, your spiritual strength will be depleted and you will be on the fast track to bondage. Bondage leads to only more fear and your perspective will become warped by this world. What you value will be worldly value, how you focus your energy and your time on gives way to the dead end road this path leads….idolatry and a distancing from God’s presence.
What kind of heart must we have when we approach the throne of God?
Psalm 17:1-2 “Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
2Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright. You have tested my heart;
You have visited me in the night;
You have tried me and have found nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
4Concerning the works of men,
By the word of Your lips,
I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.”
If we approach the Lord with a knowledge of unconfessed sin, we are foolish to think God will just move on from this point of separation. The prayer of a righteous person is one who approaches God with clean hands and a pure heart.
Sin separates. It created a rift between mankind and God and it quenches the Spirit of God in a believers life.
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.”
To the righteous, when we confess sin, not only to God but to one another, we are healed. The healing isn’t a physical healing but the spiritual wounds that sin inflicts.
*To the sinner, those with an unrepentant heart who live in rebellion…
Isaiah 1:15 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you multiply your prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.”
To those who’s hands are full of blood (those guilty), they may pray for help but their prayers or petitions before God’s throne will not be heard. It’s similar to approaching the King of the land when you’ve been living like His enemy and then asking him to help you in being a rebel. The thought of it is absolutely ridiculous, and yet people do it all the time. They’re wondering why God doesn’t answer their prayer and yet, they make no effort to serve the King they pray to.
Prayer is vital in the life of a believer. I’ve learned that it needs to be a part of my daily walk with God. If I have concerns for others spiritual welfare, I must also lift them up in prayer as well. Intercession on behalf of those who are either lost or going through trials is a reflection of love that is as vital as ministering personally. God has used the faith of others to change someone else’s circumstances.
Remember the vitality of prayer in your life and you’ll see the fruits of your faith.