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What we Believe

Foundations for Christian Life

No.3 - Prayer

Study verse: Philippians 4:6-7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everthing, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

WHAT IS PRAYER?

We are God's children and need to learn to communicate with Him. This means talking to God and Him talking to us, because communication is a two way thing. When we are babies we let our parents know we need something because we cry. As we grow up we learn to speak and can communicate our needs or even answer questions. It is the same with prayer, we must learn not only to talk to God but also how to hear God.

  1. Prayer is talking to god (see Jesus' prayer John 17).
  2. Prayer is an exercise of faith (Heb. 11:6, Matt.21:22, James 1:5-8).
  3. Prayer is having communion with God (1 John 5:14-15).
  4. Prayer is admitting our need ( Luke 18:9-14).

If the bible, the word of God, is food for our souls, then prayer is the oxygen our souls need. Like all children if we eat and breath we will grow in God.

WHO SHOULD PRAY?

Col.4:2 - "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful"
Matt.6:5 - "When you pray..."
Phil.4:6 - "..by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests"
1 Pet.4:7 - "Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray."
Matt.26:41 - "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
1 Tim.2:8 - "...men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer..."

EVERY DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST SHOULD PRAY. Jesus said, "...and when you pray..."(Matt.6:5) not if you pray.
WHY SHOULD WE PRAY? We should pray because it shows our obedience to Christ but there are also some very practical reasons to pray. For instance, prayer demonstrates faith in God; by prayer we obtained our salvation; by prayer we grow, and by prayer we explore and possess the promises of God. The following scriptures give some examples.

Matt.26:41 "Pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
Matt.9:38 "...ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers."
Rom.15:30-31 "Join me in my struggle by praying to God for me."
James 5:13 "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray."
James 5:15 "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well."

Prayer involves two aspects: James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you."

a) SUBMISSION TO GOD - humbling ourselves before him, seeking of him a right and a straight way. See 2 Chron.7:14, Ezra 8:23 and Acts 12:5.

b) RESISTING THE DEVIL - praying against his kingdom structures, releasing the power of God's word, praying for the saints of God and the work of God. See Matt.9:38, Rom.15:30-31, Mark 9:29 and Matt.6:13.

Opposition to our praying will arise in three areas:
SELF - The self-life (we sometimes call it 'the old nature'). Rom.7:18-25.
SIN - separates us from God and breaks our communion with him. 1 John 1:7-9 is the remedy.
SATAN - He will always oppose our praying - Eph.6:12. Read Matthew 26:36-46. Think about the opposition in that story.

HOW SHOULD WE PRAY?
Luke 11:1-4 tells us that Jesus' disciples came to him and asked him to teach them to pray and how he answered them. In Matthew 6:5-14, the picture is made even clearer with four “do nots” and four “do’s”.

verse 5 DO NOT be like the hypocrites
verse 7 DO NOT keep on babbling
verse 8 DO NOT be like the pagans
verse 15 DO NOT be unforgiving But when you pray

verse 6 DO go to your room
verse 6 DO close the door
verse 14 DO be forgiving
verse 6 DO pray to your Father in secret.

According to Jesus, our prayers should be simple and uncomplicated. We don't need to speak in 1611 English or use flowery religious language. He just wants us to spend time with him alone in secret.

WHY PRAY TOGETHER?
A father responds much more to his children when they have got together and agreed on what they want before they come to him. God is our Father, and he doesn't just want to bless us as individuals but to bless us together as his family, his body, his church. The promises in the gospels are nearly all given to people praying together, see Matthew 18:19-20, "Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." The practice in Acts is nearly always of people praying together. See Acts 1:14, 2:42-47, 4:24, 8:15, 12:5. There are added advantages of praying together:

1. It turns prayer into a school. There is nothing like listening to other people pray for teaching you how to pray yourself. For others' prayers look at - Matt.6:9-15, John 17:1-26, Eph.3:14-21.
2. It turns prayer into a fire place. Martin Luther said, "At home in my own house there is no warmth or vigor in me, but in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks through." J. Oswald Sanders said, "Faith is infectious and infection spreads where numbers congregate. Only with great difficulty can a fire be kindled with a single stick." It has been said that the neglect of prayer is sinful, see Jer.2:32, 1 Sam.12:23, James 4:17, Psalm 10:4.
3. It turns prayer into a power house. One common factor for all churches which grow rapidly is that they all have groups of Christians meeting together regularly to pray for non-Christians by name.

There can be some practical problems with praying together; however these can be overcome by perseverance.Here are some of the problems you could come up against.

  1. The problem of those who remain silent.
  2. The problem of those who are inaudible.
  3. The problem of lengthy prayers.
  4. The problem of stereotyped prayers.
  5. The problem of praying 'personal' prayers in public.
  6. The problem of disconnected prayers.

REMEMBER - PROBLEMS ARE TO BE OVERCOME NOT GIVEN INTO.



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