This lesson aims to acquaint the individual with a basic understanding of the elements and function of prayer, stressing the vital importance of ongoing communication with the Lord.
What is the purpose and importance of prayer in my life?
Our spiritual lives began as the result of prayer “…whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13) and must be maintained and nourished by prayer. Someone once said, “A Christian is only as strong as his prayer life.” There is a great deal of truth in that statement because prayer is our direct access to God. As we learned in lesson number five, “Quiet Time,” prayer is an essential part of our relationship with the Lord. Therefore, one of the primary purposes of prayer is to sustain and strengthen our fellowship with our Heavenly Father through intimate communication, without which the relationship will be greatly hindered.
Prayer establishes an attitude of dependency; it teaches us to draw close to God so that He can prove His sufficiency for our every need. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3).
Strength: (Psalm 46:1, Isaiah 41:10).
Grace: (Hebrews 4:15 -16, 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Comfort: (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Psalm 107:28-30).
Peace: (Philippians 4:6-7, John 14:27).
Forgiveness: (1 John 1:9, Psalm 32:5).
Direction: (Psalm 25:4-5, Psalm 31:2-3).
Protection: (Psalm 18:3, Psalm 27:1-6).
God uses our needs and weaknesses to draw us to Himself, to teach us to trust Him; this is why it is essential to give thanks for “all things” even our trials and afflictions (1Thessalonians 5:18, Romans 8:28). The most dangerous time is when we feel we have need of nothing, including God. Prosperity blurs reality, consider (Revelation 3:16-17). In times of trouble and in times of blessing, learn to develop an attitude of prayer (Romans 12:12).
How should we pray?
Prayer is simply talking to God; pray intimately and naturally, avoid the tendency to imitate someone else. Speak personally to your Savior, as you would to a trusted close friend because He is (John 15:13-15).
As believers, we have direct access to God personally through Jesus Christ “…come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16.) We do NOT need to go through any other mediator to talk to God (1Timothy 2:5, Ephesians 2:18, and Romans 8:34).
“When ye pray, believe” (Mark 11:24). Have faith that God is able and willing to answer your prayer. (Hebrews 11:6, Ephesians 3:20). Character example; the centurion (Matt.8:8-13) “Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.”
Be persistent, don’t give up. Consider (Luke 18:1-8) P.U.S.H. Pray Until Something Happens. Persistence doesn’t mean that we are to repeat the same words over and over (Matthew 6:7). Ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14). Obedience brings blessings (1 John 3:22).
What are the key components of prayer?
Confession – Prepare your heart. Job 11:13-15, Psalm 139:23-24
Adoration – Come into His presence with worship and praise (Psalm 57:7-11, Psalm 116:1-2). Prayer is meant to be much more than a mere list of what we want from God!
Thanksgiving – Before you ask for anything else, thank Him for what you already have. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him…” (Psalm 100:4, Philippians 4:6, Psalm 116:17).
Supplication – Definition: to bend or submit; to ask earnestly and submissively, to cry out. (I Kings 8:28) “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God: for unto thee will I pray.” (Psalm 5:2). “…supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Notice the connection between supplication and the next element – intercession.
Intercession – The act of praying on behalf of others “…brethren pray for us…” (2 Thessalonians 3:1). Pray for our leaders; both saved and unsaved (1 Timothy 2:1-3. “…stand in the gap…” (Ezekiel 22:30, Psalm 106:23. Character example: Job (Job 42:10).
Fervency – “…the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16). Effectual prayer is the result of a heartfelt need; there must be a genuine desire. Character example: Epaphras (Colossians 4:12-13). If mere obligation is the motive for our prayer life, we will grow weary and quit; the flesh is too strong!
Is there anything that can hinder my prayers from being heard?
Unconfessed sin (Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:1-2).
Lack of Obedience to the revealed will of God (Proverbs 28:9, 1 John 3:18 & 22, James 4:17).
Doubt (James 1:5-7, Romans 14:23).
Selfishness (James 4:3, Proverbs 21:13).
Unforgiving spirit (Matthew 6:14-15).
Bitterness toward our spouse (as well as others) (1 Peter 3:7, Ephesians 4:26-27).
Keep a prayer list to help you remember who and want to pray for; otherwise, your prayer life will be inconsistent. Another good idea is to keep a list of answered prayers; this will greatly reinforce your faith in God’s ability to answer.
God always answers our prayers, yet not always in the way or time we desire. Consider: (Isaiah 55:8-9). Our Heavenly Father’s ways are perfect, and He never makes a mistake. There will be times when in His infinite wisdom, He will answer “NO” or “NOT NOW.” In those times, simply wait and trust him.
Prayer is work, and prayer leads to work, and prayer works!