If you read my first blog, Building Your House in ’09 – The Foundation, hopefully you’ve begun laying your spiritual blocks through reading the Word of God. In this blog, we’ll begin to frame your house and form the walls through the Power of Prayer.
The Bible is full of references and verses of prayer. In a quick search of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, I found 365 instances of the word pray. Coincidentally, that’s one for everyday of the year. Prayer can be extremely powerful. It’s one form of communication we have the Lord. With such an important topic, there’s a lot to cover, so bear with me. I thought the best way to address prayer would be to break it down into the “Five W’s” popularized in the late 1800’s as a method of Bible study (and made famous by Rudyard Kipling in 1902 for you literature buffs). The “Five W’s” (and one H) are the Who, What When, Where, Why, and How of any topic. For prayer, I’ve broken it down into the Who should we pray to/Who should pray, What should we pray about, When should we pray, Where should we pray, and Why/How should we pray. Put your seatbelt on….let’s get started!
Who Should I pray to?
When Jesus was with His disciples praying, one of them asked, “Lord teach us to pray”. Luke 11:1 It’s in this passage that we get, what’s become known as the “Lord’s prayer”. Jesus’ reply to his disciples in Luke 11:2 was, “…When you pray, say: ‘Our Father, which art in heaven…”. Jesus was instructing His disciples to address their prayers to God the Father. Now, after Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He became the interceder for us, meaning he became a mediator to God on our behalf because of our sinful nature. John 16:23 details the words of Jesus on this very topic, “And in that day you will ask me nothing. Most assuredly I say to you, what ever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.” NKJV The apostle Paul affirms this message in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Who should pray?
The second part of the “who” is who should pray. I believe God wants all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike, to call on His name. Romans 10:13 says “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” NIV. However, it is Christians who use prayer as a form of communication with our Savior. Each of us that pray should maintain several important qualities. The first is righteousness. James 5:16 says, “…The effective, fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much.” To be righteous, or free from the guilt of sin, we must confess our sins to God, I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” A second quality of those who pray is a humble heart. II Chronicles 7:14 states that, “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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” A good image of this is to visually picture yourself before the throne of God, bowing down, or being humble, in His presence. Finally, Jeremiah 29:13 tells us, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” So the Lord wants us to approach Him in prayer, wholeheartedly, humbly, and with righteousness. If we have faith, Mark 11:22 and obey His word, I John 3:22 He will hear our prayers. Micah 7:7 Proverbs 15:29
What should we pray about?
First and foremost, if you have the correct posture of the heart, as I mentioned in the last section, your prayers will be more fervent and more effective. Romans 8:26 tells us that we don’t know what we should pray for, but the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us, as Christians (If you are not a Christian, please click here) and guides us through our prayers. The Bible tells us, whatever things we ask in prayer we will receive if we have faith, Matthew 21:22. Now this doesn’t mean we ask to win the lottery and it happens or that we ask for a new job and God answers the next day. These both could happen as God knows no boundaries. But God answers prayers according to His will. Take for example the Apostle Paul; he prayed three times pleading with the Lord to remove the “thorn from his flesh” only to have God reply, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 What better example of this principle than the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 26:36-46, where He prayed 3 times to ask God the Father to let the cup (of crucifixion) pass from Him. In Luke 22:43-44, we’re told that an angel from heaven was sent and strengthened Him after his 3 petitions. After this He (Jesus) prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood. God the Father did answer Jesus’ prayer, but it was according to the Father’s will and as a result the cup did not pass. How is it that we, as sinners, should expect more than that of God’s will?
When and Where do we pray?
So far we’ve addressed who should pray, to whom prayer should be directed, and what to pray about, now the “when and where”. The apostle Paul tells us in I Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing. The psalmist David briefly describes his prayer schedule in Psalm 55:17, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” Most people might make time to pray before bed, in the morning, and/or before meals. I would argue that when a Christian is “filled with the Spirit” their prayers or conversations with God are throughout the day, just as one would talk with a best friend. While continuous prayer is definitely a powerful worship, the Bible advises to seek solitude to avoid public boastful prayers Matthew 6:5-6. Throughout Jesus’ time on earth he is often seen seeking solitude to pray alone or escaping the masses of people in order to walk in prayer with the Lord. Matthew 14:23 Likewise, we should seek solitude, away from distractions, so that we may focus on our prayers. This is not to say that group prayers are not effective, quite the contrary. The Bible states in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in My name, there I am with them.” In fact, one of the most powerful “corporate” prayers in the Bible can be found in Acts 12:1-17, where Peter is imprisoned awaiting trial and most likely execution. The church is praying earnestly for Peter and he is miraculously rescued by an angel of the Lord.
Why and How should we pray?
The final two parts of our prayer discussion are the “why” and “how”. I’ll combine them, because I think when you examine the why you should pray then you’ll begin to see the how. We already learned that the Holy Spirit guides us through prayers, but there are also some basic parts we can include when talking to the Lord. Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, authors of Lead Like Jesus, detail a wonderful prayer system called ACTS, which coincidentally is where our biblical example of the why/how will come from, Acts chapter 4. The ACTS method is an acronym for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Adoration describes the opening of the prayer and how we should address God, like in our previous example of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”. Luke 11:2 We are to address the Lord humbly, with respect, and praise His name. We briefly discussed the Confession with regard to a righteous heart of those who pray. Psalm 32:5 We also see this in the next segment of the Lord’s Prayer, “…And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Luke 11:4 Continuing through the ACTS prayer method, we next come to Thanksgiving. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”, Philippians 4:5-7. It only makes sense that we should thank the Lord for the blessings he has given us before we get to the Supplication, or basically our prayer requests. So now we’re at the point in the prayer where we address our needs. Psalm 119:170 The Bible tells us to ask and it will be given to us and this is our opportunity within our prayer to make that request. Ultimately, with our prayers, we should pray with our hearts, allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and avoid the “vain repetitions” of the heathen. NKJV Matthew 6:8
If you’ve managed to hang in there this long, I’m glad you have and I hope that this has been informative and helpful. In closing, I’d like to leave you with what is commonly called the Believer’s prayer from Acts 4. As you read it, picture in your mind that Peter and John have just been released from prison. Notice the parts of their prayer and especially how they weave scripture references in. Thanks for reading, and have a Blessed Day!
Acts 4:24-30 “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ’ For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your Holy Servant Jesus.”