Prayer resonates throughout the Bible – both in the Old and New Testaments.
We read of men who commanded great armies, of people in high office in government, of mothers and fathers seeking the best for their children, of farmers and fishermen, tradesmen and craftsmen — people of all types and backgrounds who sought out the Lord Jesus Christ because some need or other could not be fulfilled elsewhere. And as we see Jesus always finding time to listen, to advise, to help, we see how he reveals to us the character of his Father:
“for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
The Bible makes it clear that God wants to help us. We should never feel that it is only good people that He will hear. In fact if we think we are rather good and managing quite well on our own, the chances are we shall be less inclined to rely upon God. The Bible leaves us in no doubt that believers ought to pray:
“Men ought always to pray and not to lose heart.” Luke 18:1
“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
“In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6
It is vital to realise that prayer cannot be separated from a knowledge and understanding of the Word of God. For prayer is communication with God. The communication is two-way. It is not enough that we should speak to God. He expects us to listen to Him. In fact, we shall often be better occupied meditating on His Word than trying to talk to Him at great length. The Bible itself warns:
“Let not thine heart be utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you upon earth: therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2
The Lord Jesus himself emphasised this point:
“When you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:7
The many examples of prayer in the Bible make it clear that God responds only when man prays in accordance with His will. After all, God knows best what is in man’s interests and can control events accordingly.
Daniel prayed as a man who had humbled himself before God, who listened to God and became thoroughly familiar with what God had revealed in His Word and who prayed in harmony with what he knew to be the will of God. He was the sort of person referred to when God earlier declared, “on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at my word.” Isaiah 66:2
The Lord’s Prayer was uttered in response to Jesus’ disciples’ request for instruction in prayer. Clearly the prayer given by Him is not something to repeat vainly, like a magical incantation. Its true meaning can only be appreciated by those who know the teaching of Jesus, have committed themselves to his discipleship and have become children of God, hallowing God’s name and striving to live in anticipation of His coming kingdom when all the world will be governed according to His will.
“Our Father, in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10
For many people prayer consists of asking God for favours. For some the proof of whether God is actually there or not consists of testing out whether God will grant a particular request Jesus said “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find.” Matthew 7:7
Our prayers must not be selfish, though we may lay all our problems before the Lord. Even in our best and apparently selfless requests, we must accept that God knows best: “Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?” Job 2:10. Whatever we ask must be conditioned by the Lord’s phrase, “nevertheless not my will, but thine be done”. This does not apply, of course, when we are asking God for things which He has clearly declared to be His will. It is unnecessary, for example, when we pray for the coming Jesus, to add “if it be thy will”, since we know it is God’s will.
It is good that in our prayers we should bring before God the needs of others. Not only will this in itself help us to see our own problems in perspective, but it will remind us of our responsibility to do something for those about whom we pray. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers he recalled how regularly he prayed on their behalf, but he also recalled the practical steps he took to minister to their needs when he sent to them Timothy, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” 1 Thessalonians 1:2, “sent Timothy……to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith” 3:1-3, see also Paul’s words in 3:9-13
So Jesus exhorted his disciples: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41. If we pray for help to avoid sin, we shall certainly receive that help we need to allow ourselves to be influenced and guided by God’s Word, we need to strive to avoid those situations which we know will weaken our resolve from following God
An invitation is extended to each one of us that we may be given a place in His kingdom. Until then praying helps us to have “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guide your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Gods ears are open 24/7 and He is waiting to hear from YOU!