PRAYER

Why is prayer so important?

Prayer is our opportunity to talk with our Father, almighty God himself, a reverent opportunity to fellowship with Him, and to bring our requests and praises before His Throne. He loves to hear from us, much as a parent wishes to hear from their children.

How should I pray?

Too many people fall into the trap of repeating formalized prayers such as the Lord's prayer below, figuring that such prayers are what God wants to hear, or because they are too lazy to think one up for themselves. Still others are taught to repeat ritualized prayers such as the Rosary, reciting prayers from prayer books, etc., being taught that such repetitions will bring them blessings. But what does Scripture have to say about prayer?

Jesus stated;

MATTHEW 6:5-15

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There are a number of things to note here!!!!!!

First, Jesus said we are not to be as the hypocrites, praying in public so that people can see us, and think we are holy! This does not mean that you cannot pray in a church if you are selected to pray before the congregation. This means you are not to pray so as to draw attention to yourself, for if you do, you will receive honor from men..... but not from God.

God sees prayer as a very special, holy time in which you and He commune together, in which He spends time with you alone in deep, personal fellowship. You can pour out your deepest fears before Him, you can praise and worship Him, you can tell Him of your needs, you can tell Him about your day, you can share your joy and happiness with Him, and you can thank Him for the blessings He has given you.

However, note verse 7 in the Scripture quoted above!

God doesn't want to hear constant repetitions of the same prayers!

Those of you who may be involved in religions which practice these types of prayers, please understand this! Jesus Himself condemns the Rosary and ritualized prayers with this very statement! Every time you pray the Rosary, or pray the same prayers from a prayer book, you are in disobedience to His commandment, for you repeat the same things over and over!

Besides, I have proven from Scripture in another study that praying to Mary and the "saints" is necromancy (sorcery) before the Lord, as those who follow these practices are communicating with the dead, which is forbidden in Scripture. For further information, please see the study on the subject by following the above link.

Note: Some have accused me of hating Catholics because I have proven that a number of their doctrines are against Scripture. However, consider this: Jesus exposed false and un -Scriptural doctrines openly, so as to show men the truth. Can we do any less?

I have backed up each study concerning the erroneous doctrines of the Catholic Church with solid Scripture, in context. Those who attempt would prove me wrong, please back up your arguments with Scripture also in context.

If I practiced wrongdoing before the Lord, I would want someone to show me out of the Scriptures that I was wrong, and how to correct my beliefs and actions. So, out of sincere desire to bring them the truth, I have created these studies. For those interested in seeing these studies, please follow this link to the Topics section of the Web site.

Besides, if I hated Catholics, I would remain silent, and would let them continue in the errors taught by their church doctrines.

Look at the issue of ritualized, repetitive prayer from God's point of view. Would YOU want to hear the same thing repeated over, and over, and over, or would you rather listen to an intelligent, personal conversation? Repetition of the same words robs the conversation of meaning, and becomes merely a ritual, something that is practiced.

As such, after a while, our minds (and hearts) wander as we practice the ritual, and we lose our focus on the Lord.

And in this could be fulfilled the Scripture;

MATTHEW 15:7-8

7 [Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,

8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me.

If we want God to pay personal attention to us, we need to pay personal attention to Him!

Note also, Jesus said in Matthew 6:9 above, "After this manner therefore pray ye:"

In other words, He gave us an example of prayer! He never meant for this to be a perpetually repeated prayer, as that would again fall under the category of "vain repetition", thereby violating His own Word.

We are to model our prayers after His example, praying in similar fashion. Besides, He once told a lady who asked Him how to communicate with Him, saying, "Talk to Me! Too many people only pray to Me when they need something. Just talk to Me!"

In other words, talk to Him as you would a Father (not to priests who call themselves "Father"), or a friend. Tell Him what you are feeling, how your day went. Sing to Him, and praise Him from your heart. THAT is the kind of prayers He wants to hear, as well as those of need.

Finally, note that Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15 above, that if we do not forgive those who have sinned against us, neither will our Father forgive us of our sins! How can we ask Him to forgive us, when we cannot forgive others?

There is no such thing as unanswered prayer!

There are several reasons why we don't seem to get answers to our prayers.

1. We ask for the wrong reasons.

We too many times ask for things we want, rather than things we need. And many times the things we want, we seek out of covetousness, or envy. James says of this;

JAMES 4:1-3

1 From whence [come] wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members?

2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts.

Parents know very well (at least most parents do) that sometimes what a child wants or asks for is not good for them. How many of us will give a child a cigarette lighter to play with? The child may want it, may even feel he needs it, but it is not wise to give it to him.

Even so with God. He knows what we need, and what is good for us. And many times we don't receive what we ask for as it is either not good for us, or God has something better prepared than that which we ask for.

BUT, if we continue to bug Him, sometimes He will give us what we ask for. And usually it will be to our detriment, and will cause Him to be angry with us, as by this we are telling Him that we know what is good for us better than He does. He is perfect in wisdom and understanding, while we are not. And if harm comes to us because we received what we wanted from God rather than what He wanted for us, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

What we need to do, is to submit to His will in the matter. Jesus Himself gave us an example of this when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to His arrest.

MATTHEW 26:36-39

36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt].

Note that Jesus put His Father's will above His own, trusting that God knew what He was doing, and that He, Jesus had to go to the cross for mankind to be saved. He received the answer he sought from the Father when Judas brought the crowd of men who would arrest Him a few minutes later.

Jesus then in faith submitted Himself to His Father's will, and allowed the men to arrest Him, and send Him to the cross. God honored His Son's obedience to His will by raising Him from the dead and exalting Him to sit at His right hand in Heaven, and be King and Lord of all things for eternity.

By the same token, if we are obedient to our Master's will, He will also reward us for our faith.

2. We are in a state of disobedience when we ask for something.

I JOHN 3:21-22

21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, [then] have we confidence toward God.

22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

Did you catch that last part of verse 22? We need to be in a state of obedience when we ask for things from God.

Note: God will not refuse the prayer for help from a sinner when he calls on God in desperation, seeking salvation. But He expects those of us who call Him Savior to be obedient to His commandments if we wish to receive what we ask for from Him!

3. We pray in unbelief

We must have faith that God can provide what we need. Jesus Himself reinforced this point in the following Scripture passage;

MATTHEW 21:18-22

18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.

19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw [it], they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this [which is done] to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Note carefully what Jesus says here. "If you have faith, and don't doubt...." That's the hardest part, keeping doubt away. But God has no limits on His power, and we need to understand and believe that. As He told the prophet Jeremiah;

JEREMIAH 32:26-27

26 Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying,

27 Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

Jesus didn't mean that we should literally command that mountains be cast into the sea. He was referring to the fact that if an obstacle or problem seems as big as a mountain, it can be taken away in the same fashion, if we have faith.

A good example of that would be when two blind men asked Jesus to heal them;

MATTHEW 9:27-31

27 And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, [Thou] Son of David, have mercy on us.

28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.

29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.

30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See [that] no man know [it].

31 But they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.

Note what Jesus said to them in verse 29. If they didn't have faith, they would have remained blind. But He did this to show that we must have faith within ourselves that He can do what we ask of Him. And His response to our prayers may very well be, "According to your faith be it unto you."

Concerning the issue of faith, God through the author of Hebrews says;

HEBREWS 10:38-39

38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

HEBREWS 11:6

6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

God also sometimes delays His response, to test our faith. We sometimes give up because we don't get an immediate answer, figuring that God has said "No.", when He may be waiting to see how we'll react if we don't get a response right away. Will we believe in faith that he has heard our prayer, and is answering it? Or will we give up?

On a side note, the withering of the fig tree could also refer to unfruitful Christians. If the Master comes to us, and we are unfruitful in His sight (meaning that we are unfaithful, unproductive, etc.) then we will wither spiritually just as the tree did.

James sums the issue the best I think, when he says concerning praying for wisdom;

James 1:5-8

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

8 A double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways.

4. How badly do you want what you are praying for?

I used to pray for something once, believing that God had a good memory, and would take care of it. Then one day I asked Him why I hadn't received an answer to my prayer, and He in turn asked, "How badly do you want it?" I was shocked to say the least!!!! He then reminded me of the following Scriptures;

LUKE 11:5-13

5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

LUKE 18:1-7

1 And he spake a parable unto them [to this end], that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

The message God wanted me to understand, was that we need to pray until we get an answer one way or the other! We need to persist in prayer, and wait for His response, and have faith that he has heard, and will answer in His timing. And don't despair if you don't get an answer right away! If He delays, He has His reasons for it.

BUT, on the other hand, if He says "No." accept that as His answer, and leave it alone.

And when you pray for something, be specific! Tell God what you want, rather than saying, "Well, God, you know what I want better than I do, so I'm leaving it in Your hands to provide for me....." If you want something specific, ask for it specifically!



5. We pray with the wrong attitudes.

LUKE 18:9-14

9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Note that in verse 11, the text states that the Pharisee prayed with himself. He wasn't praying to God, he was lifting himself up in pride, measuring his self-perceived righteousness by his perceptions of the publican (tax-collector) standing a distance away.

Jewish tax collectors were among the most hated people in Judea, for they collected taxes for the Roman conquerors whom the Jews hated bitterly. The tax collectors were allowed by Rome to collect whatever amount above the tax they wished for their own profit, and many of them had grown rich through this corrupt practice.

Yet Jesus called Matthew who was a tax-collector to be one of His apostles, and also was a guest at dinner in the house of Zaccheus, a well-known tax collector.

Jesus was proving that God looks upon the intentions of the heart, not the physical appearance, social status, or job description. (Scripture records that Zaccheus was a very short man, so short that he climbed a tree to be able to see Jesus when Jesus came to town because he was too short to see above the heads of the crowd.)

Many people also don't realize that one of His apostles was a Gentile, and a Canaanite at that! (Simon, not Simon Peter)

MARK 3:13-19

13 And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth [unto him] whom he would: and they came unto him.

14 And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

15 And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:

16 And Simon he surnamed Peter;

17 And James the [son] of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

18 And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the [son] of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite,

19 And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house.

Luke, the author of the book that bears his name, records that Simon was also a zealot. The zealots were feared and hated by the occupying Romans, for these were super-patriots who would slip behind a Roman soldier in a crowd and would stab him with a dagger that they had hidden in their clothes, and would disappear into the crowd before anyone knew what happened.

Why did Jesus choose these people to be His disciples and apostles? Because He didn't believe that anyone was unworthy of salvation. It also showed the power He had to reach men's hearts in that he called a tax-collector and a possible assassin to be His disciples, and they turned from their wicked ways to follow and serve Him.

Remember what the apostle Peter says concerning prayer;

I PETER 3:12

12 For the eyes of the Lord [are] over the righteous, and his ears [are open] unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord [is] against them that do evil.

And James boldly proclaims;

JAMES 5:16-18

16 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Note that James says we are to confess our faults to one another, NOT our sins! We confess our sins to God alone as He alone has the authority to forgive us! And that authority was never passed onto men, including priests! I have also addressed the claim of priests being able to forgive sins in a separate study.

BOTTOM LINE

God is a personal God, one who loves to meet and talk with His children through prayer. As His children, we have the right to come before His Throne and ask for things we consider important to us.

But we must come before Him in belief that He hears us and that He can, and will answer our prayers. Remember, there is no such thing as unanswered prayer! Keep praying for what you want until you get an answer one way or the other!

We must be specific in what we request, and we must have faith that he can provide what we ask for. And we should not hesitate to call upon Him when we need help, as He Himself says;

Psalms 50:15

15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

We must pray with the right attitudes, pray for what we need more than for what we want, and not be in a state of disobedience when we pray for something.

Be sure to make your prayers personal, not using repetitive or ritualized prayers. God will not answer such prayers as this puts you in a state of disobedience because He has specifically commanded us not to pray in this fashion.

And above all, talk to God as you would talk to a father, or a friend. Keep your attitude one of respect, but don't be afraid to ask Him for what you need.

And just talk to Him! You don't need to talk to Him only when you need or want something! Would you like it if the only time someone talked to you is when they needed or wanted something? Of course not!

God is the same way! He loves having personal conversations with us, as this creates fellowship between us, and increases the deep bond we have with Him. He is our God, our Savior, our Defender, and our trusted Friend. And as long as we maintain this in mind when we pray, our prayers will be acceptable to Him, and He will delight in answering us.

And may the God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, grant us a deeper understanding of these things that our prayers may be acceptable to Him, and that He may be glorified when he answers us.

Questions? Comments? E-mail: watchmen_777@yahoo.com

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