What About Prayer?
Bill Brown, Carmichael Baptist Church
Lesson Text: Philippians 4:6-8; I Thessalonians 5:17
Lesson Objective: To help you understand what prayer is and how important it is to your Christian life.
Introduction: If you are a new Christian or if you have never studied the subject of prayer before, the discussions in this lesson are of the utmost importance to you. If you are a new member, or this is your first discipleship class our hope is that you will be encouraged and enlightened concerning the subject matter under consideration.
Prayer has been, is now, and always will be an effective weapon of the saint’s spiritual armor. It is a refuge for the troubled and a vehicle of our faith. Prayer is the breath of the regenerate soul. It was the first breath you breathed when you professed repentance and faith in God. In Psalms 42:1, David wrote „As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” Prayer is the communion of our heart and soul with God. This „hart” or deer longs after water. In the same manner we, like David, are to long after God. Prayer is not a list of wishes we bring to God for Him to fulfill. It is a spiritual exercise of our faith whereby we draw closer to our Almighty God. As we look at the subject of prayer be mindful of how the Spirit of God is speaking to your heart. Listen carefully as the Word of God is revealed to your spirit.
Our Line of Communication
As already mentioned, prayer is the first thing that comes forth from a regenerate heart. Our first prayer is the cry of a sinner to the Lord for salvation. This is exactly what the publican did in beating upon his chest and crying out „God be merciful to me a sinner.” The first thing to note is that prayer is communication to God. The first prayer man must utter is one of repentance and faith. That prayer should be directed to none other than God and God alone.
Prayer is never to be uttered to other men, dead or alive. The Bible never teaches us to address anyone in prayer except God. We are not to pray to idols nor any departed saints of God. It is an affront to God and His honor if we offer our prayers to any one other than Him. It is only God who can hear and answer the prayers of His people. Once an individual is saved, the line of communication is open between them and their God.
Jesus Christ has opened this line of communication to us. He is our Mediator. No preacher, priest, man or woman, is our „go between.” There is no other way of approach to God. John 14:6, states that „Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This is true in salvation as well as after salvation in our prayer life. Christ is our way of acceptance as well as our way of access with God. He is our Great High Priest that is passed into the heavens.
Someone once said, „Seven days without prayer makes one weak.” When we limit our time of prayer we limit our time with God. When we limit our time with God we limit our strength. God has given us a directive to „Pray without ceasing.” There is to ever be a continual turning of our hearts to God. Wherever, whenever, and whatever we are doing we need to stay in communication with God. This does not imply that we are to constantly repeat a formal prayer as some do. Christ instructed His disciples not to use „vain repetitions” as the heathen do. This does not mean we are to avoid sleeping, eating, teaching, or preaching that we might be in continual prayer. We are to be inclined towards prayer at every opportunity. There is no particular time of day in which prayer is more appropriate than another. God is telling us we have permission to come to His mercy seat at any time, and at all times.
There will be times when you do not feel like praying. There will be times when you feel as if your prayers are not being heard. There will be times when coldness surrounds you in your times of prayer. Never abandon prayer. Weep, wait, and wrestle in prayer before your God. There are going to be many times when we must simply „stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” To have a heart that is continual in its turning to God it must be a heart that is mindful of sinful interruptions. When we are conscience of these sins we must humble ourselves, and confess them before the Lord.
Quality communication is never a one sided affair. Prayer is not simply endless babbling of requests to God. Prayer is communication with God and communication is a two way street. We both speak and listen in communication. All to often we view prayer as entering the presence of God, making our requests, leaving, and then waiting for an answer. Do not forget to wait upon the Lord while in prayer. Wait for Him to speak to your heart. It may be that there is great delay in an answer. It may be needful for me to remain on my knees in prayer for a long period of time. It may also be true that I simply need to be in a consistent state of prayer throughout out the day, both speaking and listening to God. Consistent prayer shows that we recognize our infirmities and that we also believe in God’s sufficiency. Prayer has a design that shows us God is ready and willing to hear us and desires to bless us. If we are not consistent in our prayer life we may find ourselves consistently faltering in our Christian walk. A lack of prayer displays an attitude of self-sufficiency. A self sufficient Christian will not be consistent in their prayer life.
Asking In The Name Of Jesus
We hear most individuals close their prayers by saying „in the name of Christ, Amen,” „in Christ’s name, Amen,” or „in Jesus name, Amen.” Prayer is coming to God in the power and authority of Jesus Christ His Son with our petitions. God does not answer affirmatively merely because we close our prayers this way. It is recognition of the access and the authority by which we come. It is a reminder that we come as sinners pleading Christ’s righteousness as our own. It is a statement of fact that Christ is living in us, He is directing us, and our prayers are as such His. Christ has commanded us to love one another. Because of this we can go to God, in faith, by the authority of Christ’s command, and ask for the ability and spirit to love our brethren. This is finding a command or promise from the Scriptures and making it our prayer. This glorifies the Father through His Son. This is praying in the will of God.
In James 4:3, it is written „Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” This is praying contrary to God’s will. If a child were to ask his or her parent for something that would be harmful or detrimental to their well being the parent would normally deny the request. We have an omniscient and all loving God who desires to give us all things that will be beneficial to us. Our job is to find out what things are within His will. We find this out by abiding in Christ and having Christ’s words abide in us. To pray in the name of Christ is to pray according to His will and His word.
The Expressions Of A Believing Heart
Prayer is essentially petitioning God with our needs or those of another. Prayer is part of our worship we offer to God. There are other components that should be present in our prayer; adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Adoration is praising God. Confession is recognizing sin, agreement with God over that sin and repenting of it. Thanksgiving is giving thanks to God for what he has done for us, what He is doing for us, and what he will do for us. Supplication is asking God for the need of others. A believer cannot help but praise God, confess to God, thank God, and seek the benefit of those whom he loves.
Though we have already spoken of praying without ceasing, it will be to our greatest benefit if we set a specific time each day to pray. In Psalm 63:1, David said „O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;” If we examine David’s life we will find that he, along with many others, had specific times through out the day that he spent in prayer and meditation. The expressions of a believing heart are ones of gratitude, appreciation, anticipation, and concern. Prayer is the natural expression of a believing heart. Don’t be shy about entering into the presence of God. Respectful yes, but come boldly unto the throne when you are in need. God wants us to ask that He might bless.
Hindrances To Prayer
Whether you are young or old in your spiritual life you must never forget the reality that there are hindrances to prayer. We can be hindered from prayer by a lax or lukewarm condition to the things of God. If we become cold or indifferent in our spiritual walk, one of the first things that will suffer will be our prayer life. We can easily become to busy. We lose contact with our quiet time. In today’s modern societies we seem to find little time to simply sit down, read God’s word, stay in quiet meditation, and then pray. If you find yourself too busy to pray your priorities have a wrong emphasis. Another hindrance may be a disorganized life. Some people may over organize themselves and allow their prayer life to become too mechanical while others are so disorganized they have no appointed time set aside for prayer.
It is important that you select an appropriate time and place for your quiet time with the Lord. You can be hindered by constant interruptions. This does not mean you cannot pray while you are busy, but there is a definite need for a time where you can be alone with God, uninterrupted. The pressures of the world that surround you can hinder you in your quiet time with the Lord. We often schedule vacations to get away from it all, to get relief from the pressures that encompass us. Schedule a time to get away from it all and be with God.
Walking in the flesh is a definite hindrance to our prayers. Remember the scripture from James? „Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” Our prayers must be guided by a desire for God’s glory, not the fulfillment of our own desires. If we are walking in the light as He is in the light we will not desire to fulfill our desires over His. Another hindrance is asking with a heart full of doubt. In Hebrews 11:6, we find that „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.” Or when we look at James1:6-7, where it says; „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. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” Spurgeon once said, „Faith obtains promises, unbelief goes empty-handed.” Faith sees the invisible and holds on to what is intangible. Faith rests its confidence upon a God that cannot lie. There is one caution that must be made; remember our confidence is in God and not in our prayers. An individual may have great faith in their salvation that they base upon their being baptized as a baby. Their faith, no matter how great, is misplaced. Our faith must be in God guided by His word that abides in us.
1. Name the seventh item listed as part of the Christian’s armor in Ephesians 6:11-18.
2. What is the first thing to come out of a newly regenerated heart?
3. To whom should we pray?
4. Would it ever be proper to pray to anything or anyone else?
5. The Scriptures give us information about a Mediator between God and us. Please tell us who is this Mediator, and from what verse you got your answer.
6. How often should we pray?
7. Are there certain prayers we should repeat as often as we can?
8. Give a brief definition of prayer.
9. Why do most Christians end their prayers with „In Jesus name, Amen?”
10. Before we pray is it important to try and ascertain God’s will in a matter?
12. Does God want us to pray for the salvation of others?
13. According to Hebrews 4:14-16, can we enter into God’s presence boldly?
14. According to this same verse we are told some things about Christ, what are they?
15. Give at least four hindrances to prayer.
16. Why is faith important in prayer?
Lesson Six What About Prayer? Bill Brown, Carmichael Baptist Church Carmichael, California Lesson Text: Philippians 4:6-8; I Thessalonians 5:17