Prayer Teaching Series: In My Name
Why do we need to pray if God knows what we are going to say already? How can one prayer make any difference? Does prayer really change what happens? God loves me and understands me, so how will praying make our relationship any better?
Prayer is vital and God invites us to talk to him through prayer. Through this Series, In My Name, I will be sharing my thoughts and biblical teaching on these questions and more.
Be still and know that I am God."
How many times do we pray about something and omit to listen for God's answer? How often does that perceived silence lead us to give up on prayer and take the matter in to our own hands?
Our Father is waiting to hear from us, to have two way communion with us. He made us for relationship with Him. Let's pause and reflect on that for a moment.
We have been made in order to have an intimate and loving relationship with the King of Kings, Creator of the universe. Psalms 139 is familiar, it describes how well God is acquainted with us. How wonderful to be known so fully, and created so precisely. This is who we can come to, in all situations, at all times.
We can be guilty of only praying when we feel like it. What a great treat we miss if that is the only time we pray. Our prayer should be a discipline. We eat regular meals because it is necessary, it is a habit, it gives structure and routine and because without that regularity our health would suffer.
Our praying needs to be the same. We can pray when we feel like it but that is the extra bit. Our prayer habit should be consistent and frequent. How can we discern God's will if we don't stop and listen? How can we offer up praise and speak with Him on an intimate level if it is sporadic?
We need to set aside time to pray and the busier our lives become the more important praying becomes and the more time we need to spend in prayer. It is my experience that the habit of prayer produces the desire to pray. Start with a good habit and the desire to seek Him more closely will be the result.
We are told, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, to "rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances". These three instructions are key to our praying. It is possible to rejoice always.
I have mentioned in a previous article that there is power in praise. I believe that we are to give God His worth and to worship Him not just when we feel like it but, to be in the habit of looking for a reason to praise and thank Him at all times. When circumstances are tough and life feels overwhelming we can still praise God and rejoice in His love.
Look back to the Psalms 139, there is always a reason to rejoice!
This leads naturally to the next instructions; to pray without ceasing and give thanks in ALL circumstances. God wants us to be in touch with Him all the time. If we keep in touch with Him we will find plenty to be thankful for.
Sometimes it is more of a challenge but, I find that it is usually my attitude that prevents me from praising rather than the situation in which I find myself. I can thank God that He is able to deal with my attitude and lead me to 'be still' in His presence. From this stillness, praise follows.
I experienced a recurring persistent message from God some time ago, to "Be still and know that I am God". My first reaction was that I didn't have time for the 'be still' bit and that I already knew that He was God. But, graciously He helped me to 'be still' with Him.
Then I discovered what a real joy it was to be in His presence and recognise His place as God of all, awesome and majestic. I think this was when I first truly found that prayer had to take first place in my routine.
The Five P's
I find alliteration a bit cheesy at times but, I can't help seeing that there are 5 important P's to remember in praying.
PRAISE - Already mentioned above, we are to give thanks in all circumstances 1 Thessalonians 5:18. I think praise follows on from this automatically. It helps us put everything in to perspective when we put God in His rightful place and worship Him. We are lifted out of the mundane and our focus can settle on Him and allow us to see Him more clearly.
POSTURE - This is more than a physical action, although it can be helpful to reflect in our stance, what we feel in our heart. The posture of our body as we pray can assist us and I believe it is right to get on our knees and bow when we commune with the Almighty.
When we assume a posture of humility and submission in His presence it is an outward sign of our inner attitude. As we bow our head we should equally bow in our mind, spirit and heart. Bow to His will. Ask Him to shape our thinking and our desire to match His. To submit to Him with our body and our mind and let Him mould us in to what He desires us to be.
PERSISTANCE - There are many times when prayer is not answered immediately. Scripture tells us to persist and there are many examples of patience from those who petitioned God for answers.
David writes in Psalms 27:14, Psalms 37:7, Psalms 38:15 and Psalms 40:1 about waiting for the Lord and in 1 Chronicles 16:11 seeking His presence continually. Hannah is a wonderful example of a woman who sought God and poured out her hearts desire to have a son. She even made a bargain with God that she would give that son back to God if she became a mother.
We are told in James 5:17, how earnestly the prophet Elijah prayed that it would not rain. Elijah was fervent in prayer.
Jesus teaches in parables recorded in Luke 1:5-10 and Luke 18:1-8 about persisting in prayer. The parable of the persistent widow is a clear encouragement to not give up. We are instructed to continue in prayer.
PATIENCE - Along with persevering we need to demonstrate patience. It is when we wait upon God and His timing that we learn dependance upon Him. In this state of waiting we understand more fully that we can no more choose to grow spiritually than we chose to be born again, it is of the Spirit.
As we wait, we become still and His peace can fill us. Psalm 37:7,9. The time spent waiting is giving God honour and learning more about Him. We can develop deeper trust, learn to rest in Him and recognise that He is on the throne and not us. It is His will that must be done, in His time. While exercising patience we are putting ourselves at God's disposal. He can speak with us, direct and lead us when we are still and patient.
POWER - When we bow in submission to God's will and pray, patiently waiting upon Him, giving Him the praise that is due to Him, we are putting the above list in to action. The result is we connect with the awesome, majestic, all powerful, all mighty God, who is above everything. We align ourselves with Him.
His power is made perfect in our weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:9. He is merciful and gracious and listens to us. Our part is to be available to Him, to listen to Him through the Holy Spirit, to wait for His timing and to pray in humility while enjoying His presence and treasuring the time spent kneeling before His throne.
There is one further 'P' for the list. Make prayer a PRIORITY. We are in a battle and our enemy would be happy if we ceased to pray. The subtle distractions that turn us away from prayer can creep in almost unnoticed. It is important to stop those things that 'creep', and to keep our lives free from clutter that tears us away from our focus.
The battle is the Lord's, we must remain alert and listen for His guidance.