Prayer, a Hands-on Workbook
How often do you pray? Why do you pray? What do you pray for? When things are going well, prayer for some is little more than saying a blessing over the evening meal or joining fellow believers during the opening of a church service or Sunday School class. For others, prayer occurs only during a crisis situation such as an illness, accident, or job loss. Although God does expect our prayers at these times and for these reasons, He desires so much more.
God desires an intimate relationship with His children. Think about your own family and the impact good communication has on the relationships between husband and wife and parents and children. Just as honest, frequent communication builds a family so does a strong prayer life build the relationship between God and His children. This is the method by which we establish and nurture our relationship with our Heavenly Father and could be considered one of the most valuable aspects of prayer.
It is my desire to assist you, by providing various Bible verses and examples of walking with our Heavenly Father, so you can have a more intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe and to help you become a more mature believer. Prayer should be an integral ingredient in the life of a Christian. To enhance your prayer life, take a step-by-step journey through the scriptures God has provided for our instruction, and follow the suggestions for prayer I provide in this article.
Times of Catastrophe
A prayer that God expects us to lift up to Him is to pray for yourself, friends and family when undergoing some kind of catastrophe, and this type of prayer is very important to God and to us. This could be losing a job, having a serious accident, someone has been diagnosed with cancer or some other serious disease, a child gets in trouble with the law and so forth. An even larger catastrophe we should pray for is when the people of a country encounter a serious natural event such as a hurricane, an earthquake or a tsunami. The people of the country of Japan come to mind with the devastating earthquake, tsunami and the radioactivity that several of their nuclear reactors released in spring of 2011. The people of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee experienced several powerful tornadoes and many people lost their lives and had their homes, businesses and schools damaged or even destroyed. In both circumstances people are having to make do with whatever support the local churches, Red Cross, state and federal governments can provide.
Sometimes we have to Suffer
We do sometimes have to suffer, because it is God's will. The story of Job in the Old Testament is an example; he suffered perhaps more than anyone in the Old Testament era suffered. He lost everything--his wealth, his family and his health. We know that Job was later restored to good health and received again a family and many riches. Job is also mentioned as being among His most faithful several times later in the Holy Bible. The suffering of God's prophets, apostles and missionaries of the entire Church Age is well known, but this suffering happens because God wants to increase our Heavenly rewards. Here is the verse:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (KJV)
If we endure, we shall also reign with him: if we shall deny him, he also will deny us: (ASV)
We Don't Always Have to Suffer
I believe that there is suffering that God sometimes allows to happen in the life of a Christian because prayer has been neglected as part of their daily life. God very much wants to have a day-by-day, moment-by-moment interaction with His children. He wants to hear from you more than just asking Him for something, He wants to be part of the very fabric of your life. He very much wants to hear from you how much you love Him and to let Him know how important that He is to you.
If this communication is neglected, He will sometimes cause serious difficulties in your life so you will reach out to Him. When you do, your prayer to ask Him for help is always listened to by Him. He will sometimes allow a sickness or injury or other difficulty to continue because you are then in a dialogue with Him. A daily dialogue is what He very much wants between Himself and you. Sometimes this suffering will happen over many years, perhaps even to death. During this time most Christians will then pray daily for relief from their suffering. Sometimes He answers yes to requests for healing of body and mind. My daughter is a teacher in an elementary school and she requested prayer for a student of hers that had brain cancer. In our Thursday Bible study time, we prayed for him and several weeks later, his cancer was in remission; this was indeed a miracle! Praise be to God! He doesn't always heal once a person has a disease, but sometimes He does. We don't know if He will say yes, but we should ask Him for this healing. Sometimes He rewards your persistance with healing of the body and mind.
Wouldn't it be better if we would reach out to God and pray to Him for more than relief from our pain? We should continually pray to Him, especially when things are going well in our life. This will show to God that fellowship with Him is priceless.
Could the Christians in the USA use a Revival?
If you read the newspapers or the news on the Internet or watch much television, you probably feel sick inside at times at all of the violence, abortions, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual immorality, gang violence, bullying in schools, crime, dishonesty in business, and other evil that is happening in the United States. There's a solution to this problem of national sin:
2 Chronicles 7:14 (ASV 1901) If my people, who are called by my name, shall 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.
The "people" in this verse are all of the Christians that reside in the USA and by obeying this verse God could start a great revival in the United States. All are blood bought from Jesus dying on the cross and Jesus saving those He calls (Doctrine of Election). All have faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation but unfortunately, there are too many Christians that are simply not living the sanctified life that God expects all to follow after they become a believer. This is why sin is destroying this country. If we are willing to follow this verse, then yes, there can be a revival in this country and it can start with you and me. Again, note that God is talking about "my people" and not the unsaved.
My response to the question heading this section is: yes--Christians in the USA could use a revival. The question I have is: Will many Christians in the USA actually follow through with a commitment to follow the verses given in 2 Chronicles 7:14 so God will send a revival? I believe that a few of us are repenting of our sins, praying and turning from our wicked ways, watching for His return and turning to a life of service for Jesus Christ. I hope that I am wrong, but the signs of the times shows that there are many Christians in the USA that would rather enjoy their sinful life than to live the rest of their lives in service and dedication to God.
Sometimes You may have difficulty Praying
The Holy Spirit helps us to pray:
(ASV 1901) Romans 8:26 And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for [us] with groanings which cannot be uttered;
Romans 8:27 and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to [the will of] God.
Communication should be Two-Way
Did you know that God also wants to communicate with you? Today, He doesn't talk directly to us like He did through the prophets, priests, kings and shepherds of the Old Testament era and the Apostles and disciples of the New Testament era. However, He does speak to us today through the holy scripture--the Holy Bible. The Bible is the divinely-inspired word of God, so if we read the Bible, we are hearing from God what He wants us to hear. The best way to hear from God is to start with chapter one of a book of the Bible and read the complete chapter and try to understand what He has to say. Then to continue with the Book until you finish it. If God wants you to respond to what He has to say to you through the scripture, the Holy Spirit will touch your spirit and let you know that God wants to hear from you via prayer.
Pray for your enemies
Genesis--the first prayers
Genesis 4:25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth. For, [said she], God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel; for Cain slew him.
Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enosh. Then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.
We have only scant information about the first prayers mentioned in the Holy Bible. However some of the descendants of Seth prayed to Almighty God and I am sure that God somehow responded back to them in some way. This was a very hard life, because they had very primitive means to make a living in those days. They most likely asked God to help them when toiling in the fields. Adam and Eve probably asked for The Lord to comfort them after their son, Abel was murdered by Cain. God's response to them was to bless them with a son, Seth.
Pray for Your Family
Pray for your co-workers and neighbors
Pray for Persecuted Christians across the World
Persecution of Christians across the world gets very little notice in the news media. However, many believers in Christ across the world are losing their jobs and businesses, are being beaten and harassed and some are even being murdered. We should not forget them, but should ask our Heavenly Father for His blessings on them.
Pray for Elected Officials and Public Workers
Our elected leaders also have their faults but God wants us to continually pray for them.
Pray for the Military
Pray for the Nation of Israel
In Genesis (ASV 1901) said to Abraham:
Genesis 12:1 Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee:
Genesis 12:2 and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make they name great; and be thou a blessing;
Genesis 12:3 and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Pray for Your Pastor, Deacons and Teachers
I'm sorry to say, but my observation of pastors, deacons and teachers of churches that I have attended is that most have not directed the church members to walk closer to God; they have done little to help their congregation understand and to walk with God by living a sanctified life. A friend of mine once remarked "the pastor dunks them and then drops them". My friend was talking about once a new believer is baptized, that Baptism is as far as the pastor is willing to go to help the new believer to indeed actually live a sanctified life that is dedicated to God and to avoid evil. Evangelism is great and pastors are called to this righteous work. They are also called to help direct the congregation to actually live a life that is crucified to this world.
In some congregations the church members don't even know who their deacon is because the deacons never contact the members or let them know that they are there to support them in their daily walk with Jesus Christ. Pray for your deacons so they will be even more active and so they can encourage their flock members to be more faithful to God.
The teachers in the churches I have attended generally teach only the material in the "official" sunday school materials. Each week I read the materials and the lessons almost always avoid the most difficult passages. These would include for example, The Judgment Seat of Christ, Election of the Saints, Watching for Christ's return and prophecy of the end times. Pray that your teachers will be courageous and will also explain to their class members the verses in the Bible that may not be popular, and are usually skipped in the Sunday School quarterlies, but are needed because God has decided that they are needed for our spiritual growth.
The Lord's Prayer
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'" (Matt 6:9-13 NIV)
This is the most important prayer in the Holy Bible. Jesus gives us a brief outline of how to pray to God the Father. We can pray this prayer directly to God as is. However, we can also say this prayer in our own words; lifting up and giving special emphasis on different parts of the prayer as the events in our lives change. Here are some observations about this prayer:
Escaping the Tribulation
Our minds should be thinking about Heavenly events and we should want very much to be in Heaven, serving Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Spirit. We should be aware that the Tribulation will begin in the very near future, perhaps even this year and Jesus wants very much that you will want to be with Him. He gives us a very important verse that will help keep us from being in the Tribulation:
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36 KJV)
Fellowship with God the Father and God the Son
(1 John 1:7 KJV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
This verse confirms that if the believer walks in the light, he will have fellowship “one with another.” This verse is not talking about fellowship with other believers (although that is very important), but fellowship with Jesus Christ. The verse also confirms that if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse us from all sin.
(Psalms 103:1 ASV 1901) Bless Jehovah, O my soul; And all that is within me, [bless] his holy name.
Avoid Pretense when you Pray
An important prayer to understand is the prayer of the Pharisee and the Publican:
Luke 18:9 And he spake also this parable unto certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and set all others at nought:
Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
Luke 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
Luke 18:12 I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I get.
Luke 18:13 But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God, be thou merciful to me a sinner.
Luke 18:14 I say unto you, This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Walking with God
I mentioned at the beginning of this article is that having fellowship with God is one of the most important reasons for prayer. Enoch had a very close and personal walk with God and is described in Genesis:
Genesis 5:18 And Jared lived a hundred sixty and two years, and begat Enoch:
Genesis 5:19 and Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
Genesis 5:20 And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
Genesis 5:21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
Genesis 5:22 and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
Genesis 5:23 and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
Genesis 5:24 and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (ASV 1901)
Enoch is one of the most faithful of God's saints before the flood. He was called by God to a walk with Him and Enoch responded by praying with God as he was doing his work in the fields or was tending to his sheep and cattle or was on his knees before he went to bed at night. Enoch spent a considerable amount of time with God, so he knew of the immense value of this personal contact with Him. God appreciated Enoch's love for Him and simply removed him from this earth. We are not told if God took Enoch to Heaven to be with Him or not. I suspect that He did just this, because Enoch did not die like all of the rest of the pre-flood saints did (of course, Noah and his family did survive the great flood). The only other saint that did not die was Elijah, who was also taken to be with God and serve Him in Heaven. The important truth about Enoch is that he greatly valued his time with God and the fellowship they had in conversation together. God also valued this conversation they had together. Since the walk is recorded in the Holy Scripture, perhaps we can learn something--that a walk with God, a fellowship with God is something that we should pursue.
I believe that Enoch serves as a prototype for the Church of Philadelphia. Members of this church will miss all seven years of the Tribulation and be taken through the open door to Heaven just before the Tribulation begins (Revelation chp 3 and chp 4). So, to be a member of the First Fruits Rapture and to miss all seven years of the Tribulation you need to be the most faithful of Jesus' saints during these last few days of the Church Age. I believe that the most faithful will be obeying the truth found in the Bible and will be having fellowship with God on a continuous basis, especially with prayer.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1)
Sometimes, even many times we just take God for granted. We get caught up in the affairs of the day and sometimes neglect our appreciation of God and what He has created. If you do something for someone, say you buy your wife a present or your children something that they have asked for, don't you want them to appreciate what you have done for them? Well, God also wants to be appreciated for the many things He has done for us and continues to do for us. We certainly appreciate the gift God has given us, the gift of salvation through Jesus' death on the cross, and His burial and resurrection. Let's go a little further, reaching upwards to God for an even deeper experience with your relationship with Him. Do you appreciation His infinite wisdom, intelligence, power and design and creation of the universe? In my opinion, this is an extremely important event and we should think about His creation of the sun, moon and stars and the earth He has given us to live on and that He has keep us safe from all the dangers that could effect the earth.
Revelation 4:11 Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created. (KJV)
Malachi 3:6 For I, Jehovah, change not; therefore ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (ASV 1901)
God's character is so pure, holy and righteous. We should understand that He never changes; He is the same today as He was before He created the universe. Because He never changes, we can absolutely rely on Him because of His perfect character. God's patience with me is so great, I am amazed that before now He has just not zapped me and forgotten about me, but He has not. He continues to tap me on the shoulder and to communicate the following kinds of spiritual thoughts to me:
"I'm here and I want to fellowship with you. I appreciate your company and your time with me and very much do I want you to tell Me that you love Me. I want you to ask Me for wisdom so you can understand the Holy Scripture even better. I'm now commanding you to work on improving the way you live your life for Me, so I'm going to describe several faults that I want you to work on so your character will look more and more like the character of my precious son, Jesus."
Now, I don't actually hear any words, but somehow God the Father communicates with me via the Holy Spirit and I know when He wants to fellowship with me and what He wants me to do to serve Him and how I should live my life in a righteous manner for Him.
We should continue to appreciate His gifts to us: good health, employment, our family, homes, cars, vacations and so on. We should also appreciate Him giving us difficulties and testing to overcome with the help of the Holy Spirit. He always helps us through the tough times and if we walk with Him during these eras of our life, our character is improved and can even more appreciate His presence in our lives.
The Last Prayer in the Bible: the Beckoning
In Revelation we have the following invitation:
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And he that heareth, let him say, Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely.
The Holy Spirit and the Bride of Christ, His most faithful followers, invite the readers of the last chapter of Revelation to beckon for Jesus to return for the First Fruits Rapture.
Note how John the Apostle responds to this invitation:
Revelation 22:20 (ASV 1901) He who testifieth these things saith, Yea: I come quickly. Amen: come, Lord Jesus.
God bless you for reading this article and for lifting up these prayers to God and I hope that you will continue with daily prayer to our Heavenly Father for the rest of your life. In this article I have only shown you the very first steps in a prayer life. You need to read the whole Bible and then to decide for yourself what you should pray for. If you do, God will bless you with His presence and His agape love.