Taking Prayer Seriously
Prayer is our dependence upon God.
By David J. Stewart
Philippians 4:6 and James 4:2, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.... ye have not, because ye ask not.”
The Apostles never asked Jesus to teach them how to preach. They never asked Jesus to teach them how to go soul-winning. But we find in Luke 11:1 the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray. They said, “LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.” And so the Lord did, and those teachings still apply today as guidelines for every Christian believer.
Tragically, Catholics have been reciting the lord's Prayer word-for-word like zombies for centuries, which is not what the Lord intended at all. Prayer should be taken as a serious matter to each and every believer. When I pray, I am standing in the presence of the God of the universe, for the Bible says we have our very being and breath in the Lord (Acts 17:25).
Hebrews 4:15-16 says that when we pray, we are entering into God's very presence in the heavenly Holy Place, which right-of-passage is only made possible by the precious physical blood sacrifice which Christ made for our sins (1st Peter 1:18-19; Hebrews 9:12,24; Revelation 1:5; 7:14). Of what a sin it is when God's children don't pray. Prayer is not an option, nor a mere suggestion; it is a royal decree from our heavenly King. 1st Thessalonians 5:17, “PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.”
When I pray, I ALWAYS say “excuse me” if there are any interruptions while speaking to God. If my nose itches and I go to rub my nose, I show God respect by saying, “excuse me Lord.” Faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and I believe God is honored and pleased when we show Him the very same respect that we would show to a person here on earth. If I am talking to you and accidentally spill my drink over or cough, I am going to say “excuse me” to show respect for you as a person. If there's anyone in this world to whom we ought to show such respect, it is to God when we pray. This is the reality of prayer.
Many people don't perceive God as a tangible Person when they pray, which is wrong. God is as much a Person as any human being, and more, since God's Spirit is omnipresence (everywhere). 2nd Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him...” God sees everything. Nothing is hidden from the eyes of God. This is why God will be able to judge with perfect judgment in eternity. God knows all.
In fact, this is why Jesus encouraged us not to pray long prayers as do the heathens. Matthew 6:7, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” God already knows what we need; He just wants us to humble ourselves. God resists the proud the Bible says (James 4:6), but gives grace to help the humble in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). To not pray is to tell God that you don't need His help, which is a sin. We all need God's grace to make it through each day. If you don't pray, then you cannot have “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” that “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
When I pray, I don't pray for people that I haven't seen for a long time, because I don't know if they're still alive or not. I pray for the people in my daily life now. I pray for the people that I think about, whether good thoughts or the people who upset me. I especially pray for my enemies, so that I will never harbor any hatred in my heart toward another human being. Prayer is the only hate-blocker, and it works wonderfully. You cannot truly hate a person whom your heart is praying for.
I always pray for God's will to be done in a person's life, whether friend or foe. I don't view people as friends or foes; but rather, I view them all as people with problems at different places in the learning process of life. Eventually everyone wakes up, it just takes some people 50 years. I view every individual as a person for whom Christ died, no matter who they are.
Many people are evil and unjust, and God has their number, reserved to be punished on Judgment Day (2nd Peter 2:9); yet the Bible surprisingly says in Luke 6:35 that God until then is “kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” God commands us to do the same in Luke 6:35 that we may exemplify our Father which is in Heaven.
The Christian life is a striking paradox. A true Christian feels supreme love for the One whom he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to Heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be full; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest; loves the most when he is hated; richest when he is poorest and happiest when he feels the worst; he dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible; hears the inaudible; and knows that which passeth all understanding. Think about it.
I pray for my web visitors, even though we've never met. I know many people will look for me one day in Heaven, and with humility I will embrace you with God's love and give all the credit and glory of my labors to Jesus Christ, for the Bible teaches, “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). I am simply obeying God's leading.
God never intended for humans to live here on earth for ever, and we'll never be completely happy living here. We're just pilgrims passing through the Bible teaches. Hebrews 11:13, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” That's what we are as Christians... strangers and pilgrims passing through.
is not my home, I'm just a passing through;
my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue;
angels beckon me from Heaven's golden shore;
no I can't feel at home in this world anymore.
If you feel at home in this sin-torn world, then you aren't walking with God my friend (James 4:4). Increasingly each day I feel distant, knowing Scripturally that I don't belong here on earth as a child of God. Genuine born-again Christians are strangers to this world's hellhole culture of death, sexual perversion, and dishonesty.
If there's one thing that believers ought to be doing in these Last Days, it is praying. Prayer taps into the power of God, for without it our pride will hinder the blessings of God. Prayer can either be a conveyor of blessings from our heavenly father; or it can be a traffic jam of clogged arteries and spiritual rigor mortis. Not praying is as much a hindrance as praying is a help. God tells us to cast our cares upon Him in prayer (1st Peter 5:7). The very next Scripture warns that Satan roams about the earth, looking for victims to devour. Will you be next? Will evil find a willing servant in you? Satan uses the love of money to recruit people, and hundreds-of-millions of people have taken the bait.
Prayer is a serious matter, whether you realize it or not. If we don't pray, then we forfeit the blessings which God has for us. If you simply pray for God's will to be done in your life as Jesus taught in Luke 11:2, then that is ALL-INCLUSIVE. God knows what you have need of before you ask. You may forget to mention certain things, which is easy to do with our frail human memories; but if one prays... THY WILL BE DONE, then you are covering all bases with God.
The Lord is pleased when we desire and seek to do His will, for that is the very reason why we were created, that is, to please the Lord (Revelation 4:11). Philippians 2:21 says that most people couldn't care less about the things what are Jesus Christ's. Philippians 2:21, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.” One of the things of Jesus Christ is prayer, for the Lord taught us how to pray in Luke 11:10, “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” In Luke 11:5-10 the Lord is teaching consistency in prayer. This is the most important thing next to asking itself, that is, to keep asking.
That is not to say that we should pray long prayers, for the Lord discouraged us from doing that (Matthew 6:7); yet in a seeming paradox the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing in 1st Thessalonians 5:17. What does the Bible mean? God doesn't want prayer to become formalized religion, recitals, and dead chants as the Roman Catholics do. Yes, God wants us to continually pray, subduing our flesh and humbling our hearts before God; but God doesn't ever want prayer to become a chore, for then we are behaving as the heathens. Prayer must always remain as a casual, yet respectable, means of fulfilling our needs. Prayer is our dependence upon God.
2nd Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
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