A translation of "Fred's Epistle to the Ukrainians."
"Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1)
Jesus' disciples were impressed with His prayer life. They noticed how often He went alone to pray, and could not help but see the results in His life. (Notice the many references to Jesus' prayers in the New Testament: Mt.11:25; Mk.1:35; 6:46; Lk.3:21; 5:16; Jn.11:41; 17:1). Finally, one of the disciples boldly approached Him with, "Lord, teach us to pray."
I. What is Prayer?
- Prayer is reaching out to God. It is communicating, talking with our Creator and Sustainer. It links us with the One who yearns to hear from us, and who wants to help us, "Call unto me and I will answer thee" (Jer.33:3)
- Prayer is worshipping and adoring God for who He is (1 Chro.16:29; Ps. 96:9) "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein" (Ps.24:1). "For every beast of the forest...the silver...and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Ps.50:10; Hag.2:8). "Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Ex.15:11). "O God, who is like Thee?) Ps.71:19). He deserves to be adored.
- Prayer is offering praise to God for His love, grace, generosity, creativity, power, wisdom, and for all His marvelous accomplishments "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever" (1 Tim. 1:17).
- Prayer is bringing thanks to God for benefits and gifts received. "Daniel ...kneeled upon his knees...and prayed, and gave thanks before his God" (Dan.6:10).
- Prayer is appealing to God for help, mercy, revelation, wisdom, victory, peace, and much more.
II. Results of Prayer
- Prayer encourages us to know God hears, cares and answers. "Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jer.33:3).
- Prayer establishes fellowship and sweet communion with the Creator. "In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps.16:11). "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God" (Ps.42:1).
- Prayer is the viable channel through which we receive spiritual breath--life! "Thou wilt show me the path of life" (Ps.16:11). Through prayer we breathe in the heavenly atmosphere that quickens our entire being, and becomes the source of energy, strength and victory. "The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Dan. 11:32).
- The devil will attempt to destroy our prayer-life by suggesting clever excuses, and setting up roadblocks such as: "--I'm too busy" --"tired" --"not now, later." He fears praying Christians because their praying makes them powerful, and with God-given authority they successfully function against the "gates of hell".
- Prayerless Christians foolishly cut themselves off from a life of joy, peace, power and victory. Lacking prayer, they develop weaknesses that open the door to the flesh, the world and the devil.
III. When to Pray
- Be in constant touch with God. Be aware of His abiding presence. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit...with all perseverance" (Eph. 6:18). We need to keep an open line of communication between us and the Holy Spirit regardless of where we are or what the circumstances may be.
- Set a time for daily devotions with the family, and a private period with God. "When thou prayest, enter thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to the Father which is in secret" (Mt. 6:6). "Building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost" (Jude 1:20).
- Intercede for others as the Spirit prompts us. Praying for others is part of our responsibility as Christians. "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you" (1 Sam. 12:23). Paul said, "I make mention of you always in my prayers" (Rom.1:9; Eph.1:16). He also told the Colossians that Epaphras, a fellow laborer, was "always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that, ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" (Col.4:12).
- Congregational prayer, is usually led by a prayer leader. His duty is to lead the people in united prayer, first, through praise and worship, and then, to include special requests in behalf of people's pressing needs, such as healing, comfort for the bereaved, the salvation of unsaved family members, the spiritual revival of our nation, etc. The leader's requests to God at that time should not include his own personal needs, nor should he name and publicly detail the trespasses and private problems of certain people of the church (who did not request public prayer). Such prayers should remain private.
IV. How to Pray
- Pray with humility. "He that humbleth himself shall be exhalted." We must not come to God with pride, "For every one that exhalteth himself shall be abased." (Lk.18:9-14). "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up (James .4:10).
- Pray with proper motives. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3). "If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it" (Jn.14:14). Our requests must be compatible with the holy character of Christ's name. Is what we ask reflective of His image? Will it glorify Him?
- Pray without doubting. When we come to Almighty God, we must not question His ability or His willingness to answer. When we ask, let it be "in faith, not wavering" (James 1:6). God responds to faith, to believing Him, to being confident that He hears and answers. "Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear" (Is.65:24).
- Pray within the scope of God's will. "If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hears us...we know we have the petitions that we desired of Him" (1 Jn.5:14,15). His will is most important; fulfilling it bestows God's pleasure upon us. "Praying in the Holy Ghost" (Jude 1:20). "We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us... according to the will of God" (Rom.8:26,27).
- Pray with importunity, with insistence. Elijah, "Prayed again" (Jms.5:18). The widow kept begging the judge for justice, till he finally gave in to her repeated pleas (Lk.18:2-6). Jesus said, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint"(Lk.18:1)
- Pray according to the model given by Jesus (Mt.6:9-13)
--Recognizing the Heavenly Father's authority: "Our Father" (vs.9)
--Recognizing God's will to be done (not ours). "Thy will be done" (vs.10)
--Recognizing God as the Source of our needs. "Give our daily bread" (vs.11)
--Recognizing God's graciousness. "Forgive us" (vs.12)
--Recognizing God's power to sustain and preserve us from sin. "Lead us not into temptation" (vs.13)
Coming to the Father, in spirit and in truth, and in the manner Jesus outlined for us, will please Him, and bring us wonderful, satisfying results. It would be most unwise to ignore the value of prayer in our personal and corporate lives.