Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Lord, Teach Us How To Pray!"

Prayer is one of the most important things to a Christian and should be a priority. Prayer is how Christians build a relationship with God. You do not get close to someone by reading about them, but by communicating with them. God is a good Father, and as such, He desires to speak with His children. The Old Testament and the New Testament both place strong emphasis on prayer. I Chronicles 16:11 says, "Search out Yahweh, and his power, Seek diligently his face, at all times." In I Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing.

Prayer has great power if prayed in faith by a righteous person. Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He prayed to His Father. John 11:41 says, "...And Jeshu lifted his eye upward, and said, Father, I give thanks to thee that thou hast heard me; and I know that at all times thou hearest me: yet, because of this assembly which standeth, I say these (words), that they may believe that thou hast sent me." James 5:13-18 also tells us of the power of prayer: "And if any of you be in affliction, let him pray; and if he rejoice, let him sing; and if he be sick, let him call for the presbyters of the church, and they will pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of our Lord. And the prayer of faith shall make whole him who was sick, and our Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. But confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. For great is the power of that prayer which the righteous prayeth. Elia also was a man of suffering, as we; and he prayed that the rain should not fall upon the earth, and it fell not (for) three years and six months. And again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth gave her fruits."

God is moved by the earnest requests of a believer. John 11:33 mentions Jesus (God in the flesh) being moved by the mourners of Lazarus. Like every good father, God will give you your every need. Matthew 7:9-11 says, "Or what man from among you, who if his son shall ask bread, will reach forth a stone to him ? Or if a fish he shall ask of him, a serpent will he reach forth to him ? If, therefore, you who are evil know to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?"

In order for God to answer your sincere prayers, He wants these things of you:

1. Faith- "But in the early morn, as he returned to the city, he hungered: and he saw a certain fig-tree in the way, and came to it, but found nothing thereon but leaves only; and he said, Let there be no fruit upon thee again for ever. And immediately that fig-tree withered. And the disciples saw, and were astonished, saying, How in a moment is the fig-tree withered ! Jeshu answered and said to them, Amen I say to you, that if faith were in you, and you did not hesitate, you should not only do (as) to this fig-tree, but also were you to say to this mountain, Be thou lifted up and fall into the sea, it should be done. And whatsoever you shall ask in prayer and shall believe, you shall obtain." (Matthew 21:18-22)

2. Holy Lifestyle- "Far off is Yahweh, from the lawless, but, the prayer of the righteous, will he hear." (Proverbs 15:29)

How should we pray? In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus tells us how to pray:

"Thus pray: Our Father who art in the heavens! be sanctified thy Name. Come thy kingdom. Be done thy will, as in heaven, also in earth. Give to us the bread of our need to-day; and forgive us our debts, as also we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory to the age of ages."

In the historical context, Jesus was telling the disciples what to pray after the corporate Jewish prayer in the synagogue. Rabbi's gave their disciples prayers in order to identify them as being disciples of that certain Rabbi. This doesn't mean that we have to pray using these exact words, but there is nothing wrong with praying these words as long as you are sincere. Here is an analysis of how Jesus prays in this verse:

"Our Father who art in the heavens!"- Jesus begins by acknowledging the Fatherhood of God to His children. This also makes it clear that you are praying to the one true God: Yahweh.

"Be sanctified thy name."- Praise God for His holiness.

"Come thy kingdom. Be done thy will, as in heaven, also in earth."- Surrender all things to God and pray for His will to have free course in your life.

"Give to us the bread of our need to-day."- Bring your request before God.

"And forgive us our debts, as also we forgive our debtors."- Pray for God to forgive you of any sin that you have committed and to give you grace to forgive those who have done you wrongly.

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil."- "Temptation" comes from the Aramaic word nesyona, which is better translated as "trial". God does not tempt us with sin (James 1:13), but God does try us and allow us to be tried (Genesis 22:1) for our own good. The Aramaic phrase here can also be translated as, "Do not let us enter temptation." Pray for God to keep you from trials and to keep you from sin, and when you do enter into a trial or a temptation to sin, pray that God will bring you out of it.

"For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory to the age of ages."- Worship God and acknowledge His authority, power, and glory. This also helps you to remember that God holds all power and authority, and that His will is for your own good whether you like it or not.

This is not all that Jesus taught concerning how our attitude should be when we pray. Matthew 6:5-6 says, " And when thou prayest, be not as the face-takers, who love to stand in the assemblies and at the corners of the streets to pray, that they may be seen of men; and truly I say to you that they receive their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy secret chamber, and shut thy door, and pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee in openness." This means that we should not pray in order to show people how "holy" and "spiritual" we are. We should be humble and pray for the glory of God. Here are some other things that Jesus says about those who seek their own glory and about His own attitude:

 "He who from the will of his (own) mind speaketh, the glory of himself seeketh; but he who the glory of him who hath sent him seeketh, is true, and no iniquity is in him."- John 7:18

"Jeshu said to them, If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing: it is my Father who glorifieth me; he, of whom you say that he is your God."- John 8:54

In Matthew 6:7-8, Jesus goes on to say, "And when thou art praying, be not wordy, like the profane; for they think that in much speaking they are heard. Be you not like them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you before that you ask him." You can pray for one hour and not accomplish anything because of you thinking that fancy prayers matter or because of a lack of sincerity. God is not ignorant of anything, He knows what you need already. Be humble, direct, and sincere when praying to God.

Persistence is also important in prayer. In Luke 18:2-8 Jesus gives this beautiful parable: 

"There was a judge in a certain city who of Aloha was not afraid, and of men was not regardful. But a certain widow was in that city, who came to him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary. And he was not willing long time; but afterward he said within himself, If of Aloha I am not afraid, and of men am not regardful, yet, because this widow wearies me, I will avenge her, that in all time she come not molesting me. And our Lord said, Hear what saith the unrighteous judge. But shall not Aloha do vengeance for his chosen, who cry to him by day and by night, and prolong his spirit towards them? I tell you he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man shall come, will he find faith upon the earth?"

The Amplified Bible translates the Greek version of Matthew 7:7-8 like this: "Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened."

Jesus's teachings on prayer can be summarized like this:

1. Pray in sincerity and not in order to make yourself look good.

2. Do not think that how long or how eloquent you are when you pray matters. God just wants to have dialogue with us and us with him.

3. Keep on praying and do not lose faith.

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