What is Prayer – Part 3 - Hope 103.2

What is Prayer – Part 3

Prayer is important because you need it. Let’s be honest, though. God doesn’t need your prayers as much as you need to pray. Prayer has the power to change you, regardless of what you ask for. Prayer cultivates dependency upon God. When you pray, you are asking God for His help. That really takes the […]

By Chris WittsThursday 9 Jun 2016Morning Devotions with Chris WittsFaithReading Time: 7 minutes

Prayer is important because you need it. Let’s be honest, though. God doesn’t need your prayers as much as you need to pray. Prayer has the power to change you, regardless of what you ask for. Prayer cultivates dependency upon God. When you pray, you are asking God for His help. That really takes the focus off yourself, and places it entirely upon God.

Prayer gives us a means to worship God, praise God, and thank God. Beyond that, prayer is your only means of talking with God. We have the Bible, which is God’s word to us. Mankind has prayer, which is our words to God. Beyond those reasons, think about one of the main purposes for prayer – asking God to meet our daily needs. Prayer is the believer’s lifeline.

Prayer is not just a give-me time. We must pray for others, too. How easy it is to let a casual “I’ll be praying for you”, turn into nothing more than a sanctified way of saying, “it’s ok.”

Others need our prayers. The homeless need our prayers for shelter. The starving need our prayers for food. The sick need our prayers for healing. The struggling need our prayers for peacefulness. Prayer can change the world. That’s pretty important.

Different religions have different approaches to prayer, the act of praying, but Christianity is the only religion which enables you to talk to God freely and informally at any time about absolutely anything. There is no correct way to pray, but common stereotypes suggest you should be kneeling with your eyes closed and your hands clasped together in front of you. Many people like to pray this way, especially in church, but God will hear your prayers no matter what you’re doing, who you’re with, or whether you say them in your head or out loud.

What do Christians pray about? You can pray about absolutely anything. You may ask why we should bother to pray if God already knows what we’re thinking, but it’s a form of open communication. You may know something about someone else, and they may know that you know it, but you would feel better if you communicated openly about it between the two of you. This is what it is like when you talk to God.

There are four topics commonly covered in prayer:

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  1. Praise
  2. Asking
  3. Confession
  4. Thanks

Or, as I like to call it, making a PACT.
These four things are explained in detail below.

One of the things people do in prayer is praise God because there is just so much we can admire about Him. The fact that He loves us no matter what, will never leave us, provides all the things we need, and even that He gave us life in the first place. The book of Psalms in the Bible is full of praise for God too, and is often used as the basis of some prayers.

God is a Father, and just as we might ask our earthly fathers for things, God is no different. God will not impose Himself upon us so often He does not give us things until we ask Him for them. This can be done through prayer. Obviously God will not answer prayers which go against His will, so if you pray something which will bring another person down in some way, don’t expect your prayer to be answered!

The problem some people have with prayer is that their prayers of requests seem to go unanswered, but we need to remember that God can see the whole picture whereas we only see things from our own perspectives, and cannot see the future in the same way God can. So if we ask for something which does not seem to go against God’s will, but it still seems to be unanswered, it’s not because God hasn’t heard or God doesn’t care – He just might answer it in a way we don’t expect. Often the ways God answers prayers are far better than the way we expected Him to answer them!

Those who do not believe in God tend to only call upon Him in times of personal need and then they will only say prayers of asking. While God likes being asked for things, just like an earthly Father, He doesn’t appreciate that being the only reason for you talking to Him. A word of thanks wouldn’t go amiss afterwards.

It’s true – we all make mistakes. God is perfect but none of us is. Since God is above us in that respect, we don’t really deserve to have the relationship we can with Him, but God loves all the people He’s made so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die in our place and make us right with God. But this doesn’t happen unless we accept it. God has given each and every one of us the chance to apologise for our mistakes so we can have them forever erased from our history, but first we have to accept that Jesus was able to take our sin from us.

Once that has been accepted, you can ask God for forgiveness through prayer.

This is a common stumbling-block for many non-Christians as they don’t see any reason why they should admit that they’ve been wrong to an entity they can’t even be sure exists. If there’s a chance that He doesn’t exist though, why should it matter if you apologise to something that doesn’t exist? At the most, you’ve wasted a couple of minutes of your time… However, if God does exist, then by admitting your mistakes to Him, which He knows you have anyway, He will always be more than willing to forgive you. There is nothing too big for God to forgive, not even crimes like murder.

Many of us often ask for things but forget to say thank you on receiving what we’ve asked for. Prayer is no different. While God likes it when we ask God for things, once He has given them to us, a word of thanks is always well received. Remember that God is personal, so just as people like to be thanked after they’ve given, God is no different. He deserves our thanks for a lot of things which we don’t ask for, but this probably fits better under the heading of praise.

The Structure of Prayer
As mentioned earlier, there is no correct way to pray, and God will hear it no matter what you say in it, even if you think it sounds lame or trivial.

Prayer is like a free 24/7 hotline which has no waiting and needs no hold music! So if you awake in the middle of the night and want to talk to God, do so! If you want to talk to Him whilst going to work, getting dressed, eating dinner, etc. He will hear you and will be happy to listen to you.

Some churches like to have prayer books with pre written prayers in it which can be said in a service. These are good because the congregation can follow along, but at the same time, they seem a bit wooden after a while.

Prayer should be heartfelt, even if it’s only a couple of words like “Help me!”
However, some people struggle to pray, but Jesus provided an example of how to pray.It is called the Lord’s Prayer.

Matthew 6:9-13 New International Version (NIV)

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,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
The word “Amen” is usually said at the end of a prayer. Literally it means “So be it”, and is, according to Nelson’s Compact Bible Dictionary, “a solemn word by which a person confirms a statement, an oath or a covenant”.

While we can all pray individually, God also likes it if we come together in prayer and pray about the same thing. Some churches and Christian groups encourage group prayer because it helps share thoughts and form stronger bonds between us.

Can I pray? Yes. It doesn’t matter who you are – God will hear you if you decide you want to talk to Him. He loves you and wants you to talk to Him, so if you have doubts that He will hear you, explain that. Go, find yourself somewhere quiet and just let what’s going through your mind be expressed openly. I think it is a good thing that nothing can be hidden from God as it means that nothing will shock Him if you want to talk to Him about it. There are things that each of us would never ever want to tell any other person, but we could quite happily tell God. Trust that He will listen to you, and talk to Him as if you were talking to a close friend. There is no style too informal for God to understand, and he doesn’t need to get out a translation dictionary either!