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                                                                   BIBLE STUDY - PRAYER.

'Prayer is the breath of the soul'. The person that does not pray is spiritually dead. Prayer is to draw God the Father's attention. Prayer is to talk to God the Father. If one talks to God the Father one has to be in His presence. Someone once said that the best time to pray is at night when all the other brothers and sisters are asleep, that time God is not to busy. There are two ways to begin the day, with or without prayer. Are you living where God answers prayer? 1 Peter 3:12, "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers". There is mighty power in prayer. Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them". Do not limit your faith concerning anything that you want from God, if you do, you will receive a limited answer. When you pray concentrate on what you say and do not allow your mind to wander away from God. When you pray make sure that you do not carry on unless you are sure that you are in the presence of God. We can close our eyes to concentrate better but there is no Scripture that reads that we must close our eyes if we pray. We should not ask; how much time may I spend in prayer? We must ask, how much time may I spend in prayer without neglecting other duties in life? I am going to say something here; if you do not pray one hour out of the twenty four per day you are not even half a Christian. You may not like this but it is true.

WHO DO WE PRAY TO?

We read in Luke 11:1, one of the disciples said to Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray". We see in Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2 that Jesus said, "Our Father in heaven". The prayer of Jesus, the whole chapter of John 17, 'Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said; "Father, the hour has come". So we see that we pray to God the Father who is in heaven. But how can God the Father in heaven hear us? He is so far from us. The Holy Spirit, hears us, because He is here with us. Remember we are praying to God. To be able to pray to a living God is a privilege.

 

HOW DO WE COME TO GOD IN PRAYER?

1.  The answer to this we find in, John 14:6, 'Jesus said; "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me". Hebrews 10:19, 'Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus'. Then we read in John 16:23b, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you". So we come to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ and by His blood that justified us. A prayer that starts of like that will draw God the Father's attention immediately.

2.  Ephesians 2:18, 'For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father'. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to lead us into the very presence of God the Father. Many years ago I started praying by asking God the Holy Spirit to give me a warm feeling in my heart as a sign of His presence with me. I remember my mother teaching me to pray when I was about two years old. It went like this, "Liewe Jesus in die Hemel hoor 'n kindjie as hy bid, o vergewe al my sonde was my hartjie skoon en wit, Amen". At least that was a good start many years ago. The Holy Spirit helps if we do not know what to pray, Romans 8:26, 'Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered". See also Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20.

PRAY EARNESTLY:

We read in Luke 22:44, 'And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly'. It was said that Jesus prayed more than any person ever prayed on earth. Open your heart before God and be serious, pray from your heart. "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart", Jeremiah 29:13. The Holy Spirit is the only one that can guide us into a conversation with God the Father. 'The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much', James 5:16b. If you want something from God in prayer do not stop asking until you get what you want. Read what Jesus said in Luke 18:1 - 7.

James 5:16, ‘Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’. The prayer of a righteous man also draws others near to God,

 

Hebrews 7:25, opens the way to a spirit filled life, Luke, 11:13; brings people the Holy Spirit's empowering for service, Acts 4:31; builds one up spiritually, Jude 20; helps him overcome Satan, Ephesians 6:18; clarifies the will of God for one,  Psalms 32:6-7; brings him grace, mercy and peace, Philippians 4:6-7; brings him deliverance from trouble, Psalms 34:4 etc. There are many more accomplishments from prayer in scripture. There are more than 175 Scriptures referring to the power in prayer.

 

WHAT TO DO IF WE CANNOT MAKE CONTACT WITH GOD:

Have you ever had the experience, when you pray it seemed as if there is no one there? What shall we do at a time like that? Shall we stop praying, NO. This is the time that we really have to pray. The enemy is just trying to put a barrier between God and us. Ask the Holy Spirit to bulldoze Satan out of the way by the blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the one that teaches us how to pray and to lead us into the presence of God the Father. The Father knows what we need, even before we ask Him. The secret is God wants us to ask Him.

 

In the Lord's prayer, Jesus was teaching the disciples to pray, and He then illustrates for them by the parable of the friend at midnight that they can expect their prayers to be answered. The man in the parable got what he asked for because although it was midnight, he boldly and unashamedly went to his friend, knocked on his door and asked for it. Jesus promises that we can do the same with God. All we have to do is what the man in the parable did: ask, seek and knock. To summarize this parable, it teaches quite simply that, as the man who shamelessly dared to ask his friend got his request, so those who through prayer shamelessly ask, seek and knock will also get their requests from God, Mark 11:24, ‘Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them’.

 

We only have to make our requests known to God once, and if we have asked in faith, doubting nothing but believing we have what we ask for then we can rest assured that God has granted our request, and from then on we just keep thanking Him until the answer manifests itself John, 14:12-14, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it’. This teaches us that God is glorified in answered prayer. While we do not have to persist in praying for the same need over and over, we do have to persist in faith, and keep believing that God will meet our needs, and as they arise keep on petitioning Him for them, even though the answer may not immediately manifest itself.

 

THINGS THAT WILL PREVENT OUR PRAYERS TO BE ANSWERED:

Mark 11:25-26, ‘And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses’. We cannot afford to harbour unforgiveness in our heart toward anyone at all, regardless of the reason, if we want our prayers answered. God will not answer our prayers, and worse still neither will He forgive us our sins, so we are in grave danger of forfeiting our salvation if we do not forgive others. Jesus teaches us here that God's forgiveness, though freely given to repentant sinners, nevertheless remains conditional, according to their willingness to forgive others. Unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, jealousy, envy, backbiting, murmuring, hatred and murder are all related sins, and unless dealt with, will not only stop our prayers being answered but will, as with all other unconfessed or unrepented sins damn us for eternity; Matthew  18:21-22, ‘Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven’. Ephesians 4:32, ‘And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’.

 

WILL GOD HONOR MY PRAYER IF IT IS PRAYED IN MY HEART AND NOT OUT LOUD?

The answer to this is, for sure. Hannah was praying in 1 Samuel 1:12 - 15, 'And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk'. Verse 15b, 'I have poured out my soul before the Lord'. Read how Solomon kneeled and prayed in front of the altar in 1 Kings 8:22 - 54. There are many examples of how people prayed in the Bible.

 

Believers are to pray for all men - even those who misuse us and insult us Luke 6:28. We are to pray for those in Government and other high places and all positions of authority notwithstanding that they may enforce laws that directly oppose God's law. We can refuse to obey laws that oppose God's law, but we must still pray for the lawmakers, and those authorized to enforce the laws Galatians 6:2-5.

We must never forget that the law of sowing and reaping applies to every aspect of our Christian walk, and especially our prayer life, Philippians 4:19, ‘But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus’.  It is important that we understand the correct teaching behind this verse. It is often taken out of context in the belief that it is God's promise to unconditionally meet the needs of every professing Christian, but that is not correct. It only applies to those who give into the work of God, as the Philippian Church did, verse 15-19. The Philippian Church had supported Paul financially when he started up the Church in Thessalonica and Paul was assuring them that as they gave so liberally to fulfil his need so God would also give liberally to fulfil theirs. This illustrates for us the law of sowing and reaping which is highlighted right throughout scripture, Psalms 41:1-3; Proverbs 21:13.

That is why it is so important to encourage new Christians and those weak in the faith to thoroughly immerse themselves in the word. It is only prayer based on His word that will prevail with God. We learned this earlier, 1 John 5:14-15, but it does us no harm to go back to scriptures - that is the only way they can end up abiding in us. It is only by constantly meditating on, and hearing the word that faith builds up in our hearts to energize our prayers, and make them fervent before God, Matthew 12:34-37. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, and if our hearts are filled with faith then our prayers will be faith filled and assured of God's answer.

IN CONCLUSION:

We need God the Father to pray to; we need Jesus Christ to pray through and we need to pray in the Holy Spirit. So the prayer to God the Father; through Jesus Christ His Son; under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit, is the prayer that God the Father answers.

Prayer essentially is communion with God - a desire to enter into conscious and intimate relationship with Him who has saved us from death and has given unto us eternal life, Psalms 40:1-3; 63:1-8; 73:25-26. Prayer is also adoration - the praise of God for His greatness and goodness and for who He is, Psalms 9:1-12; 33:1-9. Prayer is also thanksgiving - the outpouring of gratitude to God for His grace, mercy and loving-kindness Psalms, 30:1-12; 65:1-3. Prayer is confession - the acknowledgement of sinning against God, and seeking His forgiveness, Psalms 51:1-17; 1 John 1:7-10. Prayer is petition - a plea for personal needs to be met, Matthew 6:9-15; Philippians 4:6. Prayer is intercession - an appeal to God on behalf of others, Romans 10:1; Ephesians 1:15-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 4:1-4, 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Finally, prayer is submission - the abandonment of self-gratifying desires to allow God's purpose to be fulfilled in our lives, Luke 22:42; 2 Timothy 2:19-21; Hebrews 12:1-11; James 4:6-10.

We also learn that for prayers to be answered there are conditions to be complied with. Prayer avails only as sin has been confessed and renounced by the one praying, Psalms 32:1-7; 66:18; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 59:1-2; 1 John 1:5-10. Prayer avails only as it comes from a forgiving heart, Matthew 6:12-15; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25-26. Prayer avails only as it is made in a context of harmonious human relationships Matthew 5:23-24; Ephesians 4:31-32; Hebrews 12:14-15; 1 Peter 3:1-12. Prayer avails only as it accords with God's will, 1 John 3:19-22; 5:14-15. Prayer avails only as it is made in faith Matthew 17:20; Mark 11:22-24; Hebrews 11:6; James 1:5-7; 5:14-15.

Christians must never think that they have outgrown the need for prayer - the Bible makes it quite clear why: prayer is commanded by God, Psalms 32:1-6; 105:1-4; Isaiah 55:6; Amos 5:4-6; Matthew 26:41; Ephesians 6:17-18; Colossians  4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is the major outworking of God's redemptive plan from the human standpoint, Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

'Prayer is the breath of the soul'. The person that does not pray is spiritually dead. Prayer is to draw God the Father's attention. Prayer is to talk to God the Father. If one talks to God the Father one has to be in His presence. Someone once said that the best time to pray is at night when all the other brothers and sisters are asleep, that time God is not to busy. There are two ways to begin the day, with or without prayer. Are you living where God answers prayer? 1 Peter 3:12, "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers". There is mighty power in prayer. Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them". Do not limit your faith concerning anything that you want from God, if you do, you will receive a limited answer. When you pray concentrate on what you say and do not allow your mind to wander away from God. When you pray make sure that you do not carry on unless you are sure that you are in the presence of God. We can close our eyes to concentrate better but there is no Scripture that reads that we must close our eyes if we pray. We should not ask; how much time may I spend in prayer? We must ask, how much time may I spend in prayer without neglecting other duties in life? I am going to say something here; if you do not pray one hour out of the twenty four per day you are not even half a Christian. You may not like this but it is true.

WHO DO WE PRAY TO?

We read in Luke 11:1, one of the disciples said to Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray". We see in Matthew 6:9 and Luke 11:2 that Jesus said, "Our Father in heaven". The prayer of Jesus, the whole chapter of John 17, 'Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said; "Father, the hour has come". So we see that we pray to God the Father who is in heaven. But how can God the Father in heaven hear us? He is so far from us. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father hears us, because He is here with us. Read my Bible studies on 'God and man', 'The Holy Spirit' and 'God the Father". Remember we are praying to God. To be able to pray to a living God is a privilege.

HOW DO WE COME TO GOD IN PRAYER?

1.  The answer to this we find in John 14:6, 'Jesus said; "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me". Hebrews 10:19, 'Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus'. Then we read in John 16:23b, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you". So we come to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ and by His blood that justified us. A prayer that starts of like that will draw God the Father's attention immediately.

2.  Ephesians 2:18, 'For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father'. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to lead us into the very presence of God the Father. Many years ago I started praying by asking God the Holy Spirit to give me a warm feeling in my heart as a sign of His presence with me. I remember my mother teaching me to pray when I was about two years old. It went like this, "Liewe Jesus in die Hemel hoor 'n kindjie as hy bid, o vergewe al my sonde was my hartjie skoon en wit, Amen". At least that was a good start many years ago. The Holy Spirit helps if we do not know what to pray, Romans 8:26, 'Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered". See also Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20.

PRAY EARNESTLY:

We read in Luke 22:44, 'And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly'. It was said that Jesus prayed more than any person ever prayed on earth. Open your heart before God and be serious, pray from your heart. "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart", Jeremiah 29:13. The Holy Spirit is the only one that can guide us into a conversation with God the Father. 'The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much', James 5:16b. If you want something from God in prayer do not stop asking until you get what you want. Read what Jesus said in Luke 18:1 - 7.

WHAT TO DO IF WE CANNOT MAKE CONTACT WITH GOD:

Have you ever had the experience, that when you pray it seemed as if there is no one there? What shall we do at a time like that? Shall we stop praying, NO. This is the time that we really have to pray. The enemy is just trying to put a barrier between God and us. Ask the Holy Spirit to bulldoze Satan out of the way by the blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the one that teaches us how to pray and to lead us into the presence of God the Father. The Father knows what we need, even before we ask Him. The secret is God wants us to ask Him.

WILL GOD HONOR MY PRAYER IF IT IS PRAYED IN MY HEART AND NOT OUT LOUD?

The answer to this is, for sure. Hannah was praying in 1 Samuel 1:12 - 15, 'And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk'. Verse 15b, 'I have poured out my soul before the Lord'. Read how Solomon kneeled and prayed in front of the altar in 1 Kings 8:22 - 54. There are many examples of how people prayed in the Bible.

SUMMARY:

We need God the Father to pray to; we need Jesus Christ to pray through and we need to pray in the Holy Spirit. So the prayer to God the Father; through Jesus Christ His Son; under the guidance and in the power of the Holy Spirit, is the prayer that God the Father answers.

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