Monday, June 22, 2015

What is Prayer?

I pray that all is well with YOU.

As I address this topic of Prayer, I have to put a disclaimer of sorts---I have struggled for years regarding this.  I knew from a very young age that prayer was something I should do every night before I laid down to sleep at night. I knew that it was also something I did to thank God for my food before I ate.  Finally, I understood that my prayers were usually something that was rehearsed or memorized and they never changed from day to day.  My bedtime pray was "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen"---that is what I said night after night.  As I got older I would visit churches of different denominations and I would hear prayers being offered to God with requests of all sorts.  Some would be for the healing of Cancer, deliverance from depression, asking for a financial blessing etc.  I was surprised because the most I had ever done in church was recite "The Lords Prayer" that is found in Matthew 6.  Never had I realized that I could ask God for anything!!  My "ignorance" about prayer continued until I was invited to church one day in 1991, and heard the Pastor say that we all needed to have a personal relationship with Jesus so that God could hear our prayers!!!  Talk about surprised---I not only wanted to have a personal relationship with Jesus----I also wanted Him to hear my prayers!!! I wondered for minute "Just who was I praying to for all those years?  Was I just wasting my time?  Is that why when I committed offenses I did not have any regrets?   Is that why sometimes I felt so sad that life was being unfair to me?" 

So lets begin the investigation of "What is Prayer" as defined by the Holy Bible.  The first prayer started in Genesis in the days of Enoch--"when men called upon the name of the Lord" (Gen. 4:26) Ever since then--prayer has always been an expression of faith and worship of God. In the beginning prayer was all about "atonement" and "thanksgiving".  Many prayed for forgiveness while offering sacrifices, while others thanked God in prayer for everything.  There was always a morning prayer as well as evening prayer---sometime later a mid-day prayer time was started.  So three times a day many prayed to God.  Prayer was usually done while standing with arms uplifted towards Heaven, then later some began to kneel and some would even lay face down in an act of humbling themselves before God. 

In the New Testament the disciples of Christ asked Jesus to teach them to pray in Matthew 6. This may have been because they saw that their prayers were different to what they were observing Jesus doing.  It was not that they didn't pray because that is assumed because they were Jews, it had to be that the new something was different when Jesus prayed.  So they asked Him and He taught them how to pray.  Please note, that the prayer found in Matthew was for the disciples---it was never meant for all believers to continue reciting this same prayer.  Jesus was still alive when He taught them how to pray to God the Father.  He later taught them that whatever they would ask His Father for--in HIS NAME after He departed that He would hear and do it. (John 14) Although there is no "certain" format for our prayers now---other than praying in Jesus name--we have no access to the Father except through Jesus---and knowing Him as Savior is the only way to pray to God.  The first time prayer for anyone is to ask Jesus for His forgiveness of sin--Repent.  Second, tell Him that you believe that He is who He said He was---the Son of God--Believe.  Thirdly, welcome Him as Lord of your life---RECEIVE.  It is my belief that after this is done---a "prayer" relationship with God through Jesus His SON is established. 

The next important thing we must understand--is that our prayers to God are a form of worship!! We must be clear in our understanding that all communication to God is worship and prayer is the highest form.  We are taking our "petitions" to the all knowing, all powerful, ever present Almighty God.  I do not believe that this is taught enough today----we must respect who God is when we pray.  Prayer can be the best thing we do each day or the worst---if we don't respect God.  Our prayers can bring us closer to walking in the light of God or it can cause us to walk in despair.  Our prayers should always contain a word of thanks and praise for what God has already done---and for who He is.  Our prayers should always have an acknowledgment of the sacrifice that Christ bore on the cross.  I know most people have gotten away from this as well---but without the sacrifice on the CROSS there would be to HOPE for our prayers to be answered.  Our prayers should always have a moment of pause---reflection or inflection--take your time---the Bible says sometimes the Holy Spirit tells us what to pray for.  And finally, we must always pray for God's will to be done.  If you are one who only prays for your will to be done---then STOP praying and repent.  If we had "our will" about everything this world would be in chaos.  Think about it--we would all be rich Kings and Queens with large Kingdoms.  What's wrong with that you ask---well for certain, we wouldn't need God for anything if that happened. 

I thank God every day for taking me from a being a person who repeated the same prayers every day out of habit----to the person who now has a personal relationship with Him.  I now understand that I can pray anytime of day.  I know that Jesus is the only person who can get me to God.  There is no other way!!!  Prayer is available to anyone today as long as we understand how awesome it is and the Awesome God that we are praying to---and that without a relationship with Jesus our prayers are not being heard.  Taste and see that the Lord is GOOD---start with a prayer of repentance. 

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