Prayer is the privilege of every believer. It is communication with God, and it is absolutely necessary for the Christian to live the life for which they were destined.
I. What Is Prayer?
When we pray, we are communicating with God. It is His divine will and heart’s desire that we stay connected to Him through prayer. Intimacy is impossible without communication.
We get to know others by communicating with them. Can you imagine not having the ability to speak to your spouse, friends or co-workers? Communication allows us to express what is in our hearts to those around us. It is the means by which we work through conflict and strengthen our relationships. It allows us to empathize with each other and give comfort. When friends share a heartfelt talk, it is that communication that brings them closer. Communication allows individuals to share thoughts and unite to accomplish a common vision. It is an avenue by which we make exchanges of thought and intent with one another. It allows us to express and meet needs, to give support, and to grow in unity.
God greatly desires to communicate with us on matters big and small. He wants to speak to us simply because He loves us and desires to be close. Also because He wants to meet our needs and help us accomplish the purpose He has given us. It is the Holy Spirit inside of us that enables us to communicate with God. We can give and receive of God through His Spirit. We know that He has a plan for each of us and prayer enables us to live it out.
1. Prayer Is Asking
One of God’s covenant names is El Shaddai which means ‘Abundant God’. He is able to meet all of our needs. We need only to make a demand upon Him. Prayer is withdrawing from God’s sufficiency. This is why communication is important. The only way to get what you need is to ask.
In Luke chapter 11 the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. He gives them an outline for how to pray. He then emphasizes how God feels when we ask Him for things. Jesus makes it clear that God delights in answering our prayers and meeting our needs because we are special to him (5-13). If you are a parent, you delight in being able to meet the needs of your children. You wouldnt hold it against them that they depend on you for things like food and shelter. And doesn’t it warm your heart to watch their excitement when you get them gifts? That is how God feels with us. It is not burdensome for children to depend on their parents, and it is not a burden to God for us to depend on Him. He is delighted when we come to Him, and He is more than able to meet our needs. Jesus said, “It is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
If you don’t have children, think about a close friend. If your dearest friend came to you in the middle of the night needing your help, you wouldn’t bolt your door and ignore them. You would help them because they are special to you. These are the examples Jesus uses to help us understand why God is willing to answer our prayers and meet our needs. Notice these key scriptures about prayer:
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).
A. “__________ and it shall be given you… every one that ______________ receiveth” (Matthew 7:7-8).
B. “If we ask ___________________ according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the ____________________ that we desired of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
Keep in mind that we need to know what the will of God is in order to ask for it. Part of the prayer outline that Jesus gave the disciples included, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Luke 11:2).
He is telling us to call for God’s heavenly will to happen here on earth. The will of God is found in the Word of God. That is why praying the Word works. It is important to confess the Word over ourselves and others. Words have power that is often underestimated. When we confess the Word out loud, we are releasing our faith.
Prayer should be to the Father (Acts 12:5) in the Name of the Son Jesus (John 14:6,13,14) by means of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26-27) and in accordance with the Word of God (John 15:7, 1 John 5:14,15).
2. Prayer Is Interceding
Intercessory prayer involves petitioning God for the needs of others. This can be for salvation, healing, wisdom and all manor of things. God has intent and a purpose for every person alive. He has the corporate purpose of salvation for humankind. There isn’t a single soul that God does not want to be saved. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
Intercession is when you pray for others as an act of your own will. It does not involve anyone else telling you exactly what to pray for them. True intercession is prayer for another based solely on your own initiation. The Bible says that Jesus sits at the right hand of God continually making intercession on our behalf. If God tells us to intercede for each other, He’s going to do it too! God keeps His own commandments.
3. Prayer Is Thanksgiving And Meditation
Prayer may include praise, thanksgiving and adoration. There is no better way to open the door for God’s blessing in our lives than to be thankful for what He has already done. An attitude of thankfulness produces joy and keeps our hearts in line to continue receiving God’s blessings. Thanksgiving is a way we can enter into God’s presence.
A. “Enter into His gates with _____________________ and into His courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4)
II. Why Should We Pray?
We should pray because we cant succeed in life without God’s help. We pray because it invites God into our lives and gives Him an opportunity to show His love for us. Prayer allows us to experience God in a way we never thought possible. It is our lifeline and our only way to bear good fruit.
A. God commands us to pray. “Pray without_______________________”(1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus said that men ought always to_________________ (Luke 18:1).
B. Prayer is God’s appointed way for believers to receive from Him. The Bible says that we don’t have things simply because we haven’t_________________ for them (James 4:2).
C. Prayer is a way out of trouble and a cure for all anxiety. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing (don’t worry) but in every thing by _________________ and supplication with thanksgiving let your ______________________be made know unto God.”
D. Prayer is God’s way for us to be full of joy. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your_______________may be full” (John 16:24).
III. Practical suggestions for learning how to pray
A. Determine to spend some time each day in prayer. The beginning of the day is ideal. Jesus is our example in this (See Psalms 5:3).
B. Choose a place where you can be alone. Matthew 6:6 says to enter into your _________________ and _________________ the door.
C. Talk aloud to God about your personal needs as you would talk to your parents. Praying audibly in private will help your mind not to wander and help you to pray in public.
D. Make out a prayer list of requests for yourselves and for others. Pray for your family, relatives, your pastor, church members, the work of the ministry, political leaders and for the unsaved.
IV. Hindrances To Answered Prayer
Some things can cause us to get out of line with God and can actually hinder our prayers. If we find we are guilty of anything that may hinder our prayers, we need to repent. The Bibles says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us. True repentance will restore our prayer life. Notice these scripture references:
A. Handling the relationship with your spouse the wrong way hinders your prayers(1 Peter 3:7). This includes husbands failing to take their rightful place as head of the family (Ephesians 5:23-25), husbands failing to honor thier wives (1 Peter 3:7) and the lack of proper child-parent relationships (Ephesians 6:1). Discord in the home grieves God.
B. Unpaid debts hinder the answer to prayer (Matthew 5:23-24).
C. Unforgiveness grieves God and hinders prayer (1Timothy 6:10).
D. Covetousness hinders prayer (1 Timothy 6:10).
E. Self-will, rebellion and disobedience hinder prayers (1 Samuel 15:22-23).
F. Indifference to God’s Word and will hinders prayer (Proverbs 28:9).
G. Unconfessed and unrepented sin grieves God and hinders prayer (Psalms 66:18).
H. Wrong motives in praying will hinder prayers (James 4:3).
V. How To Pray Prayers That Get Results
The best, most sure way to get results in prayer is simply to pray the Word of God. Psalm 107:20 says He sent His Word to heal us and to deliver us from our destructions. In His infinite wisdom, God has given us a life-manual in the form of the Bible. When Jesus was born in the earth, He was the manifested Word of God (John 1:1,14). After His death and resurrection, God put all that glory back into His Word. The Holy Spirit can lead us to scriptures that are saturated with the ability to change our lives. We need only to pray them in faith and to believe them. The Spirit in us responds to His Word because it bares record in Heaven and is the final authority to God (1 John 5:7).
Lets say you’re dealing with sickness. You can look in the Word and find that sickness is not God’s will for any believer. Therefore pray, “God I thank you that you said you wish above all else that I prosper and be in health (found in 3 John 1:2). You said that the prayer of faith would save the sick (James 5:15) and that by the stripes of Jesus I am healed (1 Peter 2:24). I believe this and claim it over my life in Jesus name, Amen.” Prayer isn’t so much about posture and length as it is about where your faith is being placed. The following are a few points to keep in mind when praying to get results.
1. Come into agreement with the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost
We must remember that God is Holy, and that there is no other like Him. His thoughts and ways of doing things are much higher than ours. We need to bring our thoughts in line with His. Notice what God says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”(Isaiah 55:8-9). He comes right behind this and makes a point about His Word.
A. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud…so shall my____________ be that goeth forth out of my mouth: It shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it ”(Isaiah 55:10-11).
God uses an analogy of heaven and earth to compare His thoughts to ours. When we pray, we need to agree with the thoughts that God has toward us- thoughts that are forever settled in heaven. By doing so, we take the pressure off ourselves and put our hope in what God has already said. He promised us that His Word world work!
B. 1 John 5:7, “There are three that bear record in heaven, the ________________, the _____________, and the _______________________________________: and these three are one.”
This verse is telling us that the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost are bearing the same record in heaven; they are in perfect agreement or oneness. Therefore a sure way to agree with heaven, and to line your prayers up with the Father’s will, is to pray the Word.
C. Jesus said in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my ________________abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
2. Jesus’ Instruction For Prayer
Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. If there is any example that we should follow as Christians, it should be Jesus the Christ. Read over Matthew 6:9-13. Here, Jesus gave us an outline of how to pray. He was not necessarily telling us to pray these exact words, but rather, pray “after this manner.” It is an outline of prayer.
A. EXAMPLE OF PRAYER: (Follow Matthew 6:9-13 for prayer outline.)
Start off a prayer by addressing our heavenly Father. Then magnify His name through worship and thanksgiving. Call on His kingdom. The kingdom of God is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Jesus said to “seek first the kingdom” in Matthew 6:33.
Next pray for His will to be done on earth (in our own lives) as it is in heaven. This is where your knowledge of the Word comes in. We read earlier how His Word gives us His thoughts and how it bears record in heaven. Notice, we are not praying, “Lord, if it be your will that I die in this sickness, let it be done”. Instead pray, “Father, I thank you that your Word declares that by the stripes of Jesus I am healed (Isaiah 53:5) and that you wish above all things that I prosper and be in health” (3 John 2). That is praying God’s will!
Then pray for provision, much like Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I am praying, “Father, I thank you that you have supplied all of my need according to your riches in heaven” (Philippians 4:19). Then I forgive others and ask for forgiveness. “Father, I thank you that I have forgiveness, for you said if I would confess my sins that you would be faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Then just began to worship and magnify God.
Be sure to declare the Name of Jesus throughout the prayer. This is key because Jesus said, “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 anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14). Always pray in the Name of Jesus!
3. The Intercession of the Holy Spirit
A. Romans 8:26, “Likewise the____________________ also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for_________ with groanings which_____________________be uttered”.
Notice the wording, “the Spirit itself.” This is a prayer of intercession made by the Holy Spirit alone. It doesn’t say “the Spirit, along with our help…”. It says “the Spirit itself.” The Holy Spirit alone makes this intercession for us. This verse is so often misunderstood. The word intercession is defined as “prayer or petition on the behalf of another.” That’s what the Holy Spirit does; He prays constantly on our behalf! The Bible teaches that Jesus is at the right hand of God doing the same- constantly making intercession on our behalf (in agreement with the Holy Spirit). When we pray to God, Jesus can say, “this one is mine. He/she has beleived on me.” He is confessing us before His Father and, in turn, God sees us through the righteousness of Jesus.
B. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make ______________________________for them”. ( Hebrews 7:25)
Re-read Romans 8:26. Notice that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. The word groanings comes from a Greek word ‘stenazo‘ which means ‘inaudible prayers’. That is explained in the last words of this verse, “with groanings which cannot be uttered…”. The Word is telling us that these groanings cannot be heard audibly.
The word uttered is translated from its original Greek word “alaletos” which means ‘unspeakable’. The intercessions of the Holy Spirit are inaudible and unspeakable. It is a mistake to believe that the Holy Spirit needs your assistance in making these prayers!
1. A. Ask, asketh
B. Anything, petitions
3. A. thanksgiving
A. ceasing, pray
C. prayer, requests
B. closet, shut
1. A. Word
B. Father, Word, Holy Ghost
3. A. spirit, us, cannot