Such a simple question with a myriad of answers available to the child of God. An answer that, to be honest, will always be lacking when it comes to our privilege in communing with our Creator. No person should ever be able to say that they invested the proper amount of time – or the intensity of praise and honor our Lord deserves – in his or her prayer life.
Every now and then, I will find that a study I undertake will end up impacting me more than I ever anticipated, and this would be one of those occasions. In full disclosure, prayer, for me – when it comes to making time and staying focused – can be very difficult. I imagine that this is often the same experience for my beloved brothers and sisters as well.
When it comes to our prayer life, as fallen creatures, we all fall short to differing degrees in connecting with our God and Savior; an enterprise that is much more for our benefit than for His. To know and understand that the Creator of the universe is accessible to His creatures 24/7/365 should be awe-inspiring, to say the least!
An important note on prayer is that any prayer that involves an Eastern meditation technique – commonly known as Contemplative Prayer or Centering Prayer (and Spiritual Formation in apostate seminaries) – is strictly forbidden for the child of God. If you or anyone you know has fallen prey to this deception, please take heed and immediately end the practice and/or urgently warn those who have been deceived by this doctrine of devils that opens the door to contact with demons. Meditation, in the Biblical sense, is thinking and contemplating on the Word of God, not emptying and clearing one’s mind and opening oneself to the demonic spiritual realm.
Let us see if we can encourage each other to reach new heights in our earnest desire for an active, efficient, and fruitful prayer life as we examine what the Scriptures teach us regarding prayer and offer some practical helps along the way.
‘The Lord’s Prayer’
What is commonly known as The Lord’s Prayer is actually not a prayer of Jesus Christ but rather a model of how one should pray to God. It is essentially a divine outline for the child of God. There is an order to how we should direct our prayers to the Father, and this is the flow that our Savior recommended to His disciples as He taught them this divine outline for prayer.
“After this manner therefore pray ye…” – Matthew 6:9a
Here is our confirmation that The Lord’s Prayer is a model for the believer on how to pray, “after this manner.”
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” – Matthew 6:9b
The first item for us to acknowledge in our prayer to God is His preeminence in everything. He is supreme and sovereign in all and is to be revered!
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” – Matthew 6:10
The second observation is that we acknowledge God’s plan of consummation. When His “kingdom come[s],” it will be achieved in the Eternal Kingdom, on a new earth, under new heavens, in the New Jerusalem, where God’s Kingdom of heaven is with man and where righteousness will forever reign. The Eternal Kingdom will finally be realized and will be “done in earth” just “as it is in heaven.”
This is His will, and this should be our will as well.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” – Matthew 6:11
Next, we are to pray for our own temporal provisions. These can be varied and will often change, dependent upon our needs throughout our lives. In this, when we acknowledge that God is our true Provider, we show ourselves to be fully trusting in Him and His provisions for all of our needs – even in times of want.
“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12
Because we are fallen creatures, even after we come to Christ for salvation, we will sin against God and against others; though a Christian never lives in perpetual sin. When we confess our sins against God – and every sin is a sin against God first and foremost, in addition to those we sin against – then we can surely expect His full pardon based upon what Christ has done for us (1 John 1:9).
We are also to forgive others for their sins against us.
[Please see The Challenge of Forgiveness for more on this topic.]
“And lead us not into temptation [or testing], but deliver us from evil [or the evil one] …” – Matthew 6:13a
Without getting too deep into this verse, we know that God does not tempt anyone. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:13-14).
“Temptation” in this verse is better rendered “testing.”
Remember, there is not anything that Satan can do to the believer that God does not allow. Think of Job. God allowed Satan to severely test and personally inflict pain and suffering upon Job through trials and tribulations.
In all, the petition from the believer to God is that God would shield him or her by not leading or allowing any temptation or testing from the evil one and to ultimately be delivered by God Himself.
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” – Matthew 6:13b
Finally, we are to conclude our prayers with praising and glorifying our God and Savior for all He is, all He has done, all He is doing, and all He will do!
This is the model for prayer that our Lord gave His disciples – and, by extension, us – when they asked Him how to pray. This is obviously a divine outline for how to frame our prayers to God.
Prayer to Begin Each Day
We should all strive to commence each day with a prayer.
To begin each day, I have found that praying and asking the Lord to fill me with His Holy Spirit to guide and lead me throughout the day has proven to be very powerful for me personally. That is, it can be very beneficial when I remember to offer this prayer!
Along with this petition, I like to ask that the Lord, through His Holy Spirit, give me a sensitivity to all that is occurring in front of me and around me, an understanding of why everything is occurring, and wisdom for what I should do in every situation that the Lord divinely puts into my path.
But when it comes to our prayer life throughout the day – for our prayers do not cease after our morning prayer and devotionals – Paul has a few commands for us to consider.
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;” – Colossians 4:2
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
‘Continue in Prayer’ and ‘Continuing Instant in Prayer’
The Greek word for “continue” in Colossians 4:2 and “continuing instant” (literally, being constant) in Romans 12:12 is 4342 προσκαρτερέω “proskartereó” and means to attend constantly, to be earnest towards, i.e. (to a thing) to persevere, be constantly diligent, or (in a place) to attend assiduously all the exercises, or (to a person) to adhere closely to (as a servitor) — attend (give self) continually (upon), continue (in, instant in, with), wait on (continually).
Right out of the gate, most of us should find ourselves in a deep hole with much room for improvement! But do not fret, beloved. In our Christian walk, we will never lose the opportunity to do better this side of heaven. This is a fact of life for the believer. Just acknowledging that we can do better is a tremendous first step.
So, as we make our aim to constantly and earnestly attend to prayer and communion with our Father God, through His Son and our Savior, we should find ourselves setting goals – realistic and achievable goals. Here are just a few helps I would like to share with you.
One thing I try to do in this area is to make every attempt to constantly talk to the Lord throughout the day, thanking Him for everything and telling Him that I love Him. Being consistent in this will inevitably lead me to begin to pray for others who the Lord puts on my heart.
When someone or something is put on our hearts, we should do something about it and pray! I cannot tell you how many times someone or something has been put on my heart, and the next thing I know, it is no longer there. Have I missed an opportunity? I absolutely have!
Sometimes we can get so into our day that, as we have a passing thought of someone or see someone, we just do not think about our opportunity to pray for them. The opportunity is always there; we just need to take advantage of it, and it should not take much time. A quick, short prayer can be very powerful.
Another example of how we can be constant in prayer is to pray for just about anything and everything that crosses our paths during our day.
For instance, I will often pray for the person or persons in medical or physical distress – as well as their family and friends – when I hear the siren of an ambulance or firetruck. I do not know these people, of course, but God does!
First, I pray that if they or their family members do not know the Lord, that this incident will bring them to faith in Jesus Christ. Next, I pray that if they do know the Lord, that this incident will bring them and their families closer to Him and each other, and bring those who do not know Him to salvation through the event.
Lastly, I pray for their well-being and that they do not die or are seriously injured – all ending with the petition that Lord’s will be fulfilled.
Can you think of any other common, everyday situations where we can be better about offering prayers to God on a continuous basis?
‘Watch in the Same’
We should all be watching for what the Lord will do with the prayers that we offer up to Him. I am telling you the truth when I say that God does answer prayer! Oh, how many times have I missed seeing this truth? This is where faith comes into play.
We must believe that the Lord will answer prayer. It is not that God answers prayer only when we believe; no, that is not the case at all. But it is because of our belief in God answering our prayers that we are able to see the answers to those prayers!
And always, dear Saint, offer those prayers in trustworthy thanksgiving.
If there is one other thing that we all could never fully attain to, it is the act of thanking the Lord enough in everything He does for us – the seen and the unseen.
Just thanking the Lord for all His amazing gifts and graces would take up our entire lives. But do not worry, as we get to thank our Lord forever! Although we would be ever so foolish not to get started now with all due diligence.
Very similar to our opening verses, as we observe the same admonitions, is 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18.
“Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
‘Pray Without Ceasing’
Just in case we missed it, “Pray without ceasing!” This Greek word for “ceasing” is 89 ἀδιαλείπτως “adialeiptós” meaning uninterruptedly. Properly, nothing left between, i.e. without any unnecessary interval (time-gap). — without ceasing.
In addition to attending to prayer constantly and earnestly, we are to pray without interruption and without ceasing.
This is one of the most difficult aspects of prayer for me, and I have heard the same from many other brothers and sisters. Interruptions and/or our wandering minds has got to be the most frustrating attribute to our prayer lives. The interruptions will come, and we just need to be diligent to work through them.
But when it comes to our wandering minds… Well… We all know. We’ve all been there. We need to focus! We need to be on point and persistent in our effort!
We should all have at least one time per day that we really give it “our all” in communion with God. This is why we really need to find a time that works best for us when it comes to our daily personal prayers that we lift up to the Lord, and be conscientious to develop a routine and stay committed to that timeframe each and every day.
‘In Every Thing Give Thanks’
Again, this is so desperately important! We should not only give thanks for everything, but we need to give thanks in everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Have you ever given the Lord thanks when you have been brutally beaten up by disease or physical infirmity? How about intense family disputes or being wronged by a friend or foe? Well, to be sure, when we are going through these difficult situations, we may not be able to muster up a heartfelt thanks to God. Although, believe it or not, we are often able to, if we are given wholly over to the Lord.
But if we are not thanking the Lord after our deliverance, then we need to check our “giving thanks in everything” meter. The truth is, when we are experiencing trials and tribulation, God is working mightily on our behalf. And, if we are staying close to the Lord, we should be able to see the eternal fruits of these bad and ugly times that only our Creator can accomplish.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” – 1 John 5:14-15
‘Confidence… According to His Will’
Here is the key to all prayer: God’s will.
How can we know God’s will? Know the Bible! How can we know if we are in the Lord’s will? Know the Bible! If we saturate our minds, souls, and spirits in the Word of God on a daily basis, it would be impossible not to know the will of God.
The easiest way for a child of God who is new to the faith to know the will of God is to consider their own salvation and how much it cost the Son of God to redeem them. Therein lies God’s foundational will, that all be saved and come to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
Saint, please read your Bible daily in prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in all truth and understanding, and you will know for a certainty God’s will.
“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” – Mark 11:24
Certainly not a selfish desire, but a godly desire that is in tune with our Creator and Savior.
Our Desire Must Be God’s Desire
Through personal experience, I can honestly share with the reader that when your desires are in-sync with God’s desires, your prayers will be heard, and they will be answered – guaranteed!
They may not be answered in the way or in the timeframe that you expect, but they will be answered.
Do not forget that “No” is also an answer. When we are truly locked into God’s desires, it can be rather rare to get a “No” response. But it does happen. So always be on the lookout for that “No” answer, which, obviously, is a little harder to discern. When we do receive a “No” response to our prayers, it will always be for our own good, even though we may not understand it at the time.
‘Believe… and Ye Shall Have Them’
Belief and trust are the hallmarks of a truly faithful life and should be foundational to our prayer life. Believe that because you are in the Lord’s will and that your prayers align with His Word, every petition you ask will be heard and answered in due time.
Belief is intrinsically linked to the wisdom of God, and that wisdom is imparted by the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” – James 1:5-6
God is generous with His wisdom, Saint, because He is generous with His love and mercy.
“… men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” – Luke 18:1b
Indeed, making the time to pray can be difficult in our fast-paced world. We should endeavor to prioritize our day by making that time available to us when we are least able to “faint.”
The Greek phrase for “not to faint” or “not lose heart” is “enkakein” with the root word 1573 ἐκκακέω “ekkakeó” (from 1537/ek, “out from and to” and 2556/kakós, “inwardly bad”), (by implication) to fail (in heart) — faint, be weary – properly, to be negatively influenced with the outcome of experiencing inner weariness. To be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted.
These are definitions of warnings!
May our Lord never find us in such a state. But how can we elude this condition? By prayer and staying continually in the Word of God!
I have found that when I am in the Word of God, prayer comes much more naturally with supernatural power.
Conversely, it is during those times when I find myself outside of my daily routine of reading the Scriptures that I find myself becoming faint, weary, spiritually exhausted, and utterly spiritless, where even the thought of dedicating time to prayer seems too much for my weary soul.
In the end, at least for me, prayer is directly tied into my personal study time in God’s Word.
As a Christian writer who studies, researches, and surveys the Scriptures, I have honestly found this to be incomplete when it comes to my desire to be a faithful prayer warrior. What I do as a Christian writer just isn’t the same as my personal study time in the Word. It just isn’t.
I need that time alone with the Lord and His Word, just reading the Scriptures as they were meant to be read. It is when I do this that I find myself rejuvenated and ready to take on the important spiritual task of praying.
Another key I have found is to find a time that your brain works best because you are going to need to be as alert as possible with all of the distractions that come from our enemy, the world, and those pesky thoughts that enter our brain at the most inopportune times. Everyone is different, so there is no perfect time to suggest. Some are at their best in the morning, others at night, and still others in the middle of the day.
My issue has always been to get myself to make that time, as I get so caught up in the ministry and Bible teachings. This is my goal in the days ahead when it comes to my own prayer life. What are yours?
Prayer Through Trials and Tribulations!
Paul and Silas, when they were imprisoned in a Philippian jail, set for us an example of how to pray through trials and tribulations.
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” – Acts 16:25
When Stephen was on the verge of death, he prayed to His Lord and Savior – and even for his murderers – with his last breath.
“And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” – Acts 7:59-60
Trials and persecutions, for the believer, should never be a time where prayer is an issue. In fact, it is usually in those times of trials and persecutions that we often find that our prayer life is the strongest. I would not be surprised if many of our trials and persecutions are allowed by God for this simple reason: we need to get back into prayer and fellowship with Him, and this is the way He gets our attention.
Praying for the Saints!
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” – Ephesians 6:18
In our little ministry, I have found there are so many hurting brothers and sisters in this fallen world that desperately need prayer. This is truly overwhelming at times.
I have heard that prayer lists really help, and I am seriously considering starting one. I probably should have started one a long time ago, but it is never too late.
When this becomes overwhelming, we can always pray in a collective manner. That is, praying in unity for the entire body of Christ and their collective needs. However, specific prayer for each individual is much better.
Praying for the Lost!
“The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” – Luke 10:2
When we go out into the world in our everyday lives, before we exit out of our homes, we should have already offered the Lord payer for the lost that we will come into contact with. And because we do not know who is saved and who is not, then we should want to come into contact with everyone we see!
If you are not witnessing, then you are not fulfilling the Great Commission and our Lord’s will. Please see Answering the Call of The Great Commission to get practical ideas on how you can be sharing your faith with the lost.
Praying for Each Other’s Faults!
“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.” – James 5:16
This verse is usually taken out of context, and people think they need to confess all of their sins to other brothers and sisters. What? Have our brothers and sisters become our intercessors between us and God – a role that only the Son of God has? Let it not be so!
This verse is speaking of “confessing [our] faults [false step, trespass] one to another” when we have sinned against a brother or sister. When we do this, together we “may be healed” and the relationships restored.
We can also pray for each other when a brother or sister is struggling with a sin (at their prayer request) – such as anger, impatience, unable to forgive another of a wrong, etc. – that we may be healed through our collective prayers. Not that collective prayer is any more heard by God than individual prayer, but there does seem to be a unique capacity given to a group in prayer when all are in collective agreement on any given issue.
The last sentence of this verse shows that individual prayer is also very powerful: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
Praying for Our Enemies!
“… I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” – Luke 6:27-28
Please see The Challenge of Forgiveness for more on this, the most challenging of all prayer for the believer.
Praying for the Spreading of the Gospel!
We opened our study with this verse; now let us look at the context.
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” – Colossians 4:2-4
Paul’s desire and our desire should be aligned with Christ’s desire: to preach the gospel to the lost and edify the body of Christ through love, encouragement, and the preaching of the Word of God.
Does this desire spark a fire in your soul to the point that you, like Paul, could find yourself “in bonds” for the sake of the gospel? Are you willing to speak as you “ought to speak” in the Name of Christ at all costs to yourself?
Thankfully, many of us will not find ourselves in this situation – though the chances that we may increase with each passing day – but we should at least be prepared to make this supreme sacrifice for our Lord if such a circumstance were to present itself.
Praying for All Men and Those in Authority!
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-4
So many of our leaders today seem so beyond hope and bent on destroying anything and everything that is righteous that it can be difficult to pray for them. But notice that this command is for us, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty!”
When it comes to praying for all mankind, this should be a little easier for us when we consider our own condition before salvation.
I don’t know about you, but I was pretty unlovable and didn’t have many redeeming characteristics before coming to Messiah Yeshua. Okay, I had none!
And that is my point. I am certain that there were people who prayed for me and my salvation when I was not deserving of either. I am sure people prayed for me when I put myself in situations that I should have never been in. I am sure people prayed for me even after I gave them nothing but torment and grief.
How about you? Does this ring true for you too?
Should not we do the same now that we have received the blessings of the prayers of others when we were so despicable and underserving ourselves? I would sure hope so. One good turn deserves another!
Remember: “[God]will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
The Holy Spirit’s Intercession for Us in Prayer
When we are consumed with grief and overwhelmed, we have the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf:
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27
And, of course, these verses lead us to Romans 8:28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Taken in whole – when it comes to prayer – we have a great responsibility and a privilege to be communing with our Creator and Savior as His beloved children who represent Him here on earth.
Does this statement sound awe-inspiring, breathtaking, remarkable, and humbling? It should because it is a truth that, sadly, often goes overlooked at the believer’s own peril. If we believe this truth – and we should – then why is it so difficult for us to pray?
Well, hopefully, after meditating on these Scriptures, it will not be so difficult for any of us moving forward. At least that is the goal of this article, and I pray it is an urgent reminder for all of us that we take our responsibility of prayer very seriously and take advantage of this immense privilege that we have.
As I mentioned at the top of this article, this survey has been very eye-opening for me, as well as very sobering and convicting. I can always do better. We can always do better. We should always be striving to do better. And my prayer is that we all do better as we move closer to our blessed hope.
And always remember, as we looked at earlier…
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – James 5:16b
Truly, there is no lack of who and what we are to pray for – and consider Who we are praying to! How can we not make the time and the effort?!?
“How’s Your Prayer Life?”
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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