You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures(James 4:3, New King James Version). Whenever you see a qualifier, an adjective, such as praying amiss in the above verse, it shows that the opposite value is possible; that is, it is possible for us to pray aright, which would of course then be followed by answered prayers. Because of questions that people have asked over the years regarding their unanswered prayers, this topic is particularly important and will be addressed as answers to some of those questions. The answers will resonate with you.
What Is Prayer? In its simplest form, prayer is a conversation with God; it is interacting with God. As you do so, you get to know Him more and more – like a couple – when one of them has been deployed overseas, the marriage may fall apart unless they both know that they have to keep their communication line open. Prayer is a believer’s only weapon against an unjust world.
Keep in mind, everybody prays, but to whom they pray is what makes the difference. For example, my councilman sends me reminders – I could go there and ask him to do something for me, praying him to do something for me – believing he has powers to influence things in my favor. In that sense, all political activities represent prayers, to your elected representative. In court, your defense lawyer may pray the court to grant a pardon. A beggar, like the man in front of the temple, was praying the temple-goers for hand-outs. Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms (Acts 3:1-3). He was praying outside the church. However, his attention was fixed, not on God but on men, believing he would receive help from Peter.
How Do We Pray? Believers can pray from the heart, freely, spontaneously, and in their own words. There is no correct or certain posture for prayer. You may pray with your eyes open or closed, quietly or out loud, however you are most comfortable and least distracted. And please don’t yell at God; He says that He is not deaf, Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear (Is 59:1, Amplified Classic Version).
How Long Should You Pray? This is a thorny question because some of us believe that we have to pray for a good longtime for our prayers to be effective. A rule of thumb is that If you discover that you start to repeat yourself, you are spending too much time on prayer already even if your church prescribes a longer period. Here is how Jesus explains that point.“When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again." (Matt 6:7, New Living Translation). Pray as long as you need to, in order for your petition to be heard.
Who Should Pray to God? Believers. God does not hear the cry of the wicked (unbeliever), Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. (John 9:31). Do you think all is right with our nation? God does not either, so He gives us, Christians, not Moslems, the mandate and responsibility to pray, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (1 Chron 7:14). This passage makes it quite clear that how our nation turns is on us and us only, as we obey God in 4 ways.
Turn from our wicked ways;
Seek His face;
For What Do We Pray? O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come. (Psalm 65:2). God answers prayers! And so, we should be careful what we pray for. Remember, Elijah prayed for death and he got it. The Lord‘s prayer in Luke 11:2-4 is the framework of all prayers, described with the acronym ACTS which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. The last thing you do in your conversation with God is asking, after you have adored Him, confessed your waywardness and thanked Him for all His goodness; then you ask for help. God is our Father, not Father Christmas.
Are There Examples of Prayers In The Bible?
Jehoshapaht’s prayer in 2 Chron 20:12, O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.
Solomon asked for God’s Presence and for wisdom in 1 Kings 3:7-9, Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted. Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?
And of course the ultimate prayer is that of Jesus in John 17:24-26, “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
When Should We Pray? ASAP. For the believer does not mean as soon as possible, but “Always say a prayer”, Pray without ceasing. (1 Thess 5:17). It is best to pray, not after we land in trouble as we tend to do, but before trouble comes; Jonah is a good example of post-trouble prayer, said in the belly of the fish. You do not learn to sail a boat in a storm, you learn before the storm hits; it is the same with prayer.
Why Bother To Pray? God says that He knows what we need, so why should we pray? This question is usually asked by people who think that prayer is just about asking, but as we saw earlier, you can pray for a whole hour before you even get to asking. So we must pray to build a relationship with God, the lover of our souls. If you did not have regular conversation with your spouse, the relationship would suffer. Secondly, God said to pray and therefore it is a sin of disobedience not to.on a more selfish level,
We pray so that our joy may be full - John 16:24
We pray so that we can overcome temptation - Luke 22:40
We pray to have and enjoy peace in a turbulent world - Phil 4:6-7
Why We Do We Pray So Little?
We are afraid that that God will speak and get us to change. You cannot pray if you are unwilling to change.
We are looking for God to change the other person.
Pride will keep us from asking for help.
Unconfessed sin will keep us from praying - John 9:31 The first prayer point if you have sin is to confess it, then God will hear your other prayers.
Sometimes it is due to discouragement; we lose heart that God did not hear the earlier ones.
What If I Don't Know How to Pray? Romans 8:26-27 says that the Holy Spirit will help you in prayer when you don't know how to pray. Ask Him.
Conclusion: James 4:1-3 says that the reason you do not have is because you do not pray