The privilege of prayer.

phipps

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What is prayer?

Prayer is opening our hearts as we would to our best friend. It is how we communicate with God. As mysterious as it might seem to talk directly with the Almighty, the Bible assures us that prayer is a two-way conversation between God and us. Prayer does not bring God down to us but brings us up to Him. Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's store house where all the boundless resources of our loving Heavenly Father are kept. God is more ready to hear us than we are to ask.

John 15:13-17, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another." God wants us to be His friend.
 
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phipps

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The Bible tells us that we can share everything with God in prayer. "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah" (Psalm 62:8). God is willing for us to come to Him in all circumstances, however small they may seem, however overwhelming or sinful and just tell Him everything. He is a refuge for us. What a wonderful invitation!

Does God hear us if we pray to Him? "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. ... This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Psalm 34:4, 6). God heard the poor man in His troubles and He will hear our prayers too, but we need to meet the conditions.

When we pray we should believe that God will answer our prayers. "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24). When we pray, we should believe and we will receive. This applies particularly to those personal things like asking for forgiveness, or the power to overcome sin.

We cannot ask God for the wrong things and they must never be selfish. The Bible says, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3).

Matthew 26:39, 42, "He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” ... Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Jesus showed through His example of prayer that we should pray according to our Father's will. He would not grant a prayer that would harm us. He loves us and knows what is best for us.

What prayers can we be sure will always be answered? 1 John 5:14 says, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." If we ask anything according to His will, God hears us.
 

phipps

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Scripture on why God may not hear and answer everyone's prayers.

Psalm 66:18,
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear."

Proverbs 28:9, "One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination."
The prayers of those who refuse to follow God's ways are an abomination - a loathsome thing.

John 9:31, "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 15:7, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you."

John 15:10, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love."

1 John 5:14-15, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."


If we have cherished sins in our lives, and refuse to give them up, or if we are doing things we should not be doing, and are disobeying Him, we cannot expect Him to answer our prayers. He cannot answer our prayers if we have sins in our lives that are unconfessed or if we are hanging on to cherished sins. Also, if we refuse to forgive others who have wronged us, God cannot hear us (Matthew 6:12; Ephesians 4:32).

This is not saying you can earn God’s favour to answer your prayers, it will always be Jesus’s blood that makes us worthy; but we do need to do our part if God is going to work in our lives.
 

phipps

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Right way

As posted above, God has certain conditions that must be met before our prayers can be answered. One of the first, is we feel our need of help from Him. Isaiah 44:3 says, “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground." The heart must be open to the Spirit’s influence, or God’s blessing cannot be received. One cannot pour water into a cup that is already full.
 

phipps

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His time, His will

God is a God of love, and He is interested in every detail of our lives. He hears our prayers, and answers every sincere prayer if we meet His conditions. We must not expect that every answer will be "yes", since we are sinners and do not always ask what is best for us. Sometimes His answer is "No" and sometimes it is "wait" (Hebrew 10:36). We need to end each prayer with, "Not my will but Your will." Even if we are sincerely doing God’s will, and to the best of our ability, following His will for us, He may see that it is best for us not for Him to say "yes" at this time. We must continue trusting Him, regardless of His answer at the moment.

God's timetable is not the same as ours. He knows better than we do when is the best time for our prayers to be answered (Hebrews 6:13-15). God is eternal and does not measure time as we do. 2 Peter 3:8, "Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

In the story of Abraham, God promised a son to him. But Abraham became impatient when Sarah didn‘t bear him a son, so he took his wife’s servant as his wife. Abraham tried to solve the problem in his own way and the result was disastrous. We are still seeing the results of his mistake today. God eventually answered his prayer at the time when He saw it was best for Abraham.

For God to give us what we ask for, we must ask "according to His will." Faith cannot take the place of "asking according to God's will." 1 John 5:14, "…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." If you do not ask according to God's will, it is not real faith in God. If God's answer is "No" we still must be willing to wait patiently, and trust God to answer in His own way and in His timing.
 
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Alanantic

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Prayer is trying to talk telepathically with one's God. I've been waiting to hear back for almost 70 years.
 
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In the story of Abraham, God promised a son to Abraham. But Abraham became impatient when Sarah didn‘t bear him a son, so he took his wife’s servant as his wife. Abraham tried to solve the problem in his own way and the result was disastrous. We are still seeing the results of his mistake today. God eventually answered his prayer at the time when He saw it was best for Abraham.
Yup, also the story of Rachel getting impatient because she couldn't have children, so she had her handmaid sleep with Jacob. The result was Dan.(Genesis 30:1-6).

Does the antichrist come from the tribe of Dan?

Genesis 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

Private interpretation incoming: this is why i think that it is not ok for Christians to do technological creation of children, like IVF, besides the fact that the majority of he embryos created end up being desteoyed. Sometimes when praying for a child the answer is "not yet", and that should be accepted with humility.
 

phipps

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Yup, also the story of Rachel getting impatient because she couldn't have children, so she had her handmaid sleep with Jacob. The result was Dan.(Genesis 30:1-6).

Does the antichrist come from the tribe of Dan?

Genesis 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

Private interpretation incoming: this is why i think that it is not ok for Christians to do technological creation of children, like IVF, besides the fact that the majority of he embryos created end up being desteoyed. Sometimes when praying for a child the answer is "not yet", and that should be accepted with humility.
I don't know what God meant about what He said about Dan but its not part of the twelve tribes in Revelation. I think (I'm not sure) it was one of the first tribes to introduce idol worship into Israel. The only way I can think of how the tribe of Dan is related to the antichrist is through idolatry. Idolatry is interconnected around the whole world that in some regions pagan gods share the same names.

I agree about IVF and the embryos that get destroyed. That too is abortion because in the Bible God says He knew us before we were ever born (Jeremiah 1:5).

We indeed should wait upon the Lord and sometimes the answer to having children is "no" too.
 
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phipps

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Types of Prayer

There are different types of prayer we may use in different occasions/settings. Some of the types of prayer include:

Intercessory prayer. This is when we pray on behalf of someone else who is in need. Whether it’s spiritual or physical, intercession is praying that God will work in their life.

An example of this type of prayer is when Abraham pleads with God for the city of Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33). Or when Moses prayed that his sister Miriam would be healed (Numbers 12:13). Another time was when he stood between the gap for the Israelites when they had worshipped the golden calf (Exodus 32:11,14). Moses was praying for God to have mercy on the Israelites!

These examples are all glimpses of the ultimate intercessor. “…Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). Jesus prayed in John 17, not only interceding for His disciples but, for everyone who would believe in Him through their word. His desire was for them to be saved; to experience unity with God and with each other (John 17:21).

Why intercessory prayer is important for the Christian today is because when we pray for others, we are asking for God to work in their life. This can be a way in which believers can join Christ in His work of saving souls for eternity. Paul exhorts Timothy, “…that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1).

Not only is it a privilege to intercede for others, but it is a duty that God gives to Christians. Today we can intercede for family members, friends and colleagues. We can pray for God to work in their lives, bringing them to salvation.


Prayers of forgiveness. This is when we come to God with a sincere and repentant heart and ask for His forgiveness for our sins.

We see this so clearly in the life of David when he prayed and sought forgiveness from God. He said, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (Psalms 51:10-12).

When Daniel was praying to God, confused about a vision and prophecy, he pleaded for forgiveness. He realized that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), but through forgiveness we can find peace, understanding, and guidance.

“O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Daniel 9:19).

Pauls writes to the church of Colossae and encourages them to bear …with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:13).

It brings great joy to our heavenly Father for us to experience His forgiveness. And we can also experience a calming joy when we forgive those who do wrong to us.

Praying for forgiveness is so important for Christians today. In the journey of sanctification and becoming more like Christ, there will always be times when we mess up (Proverbs 24:16). It’s through seeking and receiving God’s forgiveness we learn to yield to His authority (Psalms 130:4) and find grace for victory in the Christian life (1 Corinthians 15:57).


Corporate prayer is when we pray with a group of people unified in one accord. This may be when the family comes together to pray, perhaps during worship.

We find a prominent example of this when the apostles came together in preparation for the day of Pentecost. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers… When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 1:14; 2:1).

In the life of Christ we find He saw importance in corporate prayer. “Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray” (Luke 9:28).

Praying together with others leads to revival (2 Chronicles 7:14). And in doing so we, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).


Secret or personal prayer is when we pray alone. This prayer is the most important prayer for the Christian. It is the strength and life of the soul.

For, when we come with our lives opened to Him, the Bible says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). We can lift our prayers to God in the secret place or when we are walking in the street.

If there’s a perfect example of secret prayer, it’s in the life of Jesus. He constantly would be taking the time to find a secluded place and call upon the Father (Matthew 14:13; Luke 5:16, 6:12, 22:41-42). Even in the busiest or most distressing times, Christ could be found in prayer.

This is a strong message for us today. We can pray a silent prayer in the busiest of circumstances. And we can know God inclines His ear to our petitions (Psalm 116:2). When we pray, we receive power for the Christian life. By abiding in prayer throughout the day, we can walk with Christ and bear fruit to His glory (John 15:4-5).

Jesus said, “when you pray enter into your own room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place” (Matthew 6:6).

In the Bible there was not a particular posture in which worshippers were required to pray. Postures are important only to the extent that they are the external expression of reverence, inner feelings, and commitments to the Lord. One posture was not large enough to encompass all of those experiences. Hence, we find in Scripture a diversity of options and possibilities.
 
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phipps

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Practical Prayer From the Life of Christ

The Bible tells us that if we desire to abide in Jesus, we should align our lives with His (1 John 2:6). This means that His life is our example. We can look to Him each day and behold His words and His actions. In choosing to live like Christ, the Spirit of God will supply the strength needed (2 Corinthians 3:18; Acts 5:32).

Here are some practical prayer points that you can consider and practice:

“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35).

“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

- Jesus would rise early in the morning to pray and seek His heavenly Father.

- Jesus found a quiet and solitary place to pray.

- Jesus would often pray throughout the day.

“Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray“ (Luke 9:28).

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).

- Jesus not only prayed alone, but He prayed with others.

- Jesus prayed for people by name.

- Jesus prayed that others may deepen their connection with God.

The prayer life of Christ can both be inspiring and, at times, seem overwhelming. The simple point here is the Saviour of humanity saw the need to pray earnestly and constantly. How much more do we need prayer?

We can seek God with reverence, acknowledging Him as the creator—yet He even says He is our Friend (John 15:15)! We can pray earnestly to truly know Him and His ways.

God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Christ can save all who approach God by Him, and we can approach Him through prayer (Hebrews 7:25).

Through prayer, we can receive the power to be aligned with God. We can experience His life-changing presence in our lives.

Even though it’s easy to get busy, prayer is something God wants from us and it’s something that can do a tremendous amount of good for us! Imagine what it would be like if we truly brought everything to God in prayer.

As the old hymn says,

“What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer.
oh, what peace we often forfeit;
oh, what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry

everything to God in prayer.”
 

phipps

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Pray without ceasing

One of the reasons we feel our prayers are not being answered, is because we stop praying. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says it best, "pray without ceasing." Paul is more direct in Philippians 4:6, “...in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

In reality, we should not be worried so much about if God hears our prayers – He does and He does care. What we should be worried about is if because of temptations, hard times, and trials we get discouraged, and give up praying. In Luke 18:1, Jesus, “spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart."
 

phipps

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How does prayer “work”?

When we say our prayers to God, all of heaven cooperates with us to bring our petitions before God. We’ll see how:

Prayer is a way for humans to stay connected with God. But the Bible says that our “iniquities have separated us from God” (Isaiah 59:2).

That’s why we need an intentional link on our part to connect us to God.

First, the Holy Spirit helps us to present the prayer before God in an acceptable way, "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. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (Romans 8:26-27). The Holy Spirit “makes intercession for us”. He does this by working on our hearts, helping us to pray sincerely, with gratitude, and according to God’s will.

Then Angels bear our prayers to heaven. The Bible refers to them as ministering spirits sent forth to minister to [us] who will be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

Even the childish needs of little children are carried to heaven by angels.

That’s why Jesus cautioned that little children should not be despised because “in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father” (Matthew 18:10).

After the Angels take our prayers before God, Jesus takes them up as our only “mediator before God and men” (1Timothy 2:5).

God’s love for us is so great and unconditional. And no matter how good we could be, we could never earn such great love from Him. So, it’s not because of our goodness that we are accepted before God but because of Christ’s righteousness.

Just like the priests used to burn incense while the people prayed outside the sanctuary (Luke 1:10).

The sweet smell of the incense would ascend together with the prayers. So Christ mixes our prayers with His righteousness to make them acceptable before God.

He shows that He paid the price for our sins, reconciling us to God by His blood that was shed at Calvary for our salvation.

This is what makes us “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). Now, you understand why Jesus said, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you” (John 15:16). He is our only mediator before the Father.

But asking in the name of Jesus does not mean just mentioning Jesus’ name in our prayers. It involves praying in the mind and Spirit of Jesus while believing in His promises.

God “the Father Himself loves you” (John 16:27). He is eagerly waiting to hear us talk to Him. Just like a father enjoys hearing his child talk to him about anything.

They can talk about their little joys and frustrations, or just their expression of love and appreciation for their father’s care, protection, or simply their comforting presence.

We too can talk to God about the simplest or most complicated things in our lives. And He’ll gladly answer you in His great wisdom, as He sees fit.

The answers to the prayers follow the same cycle from God, to Jesus, to the angels, and lastly to you (Revelation 1:1).

As you have seen, each of us has the privilege of praying to God, just as a child can approach his father in the most personal way. In the book of Hebrews, we read that we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Human intervention isn’t needed in the prayer cycle. The Bible doesn’t ask us to pray through saints or priests. Instead, it warns us against praying to or worshipping through the dead, even if they were considered saints (Isaiah 8:9).
 

phipps

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How many times should I pray in a day?

As many times as you can. If you have a trusted friend, you will not want to limit your time with him. You will want to talk to him as many times as possible.

We are encouraged to “pray without ceasing” (1Thessalonians 5:17).

This doesn’t mean that we should devote every moment of our days to kneeling down in formal prayer. Instead, we should be in constant communication with God (Romans 12:12). We can do this by giving thanks to God for the blessings that He has given us, and involving Him in all that we do and seeking to be in harmony with His will (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

But it’s good to have a number of times in a day that we dedicate to prayer. Here are some examples of when people had specific hours of prayer in the Bible:

- Daniel used to “pray three times in a day” (Daniel 6:10).

- The Psalmist also said, “evening, and morning and at noon will I pray” (Psalms 55:17).

- In the old temple times “the people were praying outside at the time of incense” (Luke 1:10).

- The disciples “Peter and John went to the temple in the hour of prayer being the ninth hour” (Acts 3:1).

It is good to have specific times for prayer for accountability purposes. That way, it’s easy to notice when we miss our prayer times. In fact, it can become one of our good habits.

So, whenever we miss saying our prayers, we will notice it. Then we can go back and see what distracted us, and get back to communicating with God. We communicate with Him by talking to Him in prayer, and listening to His voice when we read the Bible.

In all our situations, we can pray. And we can do it anytime.

Paul tells us that “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
 
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phipps

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Is there a specific position for praying?
There isn’t an exact position that we are required to assume while praying. What is most important is that we realize that prayer is talking to the God of all the universe. So, we must have an attitude of reverence every time we pray (Psalms 111: 9).

And God understands our most personal circumstances. He knows that we need to pray while we’re driving in our cars, while in the middle of a tough work situation, or while we’re rocking a crying baby.

If you have a problem with your knee, you don’t have to kneel and endure a season of prayer in pain!

Or if you are in a public place and you feel your need to say a prayer, you can just go ahead in the most unnoticeable way. Just like Nehemiah did while standing before the Persian king (Nehemiah 2:4).


Here are examples of prayer positions in the Bible

Kneeling down
This is the most common reverent position for both public or private prayer. Because kneeling symbolizes respect. So in the context of prayer, it shows acknowledgment of God’s authority.

In Luke 22:41, "Jesus “knelt down and prayed.” And in several instances, the disciples also “kneeled down and prayed” (Acts 9:4; 20:26; 21:5).

Paul even says, “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:14).

Of Daniel it is written that he kneeled down upon his knees three times a day and prayed” (Daniel 6:10).

And the Psalmist calls us to “kneel before the LORD our maker” (Psalms 95:6).

Bowing down
Bowing down before someone is an act of worship, because it symbolizes submission, gratitude, and respect.

When Abraham’s servant saw that his prayer had been answered, “he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth” (Genesis 24:52).

Lifting up hands
This is a sign of surrender. When we lift up our hands in prayer, we show that we can do nothing unless we receive God’s help.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul said that “men [should] pray everywhere lifting up holy hands” (1 Timothy 2:8).

Looking unto heaven
When done reverently, looking unto heaven is a sign of dependence on God.

In John 17, Jesus “lifted up His eyes to heaven” and prayed. Also, when He resurrected Lazarus, “Jesus lifted up His eyes” and prayed (John 17:1; John 11:41).

And in the story of the tax collector whose prayer was accepted, we are told that he “would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven” (Luke 18:13).

This means that it was common to look up while praying.

Lying flat
This refers to stretching yourself out on the ground with the face looking downwards. It is a sign of reverence or submission.

Again, we find an example in Jesus for this prayer position. He “fell on His face and prayed” (Matthew 26:39). And Ezekiel the prophet also records that he prayed in this position. He says, “I fell down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice and said, Ah Lord God!” (Ezekiel 11:13).

This often happened during very sincere prayers, sometimes out of desperation. These people’s actions demonstrated their total dependence on God.

Standing
Sometimes you might be in a situation where people are asked to stand during a prayer.

The Bible tells us that Nehemiah prayed silently as he stood before the King (Nehemiah 2:4).

And in the story recorded in Luke 18, both the Pharisee and the tax collector stood while praying (Luke 18:11, 13).

Also in the Old Testament Sanctuary services, the Levites were required to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening” (1Chronicles 23:30)

Sitting
This is the position that King David assumed when he prayed to acknowledge the covenant that God made with him (2 Samuel 7:18,27).

It’s not mentioned much in the Bible. But considering that sitting is a common human posture, people must have prayed this way many times.

While laying in bed
This position isn’t talked about as much in regards to prayer. But when King Hezekiah was sick and about to die on his deathbed, he “turned his face to the wall and prayed unto the LORD” (2 Kings 20:2).

As you have seen in the examples above, there is a way that we should come to pray to God because “the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3).

But beyond outward positions and manners, God looks for a broken spirit and a humble heart. David says this, “the Lord will not despise” (Psalms 51:17).
 
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phipps

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Are there prayer models we can adopt in the Bible?
Yes there are.

The Lord’s prayer and the ACTS prayer models.

1. The Lord’s prayer
This model was taught by Jesus Himself to His disciples. Once when they saw Him praying, “one of the disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).

So, Jesus taught them the Lord’s prayer to be used as a model.

It’s not meant to be repeated over and over, but it reveals a pattern of prayer. That is why Jesus replied, “After this manner therefore pray ye...” (Matthew 6:9). Let’s look at this blueprint for prayer to learn how God wants us to come to Him.

The makeup of prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is comprised of seven petitions, which are divided up very much like the Ten Commandments. The first three petitions are God-ward—vertical—and the last four petitions deal with the horizontal relationships we have with others. Likewise, the first great commandment is to love the Lord, and the second great commandment is to love your neighbour. God should come first in our prayers; His counsel and will should be the great priority in our lives. But we must also not neglect our relationships on earth, which is why Jesus’ model includes those around us.

Right now, we’ll concentrate on those first three petitions, and later, we’ll look at our prayers concerning our friends, family, and neighbours.

First, let’s consider that these first three petitions to God have a unique relationship to the Godhead. The first petition deals with the Father, “Our Father … Hallowed be thy name.” The second petition deals with the “kingdom;” that’s the Son. Jesus spoke many parables about the Son going to receive a kingdom, and coming back as the King of kings. Without Him, we couldn’t even come to the Father. And concerning “your will,” who is it that leads us into the will of God? The Spirit, the one who impresses on us the will of God and the love for Christ. It is the Spirit who gives the power to do the will of God. And so you have the Father, the Son, and the Spirit represented in the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.
 
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phipps

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Addressing our God as a family
God as a Father is a theme that runs through the entire Bible. He is the creator of all life, and the protector of His children. In the Old Testament, His list of names includes: “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6). He is powerful and omnipotent, yet He is also the all-sufficient provider. Taken together, He surely is the God of the universe ruling from heaven, but we can still approach Him personally as our Father.

Even better, “Our Father” tells us that we are received as children of God. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). God is willing to adopt us into His family. What a beautiful truth! “Our Father” says we can share in the inheritance He gave through Christ—that we are a part of the heavenly family. The Bible says, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father … give good things to them that ask Him” (Matthew 7:11)? We can go to our Father knowing that He has the very best gifts in store for us. The very phrase “Our Father” is clothed with love. He’s someone who we can safely approach with love, even when He disciplines us. Proverbs 3:12 records, “For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.” Psalm 103:13 adds, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.” This also means that we are a family of brothers and sisters, praying to “our Father.” He’s not just my Father; He’s your Father too.

This brings to mind another reason why this prayer is such a great pattern for us. Notice the word “I” doesn’t appear in the entire prayer! We all typically pray frequently using “I” or “me,” but in this prayer, it’s a collective. In our culture, we get the equation upside down; it’s you, then your friends, and then God. In the Bible, the priority is reversed. Love the Lord, then your neighbour, and then you. (If you need an easy way to remember, just think of J-O-Y. That’s Jesus, Others, and You!)

“Hallowed be thy name”
So we have approached God because He’s our Father in heaven. And our first petition to our God is “Hallowed be thy name.” Now the name of God is a central issue in the great controversy between good and evil. The whole purpose of the plan of salvation is to defend the glory of God.

The devil has slandered God’s name. Do you know someone who has said, “If God is love, then why do innocent children die?” Insurance companies call earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters “Acts of God.” What kind of reputation does that give God? The devil is a master at smearing the character of our Father. He has God, the good, wonderful, loving, longsuffering, merciful One, portrayed as a cruel, indifferent tyrant arbitrarily punishing His creatures. God’s name has been defiled by the devil.

Thus the purpose of the Christian, by God’s grace, is to defend the name of God as much as we can, to reveal who He really is. Unfortunately, we need to pray “hallowed be thy name” because we’re not very good at it. Even in the Bible, we see God’s own people do more to dishonour His name than the full-fledged pagans. And times really haven’t changed much since antiquity.

Remember, we said the Lord’s Prayer somewhat mirrors the Ten Commandments. The third one commands, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). Using God’s name in profanity is only one small part of breaking this commandment. But taking God’s name is like a wife taking her husband’s last name. When you’re a baptized Christian, you take the name of Christ, but if you live like the devil after you’ve taken Christ’s name, you’re taking His name in vain. Who does more harm to the Christian cause the pagans or professed Christians who live like the world?

Christians should be advertising for the goodness of God, but in many cases Christians do more harm. Instead, all around the world, we see professed Christians attacking and killing others, such as in Ireland, Africa, and Croatia. What does that do to God’s name? Jesus says, “Love your enemies … overcome evil with good” (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:21). Christ is slandered because of the bad behaviour of those who take His name in vain. So “Hallowed be thy name” is asking God to help us, in word and deed, honour His precious name.

“Thy Kingdom come”
We are in the middle of a battle between two kingdoms. An enemy kidnapped the world when Adam and Eve surrendered the dominion that God had given them over the earth. Ever since, the priority of God’s children has been to “seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

Of course, we must make two distinctions when we speak of God’s kingdom—the spiritual and the physical. We know that the spiritual kingdom of God is very much alive in the world today, because Luke 17:21 says, “The kingdom of God is within you.” When Jesus began preaching after His baptism, He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). This aspect of the kingdom is available now. If you have accepted Christ into your heart, then He reigns from His throne in your heart. Paul says, “Let not sin … reign in your mortal body,” but rather let Jesus be your King and rule over all that you do (Romans 6:12). That’s the first kingdom we should seek after: God’s spiritual kingdom within our hearts.

But someday the meek will inherit the earth and God’s literal kingdom is going to rule over this world with a very real and physical kingdom. Do you think we would need to pray, “Thy kingdom come,” if God’s kingdom was already established? When Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, as recorded in Acts 1, the disciples asked, “Will You at this time restore the kingdom?” Jesus answered, “It is not for you to know times or seasons” (Acts 1:6-7).

The central message in the book of Daniel is that the kingdoms and idols of the world, whether they are made of gold, silver, bronze, or clay will all disintegrate before the Rock of Ages—the kingdom of God. “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).

For the time being, we are ambassadors of another empire, advertising for a kingdom that will someday fill the earth. Christ said, “I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon me” (Luke 22:29). When the thief on the cross turned to Christ and said, “Lord, remember me when you come into Your kingdom,” he accepted Christ as his King (Luke 23:42). That’s why he’ll be in the kingdom, because he had the spiritual kingdom that begins in your heart.

The phrase “the kingdom of God” is found 70 times in the New Testament. Why? Because there are two kings at war, Jesus and the devil, who says he’s the prince of this world. That’s why we still need to pray that His kingdom will come: first within us, then someday around us.
 
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phipps

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“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”
Contrary to popular belief, God’s will in this world is not always being done. I respectfully disagree with the notion that everything that happens is in accordance with the Creator’s will. When something bad happens, like a tornado, you inevitably hear someone say, “Well, it must have been the will of God.” I don’t believe that’s what the Bible teaches, and if that’s really true, why would God have us pray that His will be done?

Conversely, not everything that appears to be good is from God’s storehouse either. Sometimes the devil may even cast prosperity in someone’s path to stall or derail their longing for God. You and I have no idea what’s going on behind the spiritual veil, which is why we have to pray, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”

You and I naturally have our wills twisted and confused by our carnal desires. We need to pray that God’s grace and His Spirit will guide our wills into conformity with His. We also need to learn what His will is for us, and we find the best expression of that in the Word. For beginners, the simplest form of God’s will is called the Ten Commandments. “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). So when we pray “Thy will be done,” we’re really praying that His will be done in us through submission and obedience.

Of course, Jesus is the perfect example of doing God’s will here on the earth. In John 6:38, He proclaims, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” In the garden of Gethsemane, facing separation from the Father, Christ petitioned God three times with, “Not My will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Is it always easy to do God’s will? No. If it was a tremendous struggle for Jesus, we will also need to pray, “Thy will be done”.

“Give us this day …”
Bread represents many things in the Bible. First, “daily bread” means the provisions necessary for sustaining life from day to day. Of course, this is a pattern of prayer, so it doesn’t mean that you can’t also pray for water, clothing, and other needs. When we pray for our daily bread, we’re really asking God to supply the basic necessities of our everyday lives.

Should a wealthy person with their cupboards full still pray “Give us this day our daily bread”? Yes, absolutely. Never take the blessing of basics for granted. Remember Job’s full barns were all lost in one day.

God is telling us that we should feel confident to come before our Lord, asking Him to fulfil our needs. Of course, He is already well aware of these needs, but He wants us to know that it is He who provides all truly good things for His children. For instance, when the Jews went through the wilderness, they prayed for food, and God rained manna from heaven, showing His continual, loving provision. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask—He wants you to!

Remember, though, that when we pray, “Give us … our daily bread,” it doesn’t mean that God expects us not to go out and earn it. Some people think they can pray the Lord’s Prayer and then sit back and do nothing, expecting Him to answer. When the Lord rained down manna, the Jews went out to collect it. They didn’t lie back with their mouths open, waiting for it to fall directly into their mouths. Notice too that the manna fell outside the camp; it didn’t rain on their tents. Part of getting the bread is going out and harvesting it where we work. After that, the Jews had to knead the manna and bake it; only after working could they consume their daily bread. We must likewise invest ourselves in the process and not become lazy with the Lord’s blessings. Don’t forget that giving us our bread day by day also includes this understood caveat: “six days shalt thou labor.”

“… our daily bread”
Is food all that is entailed in “daily bread”? As with most lessons in the Bible, “our daily bread” has a very important spiritual application. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus teaches, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” using the word “bread” to describe all the temporal needs of humanity.

Most important, He would later say, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). Christ was not speaking only of our physical needs, but instructing us to invite God into our hearts every day. The bread represents Jesus, our spiritual food, which is far greater and more fulfilling than any physical bread on earth.

How often do we need to be spiritually fed? All through its sacred pages, the Bible speaks of praying daily. “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray” (Psalm 55:17). Daily bread, daily communion with the Lord, should be our top priority. Why do we not say, “Lord, give me a month’s supply”? Most of us don’t fret from day to day that the refrigerator is going to be empty, so we don’t often appreciate the implications of praying for daily bread. Although those who lived through the Depression may understand such a concept, few Americans today, living in a society of such massive abundance, have ever really struggled from day to day searching for something to eat. In fact, some of us have months of food in the pantry.

But many of us don’t have even a few minutes of spiritual food stored up in our hearts and minds. Which bread is more important, the physical or the spiritual? How many of us have a month’s supply of spiritual bread? We need to collect some every day. You can’t live tomorrow solely on what you’ve collected today. Some have a few calories stored up, having memorized Scripture, and it’s going to come in handy, but if you want your Christian experience to be vital and full of life, you must have daily devotions. You’ve got to go out and gather that spiritual manna. One final thought: The Bible doesn’t say, “Give me this day my daily bread." Rather, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s our bread, friend. It’s not my bread. We ought to be as concerned about the needs of others as much as, or more than, our own.

Scripture teaches, “Bear ye one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). We should be doing that physically, assisting the weak by offering our resources and our strength to help them. We should also do it spiritually, by lifting each other up in prayer, offering one another’s petitions on our knees. And we must do this daily, persistently. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them” (Luke 18:7)?

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”
Did you know Jesus makes only one direct commentary on the Lord’s Prayer? In Matthew, when He finishes teaching the prayer, He adds, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (6:14-15). Christ reveals a connection between the vertical and the horizontal relationship—right in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps we should listen!

Is this God saying, “I’ll make you a deal: You all forgive each other—no bitterness, no grudges, no more talking about the bad things you did to each other—and I’ll forgive you”? Is that what God says? Is that the gospel? No, that’s not what leads to our forgiveness. We’re not saved by the basis of our works. Instead, the gospel says that we are to come just as we are to God, and He will forgive us. However, God says, “Now that you’re forgiven, I expect you to forgive each other.”

However, although you’re not saved by your works, if you continue to live in defiance, you’ll be lost because it’s evidence that you’re not serious about following Jesus. The mercy and grace of God cannot be cultivated in a heart that’s embracing a bitter and unforgiving spirit. Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Has someone ever talked badly about you? We’ve all been hurt. And often, we become defensive and start viewing that person narrowly, and we may even wonder if we can dig up a little dirt to even the score. Is that the spirit of Jesus, “who when he was reviled he reviled not again”?

The Bible says that when we realize the high price Christ has paid for our forgiveness, it makes it easier for us to forgive one another. “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:35). We need to be willing to forgive one another, and God points this out to us repeatedly in Scripture. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Mark 11:25-26).

Can you mentally forgive a person even though you may not feel like it? Yes, just like you can accept forgiveness even though you might not feel forgiven. It’s done by faith. You can choose to forgive others who have harmed you. Even though you may never be able forget what happened, you can say, “Lord, by your grace I am going to forgive them.” You make that conscious choice, and then the grace of God follows.

When you accept the forgiveness of God, His grace naturally follows. You must first have faith that God is going to help you forgive. “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). If we can’t forgive each other, God can’t forgive us, because our hearts are not open either to give or receive forgiveness. That’s serious, isn’t it? It’s going to require an act of grace—a miracle—for us to be able to do that.
 

phipps

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“And lead us not into temptation”
This particular petition is the one that is most misunderstood. At a glance, it almost seems as though we’re begging God not to tempt us. “Please, Lord, we know you don’t want to tempt us. Yet if I don’t ask you not to tempt me, you’re going to tempt me.” That’s a really poor translation. In fact, James 1:13 says, “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.”

We’re not pleading, “Lord, please don’t tempt me.” So what is this really saying? Well, because we are naturally prone to walk toward temptation, we’re asking God to lead us away from it. Translated more precisely, the prayer would go more like this: “Lead us away from our natural bent to temptation.”

Do we need to pray that prayer? You bet! We are prone to playing too close to the edge. One minister says that when the Lord says to flee temptation, we often crawl away hoping it catches up with us. It’s like gravity inside our hearts, pulling us toward sin. So we have to plead with God to help us resist that force.

The devil likes it when we crawl, because it’s easier to catch us with those little compromises. The convicted spy Aldrich Ames said that he didn’t wake up one day and say, “I think I’m going to be a spy. I think I’m going to turn everything over to the Russians for money.” One day, very innocuously, he met a Russian who asked, “Could you give me a phone directory? I’ll give you a lot of money.” It was just a phone directory, but then little by little, he gave them more and more until one day he sold them nuclear secrets. This is how the devil works with temptation—little compromises. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, murdered Uriah, and lied to his people. And it began with a small, lingering, lustful look. We should pray, “Lord, lead me away from even the little things, because that’s how the big things start.”

“But deliver us from evil”

I really like the seventh petition, which says, “but deliver us from evil.” We live in a world drowning in the murky blackness of sin. The only thing that really gives Christians long-term hope is that God promises things aren’t always going to be this way. We’re looking for ultimate deliverance, and when we utter “deliver us,” we’re talking about Christ coming on the white steed—the King of kings and the Lord of lords establishing His kingdom and wiping out every last vestige of evil reigning in the world today.

“Deliver us” takes us away from evil and separates us from it eternally. Another way to phrase it is, “deliver us from the evil one.” And we ought to be praying not only that God keeps us from temptation, but that He also delivers our brothers, because the devil is powerful and cunning, far greater than we are by ourselves. That’s why we so desperately need God to lead us.

In speaking of the second coming, Christ said, “Pray always” (Luke 21:36). I’m not sure how often that really means, but look at your own prayer life and see if it measures up. The full text reads, “Pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and stand before the Son of man.” Are you praying always? Jesus also said that we ought to pray that our flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day (Matthew 24:20). Have you prayed that prayer? Every day, every hour, we should be praying to be delivered from evil so that we can escape what is about to happen in this world. Pray that we will be ultimately delivered and saved from evil within and around us. You can’t be saved from an evil world until you’re first saved from an evil heart.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever”
This powerful culmination is found only in Matthew, and what it speaks about is riveting. We are in the midst of a great controversy. The devil says he is the rightful king and that he has the power. Yet Christ, before He ascended to heaven, established His pre-eminence: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). This prayer reinforces that we should never forget who is in charge of this universe. The prayer doesn’t say, “Thine will be the kingdom,” rather “Thine is the kingdom.” Indeed, all the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer are only possible because Christ is the power. He has control over all things now.

The devil lives for pride, to bring glory to himself. The Christian’s motive is to bring honour to God, to give Him the glory. That’s why Satan hungers to be a god. He wants the glory he doesn’t deserve. The end of this prayer sets the record straight in our own minds and hearts, confessing before God that we know His character and goodness will be soon vindicated.

“Amen”
Jesus said, “In this manner pray.” It’s not so much His prayer, but our prayer. It’s the prayer of those who want to follow Him. That’s also why this prayer must be something that flows from a truly converted heart. It ought to be a definition of your spirit and attitude. One author put it this way:
“I cannot say ‘our’ if I live only for myself. I cannot say ‘Father’ if I do not endeavor each day to act like his child. I cannot say ‘who art in heaven’ if I’m laying up no treasures there. I cannot say ‘hallowed be thy name’ if I am not striving for holiness. I cannot say ‘thy kingdom come’ if I’m not seeking to hasten the blessed hope. I cannot say ‘thy will be done’ if I am disobedient to his word. I cannot say ‘in earth as it is in heaven’ if I’ll not serve him here and now. I cannot say ‘give us this day our daily bread’ if I am selfishly hoarding for the fu-ture. I cannot say ‘forgive us our debts’ if I harbor a grudge against anyone. I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately place myself in its path. I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I do not long for holiness. I cannot say ‘thine is the kingdom’ if I do not give Jesus the throne of my heart. I cannot attribute to him ‘the power’ if I fear what men may do. I cannot ascribe to him ‘the glory’ if I’m seeking for my own honor. I cannot say ‘forever’ if I’m living only for temporary earthly rewards.”
When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, it must be in a spirit of complete surrender. And if we’re going to be ready when Jesus comes, we need to learn to pray the way Jesus taught. The essence of prayer is bound up in loving God with all our hearts, for we cannot really love Him if we aren’t getting to know Him. If we’re not communicating our sorrows and our joys, even our most intimate secrets, how can we love Him?

 

phipps

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2. The ACTS prayer model

This model is not directly quoted in the Bible but it follows the Lord’s prayer model in a way that might be easier for us to understand. A.C.T.S is an acronym for;

Adoration

Confession

Thanksgiving

Supplication

Let’s look at each of these aspects in detail.

Adoration
As in the Lord’s prayer model the ACTS prayer model begins with adoring God for who He is to us. To adore someone or something is to look at it with fondness. It’s to worship something or someone out of love and deep respect.

As we start our prayers, we should “ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name” (Psalms 29:2).

God is our creator, our redeemer, our provider and sustainer. Again, this shows that we know whom we are worshipping.

Confession
All of us “have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves” (Romans 3:21; 1 John 1:8).

We must not only acknowledge our sins but also ask for God’s help in overcoming them.

We have the beautiful promise that God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Thanksgiving
Once we have confessed our sins, we can joyfully thank God for answered prayers in the past. Thank Him for His daily care and provision.

We need to cultivate a thankful spirit.

Have you ever helped someone, then they come back to you asking for more without appreciating you for the past assistance? How does it feel?

Therefore, “let us come before His presence with thanksgiving” (Psalms 95:2).

Supplication
Supplicating means humbly presenting our needs before the Lord. No matter how big or urgent your need is—just express it to God.

Paul tells us that “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God which passes all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Following these models gives us a sense of structure while praying.
 
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