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Prayer and Purpose
A prayer is an earnest request or petition to God in wordor thought.
It is a man’s communion with his Creator; the highest expression of man’s religious nature.
Prayers are offered for a number of reasons but the main purpose is TO PRAISE OR GLORIFY GOD and make REQUEST therein.
From the beginning of the Bible to the end, prayer plays a major role.
In Gen. 4: 26, men began to call upon the name of the Lord
In Gen. 12: 8, 13: 4 – Abram prayed to the Lord. He prayed for his son–(Gen. 15: 2, 3) and for Ishmael (Gen. 17: 18), Prayed for Sodom (Gen. 18: 23 – ) and for Abimelech’s fruitfulness (Gen. 20: 17, 18).
Some of the great prayers of the Old Testament are
- Moses’ prayer for Israel ( 32: 11 – 13)
- Joshua’s prayer after the defeat at Ai ( 7: 7 – 9)
- Samuel’s prayer for help (Judg 16: 28)
- Hannah’s prayer for a son (1 Sam. 1: 10, 11)
- Solomon’s prayer for wisdom (1 Kings 3: 6 – 9)
Similar prayers abound in the New Testament eg the prayer of Stephen and those of Jesus Christ.
Today, we pray for a lot of things at different times. For instance, Uyo Town Church of Christ prayed:
- in 2009 for the selection and ordination of elders and deacons
- in 2011to resolve the church relocation\renovation imposed
- to erect the present church building in 2012 to recruit the current preacher for the church in 2018.
Individual brethren also pray variously for different things at different times.
All these prayers are made to God through the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ (John 14: 13)
Jesus in the New Testament teaches us how to pray (Matt. 6: 5 – 18)
The Tenets of the Prayer from the Model of Prayer by Christ
Reference to the Lord’s prayer(Matt. 6: 9 – 14)
- Adoration of God\Thankfulness
- Recognition of God’s sovereignty
- Thankfulness for spiritual gift of life
- Thankfulness for the physical things of life
- Plea for pardon\forgiveness of our sins and for ability to flee from evil
- Supplication\Petition\Appeal – Asking earnestly and humbly for what you want
God knows what you want at all times but you must ask. Have at the back of your mind what you want God to do for you – and take one at a time to avoid undue repetition. Note that there is nowhere you can ask everything in one prayer session.
- Round off your prayer in the name of Jesus Christ and end with Amen
Remember that God is a being to be obeyed and worshipped always and NOT just someone to be supplicated in times of trouble.
Why do we NOT consider it necessary to recite the Lord’s prayer today as written in Matt. 6: 9 – 13?
- The prayer wasa model prayer to teach the disciples how to pray.
- The clause “Thy Kingdom come” (Matt. 6: 10) is belated because this aspect has been fulfilled in that the Kingdom eventually came on the day of Pentecost
CONSIDERATIONS FOR GOD HEARING OUR PRAYER
Two areas of considerations are important namely:
- Necessary conditions and
- Things to Guard Against
Necessary Conditions Involve Physical Considerations and Spiritual Considerations
Physical considerations include the following:
- Location – Under emergency situation, prayer could be offered to God anywhere. Normally, prayer should be done in a secret corner or apartment; not in the street or open place for people to see as hypocrites do (Matt. 6: 5 – 6)
- Physical Appearance of the Supplicant – do not disfigure your face or put up a sad countenance or keep yourself unkempt especially during prayer and fasting to give people the impression of what you are doing (Matt. 6: 16).
- Prayer and Work – when you pray God to do something for you, also try your physical might to see how you can contribute your quota towards the success of the prayer. God requires every person to work (2 Thess. 4: 11; Eph. 28)
Note that prayer (faith) without work is dead (James 2: 18, 20, 26)
Spiritual considerations include the following:
- Believe that God is able
- Mark 11: 25
- James 1: 5 – 7
- Show obedience to God
- John 1: 4
- 5: 2
- Pray according to the will of God
- John 5: 30
- 2 Tim. 2: 15
- Have the fear of God with humility
- Psalm 111: 10
- Psalm 112: 1
- Be fervent in prayer
- Psalm 62: 8
- Acts 16: 25 – 34
- Be persistent in prayer
- Luke 18: 1 – 8
- James 1: 14
- 1 Thess. 5: 17
- Acts 12: 5
- Pray with a forgiving heart (Matt. 6: 14; Mark 11: 25)
- 6: 14 – 15
- Mark 11:25
- Support your prayer with fasting when necessary.
- 17: 15 – 16, 21
- Use Jesus Christ’s Name in your prayer
- John 14: 13
- John 16: 23
Things to Guard Against
Many prayers remain unanswered either because the Supplicants fail to observe conditions necessary for God to answer their prayers or because they do not guard against certain things. Those things include:
Self-righteousness is a feeling that one’s idea and behavior are morally better than those of other people. It is a vice which portrays pride. Therefore the supplicant must avoid it. The prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18: 10 – 11 is a typical example of self-righteousness.
- Noisy and repetitive wording
Avoid noisy prayers and vain repetitive words. They could be irritating to hearers in the neighbourhood and might be offensive to God too. Many people mistakenly thing that they shall be heard from their much speaking. (Matt. 6: 7)
- Figurative Prayer
Avoid the use of physical symbols or objects such as totem, crucifix; this accounts to idolatry.
- Avoid the use of vague expressions which have different meanings from what they literary portray. Such expressions may introduce negative vibrations into the prayer; how then can rational hearers say Amen?
- Anger and evil mind
Always ensure that your mind is free of anger and evil because they have the tendency to block communication with God.
1 Pet. 3: 12says that the ears of God are open into the prayers of the righteous but His face is against them that are evil.
Length of Prayer
Does the length of a prayer really matter in bringing about the desired result?
- Why do we pray or request God to provide our needs when He already knows everything we need?
Yes He knows but as a mark of respect and honour to God we must present our immediate needs in the right manner.
eg The earthly father knows the needs of the child but the child needs to make request with respect.
- Jesus Christ says we should ask and we shall be given (Matt. 7: 7; Luke 11: 9)
- How many things should we ask for in one prayer session?
As many things as possible but in critical situations you need to mention your critical need and press on fervently and persistently.
eg – Hannah pressed on for a son with a vow and God answered her prayer by givin her the son – Samuel (1 Sam. 1: 10 – 11)
- The Church offered prayers without ceasing when Herod put Peter in prison to be killed the following day. God sent His Angels to deliver Peter. (Acts 12: 5 – 11)
Therefore, it is important that you spell out clearly what you want and let the will of God be done.
- How do we know that God has answered our prayers?
When those things we prayed for are made to happen.
- How does God Answer our Prayers
He answers them in a mysterious way. It is not our business to probe Him but we know that He can do it directly or indirectly through a person or through any medium.
Unfortunately, when the answers come some people hardly remember to accept that it is God who has provided them.
- Why are many prayers not answered?
It could be because we have failed to take note of the necessary conditions\considerations for God to hear our prayers or because God’s will is yet to be done.
- Does the efficacy of prayer depend on:
- the posture during prayer?
- length of prayer?
The posture in prayer does not really matter but one should not put up a careless or a disrespectful posture.
One may decide to stand, sit, bow, kneel, prostrate, close eyes or open eyes. Note that opening your eyes during prayer may cause physical detraction and spiritual distraction.
Nevertheless, Paul in 1 Tim. 2: 8 authorizes men to pray lifting up holy hands; Stephen kneeled down and prayed (Acts 7: 60).
- The length of a prayer depends on the situation. A situation may require very short and powerful prayer while another may call for a moderately lengthy prayer.
- No single prayer session can cater for all that one needs so it is necessary to touch the major point relevant to the matter at hand.
- Opening and closing prayers should naturally be kept short and to the point.
- At any instance, what matters is the fervent prayer of the faithful.
UYO TOWN CHURCH OF CHRIST, 20 PAUL BASSEY STREET, UYO
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR ADULTS IN JANUARY, 2019
PRESENTED BY BRO. E. J. EFFIONG (ELDER)