Prayer Tips

What is prayer? Prayer is defined in Websterís Dictionary as: "(1) an address (as a petition) to God ... in word or thought; (2) a set order of words used in praying; an earnest request or wish."

Prayer is defined in the "Bible Dictionary & Concordance" by Castle Books as: "Prayer is offering to God petitions for mercies desired and thanksgiving and praise for blessings received."

"You talk, I'll listen"

There's a scene in the movie, "Oh God," in which John Denver played the part of a grocery store manager who actually meets God. The scene is towards the end of the movie when God is leaving, and John, who has come to like God very much and would like to have a relationship with God asked, "Can we talk sometime?" God, in the person of George Burns replies, "You talk, I'll listen."

Basically, when we pray we are having a conversation with God. It is our opportunity to talk to Him. It is like a telephone call. We canít see the person on the other end of the line, but we know He is there.

We can talk to God about anything and everything. We should not make our prayers selfish, totally about ourselves. Pray for other people. Remember, Ďloveí is outgoing concern for others. Be concerned about your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Be aware if someone needs a job, or has a health or marital problem.

So prayer is talking to God. How then, does God talk to us? The answer is He talks to us when we read His Word, the Bible. Jesus said in Matthew 4 verse 4, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" In order to know "every word of God" means that it is going to take some time reading and studying to learn it.

We need to spend time every day with God in our prayer and Bible study. How much time? My goal has always been to spend 30 minutes a day in prayer and 30 minutes a day in Bible study. Keep in mind that this is a goal. You may not be able to do this every day but you should try.

Be Humble and Seek God

Letís notice our first very important principle in prayer. This passage begins in 2 Chronicles 7 verse 11, "Solomon finished the house of the LORD ... {12} Then the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. {13} "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, {14} "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."

Verse 14 covers a lot of material. God wants us to be humble. To be humble is not to be proud, haughty or arrogant. It is to be

patient, without resentment, moderate, mild, and submissive to God.

We are to pray and seek Godís face. To seek Godís face is a metaphor. Moses tells us in Exodus 33:20, that God told him, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." The object is that we are to seek God in prayer and prayer takes time. We need to spend time on our knees in a private place. Jesus tells us, "When you pray, go into your room, or closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:6).

A friend told me that he gets his prayer time in as he drives his car to work. Sorry, but there is to many distractions when you are driving and there is no way you can spend quality time with God this way. Do not try to get prayer time in while watching TV or jogging on an exercise machine.

The next phrase in verse 14 to notice is to "turn from your wicked ways." This is talking about repentance. To repent is to change the way you are living your life and to obey Godís Ten Commandments. We need to use the Ten Commandments like a mirror. A lady looks into a mirror to check her makeup. We need to look at Godís Law to see where we need to make corrections in our life style to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

An excellent place to start when it comes to repentance is Psalms 51. This is Davidís psalm of repentance after his affair with Bathsheba. Pray this prayer as if it is your prayer of repentance.

Many times when we are praying we sort of run out of things to pray about. Another idea for prayer is to use the Book of Psalms as your prayers. Each day, read a psalm, meditate on it, use it for inspiration and try to apply a point or two to your life. 

Teach Us To Pray

"Now it came to pass, as Jesus was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples"" (Luke 11:1). It is interesting to notice that there are seven specific requests in Jesusí "model prayer". Letís notice the seven requests

as listed in Matthew 6:9-13, "In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,

1. Hallowed be Your name.

2. Your kingdom come.

3. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

4. Give us this day our daily bread.

5. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

6 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.

7. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."

The idea that Jesus is giving us in this model prayer is that it is an outline for prayer. You are not just to pray these words and thatís it. That would be using vain repetitions of which Jesus said not to do (Matthew 6:7).

The idea is to take each phrase of this outline prayer and meditate on it and expand it in your own words.

In Conclusion: Prayer is one of the tools in our Spiritual Toolbox. The tools being Prayer, Bible Study, Meditation and Fasting. Prayer is very important in our spiritual life in keeping in contact with God and Jesus Christ. Give God thanks for your blessings and remember to praise and glorify God in your prayers and not just talk about yourself.

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