“PRAYER” A Biblical Essay by Bahir Victor

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Prayer means conversation with God, thanks giving, intercession or make petition to God.
Prayer is a direct line through which we can communicate with God. Many people consider God as a doctor or a lawyer. They address Him only when they are sick or in difficulty. Yet, prayer is not only away to get out of trouble when the situation is hopeless. Above all, it is a way, for us who live on earth, to communicate directly with the Creator of the Universe and also is a way to recognize our great need of God, to admit that without Him, we can do nothing.
TO WHOM MUST WE ADDRESS OUR PRAYERS?
“I AM the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. Do not worship any other gods beside me. Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god! I do not leave unpunished the sins of those who hate me, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations. But I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations.” Exodus 20:1-6
Today we can allow many things to become gods to us. Money, fame, work, tombs, birds, animals, sun, moon, stars, or pleasure can become gods when we concentrate too much on them for personal identity, meaning, and security. No one sets out with the intention of worshiping these things. But by the amount of time we devote to them, they can grow into gods that ultimately control our thoughts and energies. Letting God hold the central place in our lives keeps these things from turning into gods.
We must pray to no one else but God.
“He (Jesus) said, this is how you should pray: Father, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon?” Luke 11:2
“But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves.” Nehemiah 4:9
“When he (man) prays to God, he will be accepted. And God will receive him with joy and restore him to good standing.” Job 33:26
“But I keep right on praying to you, Lord, hoping this is the time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation.” Psalm 69:1
“Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I will never pray to anyone but You.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:2-3
“He (Cornelius) was a devout man who feared the God of Israel, as did his entire household. He gave generously to charity and was a man who regularly prayed to God.” Acts 10:2
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” Philippians 4:6
The Holy Bible is very clear on this point
We must pray to no one else but God, so we must address our prayers to God alone.
WHAT SHOULD WE PRAY FOR?
No extra material:
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, And all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
To make the kingdom of God your primary concern means to put God first in your life, to fill your thoughts with His desires, to take His character for your pattern, and to serve and obey Him in everything.
Forgiveness of our sins:
“And forgive our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” Matthew 6:12
Gift of the Holy Spirit:
“If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” Luke 11:13
Wisdom
“If you need wisdom, if you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.” James 1:5
Wisdom is not only about knowledge but also about the ability to make wise decisions in difficult circumstances. Whenever we need wisdom, we should pray to God, and He will generously supply us according to our need. God is willing to give us the wisdom, but we will be unable to receive it if our goals are self-centered instead of God-centered.
Understanding God’s will:
“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God May your gracious Spirit led me forward on a firm footing.” Psalm 143:10
“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your law.” Psalm 119:18
Our daily bread:
“Gives us our food for today.” Matthew 6:11
Deliverance from temptation:
“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:13
God sometimes allows us to be tested by temptation. As disciples, we should pray to be delivered from these trying times and for deliverance from Satan and his deceit. Sometimes it is so subtle that we don’t even realize what is happening to us. God has promised that He won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. Ask God to help you recognize temptation and to give you strength to overcome it and choose God’s way instead.
Help in distress:
“Lord, help! They cried in their trouble, and He rescued them from their distress.” Psalm 107:6
HOW TO PRAY?
Prayer is not a monologue but is a dialogue between God and us! So keep silent a moment in each one of our prayer, to allow God to speak to us. It may be important to pray in public or with family. However, secret and personal prayer is essential to our spiritually life. So we must go away from any distraction that could disturb our meditation. This way, we will be able to listen God’s wishes. God does not take pleasure in recited prayers in which the same requests are repeated again and again. The prayer presented only once by a trusting and sincere heart is the one that will be accepted. Praying a lot doesn’t mean speaking a lot, but loving a lot.
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. 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. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him. Matthew 6:6-8
Some people, especially the religious leaders, wanted to be seen as holy and public prayer was one way to get attention. Jesus saw through their self-righteous acts, however, and taught that the essence of prayer is not public style but private communication with God. There is a place for public prayer, but to pray only where others will notice you indicates that your real audience is not God. Repeating the same words over and over like a magic incantation is no way to ensure that God will hear your prayer. It’s not wrong to come to God many times with the same requests, Jesus encourages persistent prayer. But He condemns the shallow repetition of words that are not offered with a sincere heart. We can never pray too much if our prayers are honest and sincere. Before you start to pray, make sure you mean what you say.
“Morning, noon and night I plead aloud in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice.” Psalm 55:17
“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” Daniel 6:10
Praying morning, noon, and night is certainly an excellent way to maintain correct priorities throughout every day. Daniel followed this pattern and stood alone. Although he knew about the law against praying to anyone except the king, he continued to pray three times a day as he always had. Daniel had a disciplined prayer life. Our prayers are usually interrupted, not by threats, but simply by the pressure of our schedules. Don’t let threats or pressures cut into the prayer time. Pray regularly, no matter what, for prayer is the lifeline to God. Daniel made no attempt to hide his daily prayer routine from his enemies in government, even though he knew he would be disobeying the new law. Hiding his daily prayers would have been futile because surely the conspirators would have caught him at something else during the month. Also hiding would have demonstrated that he was afraid of the other government officials. Daniel continued to pray because he could not look to the king for the guidance and strength that he needed during this difficult time. Only God could provide what he really needed.
CONDITIONS FOR THE FULFILLMENT OF OUR PRAYERS
“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it!” John 14:13-14
Jesus says we can ask for anything in His name, that is according to God’s character and will. If we are sincerely following God and seeking to do His will, then our requests will be in line with His will, and He will grant them. So we must present our prayers in the name of Jesus. When we pray to the father, let us always remember that Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and us. We must pray to only God, and only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7
“Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites.” James 4:8
How can you draw near to God?
(1) Humble yourselves before God. Yield to His authority and will, commit your life to Him and His control and be willing to follow Him.
(2) Resist the Devil. Don’t allow Satan to entice and tempt you.
(3) Wash your hands and purify your hearts means pure life. Be cleansed from sin, replacing your desire to sin with your desire to experience God’s purity.
(4) Let there be sorrow and deep grief for your sins. Don’t be afraid to express deep heartfelt sorrow for what you have done.
(5) Bow down before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
“The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29
Confidence and obedience to the will of God are also the important conditions for the fulfillment of our Prayers.
CONDITIONS FOR THE ABOMINATION OF OUR PRAYERS
“You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” James 4:2-3
Conflicts and disputes among believers are always harmful. We want more possessions, more money, higher status, more recognition. When we don’t get what we want, we fight in order to have it and ask to God but not receive. We should submit ourselves to God, ask God to help us get rid of our selfish desires, and trust Him to give us what we really need. The most common problems in prayer: not asking, asking for the wrong things, or asking for the wrong reasons. Do you talk to God at all? When you do, what do you talk about? Do you ask only to satisfy your desires? Do you seek God’s approval for what you already plan to do? Your prayers will become powerful when you allow God to change your desires so that they perfectly correspond to His will for you. There is nothing wrong with wanting a pleasurable life. God gives us good gifts that He wants us to enjoy. But having friendship with the world involves seeking pleasure at others’ expense or at the expense of obeying God. Pleasure that keeps us from pleasing God is sinful; pleasure from God’s rich bounty is good. (As a child) If we ask for poisonous snake (Harmful items), would the wise father grant the request? Sometimes God knows we are praying for SNAKES and does not give us what we ask for, even though we persist in our prayers. As we learn to know God better as a loving Father, we learn to ask for what is good for us, and then He grants it.
DIFFERENT AND DELAY ANSWERIN OF OUR PRAYERS
“Even though I have received wonderful revelation from God. But to keep me from getting puffed up, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness. So now I am glade to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
“He (Jesus Christ) went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want Your will, not Mine.” Matthew 26:39
Sometimes God chooses to answer our prayer differently from what we would have wished. But He always has a good reason to do so. Sometimes God not removes our afflictions, but His power is displayed in our weaknesses to give us courage and hope. As we recognize our limitations, we will depend more on God for our effectiveness rather than on our own energy, effort, or talent. Our limitations not only help develop Christian character but also deepen our worship, because in admitting them, we affirm God’s strength.
Jesus was not rebelling against His Father’s will when He asked that the cup of suffering and separation be taken away. In fact, He reaffirmed His desire to do god’s will by saying, YET I WANT YOUR WILL, not Mine. His prayer reveals to us His terrible suffering. His agony was worse than death because He paid for all sin by being separated from God. The sinless Son of God took our sins upon Himself to save us from suffering and separation. In times of suffering people sometimes wish to know the future or they wish to understand the reason for their anguish. Jesus knew what lay ahead of Him, and He knew the reason. Even so, His struggle was intense, more wrenching than any struggle we will ever have to face. What does it take to be able to say, I WANT YOUR WILL? It takes firm trust in God’s plans; it takes prayer and obedience each step of the way.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28
“So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26
If God seems to delay answering our prayer, let us wait with humility and obedience. One day, we will understand why God chose to act this way, certainly for our greatest benefit and happiness. God works in EVERYTHING not just isolated incidents for our good. This does not mean that all that happens to us is good. Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-rang well. God is not working to make us happy but to fulfill His purpose and this promise is not for everybody. It can be claimed only by those who love God and are called by Him, that is, those whom the Holy Spirit convinces to receive Christ. Such people have a new perspective, a new mind set. They trust in God, not in worldly treasures; their security is in heaven, not on earth. Their faith in God does not waver in pain and persecution because they know God is with them and when we kneel before God, we can better stand before man.

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