Prayer: Most often, I know I'm in big trouble when I don't even know what to pray for. Now that doesn't sound as bad as it seems... that's not to say in trouble with God, but with life. Sometimes I know that I have just screwed things in my life up so badly, that I am as good as speechless and clueless. Luckily for me, and well, for everybody else, God knows what's best for us. We can trust God to guide us through life, so why not trust him to guide us through prayer also?
You know, most of the time I start praying for one thing, and end up praying for a million other things... at first I felt like it was a burden, and so I began to avoid prayer, because I didn't want to take the time out of my life to pray for all the people and things I knew needed praying for. But after I realized that it was only God giving me help, prayer didn't seem so bad to me. Often when I'm hurt or need help, I find myself asking others to pray for me now, something I never used to do. I definitely appreciate it when other's pray for me, and that is a big eye opener for me as to why I should not feel burdened praying for other people in their time of need. As far as God guiding our prayers, I believe that God brings things to our minds that need praying for, just as he brings scriptures that we've read to mind when he's trying to answer our prayers.
When I was a child, I used to pray for impossible things... "God if you're there give me a sign" (the one time I ever prayed this was in the middle of a thunder and lightening storm, and lightening struck down in the yard right in front of the window I was praying at). Mostly when I was younger I would pray like this: "God, if you're there, you'll make my room clean, and it will all be clean when I open my eyes." Unfortunately God doesn't work that way... I now know that God gives us the power to answer our prayers, just like he protects us from getting run over by giving us the common sense not to run across a six lane freeway at rush hour. That's not to say that miracles don't also happen, but most of the time God gives us the answers to our prayers through us.
When I first became saved was when I began to feel that prayer was a burden to me because I realized how many people I needed to pray for. Now I find praying to be more of something I enjoy. For me it has become like a conversation with an old friend who understands all of my deepest secrets and desires. I find myself praying in the car, in class, while walking, watching TV, and even several times already while writing this blog. Sometimes when I'm really distressed and am deep in prayer, I am reluctant to end the prayer and give up my private time with God. This is the time when I find myself feeling the closest to God. There's a good possibility that this is because this is the time when I feel the most humbled, and realize just how good God is to me.
I think that if you don't know what to pray for, as sometimes happens to me, it's definitely ok to ask God for help in knowing what to pray for. Just as God knows what's best for us, he knows what's best for us to pray for (and he may show us by bringing things to mind).
A few types of prayer:
- Prayers for the salvation of others (Sometimes it helps to ask God to go into the heart of somebody who is not saved and just show them that he is there. I think it also helps when you go to talk to somebody about God to save them to ask God to give you the right Words to say).
- Prayers for your own salvation
- Prayers for things people need
- Prayers for something you need
- Prayers praising God
- Prayers asking for God's help with anything
Here are a few things about prayer straight from the scriptures:
*If we pray God will listen, and if we ask for help, He will be there for us:
The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. (God will always receive our prayers).
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. ("thous hast enlarged me when I was in distress," to me this says it all. God is always there for us in our time of need even if nobody else is. God will always be there to help. We need to pray to him to ask for that help though. Prayer shows that we are serious about the things we want and need, and if we are dedicated enough to take that time to talk to God and ask for his help, then he will listen).
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. (God doesn't see our prayers to him as a burden, so why should we see praying as a burden?)
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
*The Lords Prayer:
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 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.
What I got from this passage was: Don't go around shouting your prayers so that everybody else hears them and sees you praying (this is only edifying to you and not to God). Instead make your prayers in private (although that isn't to say it's not ok to pray with other people). Also, God knows everything you need before you ask him. You don't need to pray repetitiously (you don't need to pray the same thing over and over again the same way every time... some religions believe that there is a format for prayer, and that you must follow it at all times. Here the Bible clearly tells us not to do that. It's ok for your prayers to be short or long, and they don't have to be eloquently worded. God knows what you need... just speak to him like a friend. Now, notice how Jesus shows us to pray to God: "Hallowed be thy name" this is basically praising God by saying, "God, you are holy." When he says, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," he is basically saying, "God, the earth and the heavens are your kingdom... you created them and everything within. We will do your will here on earth as your will is done in heaven." "Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
To me this says: "Please give us what we need for the day (notice that's not what we want but what we need). And please forgive us of our sins... just as you want us to forgive others of their sins." "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." Here the prayer asks for God to keep evil things and temptations away from us, and asks God not to tempt us with sinful things. And again the prayer ends with a praise to God. Sounds like a pretty awesome prayer to me that Jesus has just shown us, and Jesus would know.
*Never cease in prayer (also praise):
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (And we sometimes think that praying for five minutes is tough).
Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Continually in prayer... which means never-ceasing. It's ok to walk around praying constantly, this is not something to be ashamed about, but in fact something the Bible encourages by giving us in the two examples above).
Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. (Sometimes when we are going through difficult times, the most difficult part of the day can be the night. To me this verse says: God is with us always; He will get us through the day and through the night so long as we ask for His help. Seeing as how God is always there for us, why should we not in turn always be there for him?).
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. (God makes it so we don't have to fear what other people will do to us. We know that whatever happens to us in this world, that if we are saved he will not let anything happen to our soul).
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (Look at all of the things God does for us! He deserves to be praised! And not just praised once a day or once a month, or once a year either! See the next verse below...)
And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (If we are to never cease in prayer, and we are to praise our Lord God continually, than we should also be praising him in prayer. If you don't think you have anything to pray for, pray for God! Give him all the praise he deserves! And not only when you are happy and things are good in your life... when things are bad in your life, or not going the way you want them to, God is still there for you day and night, and therefore still deserves your praise).
When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. (Here, when Jonah was at his lowest point (or was most humbled) he remembered that God would be there for him if he prayed and asked for his help. And God was there for him).
*We should pray for the salvation of others:
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
*Pray for others in general:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
*In thanksgiving give our prayers:
*Praying for good vs. bad:
1 Peter 3:12
For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. (To me this verse says: If you pray for somebody to be murdered, or die in an explosion unjustly God is probably going to ignore your prayer, but if you are praying for something righteous and good, he will listen).
So, in the above passages the Bible has shown us: That God hears our prayers, how to pray, how not to pray, what to pray for, who to pray for, and how long to pray for. There are so many other things the Bible says about prayer and praying, but I figured I'd just outline a few for you.
In conclusion, I'd like to say this: We shouldn't be afraid of prayer, and we shouldn't see it as a burden as so many people do. I'm not saying you absolutely must go around praying all day, and that you must pray for certain things, only that we should pray, and be happy that God is there for us 24/7, and that he will always hear our prayers, even in our worst times of need. I think that's pretty amazing myself.
If you would like to read a short tract (comic) about prayer, please click here.