"When You Pray..." (Luke 11:2)
God loves to hear our prayers. This is seen throughout the Old Testament and the New. God (through Jesus Christ) promises, “Ask and you will receive” (Luke 11:9). God wants us all to understand how to pray well so his Son Jesus Christ taught the ‘Lord’s Prayer’. He also taught about prayer by parables, (Luke 11:5-13).
Prayer is a challenge to us all. To pray well and to pray according to God’s will require that we believe His promises. This being so; why is it that a thing God loves is so neglected by us. Is it lack of faith? Have we become cynical?
Prayer along with praise and preaching are the three main elements in public Christian worship. Gathered together on the Lord's Day we worship God through praise - using psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs - through prayers of adoration, confession, and supplication. As we hear the preached Word of God, we learn His mind and will.
Prayer is a vital and essential part of our response to God’s Word and his call to obedience. Without hope found from hearing the Bible’s promises, we are left without hope and lose his saving grace. When in prayer, three elements are needful, viz.,
Jesus teaches us that we must worship God through our prayers when he told his disciples to pray, "Hallowed be Your name" (Luke 11:2). "Hallowed" is from the Greek word meaning 'holy'. This means that we must treat God as the essence and perfection of holiness. He is apart from us, and other than us for He is a Spirit and is eternally Light and Life.
We are to remember that He is God and should thank Him for all his blessings and common grace. He is the most holy, valuable, glorious thing in the entire universe. To devalue God is to devalue everything.
The Psalmist's call to worship is "Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together" (Ps. 34:3). This is a blow to Satan because it gives God his rightful place of honour, and majesty which Satan seeks for himself. It also dethrones human pride resident in the heart of everyone.
Confession and sorrow for sin is a principal part of real prayer. If there is no prayer, you can be sure that the soul is dead. Thus, to say 'sorry' is to acknowledge our sins to Jesus Christ in heaven, when we come before the throne of grace, believing that He promises forgiveness through his atoning blood.
We are to pray, "Forgive us our sins" (Luke 11:4), because keeping sin in our hearts (sins of unforgiveness, malice bitterness, anger, etc) forfeits the right of forgiveness from God (Luke 11:4; Ps. 66:18).
Remembering then, that God is all knowing, we must approach Him with a penitent heart, trusting in Christ’s blood poured out at Calvary (Luke 18: 9-14, esp. v.13). This will enable us to offer powerful prayers before God (Luke 18:14; John 9:31; James 5:16).
Prayer is a weapon more powerful than the sword, the bomb or even the pen. Using the little word 'Father' in prayer, “exceeds the eloquence of famed orators in the world”. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation speaks about effective and powerful prayer that prevails with God and moves His hand.
The Bible teaches us that prayer is at the forefront of the work of God. It is not a supplement to God's work; it is God's work and an important and essential part of every spiritual ministry. Whatever is begun for God must first begin with believing prayer and then carried out through persevering prayer (Acts 13:1-3).
“Prayer is the mightiest force in the universe of God” said Tertullian, “we knock at heaven and the merciful heart of God flies open, for the holy violence we offer to Him in prayer is very pleasing to him”.
The Lord Jesus Christ said ‘the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force’ [‘forceful men lay hold of it’] - Matt. 11:12. He was speaking about prayers of supplication, i.e. sincere and true cries of need, that are full of strong pleading and tears because they come from a heart which will not accept 'no' for an answer (1 Samuel 1; Luke 11:5-8-12; 18:1-8).
Real prayer is the outpouring of the heart and soul to God. It is not a passive but an active endeavour, flowing from the mind and the will. Thus, it requires time, spiritual energy and a heart which seeks after and desires God. We should take 'everything to God in prayer'. We should pour out our heart to the Saviour (Ps. 62:8).
The Bible teaches that prayer needs the help of God’s Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). The gift of holy sonship is from God. God becomes ours, not through being born, but through being born again (John 3:3).
Rev Ian S McNaughton is presently serving as the Vice-Chairman of Barnabas Fund in the UK.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
For Other Articles by Rev Ian S McNaughton
God Listens to our Prayers