People have devised a number of ways to organize their prayers. All of them are valid, probably, as long as they submit to Scripture and fulfill the commands of God. And as long as they are not imposed upon others as divinely given structures.
It has been suggested, somewhat in jest, that the apostle Paul must have had some sort of prayer list, considering the many people he mentions in prayer. Maybe he just had a good memory. However he organized his prayers, he got the job done.
Some follow the ACTS acrostic: Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. One supposes that intercession is subsumed under the last item. It might be best, however, to bring prayer for others to the fore.
What’s important is that we pray, that we obey the Lord to pray as we ought, that we deepen our relationship with him, that we advance the Kingdom among the world that lies in darkness.
I have a “hang-up” I guess you could say. Maybe there is nothing to it, but it is a “thing” with me. I feel guilty praying to God and asking Him to bless me or those I love when I have not been faithful in my Bible reading. It is so hard for me to have a close relationship (conversation) with God when I haven’t “listened” (read my Bible) that day. It makes me feel selfish that I could ask Him to listen to me and respond favorably when I have not listened (read His word) to Him all day.
The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). That is a close relationship with God to be able to pray without ceasing. That is like sharing everything with God. If we envision God with us all the time, and He is, then whenever and whatever happens to us, we can communicate with God about it. If we envision Him walking beside us everywhere we go (and He does), we can talk to Him openly. Have you had something good happen to you or hear something good and say, “Thank the Lord”? That is good, but what if He is right beside you, could you not say, “Thank you, Lord” as if you are communicating with your closest friend standing right beside you?
The Bible says Enoch walked with God (Gen. 5:24). If walking with someone means they are beside you, that you communicate with them, then it is more than just attending the services of the church one to three times a week. It is more than just picking up the Bible when you think about it. It is more than just praying to God when you need Him. It is indeed a personal relationship with Him, don’t you think? It is as if under your breath (or loudly if you choose) you talk to God. Pray without ceasing. Be in a prayerful attitude at all times. If we talk to Him in our innermost thoughts throughout the day, we will be drawn closer to Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
The beautiful thing about our God is He is always there. He is always ready to welcome us home. No matter what we have done or how long we have been out of a close relationship with Him, He is standing ready to welcome us back. How beautiful is the love of our Father? Christians who have fallen away from God only have to pray and ask for forgiveness. Whether that prayer should be public or private depends on how public or private the sin has been. The safe thing is to make a public confession and ask the church to pray with and for you.
If you have never become a Christian you must hear the Word, believe it, repent of your sins, confess your faith, and be baptized to wash away your sins. Then walk close to God and remain faithful until death. It is beautiful to grow and continue drawing near to God, realizing He is drawing near to you. It is where He wants to be in your life and mine.
Someone has said, “Be careful what you wish for.” I’d rather say, “Be careful what you pray for.” As I sit and think back over my years as a Christian, prayer has played an important role in it. Many of you have heard that as a girl I prayed to marry a preacher. I knelt by my bed at night and prayed, “Lord, if I’m capable of being a preacher’s wife, I want to marry a preacher, but if not, just let me marry a Christian.” I didn’t know any boy making a preacher and few who were even Christians. Jerry Humphries was our preacher. In fact, I was the first one he baptized after he moved to Elba, AL. He left to preach in revivals and invited this young man from Alabama Christian to come down from Montgomery and preach in his absence. He was cute but brought his girlfriend with him! I asked them that afternoon while they were spending it with us if they didn’t have some “fine young man they could bring down when they came back and let me meet.” The girl thought for a while, snapped her fingers, and said, “Old Doug.” Old Doug and I have been married 54 years! God answers prayers. We’d better be careful what we pray for!
I prayed for my daddy to stop drinking and return to the church. He did! He confessed living in sin 30 years. He later became a deacon in the Elba church and was faithful til death. God answers prayers! We better be careful what we pray for!
I used to paint preacher’s charts on bed sheets. I outlined the letters with stencils and then handprinted them. It took a lot of time. I prayed to be able to do it freehand and faster. God answered that prayer. I was able to outline one in a day. The painting took longer. We’d better be careful what we pray for!
I’ve prayed to be a soul winner for years. While keeping my mother I told the Lord I knew I was asking a lot because I was confined to the house with her, but he answered that prayer. A man and woman came to the house one day to return some money she had borrowed. Her friend remained in the car. I wanted to speak to him. He had been coming to church services with her for a long time. We went out to the car and after the initial greetings I asked him about his salvation. He said, “I’ve never been anything.” It alarmed me and scared me for him. I said, “Oh, let’s set up a Bible study with you and Doug.” He agreed. Doug walked up and we set it up for the next day and I would cook lunch for them. The next day the lady and I stayed at home and cleaned up the dishes while he and Doug went to the building and studied. In about an hour, Doug called and asked us to come to the church building because Ray Medley wanted to become a Christian. God can answer our prayers even when we are confined inside a house! We’d better be careful what we pray for!
Oh, how I love my Lord. He has been so good to me.
REFLECTIONS ON PRAYER
I have always been a person of prayer and have always believed in the power of prayer. More importantly, I have always believed in the one true God of heaven and earth who hears the prayers of His children. Even before my father became a Christian he taught my sister and me the childhood prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. If I should live for other days, I pray the Lord to guide my ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” At all three of our meals (always eaten, by the way, at the family table) my father led us in a prayer of thanks for our food. After he obeyed the gospel, it was the practice of our family for my father to read a chapter from the Bible (with the rest of us following along in our own Bible) and to lead us in prayer before we went to bed for the night. It was these home Bible readings, along with the study of the New Testament book by book and chapter by chapter at the little congregation we attended, as well as my own reading, that formed my first acquaintance with the contents of the New Testament. Our congregation had no divided classes (not that we were opposed to them), but we were so small that everyone (children and adults) met in one large class on Wednesday nights and we studied through the New Testament in the above fashion. I think there is much that could be said in favor of ten, eleven, and twelve year old boys sitting in a Bible class with adults, reading the scriptures with them, both asking and answering questions that arise from the text, and making appropriate comments on the text being studied. I know that I will always cherish those sweet and precious memories! Continue reading
By Chris Underwood — Application: Decide that at least one day this week you will use the Bible to guide your prayers.
Here are some Bible scriptures that may be helpful in your praying the Bible plan. Continue reading
“O Lord, I come before you in prayer.”
David knew the essence of prayer as approaching the presence of God. How this simple act required him to be circumspect, at the same time he asked for help and protection.
Prayer requires the right attitude, not only a seeking for something from God. It recognizes who God is and how he acts, vv. 7-10. It honestly and humbly lays out one’s need.
#prayer #Psalms #votd
“And in this regard we pray for you always, that our God will make you worthy of his calling and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness and every work of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 1.11-12
God works in his people. He makes his power accomplish his will in them. Their work depends upon him. God does this to glorify his Son and to glorify his people in him. This was Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians.
What are my desires for goodness? What work of faith have I begun? What prayer have I offered for others like Paul’s?
#votd #2-Thessalonians #prayer #power
“He prayed, ‘O Lord, God of my master Abraham, guide me today. Be faithful to my master Abraham.'”
The servant of Abraham was sent to find a wife for Isaac. He prayed for God to guide him in the process. God immediately answered his prayer.
We have been sent on our Master’s work to wed others to Christ. Prayer is an essential component to our success. What is your prayer today?
#votd #Genesis #prayer
“At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.”
The apostle Paul asked for prayers for his work of proclaiming Christ. He had urged the Colossians to be alert in prayer, v. 2. Among many subjects of prayer, the greatest is the spread of the gospel.
Where is your prayer list of people who spread the gospel? How many people who need to obey do you pray for? What doors might God open through your prayers?
#votd #Colossians #prayer
“But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so they may experience my joy completed in themselves.”
Jesus prayed to his Father before his betrayal. He looked forward to returning to the Father. He also desired to fulfill his mission of revealing the Father’s will to mankind. He knew it was the source of true joy.
Do I desire, like Jesus, to go to the Father? Do I desire to hear Jesus’ words? Do I desire the full joy that lasts? Do I know how to receive it?
#votd #John #prayer #joy
“For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Often, when the Lord made a promise to Israel, he put it in the past tense (see Deuteronomy 3.2, for example), to indicate how sure was his word. Jesus does the same about prayer requests.
The Lord is able to bless, and he desires to bless. He bristled when the possessed boy’s father said, “If you can” Mark 9.22-23. The issue is not his ability or desire, but our willingness to believe.
#votd #Mark #prayer #faith
Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.
Here are the topics you will find:
- In Spirit and Truth (Rick Brumback)
- Worship (Cody Westbrook)
- I Will Sing the Wondrous Story (Andy Baker)
- Approaching the Throne of Grace (Bruce Ligon)
- Preaching As Worship (Mike Vestal)
- New Testament Giving (Jon McCormack)
- Worship – The Lord’s Supper (Kerry Clark)
Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.
You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions.
Copyright © 2018 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.
“Realize that the Lord shows the godly special favor; the Lord responds when I cry out to him.”
After a moving request for help, v. 1, and a challenge to threatening men, v. 2, David expresses, as a part of his reply to the wicked, his confidence that God will answer.
“Sinful behavior is ultimately fruitless and self-destructive” (NETB). The godly who rely on God will be “safe and secure” v. 8.
#votd #Psalms #prayer
“Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?”
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus makes an argument from the lesser to the greater. Humans take care of their children. God will certainly take care of his by answering their prayers.
What “good things” have you asked God for? Do you know what is really good and what you should ask for?
#prayer #God #VOTD
In April I’ll be teaching an intensive study on “Exegese and Hermeneutics” as a part of a congregation training program in another state. The program focuses on helping the men learn better to preach and teach.
I’d like to do a short segment on prayer. Please respond in the comments, or send me an email, with your thoughts on what role prayer plays in understanding the Bible.
Of course, I don’t expect anyone to tell us that we should pray and then God will give us a revelation. I would like, however, some specific ideas on the topic.
So this is not a gotcha question. I’m looking for some practical perspectives that I can offer these men.
#prayer #Bible-study #exegese #hermeneutics