by Shawn Brasseaux
“For we have not a high priest [Jesus Christ] who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15,16 KJV).
Notice what the writer to the Hebrews declared in the above Scriptures: God is never too busy to hear our concerns and petitions. Prayer to the Lord is more than just words. Elijah prayed that it would not rain for 42 months, and there was a drought (1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17,18). Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun and moon stand still, and they stood still (Joshua 10:12-14)! These are some strange prayers in the Bible, but they worked in their proper dispensation! We cannot understand or comprehend it, but God does hear every believer’s prayers all at once. God hears lost people talking to Him too, but the Bible never says that God answers their prayers. (Now, if a lost person is talking to God about salvation, then that is a totally different matter.)
If God can speak and create our entire universe from nothing, and keep that universe sustained with His spoken Word, then He can easily manage to hear all of us Christians pray! Prayer does work; the key is to pray in accordance with God’s will. For instance, do not pray for material riches such as a Lexus or a lakefront beach house. Do not pray for God to cause something bad to happen to your enemy. We should not be praying for God to change our circumstances to make life easier. Please do not abuse your privilege of praying to the Creator God! In this Bible study, we want to look at how we should pray in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God.
The first key to prayer is THANKSGIVING. Thank God the Father that He can hear you, and that He will accomplish His will regarding your prayer. The Scriptures instruct us to not only pray with thanksgiving, but also to pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). Jesus Christ is the only Mediator you need in order to get to God (1 Timothy 2:5). Do not pray to the dead saints in heaven, and do not pray to Mary—they cannot help you!
The Lord is omniscient: He knows your thoughts, your needs, and your feelings. Nonetheless, God wants you to communicate with Him and fellowship with Him in prayer: tell Him what you feel in your heart. A Christian’s prayers are like incense to God’s nostrils, the Bible says in Psalm 142:2 and Revelation 5:8. God enjoys our communicating with Him, and as a believer, do not be afraid to talk to Him.
The Bible tells us to pray as often as we can (Romans 12:12), and we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17): before a new day, before bedtime, or anytime whenever you like to pray. Your present location does not matter—you can pray wherever you are, whenever you feel like praying! You do not need a “prayer closet” as Jesus taught the Jews in Matthew 6:6. You do not have to necessarily kneel, you have no need to cross your heart, and you do not have to speak out loud. There is no specific amount of time you have to pray, either. The issue is none of these things—the content of the prayer and the heart attitude (faith) is the important thing.
Philippians 4:6,7 KJV is the best description of prayer: “Be careful [anxious, worrisome] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication [requesting] with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Effectual prayer is you praying in accordance with what the Lord is doing today (more on this later).
Be sure to thank God for hearing your prayer, and thank Him in advance for accomplishing His will regarding your prayer request. Your prayer may not be answered the way you think God should have answered it, but you still have the “peace of God.” You know that God heard you, and you have peace that He knew best, so relax in His grace! When you feel worried or scared, ask God to comfort you, and read and meditate on these two Bible verses (Philippians 4:6,7).
As Jesus told the Jews, do not pray vain repetitions, memorized prayers, or prescribed written prayers to God (Matthew 6:6,7)—this is what heathens (unbelievers) do. God is not interested in the choice of words as much as He is concerned with the meaning of the prayer (what is your purpose for praying; what are your motives?). Prayer books are totally unnecessary because that is simply mindless repetition; pray from the heart, not from a book! In fact, the “rosary” is a form of the Oriental religions’ meditation—the rosary is not to be prayed because the Bible never instructs us to recite it.
PRAYING IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOD’S WILL: FOR WHAT SPECIFICS SHOULD WE PRAY?
The Apostle Paul prayed for his Gentile converts in Philippi, that their “love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Philippians 1:9). Paul wanted them to live godly and righteously, “being filled with the fruits of righteousness” (verses 10,11). That their testimony would reach the lost and dying world for God’s glory!
We find some other good verses about prayer in 2 Thessalonians 1:11,12 KJV: “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Pray for God’s Word to have “free course” and “be glorified”: in other words, 1 Thessalonians 3:1 means that we should pray that God’s Word reaches many people, accomplishes His will, and glorifies His name!
We should pray for fellow believers in Christ, that they grow in knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-17).
Pray for wisdom as you read God’s Word. Notice what Paul prayed for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:14-21: that they be “strengthened with all might by [God’s] Spirit in the inner man, that Christ would dwell in [their] hearts by faith, rooted and grounded in love, that they would understand the breath, length, depth, and height [of what God is doing], and that they would know the love of Christ so they could be filled with all the fulness of God.” These are things for which we should pray for other believers!
Should I confess my sins in prayer every day? As a Christian, you are already forgiven in Christ Jesus; do not beg God for forgiveness because you already have it! We are already forgiven of our sins, because of Jesus Christ’s bloodshed (Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 1:14; Colossians 2:13). The forgiveness spoken of in 1 John 1:9 has nothing to do with us because it belongs with Israel’s program (compare with Matthew 3:6). The confession of 1 John 1:9 is for lost Jews in Israel’s program—we are neither Jews nor lost!
Remember, Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9,10, John 14:13,4, John 15:16, John 16:23-26, and 1 John 3:22 have absolutely nothing to do with us. We are not to “claim” the verses such as “Ask, and it shall be given you” and “whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” These promises of “pray for it and you get it” were given to the nation Israel; they have not been given to us as members of the Church, the Body of Christ because Paul’s epistles never give us these promises. In fact, Paul never got healed/delivered, although he prayed for healing/deliverance three times in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.
The so-called “Lord’s prayer” of Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 has nothing to do with us. We have no reason to pray these prayers. This prayer was given to Israel’s apostles and Israel’s little flock of believers; we are separate from Israel’s kingdom program, plus we are already forgiven as members of the Church, the Body of Christ (in time past, a Jew had to first forgive everyone before God would grant him forgiveness).
Pray to God, anywhere, anytime! Remember to pray as Paul prayed (pray in accordance with God’s will / what God is doing today in this dispensation), and thank God for listening and accomplishing His will regarding the matter!