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November 2008

How Does Prayer Work

This is one of the most often asked questions in the world, and on the one hand, the answer can be simple, on the other hand it is rather complex to say the least.

As a new Christian we begin with the answer that Jesus gave to the disciples in Luke 11 when they asked Him, "teach us to pray". Jesus gave them what we like to call, the 'model prayer'. It is a very simple prayer spoken for new and young Christians. It is very significant that Jesus begins with, "Our Father which art in heaven", for it is a declaration for all to see and hear that our Creator God is not someone to be feared. Respected and honored, yes, with great deference as He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Jesus is giving us a picture of God as our heavenly Father, because as Creator of us all, He is indeed the Father of us all. This model prayer, or the Lord's Prayer as it is often called, says much in a few words.

As Matthew Henry writes: "It has much in a little. The petitions are six; the first three relate more expressly to God and His honor, the last three to our own concerns, both temporal and spiritual. This prayer teaches us to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and that all other things shall be added. After the things of God's glory, kingdom, and will, we pray for the needful supports and comforts of this present life. Every word here has a lesson in it."

As a new Christian in my teens, I used to think that my prayer time was only to be used in asking God for the things that I needed, and also to ask for His blessings on MY plans for MY life! It was all about ME and MY own.

I mistakenly thought that prayer was only for my benefit. My way of contacting God to tell Him what I needed, or what I wanted. While the Bible teaches that God certainly is concerned about both large and small happenings in our lives and is ready to supply our needs, there is, I believe, an even more important purpose for prayer. (I'll speak more about His daily supplying our needs next time.)

It has taken many years of hard lessons, (I seem to be a slow learner) for me to realize that 'PRAYER' was given primarily so God could communicate with me through His word and by the leading of the Holy Spirit. I use to wonder why so many of my prayers would go unanswered. It took me a while to realize that many times my petitions were not in accordance with God's will, as it says in James 4:3; "You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss."

One of the most important promises in the Bible is found in Proverbs 3:5,6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."These two verses tell us to 'trust Him with all our heart', and not to lean on what we might think is right. These verses tell us we are to give Him our hearts and minds because only then can He direct our lives. This of course fits in with the verses found in Deuteronomy 11:13; & chp. 13:3; and Joshua 22:5 which tell us to love God with all our heart and soul, in other words, with our whole being! Why should I love Him with all my heart and soul? Because His love, shown so clearly to me at Calvary, has saved me from eternal damnation, and has given me in it's place, the gift of eternal life! At Calvary, Jesus took my place and took my sin upon Himself. He paid the price for my salvation. What can I do but serve Him forever!

I can trust my God with my heart and soul.

That is why my prayers are now more about Him and less about me.

That is why during my prayer time I spend the larger part listening to Him through His word, and at which time He gives me my marching orders for the day.

God does not promise a life without difficulty, but communion with Him fills us with the indwelling spirit of His love and comfort.

Psalm 119:50 "This is my comfort in my distress, that your promise gives me life."

So, prayer 'works' best when we love Him with all our heart and soul, and when we are willing to stop trying to tell Him how to direct our lives, and instead say, "Thy will be done in my life today as best will help build your kingdom on the earth!"

Yours for a closer walk with Him.

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