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February 2015

SCHOOL OF PRAYER (Lesson #1):

What is the main purpose of prayer?

By Beverley Carter

 
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
And GOD SAID, let there be light, and there was light. – Genesis 1:3
This is the first record of God speaking, but not the last.
Then GOD SAID, let Us make man in Our image… – Genesis 1:26
Then in Genesis 1:28, GOD SPOKE to Adam and Eve.  Just imagine what it must have been like to have intimate communion with the Creator of the Universe, who desired this communion to last forever. Sadly this was not to be, and in chapter 3 of Genesis, Adam and Eve broke the divine rule, disobeyed their Maker and were cast out of their Edenic home.
 
Yet, all is not hopeless. In Genesis 3:15, God gives the assurance of a Savior to come who would restore communion between God and man.
 
Before we pass onto the New Testament, let’s look at some of the Patriarchs and Prophets who actually heard the voice of God.  I will mention a few and give you a few texts, which you can read for yourself. You will find them very inspiring. Please see below:
 
Genesis 3:8-13; 16-23 (Adam and Eve)
Genesis 4:6-7; 9-15 (God spoke to Cain)
Genesis 6 and 7 (God spoke to Noah)
Genesis 12; 15; 17; and 18 (God spoke to Abraham)
In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, God spoke to Moses.
God also spoke to Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and others.
 
The Old Testament is full of stories that tell us how God was involved in the lives and nations of the then-known-world.
 
Now we come to the New Testament and the beginning of the Christian era.
 
In the beginning (same words as used in Genesis 1) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. – John 1:1-4
 
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we—His disciples—beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14
 
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:18
 
Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that ALL have sinned. For as by one man’s disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (Christ) shall many be made righteous. – Romans 5:12, 19.
 
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and (continue) to come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:22-24
 
These wonderful verses tell us that God, Jesus, came down from heaven above, and reconciled us back to Himself by giving Himself on the Cross. Now, everyone who believes has the opportunity to communicate with the great I AM! 
 
I grew up in a home where my parents never went to church, (good people though they were) but they did send my sister and me to the nearest Sunday School, which was held by the Baptists in the small community hall in our farming district in Queensland, Australia.  Over 50 years later, I still remember that my first lesson about Jesus was through the lives of the loving pastor and his wife.  Yes, I loved the stories of Moses crossing the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion’s den and his three friends in the fiery furnace, David killing the giant, faithful Joseph, and I especially loved the story of the baby born in a manger, who grew up and was crucified for my sin.  I delighted in the stories of how the Savior was so kind and loving, how He fed the 5,000 and how He healed so many.  His kindness and love was demonstrated in the pastor and his dear wife, something for which I will always be grateful.
 
A few years later, when I was in my mid-teens, a drunk driver killed my boyfriend, and it was this experience that finally led me to a full surrender to Christ. This was also the time when prayer became my lifeline.
 
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 4:16
 
(“Boldly” doesn't mean to come presumptuously or brazen-like, but rather it means to come with confidence and assurance that He hears us.) How gracious, I thought that God should allow me this great privilege of communicating with Him. 
 
After my conversion, I began to seek God for guidance as to how I could serve Him.  This was when I discovered Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.”
This verse has been one of my favorites, since I discovered it many years ago. 
 
Through His amazing providence, (which I will share at another time) God led me to Avondale College—in Australia—where I studied to become a missionary.  Little did I know that God’s plan was for me to become the wife of a pastor-evangelist, John Carter, and that my desire to serve God would be fulfilled in working by his side and in assisting him in his work of preaching the everlasting gospel.  I learned then that we never know what God will do when we make ourselves available to Him.
 
I am writing these lessons based on many of my own personal experiences and those of the thousands of people who have attended our evangelistic meetings around the world.  I will mention some of these experiences as I go through our “School of Prayer” series.
 
After the gift of salvation, the next best gift is that of the Holy Spirit.  John 14:16 states: “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”  This is just one text that answers “prosperity gospel” believers who think Christians shouldn’t have problems.  The fact that God would send a Comforter indicates that we will need help, and that there will be problems. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.” – John 16:33
 
What is the connection between prayer and the Holy Spirit?
 
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of every thing I have said to you.” – John 14:26. This verse tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us and guide us, through a study of the Bible, which will enable the Holy Spirit to bring to our remembrance, when we pray, teachings and principles that will help us to pray correctly. 
 
The main purpose of prayer is to “know God,” and this knowledge comes through daily reading God’s Word, believing it and obeying it.  Having this communion with God results in having Him as our beloved Companion all through life.
 
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking about prayer to thousands of new Christians. I tell them that prayer is not an obligation, which we have to fulfill, but rather it is a loving relationship with God.  We do not need some clever technique or complex procedure to be able to commune with Him.  Prayer is talking to God as to a friend because He is indeed our best Friend.  “There is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24
 
When we say, “prayer changes things,” that is true, prayer can and does change things, but more often than not, prayer changes us!  Let me illustrate.  Over the years, there have been occasions when I have felt very hurt by unkind and untrue words.  As a young Christian, I told the Lord—the audacity of me—I felt like giving the unkind person a piece of my mind!  As I prayed and read the Bible in my worship that particular day, God spoke to me through Leviticus 19:18, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.  I AM THE LORD!”  Wow, God even signed it Himself!
 
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” – Hebrews 12:14.  I learned then that God doesn’t waste time or words. He cuts through the nonsense very quickly, and I got the message loud and clear.
 
I don’t know about you, but I need God’s grace and mercy every day, and that’s why the most important part of my daily devotions is listening to God speaking to me through His Word.
 
Something that is important here is our reason for reading the Bible.  We can read it for history’s sake or to learn doctrine, and both are good reasons.  However, in our personal devotions, we need to read the Bible for the purpose of listening to God instruct us how to bring our will into harmony with His will for our lives.
 
Unbelievers often ask, “Is it always easy to obey God?”  Not always.  “Why then do you Christians do so?  Isn’t it all about blind faith?”  No, dear friend, we trust and obey because we know that God loves us, and this was best demonstrated by the Cross at Calvary.  Every time we look at the Cross, we are reminded of how much He loves us.
 
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
 

Next Time: When God says, “yes.”

 
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If you have any questions or comments, please email me directly at schoolofprayer(at)cartereport.org

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