In the previous article, we talked about the scripture as a means of grace that God has given us as a tool for our spiritual growth. The other tools also include Prayer, Fellowship and Witnessing/evangelism. Take note that these means are in the first place, as a result of the work of God in us. For it is God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). In the second place, these means are dependent on each other. It is because I have heard, read, studied, memorised, meditated on the word of God that I will automatically bow down to God in prayer. Nehemiah and Daniel, after their interaction with the word of God, were moved to pray and fast (Nehemiah 1:4 & Daniel 9:3). And in the third place, these are tools, and so it is incumbent to us to practice doing them on a frequent and consistent basis.
Consider, if today the president calls you, and he told you that he is giving you a direct line to the statehouse. You can call him anytime and talk or ask him about anything that you desire. How would you react to such a call? Notice it is only when the president reaches out to you and gives you his contact that you can reach him. So it is with God. God has reached out to us and given us a direct line to Him. How has he done this? He has given us Christ, the high priest that now through him, we can boldly approach the throne of grace with confidence in our times of need to obtain mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16;10:9-13; John 14:6). In Christ, we have the boldness to pray. Scripture reminds us in Ephesians, “…in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” (Ephesians 3:12)
Prayer is when men communicate their adorations, petitions and confessions to God; for such things, God has reviled in the scripture in accordance with God’s will for the good of the believers.
Because, God’s revelation in the scripture fuels prayer. I consider prayer to be the first application of the scripture. It is the first spiritual and practical thing that you are moved by the Holy Spirit to do. John Clavin stated that prayer is the chief exercise of faith, and by which we daily receive God’s benefits. It means that prayer is a command from God. All commands from God are done in faith by the grace that God has lavished towards us in Christ Jesus. Scriptures say, “…pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:17-18)
The scripture above is giving us an instruction to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances. Paul anticipated the question that would be logical to ask. Why should we pray? Is it a must that we always pray, without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances? His following words are the answer. Yes! He answers. Because it is the will of God in Christ for you, this is simply saying that praying without ceasing and giving thanks in all circumstances is a command from God to all who are in Christ Jesus – Christians (Romans 12:12; Psalms 53:6; Jeremiah 10:21; Zephaniah 1:4-6). If you do not keep Gods command, God will judge you.
Pour out your anger on the nations
that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
that do not call upon your name!
Whatever God has given as a command, must be taken seriously and must have a lot of benefits for us. How then is prayer beneficial to us? One it is in prayer that we talk to our creator (Psalms 79:6). Through prayer, we agree with God that we have sinned against him (Psalms 53:6). It is in prayer that we humble ourselves to the Judge of all the earth in the submission of all He has made known to us through his word about us and about him (Daniel 1:3). Prayer is the direct line to God that we give thanks and make petitions/request to him (Philippians 4:6-7). Kark Barth Noted, “the basis of prayer is human freedom before God, which is also God’s gracious command. Since prayer is essentially petition, it is not meritorious.” We do not pray to get; we pray to ask.”
Kark Barth continues to say “God surely hears our prayers.” Hearing doesn’t mean he will give what we ask. He gives us according to his will, according to the riches of his glory (Ephesians 3:14 & Philippians 4:19). The answer to any ask is a yes, a no, or wait. God also answers us in these ways.
What is prayer? Since prayer is a verb(doing word), it can be defined by how it is done. Let us borrow two definitions. The classic reformed definition of prayer is an offering up of our desires for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, by the help of the Holy Spirit, with confessions of our sins, and thankfully acknowledge his mercies.” John Bunyan’s renders it this way- “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God hath promised, or according to the Word, for the good of the church, with submission, in faith, to the will of God.”-emphasis added
These two definitions explain to us how to pray. Let us start by saying how not to pray. We should not be ostentatious- this is to be ‘show-offs’ while praying. If we pray so that others may say how a prayer warrior we are, that is our intent and God will reward that prayer as thus. We are not to pray with complicated phrases or to hip up empty phrases. We should not pray publicly. Get me right, publicly doesn’t mean corporately. There is a difference between public prayer and corporate prayer. Corporate prayers is when you have agreed to pray together on certain issues. Public prayer is when an individual prays publicly with the intent to show how religious or prayerful he is. (Matthew 6:7-8).
Now, what do we do when we pray? Be sincere and sensible. Open up to God in prayer with an honest heart and well thought out words. Pray with your heart, be emotional, but also involve your mind while at it. Be conscious of what you are saying (1 Corinthians 14:15). Go to a private room or place where there is no one seeing you, and your unseen father will reward you (Matthew 6:6). Jesus prayed in secret when he went up the mountain and left the disciples and prayed in private. Daniel fasted and prayed for 21days in private, Nehemiah when he wanted to ask the king for permission to go and rebuild the wall of Jerusalem fasted and prayed in private. (Luke 9:18;Daniel 9:1-19; Nehemiah 1:4-11).
There are may prayer position. While you are praying you can while you are seated (2 Samuel 7:18; Judges 20:26; Nehemiah 1:4). You can pray while kneeling (Acts 9:10), standing (Mark 11:25), laying prostrate (Isaiah 1:5), arms stretched out (2 Chronicles 6:13), with hands raised (1 Timothy 2:18). Your actions do not mean that your prayers are better; they should be as a result of the honest outpouring of your heart to God for the things he has promised in his word. However, it is okay for you to pray in those different actions; it doesn’t matter which one you do.
You can pray at any time, several times a day (Daniel 6:10; Psalms 55:17;88:1). You can pray in the morning (Mark 1:35; Psalms 5:3). You can pray all night (Luke 6:12). This should help us know that time is not to book an appointment with God, but to honour God with our time. We are to set a special time for prayer. It is more of disciplining us than for getting the attention of God.
We cannot confine prayer to any single place or building. You don’t have to go to a shrine, alter or synagogue or temple to pray to God. He is omnipresent, and as such, you will find him anywhere. You will find him even in the deepest of the sea in the mouth of a fish if you call out his name in prayer, ask Jonah (Jonah 2:1; John 4:21-24). You can pray outside of a building (Luke 5:16).
The power of prayer is not based on who you are, what you pray about, how you pray(shout if you want to raise your hand you may, lay prostate if you wish to), the power of prayer is not in the place you go to pray, whichever temple it is, whatever place you go to. The power of prayer is not in the time we pray. The power of prayer is in the person to whom we are praying.
Pray where ever you are, whenever you will and however(body language). But always have this in mind, that you are praying to God who is more than the president or any other prominent person you will ever find.
The therefore if there is a tone or act you won’t use to talk to the president. It goes without saying that God is greater than the president and as such, deserves even better.
Lastly, prayer can be accompanied by fasting. You can set a day, a week a month of either dry fasting or partial fasting. Fasting is denying yourself certain legitimate pleasure, and in their stead, you seek to worship and enjoy God more. Fasting benefits us, and remind us that only in God, we are delighted and in Him, we are fulfilled and filled with unexplainable joy. In fasting, we are not arm twisting God to do what we ask him, but training our bodies to do what He desires of us to do. That is why, in the Bible, fasting has been mostly in repentance and seeking God’s guidance before making a decision or doing anything important that might affect His people. (Ezra 8:23;Acts 1423; Nehemiah 1:4-11; Daniel 9:1-19).
“Fasting, if we conceive of it truly, must not be confined to the question of food and drink; fasting should really be made to include abstinence from anything which is legitimate in and of itself for the sake of some special spiritual purpose. There are many bodily functions which are right and normal and perfectly legitimate, but which for special peculiar reasons in certain circumstances should be controlled. That is fasting.” ~ Martin Lloyd-Jones, Welsh Protestant Minister
Start praying today. In fact, as soon as you are done reading this article pray. Pray that God may use this article to reach out to many and stir up their prayer life. Some practice you can develop is to write down or record your prayers; you can also have a prayer list.
Let us meet in the next article and talk about the third spiritual discipline-Fellowship.