Saturday, February 16, 2013

Five Tips for Proper Prayer

The Bible has some extremely interesting things to say about prayer. Most of us think of prayer as pretty straight forward, talk to God and ask for things. This isn't it though. There is a lot to prayer, and by examining the word of God we can understand how to pray and what to pray for!

1. James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

This passage in James in very straight forward. So I prayed for a million dollars, where is it!? Well you aren't getting that because it's a dumb thing to pray for. You're praying for worldly money to spend on worldly products. Why would God answer a prayer that would draw you further from him? In this first passage we see that we should be careful to pray only for things that help us and others.

2. Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

In Matthew 21:22 we get a good, simple tip about prayer. We're told that if we have faith in our prayer we will receive. That doesn't negate the fact that we need to pray for holy things, it means we ALSO must have faith in God, Christ, and what we pray for. We must also have faith that God can. We don't always know that he will, but we must know and believe that he can. James also says: "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind." This goes to this same point, have faith in what you pray for.

3. Mark 11:22-24 And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

This is a really interesting message out of Mark from the lips of Jesus himself. It's interesting because it gives some weight to the ideas behind the law of attraction. Obviously God is sovereign over everything, but is also tells us that through God and our own belief in receiving we will in fact receive what we pray for. Having a positive mindset is nothing to scoff at!

4. Luke 18:1-43 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'

This parable from Luke spoken by Jesus tells us to be persistent. The parable speaks of a woman who constantly bothered a judge about giving her justice. Eventually the judge did it simply to get her out of his hair. This idea was used by the movie character Andy in the Shawshank Redemption by mailing a letter a week requesting funds for a prison library. Eventually he got the money just by pestering them constantly by sending letters. In the same way Jesus tells us to pray. Pray often, pester God with your prayers for righteous things and he will answer! God wants a personal relationship with us. So pray to him!

5. Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

When we are reborn in our new spiritual lives Christ lives within us. Despite all the above passages this one in Romans tells us that yeah, a lot of the time we won't even be able to pray properly. And even when we do pray, God wouldn't normally be all that willing, despite his love. It is through Christ advocating for us that God hears our prayers and answers them.