Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Power and Purpose of Prayer
By Helena Lehman

For those of you who aren't sure what believers are called to pray for, or want to be sure God hears our prayers, I created this summary of the many reasons why, when, and how we are called to pray. Here is a short list of causes taken directly from Scripture:

1. Here, Christ asks us to worship and praise God the Father without being repetitive and not by reciting meaningless memorized prayers (a warning not to simply say the rosary, or repeat the same prayer incessantly). Rather, we should pray to the Father in a conversational but reverent way for the Kingdom of God in Christ to be established on Earth, to ask for God to protect us and provide for us, to ask God to forgive us and keep us from sinning, and to ask God to help us forgive those who sin against us - while always remembering to praise our heavenly Father, His Son, and God’s Spirit for all their blessings:

"And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." - Matthew 6:7-13 (NKJ)

2. Here, we are shown that we should to pray for deliverance of our brethren who are in prison or being persecuted:

"Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints." - Romans 15:30-31 (NKJ)

3. Here, we are called to give thanks to God for those who strive with us in the faith:

"Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him." - Ephesians 1:15-17 (NKJ)

4. Here, we are shown how to labor for others by beseeching God with zeal to help us and our brethren to do God's Will and act righteously:

"Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis." - Colossians 4:12-13 (NKJ)

5. Here, we are shown that we should thank God in prayer, and ask Him to guide us and our political and religious leaders to live godly, peaceful, and reverent lives even as we pray for all people to find spiritual truth in Christ:

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." - 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJ)

6. Here, we are shown that we need faith to ask God for healing, believing that He will heal us, and that we can confess our sins to God and one another in prayer. Finally, we are told that we can pray for miraculous changes in the weather in order to do God's Will:

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit." - James 5:14-18 (NKJ)

Note that this final Scripture about praying for healing includes the idea that we need to recognize our sins and ask God for forgiveness in order to be considered righteous before God and men, as well as to be heard when we pray. It also makes it clear that healing is a gift that is not ordinarily meant to be given in secret, but to give faith to others.

That is why - if at all possible - the sick should seek anointing, a laying on of hands, and the prayers of the righteous in their community when they desire healing. However, no matter what the circumstances, God can perform healing at any time when a person has faith that he or she will be healed, and asks God in a way that is pleasing to Him!

Remember - God doesn't like memorized or repetitious prayers! He wants you to talk to Him like He was your own human father, but with a tad more reverence, and a whole lot more love.

Finally, this last Scripture shows us that a righteous person who loves God dearly can miraculously control the weather if it is God's Will. This may not sound possible, but with God, "all things are possible for the person who believes" (See Mark 9:23).

This is not an exhaustive list, but was created to help everyone get an idea of how, when and why we should pray. Hope you find it helpful!

NOTES from Helena Lehman:

I hope you will consider sharing this article with your friends and family, and I encourage you to do so. Just be sure to let others know I wrote it by leaving the by-line intact. :-)

All Scriptures were taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.