This blog is from a term paper I wrote a few years back. I enjoyed writing it so much I thought it would make good reading for a blog.
|May 4, 2015|
How many times have we said or heard the phrase “Well, all we can do is pray about it.” What! Did I just say that or hear someone make that statement? What foolishness we speak and forget the true greatness which is manifested through sincere prayer. Prayer is a gift from God; it is communication with our creator. Our prayers can move mountains, it can make or stop things from occurring, and it can provide, heal and change hearts. At bedtime, in the quiet huddles at a hospital, through email and Facebook posts, in fasting and church services, prayer is at the heart of each of these and in unlimited access to the Father. Many times we put limitations on what we allow God to help us with and we try to carry too much of the load ourselves. Our silly phrases can lend to serious foolishness, our words matter much. Prayer is a powerful expression that can even be a resolve to life or death situations.
So what is prayer and what does it do? Whenever a person goes into prayer, the forces of heaven are released and the same power that freed Jesus from the grave becomes available to us only by the Father. The limitations of what he is willing to do for us are those we impose ourselves. In prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes and raises each of our petitions to the Father, made possible by the sacrificial blood of Jesus on the cross. This is confirmed in Romans 8:27, “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (NIV) Magnificent and mysterious things happen through prayer.
It is through prayer we are renewed by the Holy Spirit daily and we are redeemed in salvation. Comfort and love fill the air space we inhabit when we pray, our souls are soothed. God’s warm love is exhibited during prayer time and envelopes the worshipper, his presence is great and wondrous. During these precious moments we are alone with Him, he hears our voice and we know him. We become conscious of the fruits of the Spirit in earnest prayer seeking, Galatians 5:22 &23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Prayer defeats the enemy as stated in 2 Chronicles 20:2-25. Praying is life sustaining and keeps the church alive in unity, as is exampled in Acts 4:24-33. Praying honors God and is an important part of all Ministry; 1 Kings 18:24-39 and Ephesians 6:18. [Morris: pgs 4 &5]
As we can see, prayer is a critical daily element to life itself. It accomplishes more than we can imagine. For these reasons among many others, we also need to understand how to approach The Father in prayer. “God rewards the Believer who operates in faith, it pleases him. It is important to come in faith, ask in faith and receive in faith.” [Morris: pg 7] People go without necessities because they do not ask God in prayer to provide for them. We are told in 1 John 5:14 & 15 to make our requests known to God. We are also reminded in James 4:2 that we do not have because either we failed to ask for it or we asked with the wrong intention at heart. “…You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Another essential part of prayer is to always pray in the name of Jesus, as we are told to do in John 14:13. When we go to the throne of the heavenly Father in prayer, we only have this privilege because of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. Therefore when we pray it must always be in the name of Jesus. When we pray in this appropriate manner, God is glorified and responds to our prayers. [Morris: pg 8] Another part of prayer is physically how we approach the throne, or ‘positions of prayer’. [Morris: pg 27]
There are at least 9 or more positions individuals use to pray. Some of these include Lifting up our hands, bowing our faces to the ground and just before sleep in the bed. Let us focus for a few minutes on my three most used positions of prayer, standing, kneeling and the position of my heart. Often a big deal is made out of the way we pray by the church. First let me remind you, God hears all prayers offered in the name of Jesus. In fact there are at least 27 scriptures that reassure us he hears our prayers. Some of my scripture favorites regarding the Father hearing us are Psalm 55:17, Matthew 7:7 & 8, Hebrews 11:6 and John 15:7.
When I go to prayer I typically begin in the standing position, with worship music on, my eyes closed, incense offered and often a candle lit to remind me of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Everyone has their own way they offer prayer in their closet; I do not believe there is specifically a right or wrong way as long as the position of the heart is in right standing. The right heart is being earnestly seeking God and His will for us. James 4:3 & 4 clearly says, God knows our heart and motive for the things we seek in prayer, and it is imperative that it be pure. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
My prayer closet routine helps me lose focus on me and daily life things and solely reflect on God. Some prayer closet actions may become habit and I believe that is fine as long as it leads your focus on God and not the rituals themselves. After preparing my prayer room for worship, I stand and soak in the words of worship music and the soothing smell of incense. I seek the comfort of the Holy Spirit. As I move into that precious secret prayer place my next actions depend on the leading of the spirit. I often sing praises, I always pray and most times end up on my knees for a while listening to what the Lord has to say to me. “Solomon both stood and kneeled to pray and scripture tells us that Stephen and Jesus kneeled to pray. Scriptures 1 Kings 8:54, Acts 7:60 and Luke 22:41” [Morris: pg 27] It really boils down to your heart and God and nothing else. If the position of your heart is in the right place everything else is mute. God is interested in our authentic worship and heartfelt faith, not whether we are standing or sitting, positions are the human way of honoring and glorifying God in prayer.
The types of biblical prayers used for specific desired outcomes are unlimited. However let us focus on three kinds of prayers that are purposeful to all believers; Spiritual Warfare, Discouragement, and Knowing God’s Will. We will begin with Spiritual Warfare. This is an aspect of prayer life too many Christians know little about or completely overlook. To gain a better understanding of the magnitude of Spiritual Warfare a few facts are helpful to understand about Heaven. Spiritual warfare is the largest topic of the three in my opinion. One of my favorite books and author “War in Heaven” by Derek Prince explains the subject of Heaven and warfare very well. Let us start by looking at 2nd Corinthians 12:2-4 in which Paul is speaking about visions and revelations from God. In these passages he explains about a man he knew in the past who was caught up to the “Third Heaven”. This clearly tells us there are three Heavens, the third being the place of God’s personal dwelling and the most sacred paradise. The Greek word for paradise is ‘Paradeisos’ meaning garden. God’s garden is in heaven and a second biblical reference to this can be found in Luke 23:43. [Prince: pg 12]
The Book of Revelation briefly talks about the second or mid Heaven. In both Revelation 14:6 and 19:17 references are made to an angel and birds in the midst of heaven or mid-heaven. The Greek word used for mid-heaven is ‘mesouranema’ which means mid-heaven. There are no specific references to the location of the first heaven so its location is not specifically known. One of the many inhabitants of the heavens is angels. There are two categories of angels those of God and those of Satan. The Bible makes many references to the angels and the various purposes of them, such as in Matthew 18:10 Jesus speaks about the children who have angels. Angels are mentioned as God’s messengers, God’s agents of protection and warrior angels, who engage in conflict with the opposing angels. The third heaven God’s garden is said to be a peaceful place of beauty. The mid-heaven is where angelic conflict and warfare occurs as Satan pours out slanderous accusations against Christians to God. Revelation 12:10 tells of Satan being the accuser of our brethren before God.
What do the facts about heaven have to do with prayer? The two go hand in hand with each other. Human life has many conflicts, struggles and even war and it is the same with the Godly and demonic angels. For the most part people accept conflict as an acceptable regular part of life. But as noted in 2nd Corinthians 10:3-5 the conflict we accept are really to be battled by us spiritually with the tools God has provided for our benefit. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Paul tells us the Christian war is different than what is seen with our eyes on a regular basis. He tells us this is a spiritual war and our weapons to fight this war are not the same as those which our human soldiers use on the earthly battlefields. They are something much more that comes from God and is very powerful. Ephesians 6:12 specifically tells us that our battles are in the spiritual realm and not on the human level. Over and over again the Bible refers to our Lord who is mighty in battle. The book of Ephesians provides us a detailed description of what our spiritual weapons are. In Chapter six Paul tells us again that we do not struggle human against human, but against the powers of the dark world and against the forces of evil in heaven. The spiritual weapons (armor) he speaks of is, salvation, truth, righteousness, faith, the biblical word and prayers (also in spirit). There it is one of our main weapons to fight against the evil principalities is prayer. The reality and situation we face as warriors in spiritual warfare is described well in the book of Daniel beginning in chapter 10. There we find him fasting and praying for 21 days. He was sad about the enslavement of his people and Daniel was seeking God’s help. An archangel of God called Gabriel came to Daniel and made known to him that his prayer was heard by God on the very first day he prayed it. When Daniel asked why it took 21 days for God to acknowledge, Gabriel explained that it took that amount of time and help from another angel Michael, to battle past the prince of Persia. Daniels persistence in prayer was the key, he helped the angels battle against Satan through his prayer.
As we pray throughout the day, over food, and in our closets we are going to battle against evil principalities that hinder us. As told in the book of Matthew, we have the power to bind these principalities and loosen its grip on us. We need to be suited for spiritual prayer by putting on our armor; reading the Bible, walking out our salvation in righteousness and truth. Having unwavering faith and trusting him for everything and then there is prayer itself, the critical link of communication to the Father for life. “The reality we must grasp in spiritual warfare prayer is that though Satan has been attached, overpowered, and stripped of his armor, he is still holding on to a lot of plunder that isn’t rightfully his. Through warfare prayer we help others go in and get back the stuff in their lives that Jesus secured for His own purposes through his death and resurrection.” [Rhodes: Pg 111]
Sometimes it may seem like our prayers are not being heard or answered and we begin to doubt and become discouraged. I think this happens often because we do not understand the second half of the statement, ‘God answers prayers.’ Yes he does, but the second part is; we have accountability and there are hindrances to answered prayer. When we pray, are we asking for selfish reasons (Psalm 66:18), is there any unbelief within us (James 1:5-7) are our motives from the right place, do we abide in Him, do we have any idols in our life, do we believe God’s rewards and answers, is there any un-forgiveness in us? God is very specific about un-forgiveness (Mark 11:24-26) within us, this is a critical part of our walk. God has said if we do not forgive others, he will not forgive us. If you feel like God is not hearing your requests, the answer could be pending until these reasons are all in balance. [Morris: pgs 12 &13]
Overcoming discouragement can be very difficult if we are not in regular prayer time with God and using our spiritual weapons daily. Depending on the root of our discouragement being experienced will determine how quickly you recognize it for what it is and take victory over it. Sometimes discouragement is because you have been waiting for a long time for answered prayer or it could be a battle of depression, feeling of inadequacy or other areas of exposed weakness. We are not alone. Even Moses felt discouraged at times and complained to God (Exodus 5:22, 23). But he did it with an attitude of integrity and humility. [Copeland: pg 150] We can feel like it is inappropriate to approach God with these types of things, but the truth is He already knows. If we attempt to cover up our discouragement we cannot get past it and we are not being truthful. Remember that Truth is one of our spiritual armor items. When we become discouraged this is the time to turn to the Father even more. We also need to check ourselves to see if we have lapsed or failed to follow God’s direction along the way. Even in times of discouragement sincere prayer is still the battle key to our freedom.
In times of discouragement we need to have some scriptures hidden deep within our memory bank to pull out and use. God wants to help us, he wants to adhere to his word and perform it (Jer. 1:12). [Copeland: pg 151] We should not become discouraged if we are enduring trials, James 1:2, 3 says we are to be joyful when we encounter trials, because they are proving our faith and will complete patience. It goes on to say that once patience has had her perfect work, we will become developed and lack nothing. This promise alone should make us want to be patient and not be discouraged, however in the middle of it sometimes we cannot see what is right in front of us.
Wisdom and God’s will is something we can never have enough of when applied appropriately. The saying that comes to mind is; ‘I wish I knew back then what I know today.’ I have said this so many times, but the truth is some of that wisdom I wished for could have been possible through Bible study. We cheat ourselves out of this important element called wisdom, when it is available to us just by studying the Bible. Now that does not mean we could know all of what we do today back then, because of life experience. It is true that we have trials and experiences that teach us as we go through life and it is improbable to expect that as a youngster. However the wealth of wisdom found in the scriptures, can make life easier and it is available to us even as young children. All we have to do is read, study and then apply it. God’s will is also explicit in the Bible and available to us from childhood until life ends.
God’s will for us is twofold. There are things he wants for each and every one of us and there are individual specific things he desires for us too. For example, it is God’s will that sinners are saved according to Romans 10:8-11. It is his will to heal the sick (Exodus 23:25) and prosper us (3 John 1:2). God also wills us to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8:1, 4) and to walk worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1). [Morris: Pg 19]. We should desire to do God’s will, and trust his will to be the perfect thing for our life. His will is designed to complete us and bring joy with purpose. We should pray in a way that honors God and requests to know what his will for us is. A way to ask God to show us his will is: “Father, I ask you to fill me with a knowledge of Your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives so that I will live a life worthy of You, Lord, and please You in every way. Let my life bear fruit in every good work, as I grow in the knowledge of God.” [Copeland: pg 189]
Prayer builds dreams and yours is in the process right now if you have been spending time with God in prayer. We are called to make the most of each and every day while we wait patiently for our journey to be complete and prayers answered in God’s timing. Only he knows when the perfect time for answering our prayers is. We are to honor God by trusting him and following his lead. We have no way of knowing exactly when our answers will come, but we can take solace in being assured he answers all of our prayers exactly at the right time. Impatience with God breeds frustration and moves us into a place of instability. “Be generous with patience, give it away freely to yourself and others.” [Meyers: pg 38]
Christians are Intercessors. When God saved us he filled us with the life of Christ who is always interceding. And through our propensity to identify with another’s pain or pray on their behalf out of love and compassion, intercession occurs and is every believer’s call and destiny. When it comes to prayer there are no chosen few. We are all called to pray, whether it is for spiritual warfare, wisdom, encouragement or for one another. Prayer is not a request of God, it is a requirement and expected from each of us. Prayer is for our own beneficial good and we are wise to obey. [Donihue: Pg13]
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Bill Morris Ministries, Inc.: Syllabus, Prayer – TH 408
Copeland, Germaine, Prayers that avail much: Harrison House LLC, 2012, Book
Meyers, Joyce, When God When: Warner Books Inc., 1994. Book
Donihue, Anita Corrine, When I’m On My Knees: Barbour Publishing Inc., 1997, Book
Prince, Derek, War in Heaven: Chosen Books, 2003, Book