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Prayer God's Way

This is a study on prayer and what the Lord has shown me in regards to my own prayer life. I hope that it will help anyone who reads it to get a better understanding of how the Lord expects us to pray. I worked my way through the New Testament from Matthew. I have not put in every verse on prayer but I have included the ones that the Lord spoke to me through.

Matthew 5:44-45.
44 But I tell you; Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 
45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

The word son in this context means the one that the Lord loves and cherishes, meaning the righteous and the saints. The word persecute comes from the Greek word dioko meaning to pursue with repeated acts of enmity or to suffer. So in order to be called a son of God (to be considered a saint that the Lord loves) we must pray for those that persecute us (cause us to suffer). This is a very hard thing to do because it means that we must lift up our enemies and pray for their salvation. This is not a suggestion, Jesus says, "I tell you", and He means it. We must remember that God says vengeance is His (Romans 13:19) and we must leave it in Gods hands and trust that He knows what is best for us. If we do not pray for our enemies we are not righteous and are then not worthy to be called sons of our Father in heaven.

Matthew 6:5-13.
5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask.
9 This then is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'"

Let us go verse by verse. The main focus of verse 5 is the word seen. Jesus is telling us not to pray like the hypocrites whose only reason for praying is to be seen. The word seen comes from the Greek word phaino which means to shine, become visible, to be conspicuous. The Lord is telling us that if we pray in such a way as to be seen by men then we will receive the same reward as the hypocrites. We must therefore pray as the Lord tells us to in verse 6. We are to pray to God in secret and that when we do we will receive Gods good reward.
In verses 7 and 8 Jesus tells us that we are not to pray like the pagans, babbling and using many words. God knows what we need before we ask so there is no need for us to use lots of words when few will suffice. We are not to babble (utter nonsense or words having no intelligent meaning or ideas contrary to good sense). Our prayers must be intelligent and meaningful. God will not listen to any prayers that are not in line with the Spirit. So as long as we are praying for things that give God the glory and are not for selfish reasons then we are praying with intelligence because we are in line with Gods spirit. We must remember that prayer is talking to the divine creator so it is a very serious affair and not to be taken lightly. When you are going to talk to anyone you think about what you are going to say before you open your mouth don't you? How much more important then is it to think about what you are going to say when you are talking to the Lord of the entire universe. But this does not mean that you need to phrase everything "just right", speak from the heart and use your own words (not what you heard someone else say) and God will listen.

Verses 9-13 tell us how we should pray. First we are to pray to God alone. Then we are to come before Him with praise and thanksgiving as is shown in Psalm 100:4

4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.

We are then to seek that Gods kingdom and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. As Jesus says a little bit further on in Matthew 6:33

33 But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Which leads into verse 11 and again shows that if we seek Gods will above all things He will supply all of our needs. 
Verse 12 is incentive to forgive anyone who has sinned against us and hurt us because we will only be forgiven in the same measure that we forgive. This is one of the must difficult things for us, as flawed humans to do. How can we forgive someone who embarrassed us or hurt us? Now that we are God's children and have been bought with a price we are no longer entitled to feel any hurt because we have laid our whole life at the foot of the cross. We no longer belong to ourselves and our purpose in life is not to please ourselves any longer but to do the will of God and for others to see Jesus in all that we do. So if we are thinking of our own hurt and pain then we are not portraying Christ (who overcame all for us) to the world.

The foremost thought on Jesus mind as He hung in immense pain on the cross was for our forgiveness as it shows in Luke 23:34 where Jesus says Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. If Jesus commands us to do something then it is possible, remember we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

The final verse of the Lords prayer is a plea for deliverance from temptation and the devil. One thing I need to point out is that God cannot be tempted by evil nor does He tempt us, but we are tempted by our own evil desires when we are dragged away from God and enticed (James 1:13-15). So when we pray we should be asking God to give us the strength to stand up under the temptation that the devil will sent our way. And what ever we ask in His name we will receive.

Mark 11:24
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

This short verse is one of the most powerful verses about prayer I have read. Most people (me included) have looked at this verse and said to them selves "I have enough faith to believe God can give me what I ask for". But they will then get mad at God when what they prayed for does not materialize, not realizing that the fault is with themselves.

If you will take the time to study exactly what Jesus is saying here you will find out why. When you get down to the original Greek you will find that this is a humble request from an inferior (us) to a superior (God). I know you are all saying "I knew that", but lets look a little deeper. In praying this prayer you must realize that who you are and what talents you have depends entirely on the grace of God. Our very breath is a gift from God and He can take it away at a moments notice. Our lives are in the palm of Gods hand and the only reason we even wake up every morning is because He allows it. If even for one instant you think that you deserve anything because of who you are or what you do in life then pride has reared it's ugly head and your prayer has just bounced of the ceiling. We must come to the full realization that the only reason that we can do anything is because God has allowed it. If you cannot get a hold of this very important revelation then God will not hear you. When Jesus hung on the cross, going through excruciating pain, He cried out to God "Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). We are commanded to have the mind of Christ, and if we do then the last person that we would be thinking of is ourselves. 1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us that we were bought with a price, therefore our body is no longer our own, but belongs to God. Therefore if we belong to God and we are always thinking of others then we have no pride. But it goes further than that, we also have no right to feel hurt, anger, pain or any of dozens of other negative emotions that we allow to overcome us.

Luke 18:1-8
1 Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 
2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 
3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with a plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' 
4 For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 
5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'" 
6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 
7 And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? 
8 I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"
9 To some who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 
10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. 
12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' 
13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' 
14 I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Jesus is using the parable of the persistent widow to show His disciples and us an example of how our prayer life should be. 
The widow got justice because the judge eventually gave up and gave it to her for his own peace of mind. Jesus tells us that if we cry out to God, He will hear us and bring justice quickly. Except that in our case God answers prayer out of love not frustration. The problem with this is that if we are not praying intelligent prayers we are asking for trouble. I have discovered that God invariably has 3 answers to prayers, "Yes right now", "Never" or "Not yet". If God has answered with either of the last two and we have ignored or have not heard His answer (and listening to God is just as important as talking to God) and we continue to pray for something then we may just get it. But getting what we have asked for in this case is not a good thing and it could very well put your salvation in jeopardy. It is a classic example of "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it". As long as we have a mind of Christ and are praying for things that give Him the glory then we are praying with intelligence.

Now that does not mean that we cannot pray for something like a new car for example. We just need to be careful of our motives. A new car could be used to get to work and God commands a husband to provide for his wife and family and this means getting a job. But if God chooses not to bless you with the car (or what ever it is you are praying for), there is a reason for it even if we do not see it. Just remember that we are Gods chosen people whom He bought with a very high price and if He wants us to walk then we must be thankful and take joy in it. I chose a car as an example because for the last 3 years God has not allowed me to get my license. It was hard to begin with but now I have learned to take joy in being a passenger. Just be careful to give God the glory for what you do receive through prayer. Herod did not give God the glory for all that he had and God stuck him dead (Acts 12:21-23). As long as we keep ourselves in line with the word of God and have His will as the foremost thing in our thoughts then we will be on safe ground and God can bless us and He can bless others through us.

In verses 9-14 Jesus is showing us the proper attitude to have as we pray. Verse 9 tells us that Jesus told this parable because of the self-righteousness and condescending attitude of the people. It still applies to us today (as does all of the word of God). The Pharisee was not justified before God because he did not humble himself before God and he was full of pride at his own accomplishments. Even though he was not a robber, "evildoer" or an adulterer and he fasted regularly and tithed this did not make him a righteous man before God. We must learn to thank God sincerely for what we have and not be condescending to those that do not have. If fact we are commanded to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit the sick and people in prison and more. We must also thank God for what we do not have and this is one of the hardest things for humans do to. If God has not allowed us to have something (whatever it is) there is a reason for it. God will tell us the reason if He thinks that we need to know, otherwise He will not. God knows what we need better that we do and He will bless us with what He knows we have a need of, not what we think we have a need of. It is a case of learning to have faith in our creator and trusting ourselves completely to Him.

The tax collector however realized that he was a sinner and he begged for mercy even though he knew that he did not deserve it. He was justified before God because he humbled himself and put aside his pride so that he could get himself right with God. If we do not follow the example of the tax collector than we will not be righteous before God. We must put aside our pride and humble ourselves before God so that we might be true children, chosen of God. This can be hard, but as mentioned before we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Romans 8:26
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
2 Corinthians 12:9
9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.

We as weak humans do not know what to pray for, but in our weakness the Lord is strong. But if we listen to the Spirit and rest in the strength of the Lord then we are praying a perfect prayer. As mentioned before this perfect prayer is for Gods will to be done in all things. One thing that we must come to realize is that we are imperfect beings trying to talk to the perfect creator. But God in His mercy has given us the guidelines we need to be able to do this. All we have to do is learn what these guidelines are and follow them.

I have only touched on some of what the bible has to say about prayer because I do not want to deny you the joy of discovering the deep things of God for yourself. There is an amazing feeling of joy to be had when, as you study His word, He chooses to give you a direct revelation. I pray that this study has helped you in your walk with Christ and has led you to a better understanding of prayer. Continue to study His word and may the Lord bless you as you do.

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