One of the noblest requests that we can ever make to God is to ask Him to teach us how to pray; the disciples did this in Luke 11:1'Lord, teach us to pray; just as John taught his disciples'.
Looking at our first garden we see the first man, Adam, programmed for success at the Garden of Eden and being given dominion over all the animals and birds. He walks and talks with God and this, he may have taken for granted. Maybe he should have learnt to pray and give thanks to his creator.
At our second garden, we meet Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying and pleading in vain with the disciples to pray with Him.
Everything in our lives depends on prayer and God expects us to pray. Even salvation, although a given, is actualized through prayer! Romans 10:9 says, 'That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved'.
A word of caution is thrown to us Christians in Mathew 6:5, '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.' In churches we may communally pray but this should not become a show out there for those that are watching us.
All through the Scriptures we encounter prayer. In seeking the Lord in prayer, Moses was able to perform miracles; in the book of Acts 6 we see the apostles consulting God in prayer for what may seem like a simple task of distributing food. One writer concluded of the bible- that prayer is mentioned more times than the words 'evangelize' and 'go to church' and that it is the highest calling for any Christian.
God calls us to prayer; an invitation for intimacy and for us to know Him better. He is welcoming us to relate with Him, know Him and ride in His chariot. But He knows that familiarity breeds contempt so He asks us to say, 'Our Father who is in heaven' and who is to be hallowed thereby creating a relationship with Him of respect, reverence, love, obedience and with a desire to do His will. Christ teaches in Luke 11:4 that we must however come to Him in repentance 'Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us'. We must not approach Him with a self righteous attitude and claim not to have sinned as 1John 1:8-10 admonishes, 'If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word has no place in our lives'.
Is it possible therefore that our sins are not getting answered because we have never truly repented? The Psalmist says in 66:18, 'If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened'; is it that we are falling too much into temptations? Christ in Luke 22:39 asked the disciples to pray for themselves that they may not fall, 'On reaching the place, He said to them," Pray that you will not fall into temptation". But were they listening to the Master?
In Daniel 9:1-4 the writer understands from Scriptures that the Lord's peoples' time in captivity was up; with this knowledge he goes to the Lord with a repentant heart. Although he makes his requests known to God, he first repents of the sins of his people; he prays from a place of knowledge.
The Word of the Lord should be in us. Colossians 3:16 advises us, 'Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God'.
Is it possible that we have failed to recognize the majesty of God over our lives? If this is the case then it really is time for us to cry unto Him, 'Lord, have mercy on me if I have abandoned your will for my life, Lord show me the purpose for my life'. God has a will for our lives and prayer is about establishing the will and work of God; life is ultimately about His will and not ours. And His will is actualized when we pray. Being God of abundance we also discover that some of His treasures are hidden from us but when we pray, He reveals them to us according to is will and purpose for our lives. He works from the end to the beginning. In Isaiah 46:10 He tells us, 'I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please'.
God has not forgotten us and He is not a liar about the promises He has made over our live and implanted in our hearts. He released the answers to our prayers a long time ago but the evil one intercepted them therefore we must be passionate about the place of prayers in our lives, the place of tears and blood but also the only weapon with which we can fight him.
When we want what we want from God to the extent that we will do anything, then He will give it to us. Hezekiah cried bitterly to the Lord and God prolonged his life; Hannah prayed fervently to the extent that Eli thought she was drunk; God heard her. Jonah's prayers led the people to fasting and repentance. Esther gathered the Jews and her maids to prayer and fasting and the Lord granted her favor in the eyes of the king; this in a place and time where law ruled. Revelation 8 talks of prayers that are offered with passion as being answered in rumblings and lightning; in Acts 2 we encounter the disciples gathered in the upper room and whose prayers shake the building and invite the presence of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire. We too can turn God's attention to us by our passionate prayer.
The question to us is, are we worshiping this same God? He has given us one tongue; the tongue of salvation-that we may not be divided either by race or ethnicity. We should be the heroes of prayer but we have gone into hibernation. God wants to do a good thing for us in our lives but we must arise at our place of prayer.
Are we still bound by sin and past failures? We must now turn to God in repentance and tell Him that we have been in Egypt for too long and that we need deliverance. We should then ask Him in a passionate plea to change our hearts, change our mindsets, change our tongues so that the enemy may see us and flee. However, many of us only seem to know this God theoretically, we have no practical reference with Him. When we do know Him practically, we will have power. And the devil knows that when the saints go down in prayer, he is in trouble.
Dear Lord, teach us to pray.
May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.