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Why Prayer?

People do and respond to things that they perceive will fill a need in their lives. Prayer can be one of these. If something is perceived as “a bother” or “too much trouble” it typically gets ignored in favor of something that will serve their immediate need.

We ask things from people and expect to give something in return. If we don’t ask, that person will not know what it is you want from them. It’s the same with God. God knows our needs and desires—He is omniscient. However, prayer is the request that you make [the key that unlocks the door] to allow Him to do what He already wants to do for you! Jesus is clear “…For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Notice, the passive person who does not ask, or look for answers will not be given them.

Does Prayer Work?

Some may complain [like the Israelites in the desert] that they “prayed and it did not work.” Or perhaps they don’t think they are worthy of God answering their prayer. Jesus died for our sins, He washed them away in His blood. We are worthy because of what Christ did, not because of anything we may do! So forgive yourself and anyone alive or dead that ever hurt you or offended you in any way.

A question Pastors can ask someone who says their prayer was not answered is this: “Is there anyone including yourself that you have not forgiven for some bad thing?” Forgiveness inhibits God from answering. Jesus makes this clear: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25-26 NKJV). Preaching on prayer must necessarily include teaching on forgiveness. Many times the person can forgive others but cannot forgive themselves.

How to Pray

So, we are encouraging our members to pray. What’s in it for them? If they are baby Christians they may weigh all decisions by what they can gain from the effort. For mature Christians they may just need a little “nudge”.

1.       Prayer must be a joy, not an obligation. We enjoy visiting with friends about common interests. Some discuss sports games for hours. Why? Because they enjoy visiting with a kindred spirit. Encourage people that is equally as enjoyable to commiserate with God as it is with friends. Having an audience, a private audience with the creator of the universe, the source of everything good? So the first thing is that prayer can be enjoyable. Visiting with God, what a joy!

2.       Pray the Word. Confessing God’s word in prayer is an easy way to begin a prayer life. A fellow encouraged me to pray the Psalms, and half way through God gave me the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues! Praying the Word works!

3.       Set aside a specific time each day to say “Hi’ to God. I heard a Christian man say “I give God the first hour of each day and the first day of every week.” He prayed and studied his Bible religiously (in the best possible meaning of religious!) So start out with 5 minutes and 1 verse. Once you develop the habit (21 days) you can build in more time and more verses.

4.       Have a prayer partner. My wife has a lady she speaks with on the phone and they share prayer needs. Having someone to be accountable to is a good thing. A friend, spouse, etc. Hey here’s an idea—pray with your kids daily! They will come to enjoy the time spent with you and you are teaching them that prayer is an important part of life.

5.       Write down your prayer needs and those of friends. And write in the answer when it comes so you have a permanent record of your prayers. Pray diligently and fervently. James tells us that “…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 NKJV). Writing things down triggers our memory and organizes our thoughts. As you pray and experience God working in your life it will become the best part of your day.

Conclusion

Know that God loves you. He loves you enough that He gave His only son for your salvation. And that son, Jesus, took stripes for your healing. God gave you the best gift of all…Eternal Life! Prayer does change things. Won’t you commit to some quality time with Him today?

Lawrence (Larry) Spencer has been teaching and preaching about the Helps Ministry for 30+ years in many churches. He graduated from National Outreach Bible Institute in 1983 and was ordained 2 years later. His manual and training program have been refined over time and used with great success in many churches. Rev. Spencer’s two books The Ministry of Helps, a Manual for Local Church Organization (including the training manual as an appendix) andAdventures in Service to God are resources a Pastor can use to build their own Ministry of Helps in their local church.

 

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