Prayer: Basics

Segment One, Part One

We might ask: why pray? This is a good basic question. Prayer is first and foremost, the way we communicate with God. Jesus set the pattern for us. He prayed. In many instances, he went into a solitary place to pray to his Father. In others, he prayed for his disciples and for groups that came to hear him teach. By this he set the pattern that we should pray for others as well as for ourselves. (See Matthew 11:20-26,; Mark 1:35; 6:46; John 17:20) Jesus in his earthly ministry was constantly in touch with God the Father. We also in those things we do, should be constantly in touch with God the Father as we ask for his guidance.

But Jesus was not the only one that prayed. The prophet Elisha was also a man of prayer. In 2 Kings, we see him praying for his assistant when it seem that both of them were about to meet death. “And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about.” (2 Kings 6:17) Elisha knew that God was in control but his servant need to see it.

The prophet Samuel also knew about prayer. He spoke to the children of Israel after they asked God for a king and had these words for them: “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. (1 Sam 12:23-24) All of Israel’s great prophets followed this same pattern. They knew that God answered prayer. We as believers should also follow what they did.

Prayer: Basics

Segment One, Part Two

Another good basic question is how to pray. We will use the Lord’s Prayer as a basic model, but first we need to look at a pattern that Bill Bright with Campus Crusade for Christ used with new believers. He used the acronym ACTS. That stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. When you pray use that as a pattern and it will help you sort things out as you pray.

Another model that we can use is the Lord ’s Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. We see this model in Matthew 6: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13) We see also in Luke 11 the same basic model.

When you prepare to pray, use a praise verse to begin and follow the general guideline of ACTS or something similar to the prayer Jesus taught his disciples. You might also have a note with some thoughts you might want to include in your prayer. Remember, you are talking to your Father who knows you better than you know yourself. It pleases him that you are taking time to talk with him and get him involved with what you need or are planning to do. God listens no matter how long or short your prayer is. He just wants to hear from you.

Prayer: Basics

Segment One, Part Three

As we deal with basic questions, you might ask, when is a good time to pray? There is a simple answer to this question. Scripture tells us: “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) The response to that answer might be: how can we do that? The thought here is about one’s mental state or attitude. We should keep in mind that with whatever we do, we should be asking for God’s direction. Whatever you plan and whatever you do, you should ask God for his guiding hand. Then we should look for direction and spiritual insight for what we are to do and how we are to do it. This is the meaning of “pray without ceasing.”

We should also plan daily for a personal devotional time to read God’s Word and pray about what we read. When we do this God will guide us in how we plan and go about the things we do each day. Doing a daily devotional time means that we should place it in the highest priority of the things we do. Failure to do this will eventually find that you are wandering and not serving the Lord faithfully.

Another time to pray is when you sense that someone around you has a need. Lift that person up in prayer and ask for guidance as to what to do. Often a verse of scripture will come to mind or something that you heard from a sermon or Bible lesson will come to your memory. That will guide you in what to do next. Keep these ideas in mind as you go through your daily activities.

Prayer: Basics

Segment One, Part Four

Is there a special place to go when we pray? When we do our daily devotional time, we might find a place that is quiet and without distractions. Read a passage of scripture and pray about it and then as other things come to mind, include them also in your prayer time. Jesus gave the following advice to his disciples: “But thou, when thou pray, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which sees in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6) This is good advice for what we should do daily.

But, is that the only time that we pray? No. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we can voice a prayer of lift up a mental prayer to God. Prayer is not limited to or bound by physical conditions. We are free to pray when we are spiritually led to do so.

Many books have been written about prayer. As you read them, you will find ideas and methods of prayer and devotional time that fit into your life and time frame. The main thought is to begin. Take the initiative and begin. It can be as simple as reading a verse of scripture and taking a short time for prayer. Maybe you can begin with only four or five minutes a day, but make the effort and you will find your day beginning on a good note. It is worth the effort.

Segment Two