What prayer is

What Prayer Is

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Prayer is to the Christian what breathing is to a healthy person. Without prayer a Christian dies.  Breathing is spontaneous; in many ways so is prayer. 
Prayer is like a river that returns to its source, for prayer has its power in the Spirit of Christ working life in the heart of God’s child; that life returns again in prayer to God who gave it. It is the expression of the thirst for God that makes a stag panting after the water brooks an apt simile (Ps. 42:1).
Prayer is lovers’ talk, for it is a holy conversation between the living and eternal God and the redeemed child of God in which both speak to each other in the most intimate relationship of love. 
Prayer is a child coming to his Father, knowing that his Father loves him and will provide for him in every need. We must begin our prayers, the Lord says, with “Our Father who art in heaven.”
In prayer the believer enters consciously into God’s presence. There is an earthly element in prayer, for in heaven we will not pray any longer, at least not in the sense in which we usually speak of it. We shall see Christ face-to-face (1 Cor. 13:12) and be consciously in Christ’s presence every moment. But here on earth we are preoccupied with many things, and God is often far from our thoughts. Prayer is the pause in our often busy and hectic lives that brings us face-to-face with God through Jesus Christ. Prayer is also heavenly, for it takes us out of this world and carries us soaring on the wings of prayer into God’s own dwelling place.
Usually we think of prayer as those moments when we fold our hands and close our eyes and it is usually necessary for us to do this, because we are easily distracted and our minds are easily turned away from being in God’s presence. But folding our hands and closing our eyes are not essential to prayer, nor do these actions guarantee prayer. A mother, while all but overwhelmed with the cares and duties of tending to the needs of her family, may offer a silent prayer to God as she has her hands immersed in dishwater. A child, taunted by cruel classmates, may seek grace from God to (not)retaliate against his tormentors. A father, forced to listen to foul language in the shop, may, while operating his press, seek strength to witness properly to those who take the name of his God in vain.
To remember that prayer is consciously to be in the presence of God in order to carry on a holy conversation with Him will help us to understand how Scripture can admonish us to pray continuously. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul literally says, “Pray without ceasing.” There are no qualifications, no limitations, no explanations that would ease the force of the command, but only this: “Pray without ceasing.” The same admonition is repeated in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (6:18). In Colossians 4:2 the members of the church at Colosse are urged to “continue in prayer,” and to the church at Rome Paul writes that they should continue “instant in prayer” (12:12). This is the high calling to which we are called, the goal of sanctification in our lives. To walk every moment in the consciousness of being in the presence of God is that for which we strive here in the world, but which shall be ours only in glory.
Herman Hanko 
When You Pray, pp. 1-2 

Abraham’s servant’s prayer.

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I find this prayer and it’s answer one of the most remarkable in the Bible, for two reasons: first it’s specificity, Eliezer asks for something quite detailed and specific and second he says it in his heart (v45). This shows that our prayers don’t have to be actually spoken out loud and they can be about the most small, specific or detailed subject in our lives. What a gracious privilege to be God’s covenant friend.

Genesis 25:12-67

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Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians

 

Rev. Ron VanOverloop (Grace Church, Michigan)

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”

Sung Psalm 1

Readings Ephesians 1:16-19 and 3:14-20 (see also his prayers in Philippians and Colossians)

Generally we pray for folk who are ill or going through trials of some kind and this is right, but Paul after listing all the blessings these saints have, and thanking God for them, focusses his prayer on spiritual blessings namely the knowledge of God, his power and love, the hope of his calling and his inheritance. To know him is to love him and I believe he prays that the mutual indwelling of the covenant Christ in his people is more and more their experience (Gal.2:20, II Cor. 6:16, Col.1:27, John 14:20).

We discussed how a person knows they are predestined/elect and the Canons of Dort are wonderfully clear mentioning “infallible proofs”: (Head 1 Article 12). Notice that our election, our indwelling sinfulness (Head 5 Article 2) and our perseverance (Head 5 Article 12) are all reasons for humility and when we are humble Christ dwells in us!

The tabernacle (also temple)-Old Testament picture of God dwelling with his people. We are now the temple of God!

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Prayer for a new year.

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First these wonderful truths from the Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 9:

Q. 26.  What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?
A.  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them;1 who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence2) is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father;3 on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body;4 and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage;5 for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,6 and willing, being a faithful Father.7

  1. Gen. 1, 2. Psa. 33:6.
  2. Psa. 115:3. Mat. 10:29. Heb. 1:3. John 5:17.
  3. John 1:12. Rom. 8:15, 16. Gal. 4:5, 6. Eph. 1:5. 1 John 3:1.
  4. Psa. 55:22. Mat. 6:26. John 1:16.
  5. Rom. 8:28.
  6. Rom. 4:21.
  7. Rom. 10:12. Mat. 6:26. Mat. 7:9-11

    Requests from Psalm 90:

    12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

    14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

    15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

    16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

    17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

    Thank you for your love through prayer!

 

Jacob’s wrestling contest.

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In Genesis 32 I believe Jacob wrestled with a pre-incarnate Christ who was confronting his unbelief. Through a vision of angels and a message directly from heaven God had promised to bring him back to the promised land and bless him with innumerable seed, including the Messiah (Gen.28:13-15). The angels were visible confirmation of divine protection and supply.

So why the wrestling? It was wrestling in prayer as Hosea 12:3-4 elucidates. Jacob with tears sought to really lay hold on the promise and have it confirmed by Jehovah himself before he would let go his opponent. In what way was and is God our opponent in prayer? Surely if he has promised to bless us we have no need to persuade him! He is of one mind and who can turn him? Perseverance in prayer is portrayed in the lengthy wrestling match, something Christ advocates clearly in the parable of the widow and judge in Luke 18:3-5 and his admonition in Matthew 7:7. Prayer does not change God’s mind (his decree is eternal) but it does change us! He inspires it in us!

Our real enemies in every aspect of our Christian lives are the world, our flesh and the devil who commands hosts of wicked demons. In this situation Jacob’s major opposition was himself, his old sinful nature that he relied upon to dupe others and gain what he needed from them. Even with his presents of droves of animals for Esau he had no assurance he or his family would live another day as his brother undoubtedly had murderous intent (400 men are not for a peace party!) Christ, who wrestles in us by his Spirit wrestled truly and literally as man to man with Jacob and the proof was that he crippled Joseph with a supernatural touch to his hip joint, dislocating it. So God, in Christ, was prevailed upon to bless him and simultaneously he humbled him physically. The fact Jehovah salvation (Jesus) renamed him Israel meant much. From being a heel-holder (meaning of Jacob) he became a prince (meaning of Israel), the third in the famous line of patriarchs and the one who gave his name to all the Old Testament church and even believers today (Gal.6:16). What we see here is the physical realty of what the Spirit of Christ does in God’s people (Gal.5:17). Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor.15:57).

 

A beautiful Psalm!

Psalm 16

Joy

Preserve me—keep me from my enemies and from sin. I trust thee. I can add nothing to thy being but I may do good to thy people (fellow Christians) in whom I delight. All who make an idol in which they trust, whether money, sex, drugs, alcohol, fame or power will have multiplied sorrows. Jehovah is my inheritance, he is all I need, he has blessed my life, he guides me and his Spirit moves me deep within. I pray about everything future. He is there for me continually so I am glad and one day he will redeem my body and make it incorruptible. I am confident he will show me the right path in life. He (and nothing else) is the source of fullness of joy and pleasures for ever (John 15:11, John 16:24).

This is the joy of the COVENANT—intimate friendship with God.

The vital importance of intercession in salvation.

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In Hebrews 7:25 we read, “ Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” This is not the first time we read of Christ praying for us viz.,”I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:9) and specifically, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32 spoken to Peter). Our on-going salvation depends on the continual intercession of Christ AND our fellow believers viz.,”And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess.5:23). We will be saved but our intercession for one another is one of the MEANS!

Never stop praying!

E-Bulletin by Rev. Brian Allenby Christians at Work

‘We hope that you have a blessed and restful Easter’

Saturday 26th March 2016

How Often Should We Pray?

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Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:18

‘They stand best who kneel most’

How is your prayer life? Is prayer a central and significant part of your life, or is it something you only do when you are with other believers? Is prayer a daily discipline for you, or do you mainly pray when you get in trouble? Do you pray when you are home alone, or do you find that you only pray and worship the Lord when you go to be with the church, or are in the presence of other worshipping and praying people?

To pray regularly requires discipline. Unfortunately, most people are “on-again, off-again” when it comes to prayer. They are faithful for a while, but then they fall out of prayer because they are too tired to get up early, or they become distracted by other things.

But, how often are we supposed to pray? Ephesians 6:18 gives us the answer! It says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

The word “always” is taken from the Greek phrase ?en panti kairœ?. The word ?en ?would be better translated at. The word ?panti ?means each and every. You could say that this word ?panti ?is an all-encompassing word that embraces everything, including the smallest and most minute of details. The last word in this Greek phrase is the word ?kairos?, the Greek word for times or seasons. When all three of these words are used together in one phrase (?en panti kairœ?) as in Ephesians 6:18, they could be more accurately translated at each and every occasion.

Ephesians 6:18 conveys this idea:

Pray anytime there’s an opportunity — no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Use every occasion, every season, every possible moment to pray….

This clearly tells us that prayer is not optional for the Christian who is serious about his or her spiritual life. According to this scripture, believers are to make prayer a top priority. Yet, unfortunately, prayer is largely disregarded by the average Christian today.

If prayer isn’t a priority in your life right now, why not make it a priority, starting today? You might say, “But I don’t have time to pray.” You have time to do whatever you really want to do. If it’s truly in your heart to pray, you can find the time. And, if your schedule is as busy as you think it is, take Ephesians 6:18 to heart. Grab any available time you can find, and make it your prayer time. Why not start this day right? Make a quality decision to make prayer your first order of business! Easter is a good time to set yourself right in these matters.

I like the way Paul put the same sentiment over in his letter to the Thessalonian Church, especially the way in which the New Living Translation expresses it, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19:

 Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts aimed towards heaven turn to prayers-He knows our thoughts! Hence we do not need even set times but they are also vital. You can snack all day but set meals are basic!-JK