Most people, Christian or not, have heard of prayer. As we all know prayer by the simplest definition is communication with God. Prayer is how we talk to God and how he can talk with us. Prayer has been sometimes referred to as God’s telephone number or pager number. The older saints used to sing a song, “Jesus on the main line, tell him what you want. You gotta call him up and tell him what you want”. Some teach their children how to pray over their food and how to say their prayers prior to going to sleep at night. There are some people we like to hear pray. Given the way that they pray, you know they are getting through to God. And then there are some you don’t want to see coming to the microphone and you definitely don’t want them to pray over the meal because they pray, in your opinion, way too long. Some people keep prayer in their back pocket until they “need” it. The only time that they pray is when things get extremely hard. As a believer you must understand that prayer should be the best and first step to every decision in your life.
You don’t need to send anyone any money. You don’t need a prayer cloth. You don’t have to be in any specific physical position to prayer nor do you have to have anyone else pray for you. You can pray in your car, on your job, in your home, in the grocery store, or at any point in your day. You could be sitting, standing, lying down, kneeling, hands lifted, hands folded, or hands at your side. Your physical posture and position is not as important as the posture of your heart. Prayer does not have to be long nor is there any great mystery in how to have an effective prayer life.
In our jump off scripture in Acts 1:14 we see that the apostles have left the Mount of Olives and returned to
When you know how to pray it will calm your nerves. When you know how to pray it will soothe your hurts and pains. When you know how to pray it will make a mole hill out of your mountain. When you know how to pray it will remove the burning of your flesh. When you know how to pray it will keep you from loosing your witness. Prayer becomes not only a refuge for you but for the people around you who you want to knock the living daylights out of. Prayer will keep you employed when you want to go off on someone or in front of someone who has the ability to get you fired. People of God know how and when to pray. The when is easy, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continuously”. The how is what we want to examine.
We see throughout the bible that people have prayed to God. Prayer was nothing new to the Jews but in Luke 11 we see what seems to be a strange request from one of the disciples. He asks Jesus to teach them how to pray. In the parallel scriptures in Matthew, Jesus gave a contrast in how other people pray and how his people should pray (there should be a difference). While many people know what prayer is; maybe not so many know how to pray. We commonly refer to this as the Lord’s Prayer when in actuality it is the model prayer. Jesus told them that when you pray you should pray like this. He was not instructing them to repeat verbatim the words he spoke but that when they prayed certain components should be part of your prayer. Now let’s not get to “churchie” with this. There are times when you can’t pray the long prayer. But when you do like Jesus and go to your certain place at your appointed time to pray, why not pray in the manner that he taught. There are nine elements located in the model prayer that we will examine.
1. “Our Father which art in heaven”
When we look at God as our Father it should change everything. I didn’t say look at him like our messed up earthly fathers but looking upon him as the most loving, kind, generous, faithful father one could ever have. When a child has a right relationship with their father, in times of fear, hurt, or discouragement they go to their father with an assurance that he will make it all right. We should have that same child-like expectation as we pray. We have to know that we know that we know that God is going to make it all right. Hebrews 11:6, ‘B’ portion, “for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”. James 1:5-7 says it this way, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord.” When we pray we must know we are praying to El Shaddai the Almighty God and that there is no problem too great, there is no sin too dark, and there are no depths to which he will not reach to rescue one of his own. We must recognize him as our heavenly Father. Even though you have only received the first element necessary for effective prayer, use it. Begin recognizing God for who he is and what he can do.
Whether you call yourself a Christian or not, God loves you and cares about you. When you look at your situation you may think that there cannot be a God. You may think that with all the struggle, heartache, and pain that you are going through, if there is a God, you want no part of him. But the fact that you are reading these words indicates that your situation has not defeated you yet. In the sport of boxing there is a phrase that means that if one guy has the power, no matter how behind he may be on the scorecards, as long as he’s standing and there’s still time, he always has a chance to claim victory. Its called a puncher's chance. The same is true in your life. Regardless of your situation, you still have a puncher’s chance because of the power you receive through the Holy Spirit. Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.