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How Do I Pray?
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Photo: Lisa F. Young
"Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order for us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him." Steps to Christ, p. 64.

"The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him." Psalm 145:18.
 
Jesus' disciples had often seen Him in prayer. One day they asked Him, ''Lord, teach us to pray." Jesus gave them a sample prayer. We call it The Lord's Prayer.
 
The Lord's Prayer

"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen" (Matthew 6:9-13 NKJV).

The disciples were accustomed to seeing religious leaders making a show of praying pompously in public, but Jesus said, "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:5,6 NKJV).

Jesus wanted His followers to think of God as they would of a loving Father.

How should we pray? In Psalm 95:6 it says, "Let us kneel before the Lord our maker." But the Bible also gives us examples of people praying while standing up with their eyes open. Abraham's servant prayed at the well when he was looking for a bride for Isaac. Genesis 24:11-14.

Paul said, "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17. That means you can pray while you're driving in your car. You can ask God to give you patience with the other drivers who are around you. That's pretty important on our busy freeways.

There's something we should know about prayer. God always answers prayer but not always in the way we ask or think He should. Here's a little simple way to remember. God answers in four ways: No, Slow, Grow, and Go.

1) No - when our request is not right; 2) Slow - when the time's not right; 3) Grow - when we're not right; and 4) Go - when everything's right.
 
When we are praying for someone, we need to remember that God never violates a person's free will. He loves us too much to force us to follow Him. His Holy Spirit reaches out to surround someone with His influence. And He uses us to touch those who are in need. Christian love is a powerful force. It can reach and help influence someone to move closer Jesus. But God won't force the will.

As you pray for a friend, remember that love is the most powerful force in the world. We must always keep the lines of communication strong between those we love, even when they are doing things we know are wrong.

God didn't answer Moses' request to enter the promised land (Deuteronomy 3:21-28), and He didn't answer Paul's prayer to take away the thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7). Sometimes we have to trust God to answer our prayers in His own way. Some day He'll explain to us why He answered as He did.

What should we pray for? Job prayed for his friends (Job 42:10), but Jesus said we should pray even for our enemies. "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44 NKJV).

But sometimes we don't know what to pray for. That's all right, too. Listen to what Paul said in Romans 8:26,27. We do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (NKJV).

Isn't it comforting to know that the Holy Spirit interprets our prayers and presents our requests to the Father in perfect accord with God's will? And when we pray we have this assurance. "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psalms 84:11 NKJV).
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 Written by Bob Edwards, Malibu, CA. Biblebay Copyright © 2008. Click here for content usage information.