Since we wrote an article on the reasons we do not have an altar in the church building some may think that we do not believe in prayer. People in times past have made this observation. Here are some things about prayer. 1. Prayer is desire of the heart expressed to God. The New Testament teaches that prayers, intercessions, supplications and giving of thanks are to be made for all men (I Tim. 2:1-4). In the same context it is also stated that Christ is the one mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5,6). Christ taught us to pray "Our Father who art in heaven" (Mat. 6:9). We then pray to God the Father, in the name of Christ the Son with the promise that what we ask for in his name will be given (John 14:13). God is glorified in the Son. 2. Prayer is the Christian's privilege. "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father."(Gal. 4:6). To become a son one has to be born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-5). This comes about when he hears the word, believes, repents and is baptized in water. Then he is saved and added to the Lord's church (Acts 2:47). Being a son he cries "Father, Father" and is heard. "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." (I John 3:22). When the Christian's life is full of prayer God works and brings about answers to his prayers. Sometimes the answer is "no" like it was when Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed (2 Cor. 12:7-9). Instead God made his strength perfect in weakness and Paul gloried in his infirmities because the power of Christ rested upon him. Sometimes we pray for one thing and get another. Abraham prayed for Sodom and Gomorrah to be spared if ten righteous people could be found in them, but instead God delivered Lot and his girls out of the inferno. (Gen. 18, 19). Sometimes the answer is "wait awhile" because in his providence God has to work out his plan over a time frame. Christians should realize that God is in control of this world and he hears and answers the prayers of his children. "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (I John 5:14, 15). 3. Christians should realize their own weaknesses and when they find that they have done wrong they need to confess their sins to God. He has promised he will forgive them and cleanse them from all unrighteousness (I John 1:8-10). One of the main reasons for prayer is to keep the record right in heaven. Notice that sins confessed that have not been repented of will not be forgiven (Lk. 13:3-5). Christians need to change their minds about their sinful practices and reform their lives as they confess their sins to God so He can forgive them. There is a struggle to overcome in the lives of Christians who confess their sins to God. Christ condemned the long pretensive prayers of the Scribes and Pharisees because they did not repent and get right with God as they prayed. (Mat. 23:14) The Publican "smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." And Jesus said, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other" (Lk. 18:13, 14). Christians need also to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Mat. 6:13). 4. Christians need to pray for those who are lost because God will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:4). Now God's power to save is the gospel. (Rom. 1:16). It is His will that people be begotten by the word of truth (James 1:18). To pray for the lost then would be to pray for them to hear the gospel and obey it or that the opportunities will arise so the gospel would be preached to them. Jesus taught us to pray for laborers in the harvest because the harvest is plenteous and the laborers are few (Mat. 9:37, 38). That is in effect praying for the lost because men must be taught of God and the ones hearing and learning of God come to Christ. (John 6:44,45). We certainly cannot pray that God would save the sinner from his sins without his obeying the gospel. That would not be the Father's will. 5. Prayers to be effective do not have to be long but they must be sincere. Study the scriptures! Learn how to pray! Pray with the Spirit and understanding also (I Cor. 14:15).
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