Prayer Made Simple
By David J. Stewart | May 2012
“Pray without ceasing.” —1st Thessalonians 5:17
Quite frankly, PRAYER IS WORK. Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” I love that Scriptures. Genuine prayer set aside as an activity by itself is work my friend. That's why most people don't pray.
God wants to answer our prayers so much that He has made it easy for us, so that no believer will have an excuse at the Judgment Seat Of Christ not to pray (2nd Corinthians 5:9-11). Here are four ways in which God makes it easier and more convenient for us to pray:
- WE DON'T HAVE TO PRAY LONG. First, Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:7 that we don't have to pray a long time. God just wants us to know that we need Him. Matthew 6:7-8, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” So we don't have to pray for a long time for our needs. God will provide. In fact, God provides when we don't ask, because Luke 6:35 says “for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Psalms 145:9, “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.”
It is a sin not to pray, akin to atheism. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble (James 4:6). There are answers to prayer that we WON'T receive if we fail to pray. God is trying to get it to us. Interestingly, James 4:8 is just a couple verses later and says if we draw near to God, then He will draw near to us. Prayer is vital in walking with God, for without prayer there is no walk with God.
- JESUS GAVE US A BASIC GUIDELINE TO FOLLOW WHEN WE PRAY. Second, Jesus gave us a basic outline to follow of WHAT to pray in Luke 11:2-4, “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” So God not only tells us that we don't have to pray for a long period of time, but He has also given us a template to get us started praying if we don't know how. We should begin each prayer by bragging on God, for Who He is and what He does. And then pray for His return, for daily provisions, for forgiveness and for God to keep us from doing evil. No one can live above sin, but we can all live above evil (premeditated sin). God has made it so easy for us to pray. The Lord's prayer is really the disciple's prayer, because Jesus said, “When ye pray...” The Bible gives us this basic outline to guide us what to pray for.
- WE CAN PRAY CONTINUALLY TO SPREAD OUT OUR PRAYER REQUESTS. Third, 1st Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” God is so fair and practical. He says that He doesn't want us to pray for a long time. And He gives us a guideline to follow to get us started each day. And then He promises to be with us in Spirit as we pray, to help our infirmities (weaknesses). And then God says we can spread out our prayers throughout the day, getting our requests to His throne of grace and mercy one way or another. What wonderful truths! What an awesome God!!!
Although Jesus gave us a basic outline to follow in prayer, life is complicated and there are many more things to pray about. Evidence of this truth is found in Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” So here we learn that we are to pray for more than just the basic needs of daily provisions, forgiveness, the Lord's will and to be delivered from evil. God tells us not to be over-concerned about anything, but to cast it all upon Him in prayer and trust Him (1st Peter 5:7).
Obviously, we have the guidelines of the Lord's Prayer to follow (Luke 11:2-4), beginning with bragging on God and then praying for our DAILY needs, forgiveness and to be delivered from evil. The Bible tells us to make our requests KNOWN unto God. If we don't ask, we don't get (James 4:2). Luke 11:9-10, “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
- THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL INTERCEDE ON OUR BEHALF WHEN WE PRAY, TO HELP US. Fourth, Romans 8:26-27, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” I love this Scripture passage. Not only does God tell us that we don't have to pray for a long time, and not only has God given us an example to follow, and not only does He allow us to spread out our prayers throughout the day at our convenience; but He also will help us if we don't know what to pray, and the Holy Spirit will speak on our behalf to the Father.
The Bible plainly states in Romans 8:26 that we don't know what we should pray for. Now, maybe you think you know more than God, and that you do know what to pray for, but my King James Bible says that I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO PRAY FOR and neither do you. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit Who lives within (indwells) every believer intercedes on our behalf when we pray. What a wonderful comfort and assurance. That's pretty good insurance my friend. You can't go wrong when the Holy Spirit is holding your hand and telling the Father what we really need. I think most of our prayers are intercepted and the Holy Spirit has to make changes, because we often pray for selfish things that would be harmful to us if God gave us what we think we need.
The squeaky hinge gets the oil. God will likely provide for our basic needs even if we don't ask, but then we've sinned by not thanking and glorifying God in our everyday life. There are 86,400 seconds in each day. Have you thanked God with just one of them? Notice in Philippians 4:6 that we are supposed to pray with thanksgiving. Philippians 4:7 promises the peace of God in our hearts if we'll just leave our burdens with the Lord through prayer. Trust God and be fearless.
My friend, prayer couldn't be simpler. If you are busy, then God allows you to pray throughout the day wherever you are at. If you aren't sure how to get started, the Lord has provided a template for us to follow in Luke 11:2-4. If you still aren't sure what to pray (and none of us are), the Holy Spirit promises to intercede (mediate) on our behalf and to tell the Father what we really need. The Holy Spirit always intercedes on our behalf when we pray. And then God tells us not to pray for a long time because there is no need... He already knows our needs and desires. BUT HE DOES WANT US TO ASK, and it's not an option. If we don't pray, it is only because we are sinfully proud and God will resist us for being proud (James 4:6). To not pray is to tell God that we can make it on our own and don't need His help.
This is one of the most important articles I've ever written. I marvel when I think about these truths. No Christian will have any excuse at the Judgment Seat Of Christ for not praying as they should. You don't need to pray long, just pray. You can break apart your prayers and fellowship with the Lord throughout the day, here and there. His Holy Spirit lives inside every believer's body (1st Corinthians 3:16-17; Romans 8:9). In a day's time, you'd be surprised how much total time you can accumulate in prayer, if you'll pray continually. Of course, this means having God and the things of Christ on our mind throughout the day in all we do. Christianity is not about becoming religious only on Sundays; but rather, abiding in Christ continually and allowing His Words to abide in us as John 15:1-7 teaches.
God says don't pray long for your needs. He further helps us by giving us a guideline to follow. And if that's not encouragement enough to pray, the Lord says that we can space apart our prayers throughout the day. And then God assures us that even though we often don't know what to pray, He does and His Holy Spirit will intercede on our behalf and help us. All we have to do is put forth the effort to simply pray!!! God takes it from there. Isn't that beautiful?
Oh how God desires to answer our prayers and get His blessings to us. Please read James 4:7-17 concerning the proper attitude that every believer should have...
James 4:7-17, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Do you know my friend that God loves you so much that He chose to LIVE INSIDE EVERY BELIEVER as the Holy Spirit the moment we are saved and for the rest of eternity (Romans 8:9)! Literally, God wanted to live inside me and you if you are saved. If you're not a Christian, then God very much wants you to become His child (2nd Peter 3:9). It warms my soul to know that God lives in me and loves me, and has sealed me with His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).
Persevering Prayer & Answers To Prayer
Carefully notice in Luke 11:5-10 Jesus taught about persevering prayer where we pray for OTHERS. This is where we ought to spend the greater lengths of time, because there are many people to pray for, and many spiritual as well as physical needs. Literally, God wants us to stop thinking about ourselves all the time.
In Philippians 2:5 we are told to have the mind of Christ, and in Philippians 2:4 (the Verse before) we are told that Jesus thought on the things of others. Philippians 2:4-5, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Jesus was concerned about OTHERS, not Himself. Oh, that we would learn this truth as God's children!
So when you go to pray, spend a few minutes on yourself and then spend some quality time praying for OTHERS in your life. Prayer makes a difference! If we don't care about others, then how can we reasonably expect God to cater to our selfishness. Most people pray for themselves, and that's it. Then they wonder why God doesn't answer. It's a total lack of faith. If God openly answered your prayers, then where is faith?
No, the way God works is behind the scenes, in ways unseen as Romans 1:20 teaches. It is the invisible things of God at work that we cannot see, such as the angels, God's power and the Godhead. When we pray we are looking to see God's eternal power, but the Bible says it is invisible, seen only by the things which are made. Pray my friend, and trust what you see around you as evidence that there is a God and He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Since God sees what we cannot see, then we must trust Him, understanding that our prayers will often produce very different results that what we had intended. Trust the Lord, for He cares for you (1st Peter 5:7) and has promised to guide us (Proverbs 3:5-7). Do you know that the Bible never says God will answer all our prayers? Rather, the Bible teaches that if we acknowledge God in all our ways, then He will direct our steps. Psalms 34:7, “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
Pray Without Ceasing
"And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray,
and continued all night in prayer to God." —Luke 6:12