WHAT IS PRAYER?

Prayer is talking with God.  That’s not complicated.  True, there are things you should do and others that you shouldn’t do when you pray.  But, prayer is the most beautiful experience available, and it’s not at all difficult to do!

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER?

1. Prayer Draws You Closer to God!
When you pray, you are drawing closer to God.  “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).  As you draw closer to God, you’ll be transformed into HIS likeness.

2. Prayer Changes Your Attitude!
You can’t remain in the presence of God and hold onto anger, envy, conflict, grudges, greed, etc.  God is love, and when you pray, that love affects your thoughts and your actions.

3. Prayer Affects Our Enemies!
Daniel, one of the captive princes that lived in a foreign land, began to pray against the Prince of the kingdom of Persia.  He prayed for 21 days, the Lord heard His prayer, and the Lord sent an angel to help him (Daniel 10).  Daniel changed the destiny of an entire nation with his prayer.  The prayer of the saints is extremely powerful!

4. Prayer Changes the Decisions in Heaven!
King Hezekiah prayed and changed the mind of God.  He was going to die but his prayer added fifteen years to his life (2 Kings 20:1-6).  Your prayers affect the way in which God deals with you and with those for whom you pray.

5. Prayer Affects Other People!
Your prayers touch the hearts of others.  Your prayers move God to supply the needs of others.  Some don’t pray for themselves, and your prayers are the only thing that stands between them and the devil.  Your prayers change the lives of others.  Never quit praying!

SYSTEMATIC PRAYER

1. Find a Time to Pray.
Now that you’ve chosen to pray, you need to choose a time to pray.  David said, “Evening and morning and at noon, I will pray…” (Psalms 55:17).  Being that God is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:40), it is good to plan and be organized.  It is difficult to have success in prayer without setting a time to pray.

2. Find a Place to Pray.
Prayer was made in many different places in the Bible:  altars of sacrifice, open fields, by a well, in the belly of a great fish, by the riverside, in the wilderness, by a grave, at the cross.  Jesus taught that we should designate a place of prayer (Luke 11:1).  The disciples had a habit of going to the temple to pray (Acts 3:1).  Choose a special place to pray.

3. Find an Objective for Which to Pray.
Prayer should be specific.  God challenges us in Isaiah 41:21 to be specific:  “Present your case,” says the LORD.  “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob.”  Learning to pray specifically will make a great difference in the way you feel about prayer and will also produce results. Know what the needs are and take them to God.  Know and pray in His will.  God promised that He would give us the desires of our heart, but He is waiting for us to tell Him what those desires are.

THE COMPLETE PRAYER CLOCK

Jesus made reference to a one-hour (1) prayer (Matthew 26:40).  In this lesson, we will develop a specific plan to pray for one hour—until prayer becomes a habit in your life.  One hour can be divided into twelve (12) five-minute periods of time.  Dedicate five minutes to each of the twelve aspects of prayer:  Praise, forgiveness, confession, petition, intercession, Bible reading, meditation, thanksgiving, praying the Word, singing, listening, and praise.

1. Praise
The first step in prayer is praise!  Praise is the backbone of our walk with God.  The main purpose of our spiritual walk is:  “…to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God…” (1 Peter 2:5).  Praises release you from yourself because in prayer, we recognize the greatness and the nature of God.  Praise is a sacrifice:  “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

2. Forgiveness
Prayer should always include confession and a personal request that God would forgive. Therefore, you must make sure that you forgive those who offended you.  Nothing hinders success in prayer and spiritual progress more than an unforgiving spirit.  Jesus said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses” (Marks 11:25-26).

3. Confession
David asked, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24).  Prayer opens the way for powerful prayer.  If you want to experience joy, don’t try to pray without confessing.
O. Hallesby

4. Petition 
James 4:2-3 teaches, “…you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”  This aspect of prayer deals with our personal needs.  Jesus wants us to bring our requests to Him: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).  Therefore, feel confident to pray for your personal needs.

5. Intercession 
Now concentrate your prayer on intercession for the lost and needy in this world.  This is the most intense part of prayer.  You can expect for the power of God to be released through this kind of praying.  Intercession is love:  the love of God flowing through us.  Intercession is the groaning of the heart for lost souls, and oddly, God has made Himself dependent upon our prayers:  “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).  Intercession is working with God as co-laborers in the work of the redemption of others (1 Corinthians 3:9).

6. Reading 
The Word of God says, “…The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Psalms 19:8).  New possibilities become clear when you read the Bible.  We are not suggesting that your prayer time be your time to study the Bible, but a brief moment in the Scriptures is very important to a complete prayer.

7. Meditation 
Meditating on God requires that the mind be actively thinking upon the spiritual topics found in the Word of God.  God commanded Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).  When you meditate, you will experience a rich comprehension of the deep and beautiful promises of God.

8. Thanksgiving  
In the thanksgiving aspect of prayer, you express gratitude for specific things that God has done in your life.  Even though you should thank the Lord during your entire time of prayer, plan to spend a specific time thanking God aloud for all the things He has done in your life.  Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

“Let us thank God heartily as often as we pray that we have His Spirit in us to teach us to pray.  Thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts.” Andrew Murray

9. Praying the Word
In this aspect of prayer, you bring the Scriptures into your prayer.  When you learn to pray this way, your life will be greatly blessed.   The following is an example of how to pray the Word:

First, choose a portion of Scripture.  Let’s take Ephesians 1:17-19.  In this portion of Scripture Paul prays for the church in Ephesus; “…God…give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.”  You pray, “Lord, give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation by knowing you.”  Then Paul prays, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling…”  You pray, “Lord, enlighten my eyes that I may know the hope of your calling.”  Make it personal!
Two important things will happen:  1) You will be praying for and receiving the great things the Word of God has provided for you and 2) You will be placing the Word in your heart.

10. Singing
A part of praying is to sing “new songs” unto the Lord.  Singing refreshes and comforts your soul.  A beautiful experience is to sing a song in the Spirit while you pray.  Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

11. Listening
Prayer is not just talking to God; it also involves listening.  We need to establish good listening habits in our prayer time.  God speaks in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12) to those who pray.  Remember, listening is different from meditating.  When we listen we receive direct orders from God’s Spirit.

12. Praise
We begin our prayer with praise and we end it with praise.  When we finish our prayer, it is good to pay tribute to God’s nature.  Jesus emphasized this to His disciples when was teaching them to pray:  “…For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13).

You should never feel so structured by this method of praying that you feel it is absolutely necessary that you give five minutes to each phase.  Use this only as an example or a guide.  Allow for the Holy Ghost to lead you.  For example, it is rare that you can give the “intercession” aspect of prayer only five minutes.  So you see, you will probably be giving more time to some of the aspects of prayer and less time to others.