Rev. R.D. Foster
In Luke 11:1, the disciples asked, “Lord teach us to pray.” Prayer is defined as man’s avenue of
communication between himself and God, a solemn address to the Supreme Being. To pray means to ask earnestly or petition; ask with humility and reverence, to make supplication to God; spiritual communion with God.
Charles Spurgeon once said “prayer is pulling the rope of faith and a bell rings in heaven.”
As a young lad, I learned early in life of the value and importance of prayer. My mother was a God-fearing woman who prayed often every day. She would not think of a day going by without prayer. She would pray for her family, calling our names before God, pray for her church and the ministry, lost souls in her neighbourhood, etc. Prayer was a part of her life that I will always remember. When any of us were sick, the first thing she would do was pray for God to heal us. I remember falling to sleep as she would pray for me when I was sick. My parents were not against doctors or medical help. They just believed in asking God first. My mother would pray about anything that she was confronted with whether it was great or small. They would seek the Lord’s direction in whatever they were going to do. They believed that God had the answer and the help they needed. I recall being in prayer one day along with my mother. She was praying but she was also listening. She noticed that I was not praying the way she felt that I ought to. She said to me, “Robert, you did not pray through today?” I thank God for a mother who was concerned enough about her son touching God that she took the time to talk to me about it. It is still important for you and I to pray through today. In other words, pray until you touch God and God touches your soul. You will know when this happens.
Far too often I believe that we are only saying prayers. There is a difference, however, between saying prayers and really praying. I am talking about praying to God and expecting something to happen. I am sorry to say but I have found myself in this same situation at times when I was only “saying prayers” and that kind of praying does not get results. It only soothes our conscience. James 5:16 reads “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” The Amplified version reads like this “the earnest heartfelt, continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available¬dynamic in its working.” James 5:17 says “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.” Verse 18 “And he prayed again (seven times) and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” Note the Bible says Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are. The Word of God is saying to us that what we need we can have if we will earnestly seek God. God is not a respecter of persons. Prayer is the lifeline of every born-again child of God. You cannot survive spiritually unless you take time out of your day to earnestly pray. You can go to church and be considered a church member, but until you learn to pray, your spiritual life will not develop as God planned for it to. This is not to say that the Word of God is not necessary because it is. 1 Peter 2:2 says “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby.” I once read the following statements: “No man is greater than his prayer life.” “The Pastor who is not praying is playing. The people who are not praying are straying.” “The pulpit can be a shop window to display one’s talent but the prayer closet allows no showing off.”
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of prayer in our lives. I believe that each one of us needs to have a
daily prayer life. Daniel prayed three times a day. (Daniel 6:10) In Acts 3, the Apostles went into the
temple at the hour of prayer. Jesus said that men ought always to pray and not to faint. (Luke 18:1) David said “As for me I will call upon God and the Lord shall save me. “(Psalms 55:16 & 17) (Verse 17) “Evening and morning and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice.” “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) The Bible tells us of many men and women who prayed and God answered their prayer. 1 Samuel 1:10 tells us that Hannah was in bitterness of soul and prayed unto the Lord and wept sore. (She was barren). Her prayer was answered and in due time Samuel was born. In Acts 10:1-6 we have the account where God spoke to Cornelius and said “thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God and now send men to Joppa and call for one Simon whose surname is Peter; he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do” The door of salvation was opened to the Gentiles. “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word.”(Acts 10:44) God answered prayer then and He will still do the same today.
In prayer we can make our requests known to God. Through prayer we confess our sins to God and turn from our sinful ways thus we are granted forgiveness by God and are now ready to be buried with Him in baptism into His death and to receive the infilling of the Holy Ghost. Through prayer we submit our ways to God and dedicate our lives to His service. In Acts 9:6, the Apostle Paul is on the road to Damascus when he is smitten to the ground and hears a voice calling to him. He answers saying, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” He was submitting his ways to God’s ways (Important). Through prayer we can find guidance and direction for our daily walk with God. Acts 1:24 states, “and they prayed, and said thou Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men chew whether of these two thou hast chosen.” Through prayer
we can express our thanks to God for His many blessings and we can also give Him the praise and honour that he deserves. It is through prayer that we make intercession to God for our family, for the lost of our world. Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot’s family. (Genesis 18:23) Moses pleaded with God for Israel in Exodus 32:32.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be
opened unto you. ” In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God gave instruction to Israel how to receive from the Lord. “If
my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” In Joel 2:12-13 “therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart and with fasting and weeping and with mourning.” (Verse 13) “and rend your heart and not your garments and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” God promised Israel he would hear them and I believe that what God would do for Israel, he will also do for us today. Revival for our churches and our District is possible if we will follow God’s instructions given in His Word. Revival does not precede the prayer of righteous men and women but rather revival will come as the result of effectual fervent prayer of the people of God. This has been the pattern of past revivals in our District.
Sis. Vesta Mangun once asked the question “Why don’t we pray?” Matthew Henry said “Let prayer be the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.” Walter Sturdivan said “If a Pastor is to have a spiritual church, he must have a praying church.” May God grant us a burden of prayer. The above article, “Prayer,” is written by Rev. R.D. Foster. The article was excerpted from the Atlantic District News magazine, UPCI, where it was published July of 2012.
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