Why Must We Pray?
Article By: Dick Robinson
Prayer is the key that fits the lock of the door into a deepening relationship with God. We are invited by the Living God to approach him in intimate conversation. Jesus taught his disciples to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), then left them with a model for prayer from his own intercession with the Father (John 17). The earliest church gathered regularly for prayer (Acts 2:42), and the epistles of Paul are filled with examples of prayer and exhortations to pray.
We do not even need to know how to pray, Paul reminded us, because the Holy Spirit will search our hearts and pray for us in ways beyond our ability to articulate (Romans 8:26, 27). Moreover, Christ Jesus himself is at the Father’s right interceding for us (Romans 8:34). Prayer is simply our privilege. What does prayer do? Prayer does not so much change the mind of God as it changes our minds to align our hearts with the will of God. Prayer places the ordinary details of life into divine perspective. Prayer is both private – our daily quiet listening and open pleading with God, and public – gathering our common concerns to present them corporately to God.
We must become practiced at prayer, so it becomes like breathing
We must become practiced at prayer, so it becomes like breathing: just as we draw breath after breath to supply the oxygen that sustains life, so must we form the habits of prayer, inhaling the breath of the Living God, his very Spirit, into the bones and marrow, tissues and nerves of our spiritual life.
How should we pray?
Paul gives a brief seminar on prayer in Ephesians 6, where he describes the Christian life as a struggle, not against a flesh-and-blood enemy but against spiritual forces, dark forces. He tells us to…
pray in the Spirit.
* pray on any and every occasion (no matter is too small).
* pray with all kinds of prayers and requests.
* pray alertly – be intelligent in our prayers.
* pray persistently – as one write put it: briefly but frequently.
* pray for all of God’s people.
* pray specifically for specific people we know who are in need.
Pray with our Bibles open.
* Use the Psalms as a prayer book. For practical examples, read Eugene Peterson’s small books on prayer, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, or Earth and Altar, both published by InterVarsity Press.
* Read through Paul’s epistles, write out in your own hand some of the prayers you find in his letters. Pray these prayers, referencing people and places and particulars you know.
* Read through a prophet (like Isaiah) making note of every reference he makes to God. Begin to develop a theology of God’s name and character. Use what you are learning as matters of praise and adoration.
Pray through the Elmbrook website, especially for…
* the ministries and activities of the church.
* those individuals in your family, your small group.
* our worship leaders and the person who will be teaching from the Bible on the coming weekend.
* the elders and pastors and other ministry leaders; for our missionaries and those engaged in local and global initiatives.
* our church’s staff, who serve us all with diligence and hard work.
Pray with our newspapers open on the table.
* For local and community, national and global events.
* For our local and national leaders, and all those in authority.
* For international leaders, to love mercy and act justly.
* For those who are suffering due to war and oppression, natural disasters, famine, poverty or ill-health.
* For God’s kingdom to come, his will to be done, on earth as in heaven.
Keep a prayer journal.
Begin to think through and write out your prayers. Begin by using an acronym, if you find it helpful.
* PRAY – praise, repentance, ask (others, then) yourself.
* ACTS – adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication (petitions).
Set some simple, measurable goals for deepening your prayer life, and increasing the time you spend in focused prayer. Write them down.
* Are you a morning person? Pray first thing in the morning.
* Are you an evening person? Pray last thing before you go to bed.
* Pray in the shower.
* If you are not praying regularly now, set a goal to pray five minutes each day next week. Record your goal and track your progress.
* If you are praying only five minutes daily this week, try ten minutes daily next week.
* Pray five times a day: in the morning, before each meal, in the evening.
* Invite the wait-person at your table in the restaurant to stand with you as you say grace; ask them if there is something they would like you to pray for them.
* Did a co-worker share a personal struggle with you? Ask them if you can pray for them. Follow up with them in a day, in one week, at the end of the month
Copyright 2007 by Elmbrook Church, Inc. 777 South Barker Road, Brookfield, Wisconsin USA 53045. all rights reserved. This material may be freely copied and distributed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice and our World Wide Web URL http://www.elmbrook.org
The Harper Collins Book of Prayers
The Daily Book of Common Prayer
The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
Earth and Altar: The Community of Prayer in a Self Bound Society
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