In these unsettling times, most believers in Christ understand the importance of prayer. But how many believers are confident in how to pray? We’ll look here at some foundations about prayer: What does the Bible say about prayer? What is its purpose? How do I understand God’s will in order to pray it? And what are the basic elements of prayer?
Let’s answer these questions and build our understanding about something the Bible instructs us to “do continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). I’ll cover more topics about prayer in the next article.
Scriptures on Prayer
“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” (2 Chron. 7:14). God will forgive sin and heal our land based on the prayers of repentant believers.
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3). To those who seek God and call upon Him, He will show great and mighty things.
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Ps. 62:8). We can pour out our hearts to the One who is a refuge for us. He’s a safe place.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). Confess sin and pray. The prayers of those who live rightly before God are powerful and effective.
So, What is the Purpose of Prayer?
We pray not to get God aligned with our will but for Him to bring us into alignment with His: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed by Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Luke 11:2b). God’s will is His plan laid down from the foundation of the world. His will is being fulfilled month after month, year after year, century after century. As believers, we demonstrate wisdom and humility when we yield to a divine plan devised long before we were born. In prayer, we present our petitions – yes! But God has the final say in His response as His priority is the fulfillment of His story (history). The ultimate purpose of prayer is for God’s glory to be revealed in and through us (Rom. 8:18). We are here for the glory and honor of God!
How do I know about God’s Kingdom and His Will?
God’s Kingdom and His will are revealed in His Word. He guides us on a mission of discovery as we meditate on and live out the scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15). In the Word, you will find that God’s Kingdom is righteousness (right living), peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). When we include God’s Word in our prayers and are led by His Spirit, His Word empowers our prayers. Isaiah 55:11 says that the Word of God does not return void but accomplishes what He pleases. The books of Psalms and Joshua proclaim the importance of meditating on God’s Word.
Psalm 1:2-3b says, “But [those who are blessed] delight is in the law [Word] of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” People who steep their souls in God’s Word are rooted, secured, and prosperous in Him. Let’s pray the Word.
Joshua 1:8 says, “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 we do the Word on which we meditate, our lives prosper, and we succeed.
God lights a beautiful path for our lives as we spend time in His presence and in His Word (Psalm 16:11). He draws us into communion with Him. He reveals His Kingdom and His will to us as we fellowship with Him. Let’s now look at the elements of prayer.
Elements of Prayer
Consider including these elements of prayer as you open your heart to God.
- Praise God. Magnify Him. Lift up His name. Speak of the wonder of who He is.
- Psalm 90:1-2
- Thank God. Reflect upon all that God has done in your life. Before asking for anything, be thankful for what He’s already done.
- Ephesians 5:20
- Ask God for what you need. Make your petitions to Him. He meets your daily needs.
- Matthew 6:11
- Confess sins. Often, our prayers include what we want changed in others. First, though, our prayers should address our own shortcomings. We are to acknowledge sin, repent, and ask God by His Spirit to lead us along the path of righteousness (right alignment with Him).
- Matthew 7:5 and 1 John 1:9
- Intercede for others. Pray for the needs of others. Our hearts must enlarge beyond ourselves (our needs) to show compassion for our fellow man.
- Ephesians 6:18-19
Transformation and Change
As you prioritize time in God’s Word and pray for your life to align with His Word, you will find that your character begins to change. You are being transformed and are becoming more like Christ (Rom. 12:2; Rom. 8:29). Your faith will be strengthened as you experience the keeping hand of God (Acts 16:5). You will experience power and see it displayed in your life as you yield to God’s Spirit (Eph. 3:20). And you will become more confident in approaching God: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15). A foundation of prayer in your life changes things … including yourself. Imagine the impact of a lifetime of prayer!