Pondering The Principles of Prayer
Christ’s payment for our sins empowers us with His righteousness. This provides a resource of strength for us to deal with daily challenges in this evil world. As a Christian, I want grow in this power every day to reach my God-given potential. The source of power lies in my relationship with God Himself.
God speaks to me today through His Word. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim.3:l6-17). I want to get into HIs Word every day and I want the Word to get into me.
I would like to stress the importance of memorizing Scripture. I’m still trying to put verses to memory and relearn the ones I have forgotten. There is great value to memorization. I once heard a testimony of a Chinese pastor who memorized the book of Romans, not knowing that he would become a prisoner for the next 15 years by the Communist government.
I am aware of people today who are putting God’s Word to memory. I’ll never forget the Reverend David Reed reciting from memory the whole book of Philippians in a student chapel at Valley Lutheran High School in Saginaw, Michigan. I did not understand what he was doing the first few minutes. I doubt that many of the students ever caught on to what was happening. He spoke it so smoothly.
God speaks to us through His Word and we speak to Him through prayer. I’ve watched Christians and non-Christians pray. They have represented many different cultural backgrounds, and I am certain some prayers were effective fervent prayers and others were not. “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” provides two examples of the bizarre prayer extremes that various people practice across the world:
- The people who worship themselves, Natives of Anjar, Bombay, pray only to their own reflection.
- Every YOGI of the Pagal sect repeats his prayers 5 times each day while standing on his head.
In regard to Christian prayer, is there an effective style of prayer? Prayer has to do with the heart. We can talk a lot about prayer, but what counts is not the number of our prayers, nor the position, nor the volume, nor the content, but our intimacy with God. It is our character or relationship with Jesus, not what is said. Finally, only God knows the individual’s relationship with Him. Each individual must examine where, how, and what to say, and above all, the motivation for coming to God’s throne. Fortunately, Jesus intercedes for us in our feeble utterances, and the Holy Spirit gives us the right words to say when we falter.
We can all sharpen our skills with practice and grow in our understanding of how to improve our prayers. Periodically, I need to review and apply what I’ve learned on this topic. I ask myself some tough questions about how and why I’m praying. Am I closing the gap between what I say I believe and the way I act? Am I really praying for the people and situations I tell others that I am?
What do you know for sure about prayer? Prayer is powerful and empowering, as God and people say it is, therefore, I believe it is essential to learn everything possible about the subject. Being involved in sports all my entire life, I love to watch athletic skills and coaching strategy. Many sports fans I have known can tell every detail of games they played or about teams they have watched play. Now just how valuable are these statistics or stories? I have to admit they are enjoyable to recall, but they lack substance for real life. What if the Christian sports fan puts at least equal time and effort into learning about prayer as to reading the sports page of the local newspaper or the internet? There is no substitute for being well informed about prayer. What is the impact in conversing with God Almighty? What are the expectations and needs?
What questions do you still have about prayer? Author Jane Fryar shares this illustration about the Christian theologian Augustine who lived in the fifth century in her book called I believe but I still have Questions:
“…He was struggling to understand a stubborn doctrinal dilemma. As afternoon became evening, he still had not been able to untangle all the knots. So, he decided to take a walk along the beach.
“As he walked, he came upon a little boy. The boy had dug a hole in the sand and was running back and forth from the ocean to the hole with a cup.
“The theologian watched the boy return to the ocean again and again. Finally he asked, ‘What are you doing, son?’
“Emptying the ocean into my hole, sir,” the boy answered.
“Augustine chuckled, turned, and walked back up the beach. As he went, the truth began to dawn on him. He had spent his day doing the same thing – trying to contain an infinite God in his own finite mind.”
Understanding what the Bible promises about prayer makes “emptying the ocean” look simple. We need an open mind as we look for answers to our questions on prayer.