Tag Archives: better prayer life

Living A More Prayerful Life — Bruce Ligon

One way you and I can measure our faith is by the depth of our devotion to the Lord. I believe with all my heart that the more prayerful we become, the clearer we will see ourselves before God. It should also naturally follow that the more prayerful we become, the more we will depend on our heavenly Father and see ourselves more clearly before Him. This is just one reason that prayer is a supernal blessing and precious privilege that our Father has given us. As we are assured, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18).

Our Father desires a close relationship with us. Indeed, this precious truth should motivate us to be more prayerful. Therefore, prayer will be a meaningful part of our lives. The admonition, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), emphasizes the prayerful attitude that should characterize our lives. In a very stressful time in his life, the psalmist David prayed, “In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me” (Ps. 31:1-2).

Alfred Lord Tennyson, one of the most popular British poets, made the following observation regarding prayer: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” An even better statement regarding the power and efficacy of prayer is found in James 5:16: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” It has been accurately stated, “Prayer can be thought of as a precious jewel, as the more we look at it, the more we realize its beauty and brilliance.” The refrain from the following song reminds us of the bountiful blessing of prayer:

There’s a blessing in prayer,

In believing prayer,

When our Savior’s name

To the throne we bear;

Then a Father’s love

Will receive us there;

There is always a blessing,

A blessing in prayer.

Living a more prayerful life can only become a reality by an intentional effort on our part. To assist us in our striving to live a more prayerful life, please ponder the following suggestions:

  1. Give prayer a priority in your life. How important is prayer in your life? Have you ever chosen to pray instead of reading a book or watching a movie? When there has been pressing concern on your mind, have you ever devoted several hours in pouring out your heart to the Lord? Jesus taught His disciples, “They ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk. 18:1). In his comments on this verse, brother H. Leo Boles stated, “The spirit of prayer should be kept constant and alive by exercise” (Commentary on Luke, p. 340). The apostle Paul taught, “Continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2). I have read that the idea emphasized by the phrase “continue steadfastly” is to grab hold of something, and refuse to let it go. One application of giving prayer a priority in our lives is to set aside or schedule times that you will pray, and then remain true to your commitment.
  2. When you are discouraged, do not forsake the precious blessing of prayer. Life is not always easy. There will be situations and struggles in the lives of each of us that we may never understand this side of eternity. The reaction of some people to these kinds of challenges is to wonder why the Lord does not act as we believe He should. We must strive to never allow these frustrations to take our eyes away from the blessing of prayer. Across the span of his life, David experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. During a time of extreme anguish in his life, he told the Lord, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me” (Ps. 56:8-9). At times it may seen that the tears that fall to your cheeks will never end. But through whatever comes our way, God is always there and He is aware of what we are experiencing. During these times, you may become discouraged. But do not allow times of discouragement to hinder your devotion to prayer.
  3. Pray with full confidence of faith in God. Quoting from the Old Testament, the apostle Peter said, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer” (1 Pet. 3:12). When you pray, do you believe that God hears you and your prayer can make a difference? Inspiration states, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). It has been said that to attempt to pray without confidence that God will hear and answer our prayers is to guarantee failure. Indeed, we have the certainty that God is listening. He will be attentive to our cries and pleadings. David exclaimed, “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” (Ps. 66:19-20). James urged Christians, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (Jas. 1:6).

Within the past year I read the following account, which is allegedly true, from the life of Henry Ford. One day an insurance agent called on him, resulting in Ford buying a $1,000,000 policy on his life. When a friend of Ford’s, also an insurance agent, learned of Ford’s purchase, he was chagrined. Immediately this insurance agent asked Ford the reason he had bought the policy from another agent. Henry Ford matter-of-factly said that he had not inquired regarding him purchasing this kind of policy. In order to receive the benefits available to us in prayer, you and I must remember to pray. As I reflect on this story, it forces me to pause and consider how many good things from the Lord I may be missing simply because I failed to ask Him. As James stated, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (4:2).

The erudite Charles Spurgeon stated, “Prevailing prayer lifts the Christian and shows him his inheritance and transfigures him into the likeness of his Lord. If you would like to reach to something than ordinary groveling experience, look to the Rock that is higher than you, and gaze with the eye of faith through the window of consistent prayer. When you open the winow on your side it will not be bolted on the other.”

Ere you left your room this morning

Did you think to pray?

In the name of Christ our Savior

Did you sue for loving favor as a shield today?

Oh, how praying rests the weary!

Prayer will change the night to day.

So when life seems dark and dreary

Don’t forget to pray.

    Bruce preaches for the Bellville Church of Christ in Bellville, TX.

 

 

Thoughts on Prayer – Cougan Collins

God talks to us through His written Word. However, prayer is how we talk with God, praise Him, thank Him and make requests of Him. In this article, I will show you that prayer is a part of our public worship and our private lives as well. I will also answer the following questions: How do we pray and by what authority do we pray? How should we pray in public worship? Finally, I will give you four steps to a better prayer life.

How do we pray and by what authority do we pray? Study the words of Jesus in Luke 11:1-4. In this model prayer, notice to Whom the prayer is directed: the Father in heaven. Consider also what Jesus said in John 14:13, 15:16, and 16:23. What do all of these verses have in common and teach? Jesus made it easy to see that our prayers are to be directed to the Father, and we are to pray in His name, or by His authority. Based on His teaching on prayer, we are not supposed to pray to the Holy Spirit or to Jesus. Rather, we are to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name. This is the example we find throughout the Bible (Ep. 5:20; Co. 3:17; Ac. 4:23-30).

How should prayer be done in public worship? In our public worship, two things happen during a prayer. First, a person leads the prayer. Second, everyone else is listening to the prayer and making it their own.

Who should lead in prayer?   James teaches us that we need a righteous person leading the prayer (Ja. 5:16). We should never want a person living in sin or a non-Christian leading us in a prayer.

“Well, what about a righteous woman? Is it acceptable for her to lead prayer in a worship service with men present? Paul gives us the inspired answer (1 Co. 14:34; 1 Ti. 2:12-14). In doing so, he is not being a chauvinist pig. He doesn’t have a bone to pick with women, nor does he view them as being lesser than a man. He was an apostle of God, and he is teaching us how God wants things done within His church.

Interestingly, the word “silence” in the above passages doesn’t mean absolute silence; if it did, a woman couldn’t tell her children to be quiet or even sneeze during worship or she would violate this scripture. All Paul is saying is that a woman should not take a position of authority over the man in public worship, which would exclude her from leading prayer when men are present. God has chosen the men to lead in the public worship, which is why He inspired Paul to tell Timothy, “I desire therefore that the men prayer everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting” (1 Ti. 2:8).

Since the men are to lead prayer in church, I want to share two tips about leading prayer:

  1. When you pray, pray with reverence and respect for God, keeping in mind that you are praying for the church and not just for yourself.
  2. When you pray, speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can hear you and be a part of the prayer. If you are soft-spoken, then come to the front of the assembly and use a microphone if one is available.

If you will follow these simple steps, you will know that everyone can hear you and take part in your prayer. For the rest of us, we need to make sure we are listening carefully and not messing around with something else. It’s important that we think about what is being said and make that prayer our own. We can agree with the prayer by saying “Amen,” either to ourselves or verbally. We should always keep this in mind every time someone leads a prayer.

Let me conclude by sharing with you four steps to a better prayer life:

First, your prayers must be sincere. Consider as a great example the sincere prayer of David after he sinned against God (Ps. 69:13-17). As you read this prayer, you can hear David’s sincerity. We need to follow this example by being sincere when we pray.

Unfortunately, there are many today who pray without sincerity. The story is told of a wealthy man who went wading out into the ocean when a big wave swept him out to sea. He began to struggle to save his life, but all his efforts failed. When it looked like he had no chance of survival, he prayed. He said, “Lord, if you will save my life, I will give you half of all my money.” A few moments later, he had managed to make it a little closer to safety. He then said, “Remember Lord, I promised you 255 of all my money if you will save my life.” A few moments later, his safety was still questionable; yet it still looked more hopeful so he prayed and said, “Lord, keep up the good work! Just a little more help and I will be safe. Don’t abandon me now! Remember, I promised you 10% of my money if you will save me from drowning.” A few minutes later, the man finally was able to touch the ground. He prayed to God one last time and said, “Thank you, Lord, for saving my life. Don’t forget my promise to you. If you ever need anything, I will seriously think about giving you some of my money.”

While it’s easy for us to see this man’s lack of sincerity to God, many are just like him today. They make little plea bargains with God. Yet when things work out for them, they disregard what they said they would do. People who do this will not be pleasing to God. Therefore, we must be sincere in our prayer life.

Secondly, we must pray with faith. How many times have you prayed to God and doubted He would answer your prayer? Christians should never doubt (Ja. 1:6-7). We must realize that God answers our prayers. After Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He illustrated how they must be persistent when they pray with faith (Lk. 11:5-10). Not only does this parable show how we must pray in faith, it also shows that we must be persistent. God does answer our prayers, but He will answer in a way that is best for us. He might answer a prayer with a “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe later.” Paul gave us a great example of God saying “No” to prayer (2 Co. 12:7-9). His prayer was answered with a “No” because God’s grace was sufficient for him. It is important that we learn to accept God’s answers and trust in His decisions, as Jesus did (Mt. 26:39). Christ prayed for the cup to pass, but He left it up to God’s will rather than His own. Many today try to take matters into their own hands instead of accepting God’s answer. However, Christians must learn to pray with faith and accept God’s answer.

Thirdly, we need to pray with humility. God will not hear your prayer if you are haughty or self-righteous because He wants us to be humble like His Son. Peter wrote, “Be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pe. 5:5).

How many times have you heard of someone praying to God with the attitude that they deserve something because they have done so many good deeds? Jesus gave us a great example of an insincere prayer (Lk. 18:9-14). This self-righteous Pharisee came to remind God of how good he was and how glad he was that he wasn’t like the tax collector. How many of us have prayed to God and told Him how good we are or how better we are than someone else? While I hope that none of us have done this, if we have we are just like this self-righteous Pharisee and we will not be justified in our prayers. However, the tax collector came before God and wouldn’t even look up to heaven. He asked God for mercy with a humble heart. This is the example we should follow. If we do, we will be justified in our prayers as well. Don’t forget to pray with humility!

Fourthly, pray for the right things. Sometimes people think they can pray for whatever they want and they should receive it. They completely forget about the will of God and pray for things which God will not allow. For instance, some will pray before they enter a casino and ask God to help them win big. Some have even prayed for vengeance on those they don’t like.

The story is told of some college students who filled up water balloons and dropped them on people from the third floor. One night, they realized they hit a police officer and were scared to death. One of them suggested they pray about it. However, instead of asking God to forgive them for what they did wrong, they prayed that the officer would not catch them. They were praying for the wrong reasons.

Sometimes when we are selfish, we pray for the wrong things as well. James wrote, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (Ja. 4:3). If we have the wrong motives and pray for the wrong things, God’s answer to our prayer will always be “No.” Yet when we pray from our hearts for things in accordance with His will, He will acknowledge and answer our prayers to make things work out best for us based on His wisdom. Thus, let us always strive to pray for the right things!

Christians, we need to remember to use prayer in our everyday lives because it is how we talk to God. We must use prayer in our worship and in our private lives. Our prayers should be directed to the Father in the name of Jesus. Men must lead in mixed public prayer and we must take part in that prayer. Let us be sincere, praying in faith and humility for the right things, realizing that God answers our prayers according to His will.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (He. 4:16)

lgchurchofchrist@cableone.net