Day 15 Study - The Prayer Habit



Communication

Communication is the most important and vital part of a growing and thriving relationship.  Without communication a relationship is impossible.  You can know about someone by just hearing or reading about them, but only through communication with them can you truly know them.


Our relationship with God also requires communication.  Many people know about God to some degree.  There are even those people who have extensive knowledge about God, but still do not know Him personally.  Even as Christians, we can be constantly learning about God, but still not really getting to know Him better in a personal way.  The thing that makes the big differnece is prayer.


Prayer is communicating with God

Prayer is the way we communicate with God.  It is the expression of our hopes and fears, and the way we share our joys and sorrows.  It is the way we present our requests to God, and give thanks for the many ways he blesses us.  It is the way we ask God to work in the lives of others, as well as in our own lives.  In prayer we confess our sins and ask for God's forgiveness.  We also look for the answers to our questions, and the solutions to our problems.  Another very important part of prayer is expressing our praise and adoration of God, as we begin to see his great power and his awesome glory.  It is important to remember that prayer is the primary way that we get to know our Father better.


Getting to know God through prayer

God the Father wants you, as His child, to know Him.  A good example of how this relationship grows is seen by looking at a newborn baby and his/her parents.  From the beginning the baby has a strong emotional bond to his/her parents, as well as a tremendous physical need for them.  But the child has very little knowledge of what his/her parents are really like as people when he/she is newborn.  The parents know the baby far more than the baby knows them.  But as time passes and the child grows up with his/her parents, he/her gradually learns many things about them, and eventually gets to now them much better.  This is the way it is with your Father in heaven.  As you continue in prayer, you will grow and mature in your relationship with Him.  You will get to know Him much better.


How do I pray?

You can pray alone in private, and you can also pray with others.  You can pray silently, and you can also pray aloud.  God does not require us to pray in a formal way, or according to any set ritual.  He simply desires for you to spend time with Him, and He takes great pleasure in your fellowship with Him.


If you are not used to praying, it may require a little bit of discipline to get started.  You are not naturally going to begin to desire something that you haven't experienced before.  But once you have seen the power and comfort of prayer in your life, you will begin to strongly desire the close fellowship with God that you've discovered.


The habit of prayer

The first thing that is helpful to do is to set aside a certain time to pray every day.  Although you can pray anytime you wnat to, making a schedule will help you develop some discipline in prayer, and you'll get a good prayer habit started.  Many people call this regular time of prayer "daily devotions."  (Our nickname is "daily devos.")  This is a time completely devoted to God, and a time for you to devote yourself completely to Him.


A great way to pray every day is in the morning after getting up.  Starting your day with prayer focuses your mind on God, and it is in prayer that you will find the strength you need to show the world Jesus' love.  Another good time to pray is during a lunch break from work or school, to re-establish your mind-set on Christ for the rest of the day.  Prayer time before bed is a perfect way to reflect on the events of the day with God, and it will help you to go to sleep with your mind again set on God.  If you ever have a problem with  bad dreams, try Bible reading and prayer before bed!


• Read Psalm 55:17.  When did David have his daily prayer times?


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• Read Daniel 6:10.  How many times every day did Daniel set aside to pray to God?


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What do I pray for?

There are different types of prayers for different purposes, and all of them are important in your relationship with God.  Let's look at each of these types of prayer:


Praise and worship

Praise and Worship are how we express or adoration and awe of all that  God is, and all He has done.  When we begin to perceive the awesome splendor and glorious majesty of our Lord, our hearts respond with Worship.  Praise is when we tell God all the wonderful things that He is, and how much He means to us.  In these special times of prayer we draw closest to our Father!


• Read Hebrews 13:15.  What type of sacrifice should we continually offer to God?


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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is similar to Praise and Worship.  It is recognizing the many generous things that  God has given us, and the faithful way that He provides for us, and thanking Him for it!  It also means thanking God for the work He has done in our lives, and the work He is doing, and for His work in the lives of others.


• Read I Thessalinians 5:18.  In what circumstances does God desire for us to give thanks?


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Confession

Confession is when we admit our sins and shortcomings to God.  Because of Jesus' sacrifice we are forgiven, but we need to be quick to repent of our sins and turn away from them!  We must often pray for God's cleansing in our hearts.  We should also quickly go to prayer when we are tempted to sin.  God will give us the strength to do what is right!


• Read I John 1:9.  What is God always faithful to do when we confess our sins?


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• Read Mark 11:25.  What else do we need to do when we ask for God's forgiveness?


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Supplication and Intercession

Supplication is when we bring our requests to God.  There are many different kinds of requests or petitions.  We pray for God to provide our needs, for physical healings, for spiritual victories, and for God's wisdom.   We can pray for ourselves and for other people that we know, and even for people that we do not know personally.


When we pray on behalf of someone other than ourselves, this is called Intercession.  Intercession on behalf of others is highly regarded by God, and through these prayers He does much of His  work.  It is a  genuine blessing to be used by God in this way.  It is also true that when we become concerned with the needs of others, we become less preocupied with ourselves and our own problems.


• Read Ephesians 6:18.  When and How does this scripture tell us we should pray?


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• Who does this verse tell us to pray for?


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• Read I Timothy 2:1-4.  Who are we told to pray for here?


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Many prayers actually fall into more than one of the categories we've discussed.  We often pray different kinds of prayers at the same time.


• Read James 5:16.  What different kinds of prayer do you recognize here?


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• According to this verse how important are your prayers?


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• Read Philippians 4:6.  What other type of prayer should always accompany our petitions to God?


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Answers to prayer requests

God answers prayers in many ways.  The important thing to know is that He will always anwser.


• Read Matthew 7:7-8.  What does Jesus promise us in these verses?


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Sometimes an answer takes longer than we want.  God's timing  is always perfect - ours usually is not.  Sometimes an anwser to a request may be "Yes," or "No," or "Wait."  We must always trust that our wise and loving Father knows best.  His supreme concern is our well-being.


If you are praying for God to touch someone's life, then of course seeing the work He is doing will be the answer you are looking for.  You may not always see what God is doing in someone's heart right away, but He is at work!  Be patient, and keep praying!  God wants us to be persistent in intercessory prayer.


Many of our prayers require much more than a "Yes" or "No" answer.  Prayers for wisdom, and prayers for direction in our lives are good examples of areas where we need God to speak to us more specifically.  God answers these prayers in a few different ways, but usually it is through His written Word, as we are led by the Holy Spirit.


How does God speak to us?

One of the ways that God speaks to us is through His Word.  Most of the answers that we seek are found in the Bible, and the Holy Spirit has a truly fascinating way of leading us to the answers we need.  We also receive assurance and understanding from the Holy Spirit, as He helps us to apply the Word to our lives.  The important factor for God to speak to you in this way is to stay in the Word!  It is a good idea always to pray as you are reading the Bible,and ask God to open up His Word to you.


• Read Psalm 119:105.  How can God direct us through His Word?


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• Read John 8:31-32.  How can we know the truth?


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The Holy Spirit often impresses God's Word for us on our minds and hearts.


• Read John 14:26.  We see here that the Holy Spirit will bring the Lord's Word to our memory when we need it.  The Holy Spirit is our Teacher and Counselor.


• Read John 16:13-14.  Here Jesus tells us that it is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth, and makes the things of God known to us.  Sometimes the Spirit speaks so clearly  to our hearts that it seems that we have actually heard God's voice!  It takes much experience in God's Word and in daily prayer to learn to hear God's voice in your life.  That is why it is so important to develop good prayer habits!


Another way that God can speak to us is through the wise counsel of other  Christians.  Always compare this counsel to God's Word to make sure it is really from God.  God does not contradict Himself.  Always look for the evidence of God's work in the other person's life.  If you see they are in love  with God and want to please Him, and they are walking in holiness, then their counsel is probably good to heed.  Always pray about it!


It is not a good idea to immediately trust a "word" or "vision" that just pops into our minds as being God's Spirit speaking to us.  Many people have had serious problems as a result of hastily assuming that their imaginations were from God.  We must test these "visions" to see if they are truly inspired by the Spirit.  Here are a few ways to judge the true origin of these things:


Does it glorify god?  If is does not glorify God, it is not ispired by the Holy Spirit, because His purpose is to glorify the Father and the Son.  Does it completely agree with God's Word in the Bible?  If not, it cannot be inspired by the Spirit of truth.  God never contradicts Himself.  The Spirit is truth, and the spirit is God.  The Spirit only speaks the true Words of God.


Does it condone any sin or compromise, or accept any wrong motives?  God's Holiness cannot accept any unholiness,and the Holy Spirit never endorses impurity of any kind.  Our hearts are often deceitful.  The Spirit searches our hearts , and reveals improper motives .  We must turn from our self-serving ways whenever He reveals them to us.  If any "vision" satisfies our own cravings, beware!  A true vision from God leads us to desire His will, not ours!



Summary

Prayer is the way we communicate with  God, and the way we get to know Him intimately.  It is important ot get a good daily devotional prayer habit started right away!  There are different kinds of prayers for different needs, including Praise and Worship, Thanksgiving, Confession, Supplication, and Intercession.  God greatly desires for you to grow in all of these prayers.  God will always answer your prayers, usually through His Word in the Bible and the witness of the Holy Spirit in your heart, and through the wise counsel of your spiritual leaders.


* Starting tomorrow, we will begin our series of five daily devos focusing on prayer.  As you start each of the devos, remember to pray and ask God to teach you through His Word!  Also be sure to thank God for what He shows you, and ask Him to help you apply it to your life.  Also remember how important it is to get started on a daily devotional schedule right away!  Spending time in God's Word and in prayer every day is just as important as eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Don't starve!