Many of the thoughts I shall share in this study came from my beloved brother in Christ and teacher Horst Adler.
Your children, your grandchildren, your friends and all the people you come in contact with are dependent upon YOU! Their lives, their health and all of their needs are dependent upon YOU! Whether or not they get to heaven can depend upon YOU! God has those people in your life for a purpose. That purpose is that you pray for them. If God does not meet their need nobody else can or will. All those people NEED your prayers. The most effective way you can love them is to pray for them. It is vitally important that YOU know how to pray successfully.
Successful prayer is hard work.
Colossians 4:12: Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Romans 15:30: Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ*s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
Prayer is the single most important thing we do in our battle with Satan. It is the most important thing because we cannot see our enemies much less have the strength within ourselves to conquer them. Keep in mind that the people we come in contact with are not as powerful as Satan.
Ephesians 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
I have heard many wise and unwise men teach about prayer. The unwise teachers ignore or don*t know about the sovereignty of God. They teach about how men can use prayer to control God. That is not how it works. That kind of prayer becomes an idol, something that men put above and in place of God. Men who pray that way put themselves above God and in the place of God. That is idolatry.
The unwise teachers use a few isolated verses from the Bible and take them out of context. Every cult uses some Bible truth, isolates it and makes it false. Those who unwisely teach about prayer attempt to make successful prayer seem simpler and easier than it really is. They need to dig deeper into the Word of God, the Bible. We all need to know the truth about prayer.
Matthew 7:7: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Matthew 21:22: And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Horst wisely pointed out that there is a qualifier to getting our prayers answered that is not apparent from those verses alone.
Matthew 7:11: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
The qualifier is that God will always and only give good things. God always knows what good things are. Unwise people have the assumption that they always know good things from bad things. They do not. No matter how mature they are as believers, no matter how wise they are, their knowledge and wisdom never measures up to God*s. Solomon was the wisest of men and yet he became a fool. His admonition in Proverbs applies to wise and foolish people alike. God is way up there and we are way down here.
Proverbs 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Horst wisely pointed out that in addition to the qualifier, there are hindrances to prayer that we must put off if we are going to have success. He gave a very accurate list of things that will make our prayer lives unsuccessful: lust of the flesh, intemperance, self-indulgence, lust of the eye, moral impurity, covetousness, pride of life, vanity, pride of achievement, pride of possession, self-will, self sufficiency and complacency.
1 John 2:15: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Successful prayer is dependent upon whom and what we love. We need to love God more than we love the world. If we love the world our prayers will reflect the values of the world. God does not answer prayers according to the values of the world.
1 John 2:16: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Peter gives exhortations to husbands and wives that if not obeyed will hinder their prayers. Our Christian lives cannot be merely skin-deep. When we are living our lives God*s way we will tend to pray God*s way. Living our lives God*s way will empower our prayers.
1 Peter 3:1-7: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
James 4:2: Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Isaiah 59:2: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Having your sins forgiven, knowledge of God, knowledge of God*s will, spiritual understanding, patience, thankfulness, joyfulness, contentment, strength in the inner man, being rooted in love and understanding the love of Christ are pillars of a successful prayer life.
Our prayers must be led by the Holy Spirit who knows the will of God perfectly.
Jude 1:20: But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Romans 8:26: Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
When we live pure lives God can guide and use our prayers. Impure lives do not produce righteous prayers. Our whole lives ought to be surrendered to the Holy Spirit of God. We must not pray according to the lust of our flesh.
Galatians 5:16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
If we are delighted in the Lord and long for Him we will be delighted with His answers to our prayers and He will change the desires of our hearts to conform to His desires.
Psalms 37:4: Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
When we know we are praying according to God*s will our prayers should be persistent and fervent. God is not like a fast-food restaurant.
Luke 18:1-8a: And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.
James 5:16: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing.
We need to know what kind of God we are praying to. He is the kind of God that will sort out our prayers and answer the ones that are right and will not answer the ones that are wrong. He shows us His love and goodness just as much by the prayers He does not answer as the ones He does answer. Because God knows best His answers to our prayers will often be slightly different than what we pray. When we pray improperly His answer will ALWAYS be different than our prayer.
An important phrase appears in the prayer that Jesus instructs us to pray. Amazingly it also appeared in Jesus* own prayer. The phrase Thy will be done is the most proper prayer we can utter.
Matthew 6:10: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Matthew 26:42: He (Jesus) went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
Here is a wonderful example of a proper prayer:
Proverbs 30:8-9: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Do we have confidence that we have a God who knows how to answer prays better than we are able to pray them?
1 John 5:14: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: