Hopefully, you have shared your story with others about how you met Jesus and told them how they may become a Christian. If not, you can start now. If so, our prayer is that they become a Christian. If they do become a follower of Jesus, they need you to help them develop new habits to grow in spiritual maturity. Last week we discussed the holy and healthy habit of Bible reading and today we shall discuss another good habit: Prayer. Namely, prayer is talking with God and taught by God. Let’s discuss this further.
Prayer is Talking with God
What is prayer? Simply put, prayer is communication with God. It is the intentional act of speaking to and listening to the Creator of the Universe (God). This communication is possible because Jesus Christ has established the connection between you and God. Consider that when Jesus said “My Father will give you whatever you ask in my Name” (John 16:33), He is doing more than just telling us to close our prayers by saying, “In Jesus’ name”. Rather, He is declaring that He has opened the door for us so that we can draw near to God. (Heb 4:16) When we come to the Father “in Jesus’ name” we are saying, “Jesus, not my goodness, is the reason I am here before you and call upon You.”
Vital in Relationships. Good communication is vital to a healthy relationship. In fact, a relationship is only as good as its communication. A healthy relationship can only exist if there is healthy communication where you are both talking and listening. This is true in our relationships with one another and in our relationship with God.
Bad Communication; Bad Relationship. As we said earlier, a relationship is only as good as its communication. How many times have you had someone upset with you because they misunderstood you? It is very easy for miscommunication to cause problems, heartaches, and hurts. Sometimes the problem is that one person monopolizes the conversation. Have you ever had a conversation where the other person did all the talking and did not allow you to speak? This is not the sign of a healthy relationship because good communication is both talking and listening. Another bad sign is the “silent treatment”. If someone refuses to speak to you then there is an obvious problem in the relationship. In fact, the silent treatment is very unhealthy because you are implicitly suggesting that you do not consider the other person worthy of your time. The same thing can happen with our relationship with God and prayer (or the lack thereof). Prayer is a good indicator of the health of your relationship with Jesus. Do you speak to Him or just hear about Him from others? Do you monopolize the conversation and only bring your list of wants to Him? Do you live your life as if Jesus does not exist? If so, there is a problem.
Good Communication; Good Relationship. Good communication with God is only possible if you have repented of your sins and confessed your faith and trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. It is from this basis that you are reconciled to God the Father through Jesus and can communicate with Him in a relationship. It is important to remember that every Christian is in a relationship with Jesus and He invites you closer through prayer. Good communication in your relationship with God is key to your spiritual growth. In prayer you speak to God and listen to God.
Prayer is Taught by God
You may be convinced that you should pray, but confused as to how to pray. If this is you then you are not alone. Many people confess that they struggle with knowing how to pray. Luke 11:1 tells us that the disciples of Jesus asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. This indicates that they did not know how and could not figure it out on their own. They knew that true prayer had to be learned from God. Jesus taught His disciples what is commonly referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer” or “Model Prayer”. It is in this prayer and in the rest of the Bible that we learn of the different types of prayer that God wants from us.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Praise. Come to God and offer Him thanksgiving and praise. It doesn’t matter if you feel like praising and thanking Him, do it because He is worthy! Consider His characteristics, His names, His work, His salvation.
Prayers of Confession. John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Every Christian has been freed from bondage to sin and is now able to “put to death what is earthly [sinful] in you” (Col 3:5). Confess sins of thoughts and attitudes, sins of speech, relationship sins, sins of wrongdoing, and sins of failing to do what is right. Remember “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Prayers of Petition. Jesus tells us to “ask, seek, and knock” (Matt 7) and He will give. Come to God and ask Him for what you need that will help you carry out His will for your life. Pray for the physical, mental, and spiritual needs you have.
Prayers of Intercession. Intercession prayers are basically petitions on behalf of others. Pray about what they need and ask God to give it to them. This is a very important type of prayer because you are thinking less about yourself and more about others.
Prayers of Meditation. As we said earlier, good communication is both talking and listening. Every type of prayer thus far has involved us talking to God. Meditation is important because it is prayerful listening. You, like Samuel, say: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:10).
Develop the habit of developing prayer and help others as well.