16 Essentials of prayer

Encouragement for difficult days (16):

ESSENTIALS OF PRAYER

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:7

 One of the greatest privileges we have is prayer. When the disciples saw Jesus pray, they said to him “Lord, teach us how to pray!”  Maybe you were taught to pray when you wwere little. Now, we need to be tought how to pray. Prayer is more than just words from the lips, it is the expression of the desires of the heart.

John Bunyan put it like this:

“When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.”

The Bible contains many promises. Today, we’ll look at John 15:7 (listed above).

The disciples had just been in the upper room. Jesus, who had been with them for 3 years and taught them faithfully, had just told them that He would soon leave them. But Jesus said that He would care for them from heaven, and He promised that He would answer their prayers.

1.       The vine and the branches

At least a dozen times in John 15, John uses the word “abide”. His illustration is that of the vine and the braches. The branches are united to the vine and draw up its life and strength. All the branch has to do, is to abide, stay in contact with the vine, and bear fruit. Just in the same way, a Christian is unified with Christ. We commune with Him, and He gives us strength. We commune with Him through prayer, reading His Word, and fellowshipping with other Christians. We also need to obey God, or our fellowship with Him is broken, and our prayers are just empty words. However, if we obey God and keep in a close relationship to Him, then we will pray to Him from the bottom of our heart, and God will answer us.

2.       We abide in Christ, and He abides in us

The abiding has two sides to it: we abide in Christ, and His Word abides in us. If we spend time every day in God’s Word, then we can talk to God about our needs and ask for His help. When I open my Bible, God talks to me. When I pray, God talks to me. It’s far more important that I listen to God than that He listens to me! One of the secrets to getting our prayers answered, is abiding in the Word, and let the Word abide in you.

It’s tragic to see how many Christians neglect fellowship with the Lord. They rush into each new day without taking time to read the Bible or talk to God. Then they wonder why problems develop and why God doesn’t answer their prayers.

3.       The asking

Another factor involved in prayer is “asking”. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.” Prayer is much more than asking; it also involves praising God, giving thanks, worshiping Him, and surrendering to Him. But asking is important too. Jesus said “Ask, and it shall be given unto you.” And James wrote: “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). Also remember what Jesus said in Luke 11:13; “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” God wants to give us good things that are good for us, and He listens when we pray. David wrote: “The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.” (Psalm 34:15) God listens for your voice like your mother would listen out for your voice when you were outside playing, and if you got hurt and started crying, your mum would have jumped up and said “That’s my baby crying!”

God has not simply invited us to pray, He has commanded us to pray.

Spend time talking to God, and in so doing, don’t forget to praise, worship and thank God.

4.       The answering

God enjoys answering prayer, just like we parents enjoy meeting the needs of our children when they ask us. John Newton wrote this in one of his hymns:

Thou art coming to a king,

Large petitions with thee bring;

For His grace and power are such

None can ever ask too much.

Maybe you can imagine those discouraged disciples in the upper room. Jesus had always been with them and they had had no reason to fast or pray. Now, He is about to leave them, and He promises to take care of needs if they will only abide and pray.

The Bible is our spiritual bankbook, and our prayers are the checks we write, drawing upon God’s infinite resources.

Maybe the most difficult problem in praying is the problem of delay. We tell God our needs, we trust Him to work, and yet nothing seems to happen. God knows how and when to answer prayer. God’s delays are not denials. God’s timing is perfect, ours is not. We just need to trust Him, abide in Him. He knows our needs far better than we do….

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