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Prayer is Personal: How Christians Pray

Updated: Feb 3

February 13, 2022- We do what we can to follow God and obey His laws: we help others when and how we can, we fast, and we pray. At first, we are not exactly sure how to pray, but Jesus Christ taught us how in the gospels of His disciples. Over time, we become stronger in our prayer life, and they become more meaningful than our original prayers. Jesus Christ called us out from our sins and as we first hear Him call us, we do what we can to stay straight on that path and avoid sin.

At one point or another, we backslide into the sins of our past, and we feel guilty because God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are still with us. Otherwise, there would be no guilt or shame when we have sinned. Sometimes we fall into this pattern. Suddenly, our prayers do not feel as meaningful or humbling. When we no longer hear the voice of God, we wonder what went wrong, though we already know what we did. It is the scariest moment in your life from the time you first accepted Jesus, to the time you no longer hear Him. Stuck in this rut, we have one of two options:

1. Fall deeper into sin (stay in this rut), or

2. Return to God (get out of this rut).

God does not enjoy seeing you in sin. He would rather you turn back to Him on your own. In fact, Ezekiel 33: 11 says, “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” The challenge is that your will alone is not strong enough to defeat your sin or continue your fast. Jesus Christ Himself said that, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). What does Jesus Christ say to do? “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41).

For what are we watching? According to the gospel of Matthew, we do not know the hour when Jesus Christ will return to gather the elect into His kingdom, but we do know the signs to look for. These are described in Matthew 24:15-31, and verse fifteen makes a reference to Daniel 11:31, and Daniel 12:11. For this article, I am going to focus on the second part of that instruction. Prayer.

How to Pray

When I backslid the first time, (which did not take long as a new Christian) my prayers were becoming repetitive and short. Jesus Christ did tell us not to “use vain repetitions as the heathen do.” (Matthew 6:7). I told my husband about this struggle, and he told me of this passage which I read and apologized to God for doing these things. After digging into Matthew 6:5-15, and other passages within the Holy Bible, I learned that there is a time, a place, and purpose for prayer:

· Time- there are references in the Holy Bible of prophets rising early to pray. However, our example is Jesus Christ, and there are references in the Holy Bible where He prayed at various times of the day and multiple times during the day. Most of the times when He prayed, He prayed alone. There were only two occasions when He prayed with His disciples. One was when he gave a model prayer to His disciples and the crowds. The second time was when His hour had come to be given to the hands of man.

· Place- Jesus Christ told us to “go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6)

· Purpose- prayer builds your relationship with God. Psalm 66:20 says, “Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me!” God will speak to you. With God telling you what to do and what to expect, how can you fail? In addition, there is Isaiah 59:1-2, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” The purpose of prayer is to destroy wickedness in you and bring forth the light of God in you. Jesus Christ said that “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22)

Remember that model prayer I mentioned? Jesus Christ gave it to us in Matthew 6:10-13 (NKJV):

Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Understanding this prayer, you do not need to use vain words to God but obedience to His word. When I read this sample prayer, I think of it like a letter or an email. You have the addressee “Our Father,” His metaphysical address, “Your kingdom,” the content of the message, from verses 10-13, and the closure, “Amen”. Just like a letter or an email, your prayer is personal to you and is for you (the sender), and to God (the addressee). God already knows what you are going to ask him. You need to find the words. We have no trouble finding the words in our prayers in times of trouble, but when things are well sometimes, we fail to find the words.

Bible, Prayer, Winddow, window sill
Photo Credit: Wix Media. A woman with her Holy Bible praying

Finding the Words for Prayer

When my prayer is stuck, I go back to Jesus’s model in Matthew 6. I pray first by giving thanks to the Lord for the insignificant things and the wonderful things. I think of the people I encountered through the day and the week, and I pray for them. I try to give thanks for saving me, while at the same time being humble and not saying, “thank you for saving me unlike those pagans” because Jesus warned of this.

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus Christ gave His disciples one of His many parables. He describes that a Pharisee and a tax collector went up to the temple to pray:

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’

From this parable, who do you think was heard? The Pharisee or the tax collector? Keep in mind the times of this period. Pharisees were a social movement and they held strict observance of Jewish rituals and the written law. Tax collectors worked for the oppressor (the Romans who had conquered Israel in 63 B.C.). Jesus Christ said that “I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The other thing I do, is confess my sin, because surely there must be something blocking that spiritual connection to God. There are many passages about confessing sin. Let us start with Psalm 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” 1 John 1:9 elaborates on the second part of Proverbs 28, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If you are married, and your relationship is filled in sin keep in mind what Paul said in Ephesians 5:22, and fix yourself and your marriage:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

If you have prayed and you have not heard from God, do not be dismayed. Jesus Christ taught us to:

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:7-12).

When God does give you word, do not turn from it. Instead, perform it and execute it, for He is with you!

My brothers and sisters in Christ, I am not going to tell you what you should pray, because as I mentioned before, prayer is personal. I do hope that this article helps you as you learn more about Christianity and the Holy Bible. Remember that no source should replace reading the Holy Bible and praying. Pray that the Holy Spirit guides you, and that you are granted wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.

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