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Our Prayer Life
I am Jessie Mills, Ph.D.
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OUR PRAYER LIFE

By Jessie Mills

I. EVALUATION OF PRAYER LIFE:

Probably more than half of all Christians, including myself, do not understand prayer and its power. Allow me to reminisce: When I was a child and wanted something special, I would follow my mother and tug at her apron strings, not stopping until she granted my wish.

In prayer, there's this same kind of tense tugging at the heart of God. The heartstrings of God are tight. His heart is easily tugged, and we should never cease our tugging. There's a tug of man's sore need at the down-end, the man-end, of the strings, and a tug of grief over the way things are down here at the up-end, the God-end of the strings.

But the heart strings of God never snap. The heart strings of man can break, but they can be strengthened by proper exercise.

Man needs things, but does not ask God with the right motives. God always answers, but man selfishly pulls on the heart strings of God and is not answered the way he was expecting! Man needs to learn how to tug.

II. TIMES AND TYPES OF PRAYER:

Man needs to seek God with a contrite heart and use prayer the way it was meant to be. Neither the half-hearted or the arrogant will be able to communicate with God!

In this division we will look at the prayer of a righteous man; and the many types of prayer offered. But, before doing so there is one very important attitude that needs to be reviewed (HUMILITY).

Humility is NOT thinking lowly of oneself; but rather thinking properly of oneself. It is being in the correct relationship with God, as well as with men, it is having the attitude, which recognizes that we are dependent creatures, who have sinned, who have been bought with blood. Everything we have is from another; we are utterly dependent. All rights we might have had are forfeited by our sinful conduct. All we have came from God, and was only secured for us at the enormous cost of His precious blood. This doesn't leave much room for self-satisfaction. So, humility is simply recognizing our utter dependence upon another, and living it. This controls our contact with our fellow man. Unless we come before God in this attitude, in vain do we pray.

Times Of Prayer

1.  In the early morning, when the mind is not clouded with the worries of the day, remembering that I have been purchased with the blood of the sinless Son of God, closing my eyes and seeing Him in agony on the cross; then I can know that I am ready for communicating with God.

2.  Before entering the study of God's Word, which is my daily routine, I take a few minutes to meditate upon the cross (to see the blood dripping to the ground prepares my mind for a more sincere, and in-depth study). Asking at this time only that God direct me and give me the ability to understand what I read/and to help me retain what I learn. This is not the time to pray for the Church.

3. Remembering where they come from (HUMILITY), meals should bring forth prayer, regardless of where they are eaten. I will stop long enough to offer my praise to God for His great gift of food to me. This is not the time to pray for the sick or some erring brother, but for the food granted us by the hands of God.

4. The eve of the day is my proper time to visit friends, and members of the Church. If I am studying with a friend, I direct my prayers in his behalf, that God will grant his time for obedience.

5. Praying for the sick, when visiting hospitals, and nursing homes.

6. Prayer during Elders meetings.

7. Prayer before retiring for the night.

Types Of Prayer

1.   Prayer for self:  humility, self-control, under-standing, wisdom, good health, and courage to withstand persecution, strength to teach God's Word to another.

2. Prayer for those I teach, that they may understand, that they may love God, even as I, that they may obey His Will.

3. Prayer for the sick: that God may grant according to His Will their recovery.

4. Prayer for the Church in general, that peace may abound, that there be no divisions; that we each be our brother's keeper; that we edify the Church in all things.

5. Prayer for our enemies: that they may learn to love.

6. Prayer for national leaders, as well as local that God may direct them in a course that will continue to give us freedom to worship.

7. Family prayer. Prayer for the son when he leaves home. Prayer for the daughter in trouble. Prayer for the one who has become unfaithful. Prayer for right decisions. Prayer when sickness is in the family. Prayer when problems between husband and wife exist. Prayer for strength to accept failure.

III. WEAKNESS IN PRAYER:

There is weakness in my prayer life, perhaps not foreign to others; and by writing about it, I may be able to see it more clearly and make the proper corrections:

1.  It is so easy to arise a few minutes late in the morning, and seeing that I'm late for some schedule, decide to put off prayer to a later period of the day. (There is just no place in the kingdom for this attitude).

2. There are times when I fail to pray with the family; some problem has arisen which left heated tempers, and the natural thought is that we are not in the mood for prayer. (This is the very time we need it the most, since prayer changes the hearts and minds of people).

3. While visiting the sick and especially in hospitals, I allow the weakness of others to guide me. Someone will say, "0 brother I just don't know if prayer will do me any good, I have prayed and prayed and I'm still sick." And suddenly I see them in their dire need of help, coupled with their lack of faith, and I begin to wonder why God will not help them. Then my own prayer begins weak, and ends weak. (I should remember that God allows His children to suffer for their own good;

     And that many times He causes one to suffer in order that He receives glory. I should remember that I have no right to question God. "For whatsoever is not of faith is sin"),

4. Many times before the assembly someone will be critical of something I have said or done. Not being prepared at that moment for sharp persecution, I become stagnant and sour. During class someone offers tradition in preference to truth, I get upset that they cannot see truth as I see it (a prayer with them right then would help), but when prayer time comes I am not in the right mood.

5. I become irritated during prayer, I hear song books being opened, pages being flipped, scratching on paper with pencils or whispering (I have forgotten humility).

IV. STRENGTH OF MY PRAYER LIFE:

The sin of prayerlessness is a reproach to God. If conscience is to do its work, and the contrite heart is to feel its misery, it is necessary that each individual should mention his sin by name. The confession must be severely personal. There is probably no single sin which each of us ought to acknowledge with deeper shame than the sin of prayerlessness.

1. WHAT A REPROACH IT IS TO GOD!

In prayer we meet the holy and most glorious God who invites us to come to Him, to hold conversation with Him, to ask from Him the things we need, and to experience the blessing of fellowship with Him. He has created us in His own image, and has redeemed us by His own Son, so that in prayer with Him we find our highest glory and salvation.

2. No one can continue to converse with God the Creator without becoming a more spiritual being.

3. 1 have joy in prayer; it is a token of communion with God, which shows that God is everything to me. I make time for fellowship with God, when in times of weakness, prayer gives me strength.

4. In meditation before prayer, I recognize that too much of our lives are spent under the power of "the flesh", and that prayer is the pulse of life; by the pulse the Doctor can tell what the condition of our heart is. The sin of prayerlessness is a pulse that God may determine our spirituality and see the sickness of the soul. David said, "I watered my couch with tears". He realized his true condition before God.

5. Just as the farmer knows that the more fertilizer used, the better the crop, the minister knows he cannot lead a congregation higher than he is himself, he cannot with enthusiasm point out a way, or explain a work, in which he is not himself walking or living. He must receive his strength through prayer.

6. There is strength in constant prayer; there is strength in earnest prayer. It is an impossibility to preach the Gospel to all men, as we are commanded by Christ to do, so long as this sin of prayerlessness is not overcome and cast out. Prayer begets strength.

V. GOD ANSWERS THE CONTRITE HEART:

The majority of Christians have little understanding of this matter. They have no real knowledge of the deep sinfulness and godlessness of that carnal nature which belongs to them, and to which unconsciously they yield. The Christian who is still carnal has neither disposition nor strength to follow after God. He rests satisfied with prayer of habit; and the glory, the blessedness of secret prayer is a hidden thing to him. But to those who spend time with the Creator, there awaits blessings untold.

1. When a Christian does not yield entirely to the Spirit of the Word Paul says, "Ye are carnal" (1 Cor. 3:3). God will not answer that prayer.

2. You live in the spirit, you have been born again, but you do not walk after the Spirit - "the flesh" lords it over you. The carnal cannot possibly pray in the Spirit and power. Humility will allow the heart to communicate with God.

3.  To equip me for prayer, a better message could not be given, than this: Live in His presence, rejoice in His Love, and rest in Him. When my relationship to the Lord Jesus is right, then I have something, which gives me the right to rejoice in Him and to rest in Him.

4. What about the spiritual life? From a defective spiritual life nothing better can be expected than a defective prayer-life. It is vain to endeavor to pray more or better when the life is not spiritual.

VI. HOW GOD ANSWERS PRAYER:

After many prayers, the question arises: will my many requests really be more effective than a few? I know how often I have prayed and been disappointed—But, faith will find its strength in the changeless faithfulness and love of Christ whose Will, will be done. I am assured that when I wait on Him I shall not be ashamed; that when I cast myself at His feet, and believe with my whole heart, allowing His Will to be done; then I have strength and blessings from God.

1. God does not always give what is asked. He knows better what we need than we.

2. We may pray for riches. In the answer we may receive poverty; the riches could destroy our soul, and for God to foreknow this would make Him responsible for the destruction of the soul.

3. We may pray for good health. Our answer could be sickness; sickness has a way of humbling.

4. We may pray for things that we as individuals can obtain. God will never interpose when we can accomplish that which we seek.

   5. We pray for forgiveness, but still suffer the consequence of sin. By so doing we gain the discipline and strength we need.

   6.  God loves a cheerful giver; and answers prayer when those things sought will benefit His purpose.

   7.  Paul asked the Churches to pray for him; they did, and God answered their prayers, although he was beaten and cast into prison, his life was spared that he might teach. God's Will was done.

   8. Prayer is sometimes answered through human agency; and because of our lack of faith and spirituality we do not recognize it.

   9. Prayer is answered through Divine providence.

 10. Prayer is answered through the laws of nature.

   VI. MY THOUGHT OF PRAYER:

1. After a day's labor in the vineyard, how can I renew my strength except in communion with my Father? I therefore believe that to keep in fellowship with God I must pray at the close of my day's labor.

2. "And it was at this time that Jesus went upon the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer". — Is it not clear that if any one wishes to do God's work, he must take time for fellowship with Him, to receive His wisdom and power? (See Lk. 6:12,13).

3. "As He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord teach us to pray". (Lk. 11:1-13). And then He gave them that inexhaustible prayer: "Our Father who art in Heaven". In this prayer He showed what was going on in His heart, not just an external thing for show. The model prayer was not meant to be a mere form or custom.

4. Does God not hold our life and well being in His hand? Does one not plead before the judge in court to have mercy upon him, and if necessary for physical well being plead night and day? With much sincerity do I need to pull upon the heart strings of Him who has power over life and death.

5. Prayer is the road to Heaven.

6. Insufficiency of prayer is the road to destruction.

7. "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17).

8. The minister especially must practice what he preaches, and if he does not have a well-rounded prayer life, then those to whom he teaches will be no better; they cannot rise above his standard. His prayers must not only be heard but also felt, he must set forth the example. To have followers, one must be a leader.

9. Prayer from the pulpit begets prayer from the pew.      

10. A Church or family that prays together will stay together.

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© Copyright 2015 by Jessie Mills. All Rights Reserved by the author, Jessie E. Mills, Jr. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without the prior express written permission of the publisher, except for brief quotations in critical reviews or other publications. Such quotations must be used with proper reference to their context and give appropriate credit to their authorship.