Many people struggle with the topic of prayer. How can I pray? Who am I praying to? What do I benefit from praying? I believe by the special grace of God, this message will reveal the truth to you. If you are interested in having a real relationship with God, this message is for you.
Definition of prayer
Prayer is a way for us to dialogue or communicate with God, and he listens to us because he loves us. The closer you are to God, the more your prayer life will change and it will have more impact. It is like in combat, the soldiers are on different levels of strength and skill, and the guns are built based on the impact they will have on their targets. The soldiers and guns are paired based on the soldier’s experience to use a specific gun. If a trainee soldier is given heavy machinery, the mission will not be accomplished. The bible says in James 5:16 “the intense prayer of the righteous man has great power and produces wonderful results”. No man can achieve this righteousness of their own except by the grace of God through his son Jesus Christ. In simple terms, believing in Jesus Christ makes you righteous and empowered (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 1:11).
Prayer and its purposes
- Prayer is an invitation into the presence of the almighty God who knows our needs. Our God is omnipresent, meaning he is everywhere and he can hear you and your thoughts.
- Prayer is like breathing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I say this because, without it, your life cannot move in the direction God has for you.
- Prayer is love itself because it gives you the desire to always remain in God’s presence.
- Prayer is listening and knowing clearly the voice of God (Psalm 46:10; 1 Samuel 3:9). Someone once asked, if God already knows everything about us and what we need, why do we need to pray? Now, the purpose of creation is to form a relationship. How will you have a relationship with someone you never speak to? God wants to know and appreciate your voice and he wants you to know his. You need to know the voice of God so you do not fall prey to the devil (Mathew 26:41).
- Prayer is the strongest weapon against the devil (Isaiah 54:17; 1 Peter 5:7). Jesus said in John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. Man is a spirit being (Genesis 1:26; Job 32:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23) and everything we battle must be won in the spirit before it manifests in the physical. Once I was praying in a dream and I saw angels breaking lots and lots of plates in front of me. The Lord revealed to me that those plates represent the stumbling blocks that Satan throws our way.
- Prayer empowers and guides us. Friendship is a bond that forms when hearts and even secrets are shared. When you communicate with God, he will reveal secret things to you (Psalm 25:14). He will let you know when you are in danger and what you need to do. Whatever decisions or tasks are placed before you, God will make always make a way (Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 43:19).
- Prayer brings a change of heart and peace (Acts 3:19; Romans 12:2). Praying continuously changes your thought process (repentance from sin, more patience, freedom from fear and anxiety). If God knows my thoughts, why do I still need to confess my sins? Yes, God knows your thoughts but confessing is not for him. Confessing with your lips brings you peace, releases you from the damages of sin and also stops Satan in his tracks from using that sin against you (Revelation 12:11).
- Prayer builds your faith and trust in God (Ephesians 3:12; Proverbs 3:5-6). If I am bad at communicating with my husband, I will never build trust and he will never know if he can trust me with anything.
- Prayer is an opportunity for blessings to come down (Mathew 7:11).
How do I pray?
There are no protocols or set rules for praying. Praying does not require a certain pose or demeanor. Jesus prayed a lot (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12) and he taught us that prayer is simple. Prayer can be done while walking or working and at any time of the day. Prayer can be short or long, it can be said in silence or out loud but then it must come from the heart. Prayer can be done in the form of worship, praise, and thanksgiving (James 5:13; Philippians 4:6). When you pray to God, do it in reverence (Psalm 25:14), with confidence, joy, and expectation (Psalm 99:5; Ephesians 3:12; Acts 2:28; Psalm 5:3).
As an example, prayer is as easy as saying; Lord, I thank you for today, for my family, for my friends and for those who do not like me (Mathew 5:44) OR Lord I need help in this or that OR Lord forgive me for offending you and my friend today. Thank you for forgiving me in Jesus name, Amen.
When it comes to God, you don’t need big words or unnecessary babblings to tell him what you feel (Matthew 6:7-8). Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. The simplest form of prayer is one that is sincere and from your heart, it takes the focus off of you and onto God and it is not turned into a show for you or for others.
When I speak with my husband, I am not worried about how to impress him with my vocabulary. It is hard enough that when you speak to people, you sometimes choose your words carefully so you do not hurt their feelings. Now we come to God (who is all-knowing) and try to act as well. You will burn out, get frustrated, become sarcastic or turn away from God. Do not be drawn into the fallacy of being politically or grammatically correct before God so he does not smite you. This is a false representation of God and it has not helped anyone. As one who was raised in the Roman Catholic foundation, I didn’t know how to pray from my heart. I had to recite a prayer that a “saint” wrote in the book. This did not build my confidence and trust in God because overtime I worried about my vocabulary when I prayed. I was scared to use my own words in prayer and scared to pray in the midst of people.
I held on to the prayer books as if my life depended on them. In my late teens, I began to hear this voice in my spirit, calling out to me and saying “I am here, talk to me”. Somehow I knew it was God and I opened my mouth and said;
Chi: God I am not happy at boarding school. I am tired and confused about many things. I cannot wait to get to University.
God: I know my child. I promise you it doesn’t get easier at University. We have lots to talk about and we will deal with each step as it comes. Look at it this way, everything you have been through is already shaping you into a better person. At age 9, you refused to wash your own clothes or even help your mum out in the kitchen. Now, you are much more independent.
Chi: This is true. It is nice talking to you about how I really feel. Where have you been all this time?
God: I have always been with you. I just kept waiting for the day you hear me and talk to me. Now we can have an awesome time together. I have a lot in store for you my child.
Chi: What do you have in store for me?
God: Oh no, what would be the fun in telling you now? You will see them unfold as long as we get to talk with each other.
After that conversation, I experienced so much peace and I never touched a prayer book again. We are definitely a blessed generation because we don’t have to go to temples or mountains to speak with God. The kingdom of God came down to us, our God came to us in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 3:16) to break any barriers and opened the door to unmerited favor/grace. Thus, Jesus says to ask the Father anything in my name and it will be granted to you as long as you believe (Mark 11:24).
God had much more in store for us and he knew the arrival of Jesus will cause Satan to be anxious and aggressive. Satan knows the blood of Jesus has given us more power, so he had to get clever with his tactics. His biggest form of deceit is to manipulate our minds into believing that God does not love us. This is why Jesus sent us the third Person of the Trinity called the Holy Spirit. We will discuss the Holy Spirit in detail another time. The Holy Spirit shows us how to release the power and freedom that Jesus bought for us through prayers (Romans 8:26). With the help of the Holy Spirit, our prayer power is perfected and tuned up to the max. Every step God has taken for humanity is for the purpose of increasing our relationship and contact with him.
Will I get what I prayed for?
This has always been a tough one for people to understand. You say God is powerful, he knows everything, he wants us to communicate and ask him for things, yet he does not answer. Why is that? I want to tell you that God loves and wants to answer our prayers because he is our loving Father (Jeremiah 29:11-12; 1 John 5:15). Jesus already tells us in so many ways that whatever we ask in his name, we will receive (Matthew 7:7; Mark 11:24; Philippians 4:6-8; John 15:7; Luke 11:13; John 16:24). We must understand that every prayer God answers is for the purpose of increasing joy, peace, rest and most importantly for his name to be glorified in our lives. Jesus says in John 16:24 “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full”. If I asked God to grant me a job and he sees that job will not prosper me but instead cause marital issues and drive me into an obsessive search for money, he will not grant it. Brethren, God is love and we should trust that he knows better than us what is good. There are certain reasons why some of our prayers are either delayed or never answered;
- We ask without knowing the will of God (Romans 12:2; 1 John 5:14): Ask according to his will. Jesus said thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mathew 6:10). Jesus who is God came and showed us how to live according to God’s will. What is God’s will for my life and how do I know? The answer is not far? It is in the bible. Read it, obey his words, live as he has instructed and soon you will begin to notice the hand of God in the way things move in your life. We touch more on this topic later.
- We ask with the wrong heart and wrong motives (James 4:3; Isaiah 44:3; Proverbs 15:29). Your heart must be open to God in obedience. Just as I cannot help or teach an arrogant person, God will not listen to one whose heart is unrepentant and full of pride. God does not answer prayers that are selfish and meant for self-glorification. Sometimes we ask for things because we want to change people’s opinions about us or want to boast along with others. If your prayer is not about glorifying God, he is faithful and just to not answer that prayer so that you don’t destroy yourself.
- We lose trust in God and stop praying (Proverbs 3:5-6): When you stop praying, you will always feel like God does not answer prayers. Trials and temptations will come our way but do not stop praying (1Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6). These trials are meant to test our faith. During my studies at university, I was constantly in agony over how to pay my fees, how to pay for my rent and how to get my next meal. It was quite painful and many times I gave up praying. Remember I told you prayer is like breathing. Each day that passes without me talking with God, it felt like my life was coming to an end. I got back on my knees and God in his infinite mercy kept bringing angels in the form of people to my aid. God has been glorified in my situation because no matter what happens tomorrow, I can always boast about my God.
- God’s timing: God answers in his time because only he foresees what the future holds. Sometimes the answer will be No or he tells you to wait. I have learned the hard way that it is better to wait and obey God than try to force or do things my way (Hebrews 10:36). Think about when your child asks you for something you know they cannot handle at that point or will destroy them, of course, you would not give it to them. This is the same thing God does for us because he knows the right time for us to receive our best. Trust his timing because he is eternal and he sees time differently than we do (2 Peter 3:8).
- God’s ways: God cannot be put in a box or predicted. He already tells us his ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). We expect God to answer our prayers in a certain way. When it comes to God, my advice is to expect the unexpected. After years of studies and research, I thought the time to earn my reward had come. In a year, I experienced loss, my family was starving back in Nigeria, I was stripped of all rank and pride, pain was all I could feel, sickness riddled my body, the voices in my head would not stop, I refused help from my husband or anyone, I was like a walking corpse and I could neither bless nor curse God. I tried to fight like always but my strength was not enough. God, was this your plan all along? After months of mental and spiritual torture from Satan, I surrendered everything I am to the Alpha and Omega. Finally, the gold is ready for the Creator’s work. God brought me to a place of rest and contentment like I have never had before. This was the birth of Mantle at Rest!!!
Are you ready to surrender everything you are to God in prayers? When God promises, he will do it (Hebrews 6: 13-18). Praise be to Jesus now and forevermore, Amen.