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16. What is Prayer?

In this conversation we are going to discuss prayer. The idea of this conversation is to free your disciple with prayer, to help them out of the preconceived bondage of method or form. You will discuss in practical terms the breadth of expression that prayer can take. From open and overt joy - to quietness and even silence. you will discuss the ideas of asking for power and direction as well as bringing your petitions to him.

Take time to pray with your disciple as opportunities present themselves to do so during this conversation.

Conversation Points
Do you ever feel like you have to pray just right, or it won’t work?
Have you felt like your prayer wasn’t answered because you didn’t have enough faith or pray long enough?


Yet Jesus reassured his disciples with these words:

Matthew 6:7-8. 
“When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” 


Prayer Isn’t a Formula You Have to Get Right

God’s hearing our prayers doesn’t depend on our praying long enough or hitting upon the right phrases. Prayer is an invitation to come before our Heavenly Father who knows our needs and longs to hear our voices. God hears and responds to us because He is faithful and has compassion on His children. 

Your prayer life grows deeper when you take a few focused minutes to pray every day like Jesus did.

Mark 1:35
"Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray."


Prayer isn’t a ritual that depends on closing our eyes and putting on holy faces. We don’t have to kneel or sit. We can pray while walking, driving, or working. God responds to a two word cry for help in the middle of a busy afternoon, just like He does to a focused prayer time after reading Scripture in the morning. Praying doesn’t have to be complicated. God delights in any simple words we offer Him.

Prayer gives us the opportunity to relate to God in these 10 ways:

1. Talk with God
As believers in Christ, we have an amazing privilege; our Heavenly Father invites us to talk to Him! In Jeremiah 29:12, He invites His children to speak and promises to listen: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” We can read God’s Word and talk to Him in the morning to align our hearts with His at the start of the day, and we can also talk to Him as we go about our daily routines.


We may think we have to pray with fancy words, but prayer is just talking to God. Throughout the day, God longs to hear our simple prayers:

Thank you for this breakfast, Lord.
Help me stay calm in this traffic jam.
Lord, help me love this person right now.
God, will you show me what to do?
Lord, I love you. Be with me.
Goodnight, Lord.
What simple prayers have you found yourself praying?


2. Praise Him
In the famous scripture "The Lord's Prayer", Jesus teaches us to start our prayer time praising God. 


Matthew 6:9
"Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy."

King David, one of the greatest worshippers in the Bible wrote in one of his Psalms:

Psalm 100:1-4
"Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name."


3. Be quiet before Him.
We of prayer as talking to God. But prayer is a two way conversation - which means we need to learn to stop and listen.

Psalm 46:10 tells us:

Psalm 46:10
 “Be still, and know that I am God!"


Sometimes, when we quiet our mouth, our soul is able to better communicate with God and experience his power and love and presence.

A quiet heart is also postured to better hear God. Like young Samuel waiting to hear God, he said:

1 Samuel 3:9
" ...Speak, Lord, your servant is listening."


The more time when spend listening to God, the more we are going to learn what his voice sounds like and will be able to respond to him in the "hub-bub" of life.


4. Ask God to change your heart.
The word “repentance” might make you cringe because honestly, who wants to remember their own sin? But learning that calling sin to mind, confessing it to God, and asking Him to change you ushers in spiritual renewal is a powerful lesson. Acts 3:19 holds a promise for us:


Acts 3:19-20
"Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord..."


Again from David is a wonderful prayer:

Psalm 139:23-24
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life."


Try jotting down a simple list of sins that come to mind and ask God to change your heart. 

When I confess worry, God’s Spirit brings peace.
Where I repent from irritability, God renews my patience.
When I confess anxiety due to an overwhelmed schedule, God points out my next steps.

5. Tell Him your needs.
Prayer is much more than telling God our needs, but as our Father, he does encourage us to do so. 


Philippians 4:6
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."


Try creating a list of needs in one column and a space in the other to record when God meets those needs. So your faith can grow as you see him move on your behalf.


6. Present others to Him.
As Christians, we have the awesome privilege of participating in God’s work by praying for other people. Although we often neglect it, our most powerful and effective ministry as Christians is prayer. We can impact our children, friends, family, and loved ones as we pray for them.


Rather than worrying about your loved ones, every time that a care on concern comes up, turn the situation around into an opportunity for prayer.

Question: Is there anything that you are concerned about for you loved ones that we can pray for right now?


7. Thank Him.
As we pray, let’s not forget to thank God for what He’s already done in our lives.


When was the last time you thanked God for sending Jesus to die for you?
Have you thanked Him recently for the gift of His Holy Spirit?


When we thank God for the many spiritual blessings we receive, it honors Him and opens our eyes to the abundant life He’s giving us.

Thank him for everyday blessings like your dog’s faithful friendship or your child’s smile. Thank him for answering your prayers. What if we make it a point to thank God for what He’s already done before we ask Him for something new? If you’re having trouble seeing things to give thanks for today, ask God to open your eyes to abundance and gratitude.


8. Ask for guidance.
Do you ever feel confused about what to do next?
Ever find yourself in a situation that looks impossible?

Prayer provides an opportunity to ask God to guide us. Whether you face an important life decision, need God’s wisdom for a tough situation at work, or just need to know how to respond in a difficult conversation, God’s Holy Spirit will show you your next step when you ask Him for guidance.


We can pray along with these reassuring words:

“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust… Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, And my hope is in you"


9. Ask for empowerment.

Luke 11:11-13
“You fathers—if your children ask[a] for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him."


Tiredness is often because we are running in our own strength, but we need to learn to stop and ask God for help. Our own reserves of strength will only get us so far, and exhaustion serves as a warning signal that we're running on empty. God promises to empower us by the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Maybe God has called you to do something that looks way too big. Perhaps you’re facing a tough situation that leaves you feeling weak. Maybe you’ve been walking through a time of trial and you’re wondering how you can possibly take one more step. Ask the Lord to fill you with His power despite your weakness. Ask Him to give you the strength you need to take one more step. Call on Him to give you the power to live for Him today.


10. Turn your heart toward God.
Finally and most of all, prayer is an opportunity to turn our hearts toward God. We have the amazing privilege of coming before the Lord of the universe. “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).

When we call on God and turn our hearts to Him, He sees and hears us; He is with us.


So whatever your need today look to God. Don’t wait for the perfect time to sit down and pray. Don’t wait until you have the perfect words. Let’s lift our voices to God in the morning quiet, on the way to work, and while we walk the dog, make dinner, or go shopping. All it takes is a few words. Let’s turn our hearts towards God in prayer today. He longs to hear us.

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