What is Prayer?
According to Oxford Dictionary, prayer is “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.”
I believe that prayer is essential to our spiritual walk. Prayer is a way for us to be in constant communication with Our Creator and to express our thankfulness and gratitude. Although prayer is known primarily as a method for asking God for help or assistance, I believe that prayer is more than this.
In Hebrew, the word prayer is Tefillah or Tephillah (Strong’s Concordance). The purpose of Tefillah is to evaluate one’s self before approaching God. How many of us quickly present our requests to God in prayer but forget to examine our hearts? I most certainly am guilty of this. I have learned that keeping self-reflection and self-evaluation in mind before prayer can be very beneficial. I would like to share a few tips that I like to keep in mind when I pray, I pray you find them to be helpful.
Tip One: Repentance
Repentance goes hand in hand with Tefillah. Repentance is a way for us to examine ourselves and our intentions before proceeding with our requests. Typically, repentance is known as the act of asking God for forgiveness, but repentance also requires action on our part. When we repent we acknowledge what we have done, we ask for forgiveness, and we make the effort to change (with the strength of God’s Spirit). Repentance includes action, turning away from and changing our course of action.
The Most High spoke to Israel about repentance in 1 Chronicles:
“If my people, upon whom My name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attent, unto the prayer that is made in this place.”
1 Chronicles 7:14-15
God required Israel to humble themselves, pray, and acknowledge their ways and to turn from their ways. He said, THEN will I hear from heaven and FORGIVE your sin, and will HEAL your land. If they repented, God would then hear and answer their prayers. He said “Now Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine EARS attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.” God’s ears would be open to their prayers once they repented.
1 John 1:9, John wrote:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God does things in a particular order. Sometimes, He requires an action on our behalf and then He will act. Many times He would preface His promises with an IF or a call to action, “If you confess your sins,” “If you keep My Commands,” or “If my people.”
James tells us that IF we come close to God, God will come close to us.
“Come close (draw near) to God and He will come close (draw near) to you.”
Repentance is a great way to begin every prayer and to examine ourselves and our intentions.
Tip Two: Be Genuine and Authentic
When we examine ourselves and we are genuine and authentic, Hebrews 4:16 states that we can then:
“Come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
“Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God, and we will receive from Him whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what is pleasing in His sight.”
1 John 3:21-22
God already knows our hearts and our intentions. When we are genuine and our hearts are pure we can BOLDLY approach God in prayer and ask whatever we want (again there is another emphasis on “IF” in 1 john 3:21-22. There is something we must do in order to receive our requests, i.e. keeping God’s commandments).
Also, it is important to note that God is not impressed or moved by how well we pray or how long our prayers are.
Matthew 6:5-8 reads,
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets so that they might be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But you when you pray, enter into your inner room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father, the One in secret. And your Father, the One seeing in secret, will reward you.”
“And praying, do not use vain repetitions like the hypocrites, for they think that in their many words they might be heard. Therefore do not be like them, for your Father knows what things you have need before asking Him.”
God knows the intentions of our requests before we even ask. In Matthew 5:5-8, God knew their motives for praying. They were motivated by “being seen” and “being heard.” God knew that their intentions were not pure. Again, it is important that our intentions are pure.
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, that you may spend it in your pleasures.”
James addressed those who DID ask God but DID NOT receive. He then explained the reason why they did not. They did not receive because they asked wrongly. In other words, God knew their intentions and God knew their motives were selfish.
Examining our motives and intentions is a tip to keep in mind and apply during our prayers.
Tip Three: You can go to God in prayer about ANYTHING.
It does not mater how big or small the matter is, you can go to God in prayer about it. I personally like to pray about anything that requires a major decision or anything that worries me. Why worry? I do not want to worry about anything. I would rather go to God in prayer and receive divine peace, strength, and guidance.
Philippians 4:6-7 reads,
“Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, surpassing all understanding shall guard your hearts and your minds in Yahushua HaMashiach (Yeshua/Jesus Christ).”
The scripture tells us to not be anxious about ANYTHING but in EVERYTHING by prayer to present our requests to God and God’s divine peace which is beyond this world will then guard and protect our hearts and our minds (keep our mind’s at peace and sound).
Tip Four: Pray God’s Will
Some may disagree, but I prefer to pray God’s will. I believe that God knows all things and knows what is best for us. Our Creator knows our beginning and our in between and God knows what is best for us. Why not pray God’s will along with our personal requests? Some may feel that by praying God’s will they will lose all control. Well, if my losing control is God taking full control then I know that I am in GREAT HANDS!
“I delight to do Your will, O my God; yes, your Law is within my heart.”
“Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God, let your good Spirit lead me…”
“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we might ask anything according to HIS WILL, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we might ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked from Him.”
1 John 5:14-15
Praying God’s will is a form of submission. We are saying God I acknowledge you as my God and I trust you and have confidence in you. Proverbs 3 reads,
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes…”
When we trust in the Lord, He will lead us in the right path. Solomon suggests that we be not wise in our own eyes nor lean or trust only in what we feel is right. The Book of Proverbs tells us, “There is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof is death.” Proverbs 16:25. God knows what is best for us and we can see only but so much. God’s ways are not our ways neither His thoughts our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). He sees things way ahead of us.
The Most High spoke to Israel,
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. And ye shall call upon Me, and go, and pray unto Me and I will hearken unto you. And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for me with all your heart.”
The Israelites had it their way for quite sometime and they got themselves in a heap of trouble, but God still had great plans in mind for them. Again, He required them to act! He required obedience. He told them that He had great plans for them to give them peace and a hopeful future but He desired that they seek after Him and search for Him with all of their heart. He wanted them to know His heart’s desire for them and His will for them.
Praying God’s will is an act of submission, we are humbled when we say your will be done. It is away of accepting God’s best for our life.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to HIS PURPOSE.” Romans 8:28
Tip Five: What to pray?
There will be times when you may not know what to pray or how to begin a prayer. So, what to pray when you are not certain about what to pray? The disciples asked how shall we pray?. The response was:
“…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then in this way: ‘Our Father who is 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 also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. So let it be.”
This prayer includes reverencing God, praying God’s will, repentance, and personal requests. This is a great prayer to pray as a beginner or when you are at loss for words. This is typically a repetitive prayer used by many, but again, it is about your intentions when you pray. If you pray this prayer with genuine and authentic motives it can be powerful. Overall, this a wonderful prayer.
In conclusion, praying can be simple once we understand the purpose of prayer and key elements to prayer. These are things that I like to keep in mind when I pray and I pray that you find them to be helpful.
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