I read your words of wisdom every week. I live in Australia and I have been saved for about two years. I read the Bible every day but sometimes I am not sure how to pray. I am not sure if I am really reaching God. Is there any guidance you can give me on this? I go to a nice church but other than the worship service there is not much teaching on prayer. I would also like to know how and what to pray when leading others to Christ.
I will be glad to share some important points on prayer. Scripture tells us to pray only to God the Father in the Name of Jesus Christ, His Son. Some religious groups who call themselves Christians pray to Mary or other “saints” which is not biblical. It is nothing less than idol worship which the Lord forbids and detests.
“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them” (Exodus 20:3-5a).
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:5).
The Lord’s prayer is our model, Matthew 6:9-13:
“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 and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”
We can boldly come to God the Father through Jesus, our High Priest, who understands our needs:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Gerald, when we pray we should humble ourselves before the Lord. We should not pray to impress others but rather to honor Him; to deepen our communication with Him and to praise Him.
[Jesus said] “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, that they may be seen by men.
Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, 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.
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them, for your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:5-8).
It is very important to pray daily and as often as possible. And we must pray in faith without doubt:
“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6).
Prayer is our communication line to God, as are the Holy Scriptures. Talk to Him about everything. He loves us completely—in ways we cannot begin to understand. He is interested in the matters that concern us. He knows everything there is to know about us, but nevertheless wants to have an ongoing personal communication with us.
Scripture teaches that God even knows how many hairs are numbered on our heads (Luke 12:7; Matthew 10:30) and that He collects our tears in a bottle and keeps a written record of them (Psalm 56:8). Reach out to Him and He will guide and comfort you. He will make a way for you when there seems no way. He is our Rock and a most sure help in times of trouble.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Prayer is one of the many basic daily activities of all believers. Reading, hearing, studying and contemplating Scripture are the other basic daily activities. We are encouraged to pray always (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). And dare to pray for great things with great conviction (James 5:17-18).
We have the example of Paul (Colossians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:3). We have the example of Timothy (Colossians 1:3). Praying always means to be in constant communication with the Lord. We can make brief requests and express our gratitude while we are on the go and we should pray privately on our knees as the Lord and the apostles did (Mark 14:32-35; 6:12; 22:41; Ephesians 3:14; Acts 7:60; 9:40; 20:36; 21:5).
We should pray in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20; Romans 8:26, and pray according to the will of God (1 John 5:14-15). If we are unsure what to pray, we can pray in the Holy Spirit: “but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” [silent, inaudible words] as taught in Romans 8:26.
Believers can know God’s will by studying the Scriptures. Prayer is our way of speaking to the Lord. He speaks to us by His Word. It is a blessing to hear, read, study, and memorize His Word every day—to listen to Him. Instead of worrying we should cast all our anxieties on the Lord (1 Peter 5:6-7; Philippians 4:6-7).
Although you may not feel God is hearing you, that does not mean He is not. We must use the Scriptures as our gauge and not our feelings. Scripture is filled with admonitions to pray. Prayer is our lifeline to the Lord. It is that still quiet voice within that we must pay attention to try to hear God’s voice.
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15).
In Psalm 6, verse 9 David said, “The LORD has heard my supplication, the LORD receives my prayer.” By developing a genuine relationship with the Living God through prayer and Bible study, by meditating on the Scriptures, our faith is strengthened. We must have faith that our prayers are heard and will be answered.
The more you enter into this type of fellowship with the Lord, the more confident you will be that He is there for you. And be sure you have forgiven those who have hurt you so your prayers are not hindered. Carrying a grudge of any sort is very detrimental to having an authentic relationship with the Lord.
“And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions” (Mark 11:22, 24-25).
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
There are generally three types of prayer: Praise, intercession (when we pray on the behalf of others) and personal requests. These three types of prayer can be short prayers or lengthy ones. It is a blessing to be devoted to prayer (Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2; 1 Peter 4:7); meaning we should spend time in private prayer on our knees, and in prayer when on the go. We should also pray with others (Acts 1:3; 16:25).
What happens when we pray together? Jesus said:
“Assuredly. I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:18-20).
As you personally know, the unsaved can come to faith in Christ and can be born-again by praying a personal prayer of repentance and faith. The words used are not important. A person’s sincerity and genuine commitment to the Lord is what counts. Saying a prayer, then walking away and forgetting about the Lord does not count for salvation.
The sincere intent of a person’s heart is what matters to God. There has to be true repentance, a true change of heart; a repentant heart that will seek Him first and leave behind habits and lifestyles that are contrary to His will and His teachings. The following verses express the heart confession necessary in order to be saved.
“That if you confess, with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
Gerald, you can use the following words as a guide when leading someone to salvation. Use this simple heartfelt prayer, but the person coming before the Lord must wholeheartedly mean it:
Heavenly Father, I accept your Son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior. I believe in His death, burial and resurrection. I realize I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been confused and deceived by the lies of this world. Please forgive me. I ask you to come into my life, regenerate me and fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can be born-again and saved by your grace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
I want this to be a new beginning and have a close, personal relationship with you. I want to learn more about you through prayer and careful Bible study. Help me to truly repent and live my life in a way that is pleasing to you. Please write my name into the Book of Life. I pray this in the Name of Jesus the Christ (Yeshua Ha Mashiach), the Messiah of Israel and of the world. Amen.
Gerald, your desire to grow in the Lord through prayer and to share the gospel with others is just as the Lord commands. Stay close to Jesus in your heart and speak to God (pray) as often as possible and you will no longer have any doubt that you are reaching Him. Your attitude is the right one! God bless you for your efforts and faithfulness.
In God’s love,
“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16b).