Monday, September 9, 2019

How Then Shall We Pray?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. (Hebrews 11:1-2)

Prayer is essential for a true believer, it’s an outward act of faith, a line of communication that is initiated by man and is honoring to God and establishes our trust and dependence on Him for everything, even the air we breathe. Failure to engage in regular prayer changes that dynamic and reliance on God eventually becomes reliance on self whereby we supplant ourselves as center of our universe rather than the Creator. It is an affront to the Almighty in which one can hardly expect His blessings and provision to continue unabated, we have the power to change the eventual outcome because prayer is a personal choice of either continuing the relationship or abandoning it altogether and facing the eventual consequences. 

“When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew6:5-9)

Praying to Mary and other dead saints is not biblical and praying to anyone other than God is idolatry. To bow down before a statue or painting and pray to it is evil and it is forbidden in Scripture. Nowhere in Scripture does it say pray to dead saints. Nowhere in Scripture does it say ask dead saints to pray for you.Nowhere does it say that people in Heaven will pray for people on earth. Alive Christians on earth can pray for you, but dead people will not pray to God for you and there isn't any passage in scripture to justify this. 

Jesus said, “Pray then like this: Our Father who is in heaven, holy is 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 lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6: 10-13)

Jesus gives an example of how to pray, it is a conversation between man and God and is not, and never should be a mindless repetition or mantra of the same prayer repeated multiple times over, which to anyone who is a father hearing the same request from his child rattled over and over continuously would become an onerous and exasperating experience to contend with.

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. (James 5:13-16)

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:22)

I prayed for my younger brother for years. He was a raging alcoholic, I prayed in tears that God would deliver him from the grip of that demon. Finally the day came when he decided he had enough and sought treatment, whereupon he spent the fifteen remaining years of his life clean and sober. I came to understand that from the time I began to pray for him that God heard my prayers, but that His answer was contingent on my brother finally coming to the point where he knew how futile his own arrogance and attempts to quit on his own was. God’s answer to our prayers comes in His timing not our own, so we should remain steadfast and trust that God hears us and will act when the time is right.

And finally we have this admonition from the Apostle John speaking to the church; “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1John 2:1-3)

We are told to go directly to God through Christ who is the only intermediary between us and the Father given in scripture and not through a third party clergyman as some religious institutions would have it. They have taken the following verse out of context, “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) which means that we are to go to those we have wronged with a contrite heart and make amends to them just as the Lord has commanded.

John acknowledges the fact that believers still living in a corrupt world can occasionally lapse into sin, but that Jesus who himself died for the sins of man, stands as the believer’s advocate (attorney) before His own Father who will judge the living and dead and all who claim Him as Lord and Savior will be exonerated. By this we will be sure that we know Him and He will know us, if we keep his commandments which are to love Him and acknowledge Him through prayer and to love one another. Keep also in mind that: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6: 14-15)

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