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THE POWER OF PRAYER:

(Some of the Bible verses quoted in this study have had comments added in brackets. The sole purpose of this study technique is to emphasise or introduce a line of thought. All verses KJV unless otherwise stated).

Have you ever been in a desperate situation where you really needed special help from God and no help arrived?
Have you ever become frustrated with God's silence, and thought; why hasn't He fulfilled my petitions and given me any of His time?
Such a situation would be a good time to ask yourself; "How much of my time have I given to God?"

Sometimes, due to our busy daily schedules, prayer is often moved down our 'things to do' list.
Should we expect to see miracles in our lives from a daily 5-minute 'request of wants' before God?
Would God think it acceptable, for prayer to be moved down our 'things to do' list, rather than make it our priority?
Well, when we look at the many examples given in the Bible, it is clear that prayer should be made first and foremost in our daily lives.

Purpose of Prayer

Prayer is a form of communication with God, and is practiced for many purposes. We will begin by looking at some Old Testament examples of the power of prayer,
and then see how these conform to that which is found in the New Testament.

Prayer can be used to give praise and thanksgiving to God;
(Neh 11:17) And Mattaniah…was the principal to begin the thanksgiving in prayer:
(Dan 6:10) …he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God,…

To confess sin and to seek forgiveness;
(Ezr 10:1) Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.
(Dan 9:20) And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the LORD my God…

To seek direction or advice;
(1Sa 8:6) But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
(1Sa 8:7) And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

To seek our own desires;
(1Sa 1:26) …I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.
(1Sa 1:27) For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:

The next one is an interesting concept;
To have God reverse something that He has declared;
(2Ki 20:1) In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.
(2Ki 20:2) Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, saying,
(2Ki 20:3) I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
(2Ki 20:4) And it came to pass, before Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
(2Ki 20:5) Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.

To bring healing;
(1Ki 13:6) And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Entreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king's hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

Prophets and those in God's favour, appear to have had the upper hand in having their prayer requests answered.
Notice that Job had to pray on behalf of his friends;
(Job 42:8) …go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job.
(Job 42:9) So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.
(Job 42:10) And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends:…

Much like in the previous example; notice also what God said to Abimelech, and how it was through Abraham's prayer that he was healed;
(Gen 20:7) Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he (Abraham) is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine….
(Gen 20:17) So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bore children.

We often see cases where healing occurs through the prayer of another. Could this be God's way of teaching us to direct our prayer towards the needs of others,
more so than toward ourselves?

Other prophets also healed;
Elijah:

(1Ki 17:21) And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again.
(1Ki 17:22) And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

Elisha:
(2Ki 4:32) And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.
(2Ki 4:33) He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.
(2Ki 4:34) And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.
(2Ki 4:35) Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

The prophets not only used the power of prayer for healing, but sometimes to bring harm;
(2Ki 6:17) And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
(2Ki 6:18) And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

Elijah also prayed for an event that would bring hardship to others;
(Jas 5:17) Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
(Remembering that God was responding to rebellion against right doing).

In fact, we often find that prophets were very successful in having their requests granted;
(Num 11:1) And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
(Num 11:2) And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.

(Jon 2:1) Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, …
(Jon 2:7) When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. …
(Jon 2:10) And the LORD spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

Jonah's comment is interesting; When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD.
Does God sometimes allow hardship in our life's so that we will remember Him?
Hardship is not a sign that God has deserted us;
(Heb 12:6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
(Heb 12:7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Next, yet another example of a prophet's answered prayer;
(Num 21:7) Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
(Num 21:8) And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

When reading these many examples, it almost appears like God is a 'personal Genie', ready to grant their requests and desires.

But does God hear all prayer?

Well, not according to God.
Notice God's words to Israel as a result of their ongoing rebellion against Him;
(Isa 1:14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
(Isa 1:15) And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

David knew that rebellion would hinder their prayers;
(Psa 80:4) O LORD God of hosts, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayer of thy people?

And the wise words of Solomon also declared how God would not hear the prayers of those rebelling and trampling on His law;
(Pro 15:8) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight. …
(Pro 15:29) The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
(Pro 28:9) He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

There were clearly certain prerequisites to having prayer answered;
(2Ch 7:12) And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice….
(2Ch 7:14) If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
(2Ch 7:15) Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

So God's ears were attentive, as long as they would seek Him and turn from evil.
Jeremiah also understood how rebellion would eventually cut God off from hearing their prayers;
(Jer 7:15) And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.
(Jer 7:16) Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

A similar comment is seen in;
(Jer 11:14) Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.

The 'time' of 'their trouble' spoken of here, is the 70 years, in which many were about to spend in Babylonian captivity.
God tells Jeremiah that no amount of fasting or prayer will change this impending punishment;
(Jer 14:11) Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.
(Jer 14:12) When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.

(Lam 3:8) Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. …
(Lam 3:44) Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.

After the 70 years of punishment were fulfilled, God once again was open to hear their prayer;
(Jer 29:10) For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
(Jer 29:11) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
(Jer 29:12) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
(Jer 29:13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

We see here, that God hearing them, is still conditional upon them seeking God with all their heart.
God continues on to describe what He will do IF they do now seek and obey;
(Jer 29:14) And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations (where they have spent the previous 70 years), and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive…
(Jer 30:3) For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it…
(Jer 30:18) …Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places; and the city shall be built upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.

The remnant did obey, and we see from Ezra, etc; this promise fulfilled, they returned to their land, and the city and the temple were rebuilt 'upon it's own heap'.

We can see clearly from these Old Testament examples, that there are certain prerequisites to having prayer heard.
Before we move on to look at what the New Testament reveals about prayer, look at these words from the Psalmist;
(Psa 66:18) If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
(Psa 66:19) But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
(Psa 66:20) Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

(Psa 32:5) I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin….
(Psa 32:6) For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found:…

(Psa 55:17) Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.


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NEW TESTAMENT

So, did the need for prayer, or the requirements for God hearing our prayers change since the cross?
Can our prayers still be hinder today through unrepentant attitude or by how we live?
(1Pe 3:7) Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. …
(1Pe 3:12) For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

So a lawless behaviour still hinders prayer.
We'll now look at what Jesus taught about prayer.
(Mat 6:5) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
(Mat 6:6) But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

So, in this first point, Jesus teaches to enter into thy closet; in other words, a private place for prayer. Now this is not to say that there are not times and places for group prayer;
(Act 1:14) These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Prayer is not something limited to one particular place or time. Neither is it something to save up for a weekly visit to a church.
(Act 16:13) And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

Jesus example shows that He not only prayed wherever He happened to be; but most often He prayed in private;
(Mar 1:35) And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
(Luk 5:16) And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
(Mat 14:23) And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
(Mat 26:36) Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
(Mat 26:39) And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Jesus knew that a troublous time lay before Him.
We have a troublous time coming, so how should we prepare spiritually?
We have already seen how David prayed 3 times daily;
(Psa 55:17) Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray,…

We also find that Daniel prayed 3 times daily;
(Dan 6:10) Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God,…

And what did this do for Daniel?
Well, when persecution came, it kept the lions mouths shut!

A time of persecution is coming; so now is the time to develop a 'prayer closet' relationship with God.
As with Daniel, or the 3 Hebrews standing before the 'golden image'; we may all be tested as to whether we will put God before man.
Unless you have a 'prayer closet' relationship, some may put obedience to man first, in order to save their lives.
We shouldn't fear what is coming; we should rather fear Him who made what is coming.

Jesus fell on His face and prayed;
(Mat 26:39) And he… fell on his face, and prayed, …

So should we not at least go down on our knees when we pray;
(1Ki 8:54) And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
(Act 9:40) But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
(Act 20:36) And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.
(Act 21:5) And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.

More prayer lessons from Jesus;
(Mat 6:7) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
(Mat 6:8) Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Is this saying not to ask for the same thing more than once?
Not according to the following;
(Luk 18:1) And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
(Luk 18:2) Saying, There was in a city a judge (representing God), which feared not God, neither regarded man:
(Luk 18:3) And there was a widow in that city (representing us); and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
(Luk 18:4) And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
(Luk 18:5) Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
(Luk 18:6) And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
(Luk 18:7) And (likewise) shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
(Luk 18:8) I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

This parable teaches that persistence does pay off, if it is for the right motives (and if they are "His own elect": ie, those not rebelling against God).

[Look at this from a human perspective. How many parents out there wouldn't give in, to the requests of an obedient child;
if within our means to fulfil the request?
However, if a child were being a real rebellious rat bag; would we grant their every request?].

Even Jesus demonstrates the need for persistence in prayer;
(Mat 26:44) And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

So the vain repetitions we saw earlier, would relate more to set prayers being recited by people;
(Mat 6:7) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Such prayer is not from the heart; and is often recited while the mind is drifting away to "what's for lunch", or the like.

Jesus taught a set structure to follow in our prayer;
(Mat 6:9) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
(Mat 6:10) Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
(Mat 6:11) Give us this day our daily bread.
(Mat 6:12) And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
(Mat 6:13) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

This is not to say that we always have to recite this word for word. Jesus says we are to pray "after this manner".
This is the structure of our prayers.

So, the flow of our prayers could be divided up as follows;
1/ WORSHIP:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (Acknowledging who He is)
2/ PRAISE: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Acknowledging what He does)
3/ PETITION: Give us this day our daily bread.
4/ CORRECTION: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
5/ PROTECTION: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
6/ WORSHIP: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
7/ CLOSE: Amen.

The order of these points is clearly quite important. After all, should we start a prayer by straight away making requests from God?
No, worship, praise and thanksgiving should precede our petitions.

So let's look at these points in more detail, as this should be helpful in structuring our daily prayers;

1/ WORSHIP: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
This is acknowledging who He is, and that we love Him for it.

2/ PRAISE: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
This is acknowledging what He does and will do, and that we love Him for it. Thanksgiving is important in every aspect of prayer. All that we receive should be acknowledged through thanksgiving;
(1Ti 4:4) For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
(1Ti 4:5) For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

3/ PETITION: Give us this day our daily bread.
Once we have opened our prayer with worship and praise, then we can put forward our petitions;
(Jas 5:13) Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
(Jas 5:14) Is any sick among you? 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:
(Jas 5:15) And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
(Jas 5:16) Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

4/ CORRECTION: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
So who should we pray for, and who should we forgive; just our bretheren?;
(Mat 5:44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

For our faults to be forgiven, we must first forgive others;
(Mar 11:25) And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

And of course repentance must accompany a request for forgiveness;
(Act 8:22) Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

5/ PROTECTION: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
Prayer is necessary to keep us from giving in to temptation;
(Mat 26:41) Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

This is also effective as a prayer towards others;
(Act 8:24) Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

6/ WORSHIP: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
ie, then we should close the prayer again with praise and thanksgiving;
(Php 4:6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
(Col 4:2) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

7/ CLOSE: Amen (= so be it).
The 'Amen' is almost like a demonstration of our faith (belief) in what we have prayed for. Amen means 'so be it'.
As we will cover shortly, Jesus said whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

It is also important to have a humble attitude in prayer, not trusting in our own righteousness;
(Luk 18:9) And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
(Luk 18:10) Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
(Luk 18:11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
(Luk 18:12) I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
(Luk 18:13) And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
(Luk 18:14) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

And with the humble attitude; a fear of God;
(Act 10:2) A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.
(Act 10:4) …he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

Successful prayer is as much about the belief, as it is the intent. If you ask for something, and don't really believe it will be answered, it probably won't be;
(Mat 17:19) Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
(Mat 17:20) And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

(Mat 21:21) Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
(Mat 21:22) And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Look at Jesus' confidence when He made the following statement;
(Mat 26:53) Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

In Jesus' relationship with His Father, there were no signs of doubt. The previous verses show that true faith has no room for doubt. So how do we develop a doubt-free faith?
It is clear that a 'prayer closet' relationship with God should be maintained daily. However, prayer should not be limited to that which is done while in our 'prayer closet', or at set times.
It should become an ongoing communication with God, in our minds;

(1Th 5:17) Pray without ceasing.

(Luk 6:12) …he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

(Act 6:4) But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

(Act 12:5) Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

(Rom 12:12) Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

(1Th 3:10) Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

(2Ti 1:3) …that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;

DO YOU GET THE PICTURE?

(Luk 21:36) Watch ye therefore, and pray always,…

'Praying always' is about training our minds to constantly reflect on God's will, in every part of our daily lives.
Even when things are hectic, God's Holy Spirit is able to read our intentions and thoughts, and can intercede on our behalf when our needs or direction is unclear in our own minds; yet we know that we need His guidance;
(Rom 8:26) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

As already seen in Old Testament examples, salvation from various situations often occurred during times of prayer;
(Act 16:25) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
(Act 16:26) And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed.

Many other significant Biblical events, are also recorded to have occurred during prayer;
(Luk 1:10) And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
(Luk 1:11) And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
(Luk 1:12) And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
(Luk 1:13) But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

We'll conclude this study by looking at some symbolism.

It is quite significant in the previous verse, that they were praying 'at the time of incense';
(Luk 1:10) And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

Incense is often associated with prayer;
(Psa 141:2) Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Incense was used to make atonement before God;
(Num 16:46) And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun.
(Num 16:47) And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.

So how would incense atone for people?
The actions in the previous verse appear to represent an act of repentance.
Also, symbolically, perhaps incense disguises the stench of our sin before God;
(Rev 8:3) And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
(Rev 8:4) And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.

Again we see incense accompany our prayers.
So in a Spiritual sense, what would need to accompany our prayers for them to be acceptable before God?
Repentance.
Would a confession of sin before God appear genuine without any repentance?
No.
Just as they offered incense and prayer in seeking forgiveness; there is a set order in securing forgiveness today.
Repentance and prayer is needed for forgiveness;
(Act 8:22) Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

Remember the parable we looked at earlier. One sinner demonstrates repentance; in the other's mind, his self-righteousness eliminated any apparent need for repentance;
(Luk 18:10) Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
(Luk 18:11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
(Luk 18:12) I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
(Luk 18:13) And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
(Luk 18:14) I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

So;
(Luk 21:36) Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Summary

Prayer is the vehicle through which we can honestly open our hearts to God. We can tell Him our concerns and also give Him praise and honour. He invites us to pray because prayer lifts us up to a higher level - a level where we can commune with Him.
One of the most amazing points about the subject of prayer is this:
God provides for us every day, in ways that we are not even aware. In other words, if we had to pray for everything we needed, we could do nothing else!
But, God knows our needs even before we cry out and He graciously provides them. We exist today, this very day, only by the mercy of God. When matters arise that drive us to petition the Almighty, God uses such events to test our faith and to reveal Himself to us in intimate ways. God has two objectives in every trial. He wants to deepen our love for Him, and He wants us to see how secure the life of faith in Him really is.

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