Prayer is basically talking with God. Expressing your heart and spending time with God. It is not a one way activity, God speaks, we listen, we speak and God listens to our hearts. Prayer can be exciting, powerful and fulfilling. I am going to be focusing mostly on intercession, but I also wanted to provide an overview on other types of prayer. Types of Prayer

A. Thanksgiving

B. Petition

C. Prevailing

D. Intercession

A. Thanksgiving - Giving thanks to God for all things in your life. We are commanded to give thanks in all circumstances. Being thankful is being grateful for his protection, provision, blessing, and most of all for his Son.

B. Petition - We ask God for the things we need in our life. Give us our daily bread. Give us the things we need to survive, a roof over our heads, employment etc. Petitions are usually self orientated, presenting our personal needs to our Heavenly Father, in trust that He will provide.

C. Prevailing Prayer - fervent consistent insistent prayer until a breakthrough takes place, whether in your personal life, or for someone else (intercession). Example Believing for emotional or physical healing.

Biblical Example: Luke 18:1-8.(NIV) Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, `Grant me justice against my adversary.' "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, `Even though I don't fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'" And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

D. Intercession - Love on its knees in prayer, for others. Pleading on behalf of the needs of someone else. Standing in the gap, that is, praying prayers of repentance, etc., identifying yourself with the sins of those for which you are in prayer.

Biblical Example: Nehemiah, a godly man, identified with the sins of his people, praying prayers of repentance, asking the Lord to forgive and to have mercy and to raise up once again the nation of Israel.

Neh. 1:3 - 10 (NIV) They said to me, "Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire." When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said: "O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. "Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, `If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.' "They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man." THE RIGHT WAY TO PRAY

In Philippians 4:6 it says, Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God. Basically prayer is simply talking to God just like you would talk to your very best friend. God cares deeply about each and every one of our problems and is just waiting for us to come to him with those problems. The Bible tells us over and over to constantly bring our problems to our Heavenly Father. Prayer is not to inform God of something which He may not be aware of or to try to convince Him to love us more. He already knows our needs and He has certainly shown his love. Prayer's purpose is to assist us in building our relationship with God. Why should we pray?

Prayer unleashes Gods power so that he is able to work in our behalf. Prayer opens the channels of God's blessing. Prayer is how God accomplishes the things that he wants to see happen in our lives. Prayer opens new doors of opportunity for God to move. In fact you can view prayer like a door. You are on one side of a closed door and on the other side is God. But standing with God is all this incredible and unimaginable power. When you pray, it is you turning that doorknob and swinging that door wide open. For it is at that moment when all that power can step through that doorway and work for God's good, and for your good.

Since he respects our freedom of choice and free will, prayer enables him to step into our lives. God has limited his powers in our lives to the importance that we place on prayer. Prayer gives God the permission to do what he has been longing to do all the time. Even when we do not see anything significant occurring, God is still at work solving the problem. When there are apparently no answers, God is still is waiting for the proper time to give us the solution.

Psalm 55:22 Throw every burden upon God.

Psalm 68:19 Blessed be Our God who daily carries the load for us.

Psalm 56:9 This I well know, that God is for me. There are four basic steps involved in the proper way to pray.

1--Bring the problem to God's attention immediately. But always keep the problem God centered and not problem centered.

2--Supplication. The definition of supplication is---a very honest and clear confession that tells God that you need his help.

3--Then focus on God and not on the problem. Keep in mind that our prayers are always to be God centered.

4--Thanksgiving. You are thankful because you know the following about our great and mighty and glorious God. That you can come to the Father with your problems anytime That he is concerned about you That he loves you That he said that he would help you That he will see you through this problem That he has the power to solve this problem That you trust him 100%

God is just waiting for you to talk to him, waiting just for those few brief moments when you acknowledge him, think about him, and show him some love and respect. Yes, your God is just waiting for you to talk to him and he desperately wants to talk to you, not in words, but through your mind and your heart. God is going to bypass the vocal cords and the ear and instead your heart will feel that gentle tugging, that urging, that pulling. Your heart and mind will know exactly what God is trying to tell you.

Most people expect God to answer them in some divine way or somehow speak to them verbally out of the heavens, but that isn't the way God operates. God speaks to a persons heart. To their mind. To their sense of moral righteousness and fairness. To their sense of what is right and Godly. And those methods of communication that God uses are extremely loud and clear. The person that has found Jesus and who has Jesus Christ dwelling within them, is listening to Our Lord talk constantly to their heart, conscious, soul, and spirit. The true child of God can hear God speak just as clearly as if God was standing right along side of them verbally talking to them. But before God can begin to talk to you, something must happen. You have to be receptive to God's words. You have to begin to communicate with God and listen for God to speak. You have to get your heart in the right condition.

Also a great many people ask the question, why bother to listen to God, because God always seems to work in such mysterious ways. They say that they have absolutely no idea how or why God does what he does. But for the true believer, God's ways are not mysterious. His ways are not concealed behind smoke and mirrors. It is just the opposite. Because once you begin to understand Jesus Christ, once you begin to learn what he is all about, once you begin to understand what he is trying to do in this world and in your life, once you begin to understand the tremendous importance that he holds for all of mankind, then his actions will not be mysterious. In fact that's when his ways become crystal clear. For that is when the veil over your eyes has been lifted. Now the true believer will actually be able to predict what God is going to do in certain situations.

So be prepared for God to speak to you, and when he speaks to you he wants you to listen. There are always two people involved in prayer. You and God. So prayer should never be a monologue, but rather prayer should always be a dialogue.

You may wonder just how he will speak to you, just why he would speak to you, and just what methods he uses to do his speaking. Generally there are four reasons why he speaks to you and there are four basic methods that he uses. REASONS HE SPEAKS TO YOU

God desires to have fellowship with us. We are his most precious creation and he loves us dearly. Each and every one of us is a child of God.

God knows that we constantly need direction in our travels through life.

God realizes we need comfort and assurance in order to get through all the trials and tribulations of this mean and cruel world.

God wants us to get to know him. METHODS HE USES TO SPEAK TO YOU God speaks to us through his Word. He uses the Bible as his foremost tool to impart truth. God speaks through the Holy Spirit who is with us every second of the day. God speaks to us through other believers. God speaks to us through divine circumstances. We are all living under heavenly guidance, and if you look closely you will see the hand of God written upon many of the wonderful things that come into your life. SEVEN THINGS TO ASK YOURSELF EACH TIME YOU PRAY.

Each and every time that you pray, you should ask yourself how the things that you are praying for fit in and affect the following seven conditions.

1) Will the thing that I am praying for meet my Godly personal needs and will it fit in with a just and righteous life style, or is it superfluous and just born of the flesh?

2) Am I being submissive to God's will, and will I gladly accept what ever God is willing to give me, if anything. Is your spirit one of absolute submission to his will? Can you say, not my will Father, but let your will be done?

3) If my prayer is answered will the result honor God?

4) Will it harm or hurt someone else or will it interfere in another person's life

5) Will it please God. Will what you pray for delight God?

6) Does my request contradict or conflict with the Word of God in anyway.

7) Will it further my spiritual growth. Will what I pray for bring me closer to God? YOU MUST ALSO REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THREE THINGS WHEN IT COMES TO PRAYER. FAITH---You must have complete faith in God. OBEDIENCE---You must obey God fully and completely. PATIENCE---You must wait patiently on God, for we are all on his schedule. WHY IS SO MUCH PRAYER NEVER ANSWERED?

Because we center on the problem and not on God. We tell God what to do. We talk about only the problem and not about the greatness of God. We tend to talk in terms of "me" and "I". We don't talk or think about God, just ourselves and our troubles. James understood this pitfall of incorrect praying when he wrote James 4:3. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures". So tell God the problem and then focus on God. God can't wait to solve your problems. God loves to work out difficulties in our lives. All we have to do is trust him.

We tend to burn out when our prayers are aimed at negative things that we are trying to avoid. If all we do is talk to God about how horrible and terrible our problem is, then all we do is become more depressed, and get more discouraged. We become more agitated and we have more anxiety. Then the problem becomes bigger and bigger and as it grows it takes on a life of its own. What God wants us to do most is focus on positive aspects and powers of God. Think about how God is all powerful and all knowing. Focus on his amazing attributes and qualities. Describe his wonderful characteristics. Read passages from the Bible which describe the greatness of God and his ability to do absolutely incredible things. Think about our God who is able to do everything from walk on water to raise the dead, and then ask yourself if he is not able to solve your problem?

Also read a few Bible passages that describe God helping people out of extremely difficult situations. Tell God how loving and wonderful he is and that he has only your best interests at heart and that his solution to the problem may be so much better than the solution you would like to see happen. In other words don't pray to the problem, pray to the solution of that problem. Because when you focus on God, God will focus on your problem. Remember God is a solution centered being and he can solve any problem - just put your complete faith and trust in him. For when you pray to God, he hears much more than your words. He is also listening to your heart.

No one likes the trials and tribulations that suddenly show up in our lives. But if we keep our eyes focused upon Jesus Christ, then we can know without a doubt that there is a wonderful solution available for each and every problem that enters into our lives. That even though it looks like there is no possible way out of this difficulty, our all powerful loving Heavenly Father can solve that problem with absolutely no trouble at all. And he will do just that if we just stay focused on him.

The Word of God describes the many hundreds of times when God came to those that needed his help. He came to their aid because they kept their focus on God. When Jehoshaphat, the King of Israel realized suddenly that three huge separate armies were coming against him to destroy him and his people, the very first thing he did was turn his full attention to God, and he told God that his country was completely defenseless and that they desperately needed his help. He also told God about another thing that the nation of Israel was doing. 2 Chronicles 20:12 "O our God, we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." God gave Jehoshaphat this answer.

2 Chronicles 20:17 "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord who is with you. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out, for the Lord is with you."

The result? Without a single sword being drawn, without a single spear being thrust, without a single arrow being fired, Almighty God in his incredible way, allowed the three armies to begin to squabble among themselves. This led to skirmishes breaking out throughout all three armies, with the result being that the three armies wound up completely destroying each other. These pagan and wicked armies, sent by evil people, completely destroyed each other. Every single enemy soldier, from all three of those armies, laid dead on the battlefield. And this all happened because Israel had kept their focus and attention on God.

Another thing you might do if you have a specific problem is to do a Bible word search, or get a concordance and do a search for every verse in the Bible that relates to that specific problem. Then meditate and examine each of those verses. Read and discuss each verse with God and ask him to do for you, what he has done for others having similar problems. As an example suppose you have a health problem. Then look up all the verses that relate to sickness, health, illness, affliction, disease, infirmity, disorder, malady, sickness, ailment, condition, ailing, unhealthy, ill, infirmity, and anything else that you think deals with illness. If you search hard enough you will be amazed at the verses that you will find. If the problem is one of health you will find verses like the following.

Exodus 23:25 "So you shall serve the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you."

Jeremiah 33:6 Behold, I will bring health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth."

Matthew 9:35 "Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people."

Matthew 10:1 "And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease."

Jeremiah 30:17 For I will restore health to you, and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord."

Deuteronomy 7:15 "And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt."

To do the above is going to take some effort on your part, but think of how much joy God is going to have when he sees one of his children working hard in this effort. And then think of the blessings that he just may reward you with."

When trials and tribulations come into our lives there is a tremendous temptation to immediately begin to worry and become fearful. However worry and anxiety do not bring clarity. Instead, they simply cloud our minds and prevent us from seeing God's solution. All fear and worry do, is paralyze us. But you can prevent mental distress from ever coming into your life, if you look to Jesus Christ the very moment a difficult time enters your life. If you can immediately concentrate on the Son Of God and not on the problem, then worry and fear will never be able to gain a foothold. If we a

My God is right here all the time.

re able to do that then verses like the following will become very, very evident. Psalm 34:19 "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers them out of them all".

Prayer changes us, not God.

Prayer opens our hearts and minds to the greater and wiser will of God. Through prayer, God gives us strength to better reflect his character of love when we are tested. Through prayer God gives us courage and peace to trust in his control over matters that are beyond our control. One of the hardest things to believe is that God is intimately involved in our lives when everything is going wrong in our life. But what prayer does is transform doubt into trust.

WHY WE SHOULD TRUST GOD

My God is right here all the time.

My God loves me unconditionally.

My God will listen to me.

He will help me.

He will hear me.

He will give me peace.

He will solve my problems.

He keeps his promises.

Just imagine that you had an extremely difficult and serious problem and there didn't seem to be any possible solution, when suddenly our loving Heavenly Father walks up to you and says, "Can I help you in any way? I would just love to be of assistance to you". What a glorious moment. Now you realize that this problem is history. What seemed so unsolvable a minute ago, will now be solved by the Creator himself. Would you not instantly forget about the problem and do nothing but think about God's greatness? Would you not immediately begin to praise and thank him. Instead of worrying any longer about the problem, would you not take tremendous joy and pleasure in his great power and glory? So please remember that this loving God is standing beside you every second of the day and night. For God, there are solutions to all problems, and he is the one that has those solutions. And he cannot wait to solve every one of your problems. All you need to do is to ask him and trust him and focus on him.

HOW TO TALK TO GOD

In Matthew 6:7, the Lord tells us something very interesting concerning the times when we pray. "When praying, do not say the same thing over and over again, just as the heathens do, for they think that they shall be heard for their use of many words."

Just imagine for a moment if your spouse, or one of your children, or your best friend came to you and told you that they wanted to tell you something. But after they told you what they wanted to tell you, they then repeated the same thing over and over. And to make matters worse they did this every single time that they spoke to you. After an hour, or a few days, or a month, wouldn't you get turned off and just ignore this ridiculous type of conversation? Wouldn't you want to just get away from this boring and bothersome experience?

When you talk to God he doesn't want the same prayer over and over. When you repeat something like that, the prayer has lost its meaning and borders on being just worthless conversation. You could get a tape recorder and just record your message over and over and then leave it running. That way you could save yourself allot of time and do other things all the while your supposedly praying. He doesn't want to hear memorized prayers that someone else wrote. He wants to hear your prayers coming in your own words and coming straight from your own heart. You need to talk to God as if he were your very best friend, because he is. Your prayers should come from your heart and should be a conversation between you and God. It should be as if your prayers are getting ready to burst out of you and you can hardly wait to talk to God.

The Our Father prayer that Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew Chapter 6 was simply an example or an outline on how to pray. If you think about it, saying the Our Father, or any other prayer over and over and over will seem to God exactly what it would seem to any one of us. Very boring. And it could easily cause all those repetitious words to simply be ignored and possibly even get you exactly the opposite of what you are praying for. To repeat the same old tired prayer, over and over, just like a parrot, is not only disrespectful but it shows that the one saying the prayer is not the least bit sincere.

If you are going to take the time to say a prayer, then the prayer that you say better come from the deepest part of your heart. If you really think about it, anything else is completely meaningless. So talk to him in detail about your needs, hopes, dreams, joys, and everything else that is having any kind of importance or effect on your life.

Another interesting thing about the so called Lord's prayer is that I always thought that this prayer is misnamed because it would have been impossible for the Lord to have prayed that prayer himself. As the Son of God, who had never sinned, he could not have joined in the petition, "Forgive us our sins." It might have been more appropriate to name it "The Disciples Prayer", or "The Believers Prayer." Prayer is our lifeline to God.

We should tell him our thoughts, desires, hurts, and problems, as well as giving him our thanks and praises. He wants to hear them from us. He already knows what they are but he wants us to tell them to him. Also remember that God's help may come about in steps or stages. Your request to the Father may involve and have impact on the lives of many, many others, both now and in the future. Therefore you may not receive immediately all that you request from him, but the tide has turned the very moment that you turned to him. Whenever you cast all of your care and concern upon him and rely upon him totally to supply your needs and to show you how you are to live, he is quick to respond. Giving God our thanks is part of praying

Imagine for a moment that you do something really nice for a person you care about. However that person doesn't give you the slightest recognition or acknowledgment. That person simply accepts what ever you did for them, and without a word, simply walks away. Would you be eager to do the next nice thing for that person? And if you did another nice thing, and there was again not the vaguest hint of acknowledgment or thankfulness, would you continue to do nice things for that unthankful and rather selfish person? God is just like us.

We were made in his image and his likeness and the Bible tells us repeatedly that he is very active in our lives. We are his children, and because of his love for us, he allows many wonderful things to come into our lives each and every day. God loves to bless his children, and if you consider that God is almighty and that nothing in this world happens without his permission, then those wonderful things that happen to you in the course of a day, has to be allowed by God. How do you know that God didn't engineer a simple thing like finding a parking space that is up real close to the store you want to go in? Or on a busy day at the supermarket when you are in a real big hurry, could God have created that one and only empty line at the check out? If someone fixes you an absolutely wonderful meal, how can you tell that God wasn't behind it? Could God have been responsible for giving you that extra second that you needed which prevented a terrible car crash? Could God have planned the way for that promotion, that excellent news from the doctor, that wonderful friend that you met?

Could God be behind that warm and loving memory that gives you such incredible peace and joy? Was God the guiding force that assembled your family? Does God make sure your health, and the health of your love ones, stays excellent? Was it God that got you through school and guided the way to your employment? Was God the one responsible for softening your harden heart so that you became aware of his glorious presence? Is God the one giving you that extra strength that enables you to endure that trial or tribulation? Is God the one behind the effort to get you to lead a Godly life which will guide you up to, and through the gates of his paradise?

Many people would simply pass all of the above off as pure luck or fate, and that God is not involved in any of it. But, if they are wrong and they refuse to thank God when good things happen to them, then I think that they may be doing themselves a great disservice, and you have to wonder if the blessings will continue.

Psalms 95:2 "Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with praise."

Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always, for all things, to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus".

Psalms 100:4 "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name".

Hebrews 13:15 "Therefore, let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name."

Psalms 97:12 "Rejoice in the Lord, And give thanks". Praying for others.

When we pray for others, we become partners with God in his work of salvation, healing, comfort, and justice. God can certainly accomplish those things without us, but he gives us the privilege of being involved with him through prayer. When we intercede for a friend in trouble, a mother having surgery, a neighbor who needs Christ, a family in financial trouble, even a country lost in sin, we are asking God to please use his awesome powers to provide, to help, to fix. We are acting as a go between, asking God to direct his power in a specific direction.

If you want to experience an instantaneous jolt of God's great love, then the next time that you pray for someone, or do any charitable act, thank and praise God. Tell him that you are so very grateful to him for giving YOU this opportunity to help one of his children in need. Tell him that you are so very thankful to him for allowing YOU to help another human being. Get down on your knees and thank him for this extraordinary opportunity that he has given you, to help alleviate the pain and suffering of a fellow man. Then get ready, because God in his incredible power, will fill your spirit, soul, and heart, with utter joy, love, and peace. And this joy and love and peace will just grow and grow as you become closer and closer to Jesus Christ.

Proper and effective prayer is not only praying and talking to God but it is also focusing on him. If I focus solely on the problem then my prayers stand a good chance of not being answered. Calling on God in prayer tells God that I have knowledge of him, that I have faith in him, that I have desire toward him, that I am dependent on him, and that I want to be obedient to him.

Also think about teaching yourself to do certain things each and every time you pray. As an example, each time you pray ask God for forgiveness for recent sins. Each time you pray pledge a renewed effort towards repentance of those sins. Each time you pray ask him to bring new Godly knowledge into your mind so that you can grow in spiritual maturity. If you examine your heart a little, you can probably find a great many things that you need to talk to God about each and every time you pray. Why don't we pray more?

I think that probably the four biggest reasons why we don't spend very much time in prayer are:

We are too busy to spend time in prayer.

We have too much taking place in our hectic lives so we put prayer completely out of our minds. We tell ourselves that we will pray after doing the shopping, and after we do the shopping then we tell ourselves that the praying is going to have to wait till after we watch that important program on TV. Then we put prayer off till after dinner and then we tell ourselves that we will pray at bedtime. And of course when bedtime rolls around we are much to tired to concentrate so we better put prayer off till tomorrow.

Soon we train our minds to avoid even thinking about prayer. We can now go months without the slightest thought about prayer. And when the thought of prayer happens to slip into our consciousness, then we simply fall back on the old, "I'll pray right after I do............ That is simply ignoring and disrespecting God. The second reason why many of us seldom if ever pray is that we look upon prayer as inactivity.

We need to do something that we can see right now. We want immediate solutions to immediate problems, so we don't want to wait around for God to do something because we never know how long he may take. We want instant results and we think that we can usually obtain them by our own efforts. We'll try everything that we can think of and if nothing that we try works, then we will pray and ask God. The third reason why many of us seldom pray is that we don't feel it's effective.

We prayed many times in the past and we feel that God never answered any of our prayers. We prayed that loved ones would not die and sure enough they died. We prayed that we would get this grade on a test, or that we would accomplish that goal, or that we would get that job, or that we would meet that perfect someone, and none of them ever happened. We reason that God either doesn't like us or he is far to busy with other matters.

We fail to realize that God has very specific plans for each and every one of us, that he is attempting to mold us into something that he wants us to be. We forget that we are on his time schedule and that his goals may be completely different than our goals. We don't think about the fact that only God can see our entire future nor do we stop and think that what we see as good, may in fact be disastrous to us and to others. We may many times be just like that small infant wanting desperately to put that glittering and colorful piece of broken glass in his mouth. And the infant cannot for the world understand why the mother quickly removes the piece of glass, thus preventing the little child from enjoying it.

We want God to follow us instead. To do our bidding, to be our servant. We forget the fact that it is us who needs to follow him. And of course this way of thinking shows a great lack of respect toward God, and without respect there can be no faith in God. And the fourth reason is that talking to God makes us uncomfortable.

We may find ourselves uncomfortable talking to or even thinking about God for a great many reasons. It may be that in the back of our minds we know that we are unrepentant sinners, and that we just don't want to give up those sins, at least not yet. And if we start to talk to God he may just change our attitude toward those sins and get us to change our ways and our life style, and if that happens then we will miss out on all the pleasures those sins bring us.

Others may feel uncomfortable because of the shame and guilt that they will feel once they open their hearts up to God. Those hurtful and embarrassing memories of all those many sins that they have spent years mentally burying, may once again rise to the surface and cause a great deal of emotional pain. What they fail to realize however is that their prayers will be directed straight to the great healer. To the healer who promises to bring us great peace.

So prayer is hard work, but our communication with God is as essential to our spiritual well being, as breathing is to our physical life.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to peer into heaven and see God listening to all the prayers coming into heaven and then watch as he assigns heavenly angels to each and every one of these prayers. Millions and millions of prayers being assigned every second to groups of angels all simultaneously. And among this tremendous work load, everything is orderly and flowing so very, very smoothly.

Think of sitting in on a meeting of a large group of angels who are assigned to only one prayer, maybe one of your prayers. Think of the joy you would have listening to the solutions that are brought up and of the repercussions and consequences being discussed of each of the possible various solutions. Watch as non vocal advice is constantly flowing out from God to all the angels at that meeting. You notice how each piece of advice and every single solution is done with only Godly well being in mind. You beam with joy as you see so much heavenly effort and care going into just one of your prayers.

And then you suddenly begin to see and understand that what you were praying for was going to be completely wrong for you and your life way down in the distant future. You watch as the angels arrive at a completely different but a fantastic solution, a solution that won't take place right now but will in the near future, and this solution is just absolutely great.

All this has taken place in less time than it takes for an eye to blink. But you notice that as the angels arrived at their solution, God has received the solution simultaneously from the angels and has said, "What a terrific solution. That's exactly what I was thinking". And then you watch as the solution is gathered up by a group of angels and brought down from heaven and is safely held by the angels to await the proper time when that solution can be implemented into your life.

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6

"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." Matthew 6:7

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5:16

This simple acrostic gives a formula for prayer:

ACTS: A - Adoration C - Confession T - Thanksgiving S - Supplication PRAYER Introduction:

Prayer changes us. Prayer changes lives. Prayer changes history. It is a way to feel God’s heartbeat. Knowing who God really is makes us want to conform to Jesus Christ and His way of life. God slowly and graciously reveals Himself to us while we pray, and it is during those moments that we can breathe in deeply His love.

What did James mean in James 4:3, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passion"? To ask for the "right" things involves a changed heart, new passions. We think no longer our own thoughts, but those of God’s; we desire the things God desires, we start to love and care for the things God is concerned about; we realize that God’s will for me and others is far better than my own will. Our thoughts change, our hearts change, and we learn to see life from His point of view.

The wonderful thing about prayer is that God meets us where we are.

He comes along side us to lead us into a deeper, more real relationship with Him, not motivated by guilt, but driven by His love. In Matt. 6: 9-13 the disciples, who may have prayed for some time, asked Jesus to teach them to pray. And Jesus did then, and does now, teach us to pray. We can become His students in prayer today, and there is no need for anyone to feel they need to understand it all better before they can start. Instead, we can look forward to a life-long process. Key Scripture: Matt. 6: 9-13

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

(You might want to recite the Lord’s prayer together as a group.)

As a child, did somebody teach you to pray or give you a model prayer? Do you remember what you prayed for?

Jesus taught us to come to the Father like little children. What are some of the characteristics that a child exhibits when talking to a loving parent? (example: honesty, openness, imagination, etc.)

When you pray, do you truly expect your prayers to be answered? Why or why not?

In 1 Thes. 5: 16-18 we read, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." A lack of endurance is one of the greatest causes of defeat. What can we do to motivate ourselves to stay disciplined, to endure in prayer, especially when it seems to us that God is not answering?

"We don’t wait well. We’re into microwaving; God, on the other hand, is usually into marinating." -C. Peter Wagner

"One of the most critical aspects in learning to pray for others is to get in contact with God so His life and power can flow through us into others" (Richard Foster). How can we "tune in" to God in order to pray more effectively for others? How do you listen to God? How does He communicate with you?

"Answers to prayer are wonderful, but they are secondary to the main function of prayer, which is a growing, perpetual communion. It is out of this refreshing life of communion with Jesus Christ that answered prayer comes as a happy by-product" (Richard Foster). How do you feel about this statement? Definition of Communion:

a) mutual participation; b) an act or instance of sharing; c) intimate fellowship or rapport. –Webster’s Dictionary

Lets pretend you are meeting a new Christian, who has been in the faith only a few days. She feels that prayer is mainly intense and difficult, even frightening. How would you assure her to continue to pray?

How would you respond to someone who makes the following statement: "God knows the end from the beginning, He knows what’s best for everyone, so why should I bother to pray? I’m afraid I might pray for the wrong thing."

Do you think it is important to view prayer as a learning process? Why? Challenge for Growth

1. What should you do when you don’t feel like praying? Give it some serious thought. Try to find ways to discipline yourself to pray anyway, not out of guilt, but motivated by your love for God.

2. Here is a little experiment for you: Go through a whole day offering a silent prayer for every person you come in contact with. Record what you have learned from that experience.

3. So many people around us do not know the Lord. Make a list and start praying for the people you know who need to know God loves them. How can you share God’s love with them?

4. Spend more time in prayer of praise, worship and thanksgiving. HOW DOES PRAYER MOVE GOD? -OR DOES IT? John William Ash

For 30 years now I have been a praying Christian. I believe in prayer. I confess that I pray far less than I should. But it is disturbing to wake up one day puzzling over certain aspects of a thirty-year habit. The following few words are my own answers to a question I've been wrestling with recently: I am convinced prayer is important. The Bible writers also were convinced about prayer:

Matthew 7:7 says that we should ask, seek, and knock. James 5:16 "The prayer of a righteous man is effective and powerful." 1 John 5:15 says that we should pray for those that are committing sin. Matthew 21:22 "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." John 15:7 "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."

This is only a sampling of the open-ended promises about the effectiveness of prayer.

For the last few days I have been wrestling with just one aspect of prayer, and even to this moment, I have not been able to find a good answer: Here is the question:

To what extent is God "empowered" to act when we pray for someone else? Does my praying for that person do any good? What if I don't pray? Does God refuse to act until someone "prays" for that person? Does my "long distance" prayer for some person really move the arm of Omnipotence?

Since I haven't found the precise answer in black and white, you might wonder whether I am frustrated or upset. Yes and no.I'd like the answer spelled out clearly. But as I poured over the EGW Index references to prayer, I discovered (or, in some cases, rediscovered) some things about prayer. In a sense I have a round-about answer to the question. Here are some of the ideas I came up with:

1. PRAYER IS PRIMARILY FOR PERSONAL BENEFIT I didn't count all the references but this one conclusion is supremely evident: The major purpose for prayer is to establish a personal relationship with God. It is communication with God as with a friend. It provides power to overcome temptation and sin. Prayer is the breath of the spiritual life. Again, prayer is primarily for personal benefit.

Based simply on the numbers, I would have to conclude that all the apparently open-ended references to prayer in the Bible are primarily referring to requesting God to act for personal affairs, whether they be internal or external (i.e. , getting along with other people, coping with situations, handling obstacles in one's path)

2. CHANGING GOD'S MIND There is a sense that our prayers are to change us not God. "Prayer is not to work any change in God; it is to bring us into harmony with God." MYP 248 "Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him. "

These references may again be referring mainly to personal/relational prayer. But how about this for a challenging thought? "It is part of God's plan to grant us in answer to the prayer of faith, that which he would not bestow did we not ask. "

I don't believe that this quotation indicates any reluctance on God's part. It simply says that there are situations where he waits for us to ask.

Does prayer change God's mind? I doubt it. God would be awfully small for that to happen. Maybe He is waiting for something else from us.

3. COOPERATING WITH OUR PRAYERS Here and there I did find references to what I call "long distance" praying---praying that ranscends personal/relational benefit. In many of those references I read about the following crucial axiom:

"Let there be most earnest prayer; and then let us work in harmony with our prayers. "

"Nehemiah did not regard his duty as done when he had mourned and wept and prayed before the Lord. He did not only pray. He worked, mingling petition and endeavor. "

What ever the nature of our "long distance" prayers, we are to cooperate with God and work for the fulfilling of those prayers. In other words, we are not to sit back and "wait for God to get it done. "

4. LET OTHERS KNOW YOU ARE PRAYING FOR THEM Now here is another intriguing principle to incorporate into our "long distance" praying: Let others know that you are praying for them.

"While you try to help them by your prayers, let them know that you do it."

Ellen White practiced this principle when she said, "Students, night and day the prayers of your parents are rising to God in your behalf; day by day their loving interest follows you.

It would be most effective if the parents THEMSELVES reminded their children of their continuous prayers on their behalf.

5. WHEN GOD'S HANDS ARE APPARENTLY TIED Apparently God so respects the dignity of our personal freedom of choice that HE WILL NEVER FORCE HIS WAY INTO OUR LIVES or in any way CONTROL US. If we consciously choose to rebel, he will sadly leave us to the consequences. That seems to be the whole point of I John 5:16. The text says, "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. "

Ellen White never commented on or used this text but most commentators feel that the "sin that leads to death" is the same as the unpardonable sin of Matt. 12:31,32. These texts would refer to people who consciously reject God. As a doctor cannot heal a stubbornly resistant patient, God cannot heal anyone who won't come to Him for treatment for his sin-sick problem.

Nevertheless, there is ample evidence that God still uses circumstances to help his recalcitrant children to come to their senses.

6. GOD PRESERVES REBELS. . . FOR A REASON If God left people to the consequences of sin and their own personal rebellions, they would have long since destroyed themselves. But God is so gracious and concerned that He actually preserves people in hopes that they will yet choose to cease their rebellion.

"When they went into the army, your prayers followed them. They were wonderfully preserved from harm. They called it luck; but a mother's prayers from an anxious burdened soul, as she felt the peril of her children and the danger of their being cut off in their youth without hope in God, had much to do with their preservation.

By the time God decided to destroy the earth with a flood, it was so wicked that it should have (and could have) been destroyed immediately. But God always gives rebels a reasonable opportunity to reconsider their course. The antediluvians got a 120 year extension on life. God preserves rebels. . . for a reason.

7. PRAYING FOR CHILDREN "By sincere, earnest prayer parents should make a hedge around their children. They should pray with full faith that God will abide with them, and that holy angels will guard them and their children from Satan's cruel power. " ML 31 "The payers of Christian mothers are not disregarded by the Father of all. . . . He will not turn away from petitions, and leave you and yours to the buffetings of Satan in the great day of final conflict. It is for you to work with simplicity and faithfulness, and God will establish the work of your hands. "

Does praying for children make a difference? Apparently it does. In most cases, these and other similar statements imply that the mother is to pray as she earnestly works for her children. She works with God to answer her own prayers. But it is clear that God does especially work for children in response to a mother's prayers.

8. PRAY FOR WHAT? Unfortunately we often feel that we know how God should answer our prayers. The wiser course of action would be to consider the following conditions to answered prayer:

"All his gifts are promised on condition of obedience. God has a heaven full of blessings for those who will cooperate with Him. All who obey Him may with confidence claim the fulfillment of His promises. "

"He makes it plain that our asking must be according to God's will; we must ask for the things that He has promised, and whatever we receive must be used in doing His will. The conditions met, the romise is unequivocal. " Ed 258 "Our prayers are not to be a selfish asking, merely for our own benefit. We are to ask that we may give."

9. PRAYING FOR THE SICK Interestingly Ellen White did not immediately have insight on how to pray for the sick. She was often in demand because people thought that a person like her, with obvious inside connections with God should be most effective in intercessory prayer. Eventually she worked her way through the following principles:

1. The most effective method of praying for the sick is when it is done in their presence.

2. "We no longer mark out a way nor seek to bring the Lord to our wishes. If the life of the sick can glorify Him, we pray that they may live, nevertheless, not as we will but as He will."

10. GOD'S TIMING Whatever the request, God's timing and ours may be different. "The earnest prayer of contrite souls will be lodged by the throne; and God will answer these prayers in His own time if we cling to His arm by faith"

Praying non-personal/relational prayers for situations or people can be effective. I am encouraged to continue my 30 year prayer habit. God apparently does something more than if we didn't pray at all. But I cannot see God, who so carefully respects human dignity and freedom of choice, stepping in to our lives to "make us" shape up. Surely He provides the circumstances and heavenly influences, but, we human beings make the decisions on whether we obey him or our own rebel plans.

In this case, lets look again at Isaiah 42:16: "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."

Now, some people use this text as workman uses a long steel bar to pry reluctant boulders. They put their finger on this text and challenge God to "change" their rebel children, relatives, or friends. They say, "You promised it, now deliver!"

Since, as we have said, God so respects our freedom of choice that He will never force us to do anything we don't want to, I would prefer to see this promise rather as a window on the way God operates all the time---He is always trying by many and various ways to "lead the blind by ways they have not known. " Here is the question again:

To what extent is God "empowered" to act when we pray for someone else? Does my praying for that person do any good? What if I don't pray? Does God refuse to act until someone "prays" for that person? Does my "long distance" prayer for some person really move the arm of omnipotence?

So, what do you think?

I can tell you one thing for sure. PRAYER IS NOT A LEVER TO MOVE A RELUCTANT GOD INTO ACTION NOR IS IT A MEANS OF FORCING REBELS TO CHANGE THEIR WAYS.

But, I notice that I still pray for others,

How can I be sure I am praying according to the will of God?

James, the brother of the Lord, known in tradition of having "camel knees" from his praying, has key verses on prayer.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:6 James, through the inspiration of God lists first that we should ask for wisdom. He says it we ask, He will give it, He is a gracious and liberal Giver. "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 16-8

Can we leave it with God to answer? That is faith. It's like a saying I heard recently: "Too many people offer God prayers, with claw marks all over them." Sometimes it is hard to pray and just trust Him to do His perfect will concerning it. Another saying is: "God has three answers to prayer, yes, no, and wait awhile." The 'wait awhile' takes more faith. Even the great prophet Daniel had to wait sometimes for his answers. (Daniel 10)

First, we must ask for wisdom, then we must believe that he is a gracious God and hears and answers. Man's highest aim is to bring glory to him and this includes our praying in His will. In other words, God also desires us to pray in His will, so who wouldn't He assist in doing just that. "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (I Corinthians 10:13)

"You lust and do not have, You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." James 4:2-3 God knows our motivations when we are praying. The word of God divides between the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) We should be careful not to pray for selfish and lustful reasons.

Finally James adds: "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:16b. In context this verse is referring to praying for the sick, but the principle applies elsewhere as well. W. E. Vine, in his "Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words," says the word "effectual" has been added to make sense of the Greek word "Energeo" (to work in). "Here the meaning may be, 'in it's inworking,' i.e., in the effect produced in the praying man, bringing him into line with the will of God, as in the case of Elijah." (Vol. II, page 19). In James 5:17, speaking of Elijah, it states: "he prayed earnestly...". The literal meaning here is, 'he prayed with prayer," often rendered other places as "supplication." If one struggles in prayer, you are in good company with Daniel, Elijah, James and many others.

Lastly, the statements found in Romans, chapter eight. Here we are taught about walking according to the Spirit and not by the flesh. The chapter adds the assurance that as believers have the Spirit of God dwelling in us; that we have the witness in our spirit that we are the children of God, joint heirs with Christ, and we groan with creation waiting for the competition of our salvation. But also, while waiting, we have the Spirit's help in praying.

"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses, for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He Who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

What assurance we can have when we are seeking to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh; not perfect, but loving God and confessing our sins we remain in fellowship (I John 1:9). Then we can have confidence the Holy Spirit will accomplish His work in presenting our prayers to the Father according to His perfect purposes. Then all things will work together for good.