CENTRAL THOUGHT A prayerful Christian life assures victorious living.
HYMN: CHRISTIAN, SEEK NOT YET REPOSE
TEXT: Eph 6:18; Luke 6:12; Mark 1:35; Phil 4:6-7
Prayer is the act of communicating with God. It is a very important aspect of every Christian’s life. Without prayer, the believer cannot live a successful Christian life here on earth. There are limitless opportunities open to a prayerful Christian. Prayer is what connects the believer to the Almighty God. Through prayer, we commune with God in order to deepen our intimacy and relationship with Him. Prayer is of utmost importance to our spiritual existence just as breathing is necessary to our physical existence. As prayerful Christians, we are assured of victorious Christian lives and power for effective Christian service. Our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, who is our perfect example, knew the importance of prayer. He started and ended with prayers. Therefore, as His followers, we must follow in His steps, 1 Peter 2:21b.
The objectives of this study are:
1.) To identify who is a prayerful Christian.
2.) To explain why a Christian should live a prayerful life.
3.) To know how we are to pray.
4.) To explain how a Christian can be effective in prayer.
Question 1) WHO IS A PRAYERFUL CHRISTIAN?
A prayerful Christian is one who has made prayer a way of life, or a consistent spiritual habit, one who takes out time to seek God’s face on issues, situations or circumstances, trusting Him for a desired outcome. A prayerful Christian lives in obedience to Christ’s injunction that men ought always to pray and not faint, Luke 18:1. In this regard, Apostle Paul has enjoined us to pray without ceasing, 1 Thess. 5:17. The prayerful Christian therefore must be instant in prayer and persevere, never giving up no matter the odds.
Question 2) WHY SHOULD A CHRISTIAN LIVE A PRAYERFUL LIFE?
As was earlier mentioned in the introductory part of this study, prayer is said to be a means of communing and having a close relationship with God, our Father. Every child who loves his father, would always long to be with him and enjoy his company. A child of God should always long to commune with his heavenly Father. Prayer keeps alive the relationship between the Christian and God. Some of the reasons why a Christian should be prayerful are as follows:
A. It is a Command (Luke 18:1; Col 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17) The Christian has been commanded in the Scriptures to continue in prayer at all times. The Lord Jesus Christ gave the parable in Luke 18:1 to the effect that men ought always to pray and not to faint. Paul also commanded the Colossians in Col. 4:2 to continue in prayer and watch in the same with thanksgiving. He admonished the Thessalonians in 1 Thess. 5:17 to pray without ceasing. It is therefore imperative that every believer who wants to live a successful and obedient life unto God be prayerful at all times.
B. He is a Watchman (Isa. 62:6-7; Jer. 1:10; Ezek. 3:17; Hab. 2:1) As watchmen, believers are expected to be prayerful. They must never hold their peace, they must continue in prayer. A watchman must feel the heartbeat of God at all times and make this known to all so that those who need God’s warning and turn from their evil ways will flee from the wrath to come.
C. He is engaged in Spiritual Battle (Ephesians 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:4-5) The believer is constantly engaged in spiritual warfare. We are being reminded that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. We are to take unto ourselves the whole armor of God that we may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand. One of the components of the whole armor of God is prayer. Therefore, we must be people of prayer if we have to prevail and stand. We also know that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
D. To Overcome Trials and Temptations (Luke 22:43- 46; James 5:13a) Prayer is a weapon a Christian must lay hold of at all times, particularly during the periods of trial and temptation. During His time of agony before going to the Cross, Christ was very sorrowful and prayed, and God sent an angel to strengthen Him. Likewise, He encouraged His disciples to pray so that they would not fall into temptation. We draw strength from God to overcome trials and temptations in the place of prayer. Whatever the challenge we are facing, we should learn to take all to God in prayer and as we do, the victory will surely be ours.
E. To Appropriate God’s Promise (Daniel 9:1-4) The word of God is replete with His promises to us as believers. We can only appropriate them to ourselves through prayer of faith. God has told us in His word that if we ask, we shall receive, if we seek, we shall find, if we knock, it shall be opened unto us, for every one that asks receives, every one that seeks finds, and to him that knocks, it shall be opened, Matthew 7:7-8. All these can be done effectively through prayers. God is willing and ready to make good His promises. If there are people who will pray, there is God who answers. The class is encouraged to list and discuss other reasons why a Christian should live a prayerful life.
Question 3) HOW ARE WE TO PRAY?
We have been shown in the scriptures how we should pray for our prayers to be effective and acceptable to God.
A. In Jesus Name (John 14:13-14, 16:23-24)
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said that whatsoever we ask in His name that He will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. He has also assured us that whatsoever we shall ask the Father in His name, He (the Father) will give us. He said that when we ask we shall receive that our joy may be full. Christ has given us His name and it is His desire to meet our requests which we make in His name.
B. In Faith (Mark 9:23, 11:23-24; Luke 1:45)
Christ has admonished us that if we can believe, all things are possible to anyone who believes. Blessed is anyone who believes because there shall be a performance of those things which the Lord had told such a person. The scriptures are filled with God’s promises. If we therefore exercise faith as we approach God’s throne in prayers, He will never deny us. God is faithful to His word. We must remove doubt and unbelief from our prayer so that our prayers will be answered. As long as we do this, then whatsoever we desire when we pray, we should believe that we receive them, and we shall have them.
C. In Accordance with God’s will (1 John 5:14)
God will only hear and answer our prayers when we ask according to His will: “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will. He heareth us”. If on the other hand we ask amiss, we will not receive. “Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume them upon your lust”, James 4:3. We must therefore endeavor to learn to pray in accordance with the will of God in order to receive from Him. It behooves us to search the scriptures because the will of God has been clearly stated therein.
D. In Humility and Whole Heartedness (2 Chron. 7:14; Jer. 29:13)
When we humble ourselves before God in the place of prayer, He is delighted and answers us. “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 sins and will heal their land”, 2 Chron. 7:14. We must also approach God’s throne of mercy whole heartedly if our prayers are to be regarded by Him. God says in His word, “and ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart”, Jer. 29:13.
E. In Righteousness and Obedience (James 5:16; 1 John 3:22)
Our God is holy and righteous, and experts us to appear before Him in holiness and in righteousness. It is only the effectual and fervent prayer of a righteous man that avails much. God demands our obedience to His word and command; this is a precondition to our prayers being answered. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight”, 1 John 3:22.
F. Without a Doubt or Unbelief (1 Tim. 2:8; Matt 14:31) Doubt and unbelief are some of the reasons why our prayers may not be answered. Therefore, when we come before God in prayers, doubt and unbelief must be done away with. The Lord Jesus Christ emphasized this during His ministry here on earth. Paul also stressed the same thing. “I will therefore that men pray every where lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting”, 1 Tim. 2:8. When we doubt God through unbelief, we make Him a liar and undermine His divine ability.
Question 4) A. HOW CAN A CHRISTIAN BE EFFECTIVE IN PRAYER? (Rom. 8:26; Zech. 12:10a; Eph. 6:17-19) The believer who wants to be effective in his prayer life should depend on the Holy Spirit. In developing our prayer, we should allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. There are situations in which the Holy Spirit will stir our hearts into prayer. He may reveal situations concerning ourselves, our families, our church, etc., to us and move us into earnest prayers. He may even wake us up in the night and make us pray over specific issues. However, all these will happen if and only if we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Also, there are times when we do not know what to pray for or a weakness in the body holds us back from praying. At such moments, the Holy Spirit helps to pray and He (the Holy Spirit) who knows the mind of God leads us into times of wonderful prayer experiences. “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 groaning which cannot be uttered”, Romans 8:26. We must pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us that we can be effective in our prayers.
Question 4) B. WHAT IS THE PLACE OF FASTING IN PRAYER? (Mark 9:28-29) Fasting is a very important component of the believer’s prayer life. Fasting enables us to put the flesh under subjection in order to allow the Spirit take over our being in the place of prayer. It should be noted here however, that our fasting is not necessarily what makes our prayers to be answered; rather it is a way we humble ourselves before God in total dependency and acknowledgement of His ability to grant our petitions. The Lord Jesus Christ recognized the need for fasting alongside prayers. Fasting without prayer does not amount to anything in God’s presence; such an individual is merely starving himself. Note Christ’s statement, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting”, Mark 9:29. Therefore our fasting must be accompanied by prayer for it to be effective.
Question 4) C. HOW CAN THE CHRISTIAN DEVELOP THE ATTITUDE OF PRAYING ALWAYS? (Mark 1:35; 1 Cor. 9:25) If we must develop the attitude of praying always and must make a conscious effort at this. It does not just happen. The Lord Jesus, our perfect example, developed the attitude of praying always. We must make time to be alone with God on a regular basis. We must be willing to pay the price. We must earnestly desire to seek and be in God’s presence continually. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee: my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is”, Psalm 63:1. The psalmist understood this and expressed it thus; “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple”, Psalm 27:4. It is only through a consistent communing with God that this desire can be met. The consciousness of this fact enables us to develop the attitude of remaining in God’s presence at all times. This can only be achieved through cultivating a regular and consistent prayer life.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION
God wants us as His dear children to live in the atmosphere of prayer at all times. When we yield our lives totally to Christ in total obedience to Him and pray always in faith, we can live in daily enjoyment of the great and precious promises of God.
1 Peter 4:7
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer”.
DAILY DEVOTIONAL GUIDE
Monday: The believer is commanded to pray.
Luke 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17
Tuesday: The believer is God’s watchman.
Isa. 62:6-7; Ez. 3:17; Jer. 1:10
Wednesday: Draw strength from God to overcome trials.
2 Cor. 10:45; Luke 22:43-46; James 5:13
Thursday: Pray in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ
John 14:13-14, 16:23-24
Friday: Believe God as you pray.
Mark 9:23, 11:23-24; 1 John 5:14; James 1:6-8
Saturday: You can be effective in prayer.
Zech. 12:10a; Rom. 8:26, Ephesians 6:17-19