In the last lesson, we talked about how God wants to have a continuing conversation with us throughout our entire lives. We learned that God talks to us through nature, through the things that happen to us, and through the Bible.
But in order for us to have a real conversation with God, we can’t just listen to what He says. Real conversation requires two-way communication. In response to God’s love, we must open our hearts and lives to Him through prayer.
Prayer is telling God about what you think and how you feel, just like you’d tell a friend. We don’t have to do this because God doesn’t know what is in our hearts, but because we can’t receive Him into our hearts unless we open our hearts to Him.
“Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him” (Steps to Christ, 93).
Just like Jesus taught the disciples to tell God their needs and trust Him to help them, so we should do the same. Even Jesus, our perfect Example, spent many hours in prayer asking His Father for strength to meet the trials of the day. And how much more do we need strength than did He!
God is waiting to give us so much more than we can even imagine, if we would only ask! Why are we so reluctant to pray to God? It’s a mystery even the angels do not understand. With so much evidence in the Bible of God’s great love for us and His mighty power, how can we pray so little?
Why Should I Pray?
“Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of omnipotence” (Steps to Christ, 94).
When Jesus was on earth, He told us that “without me [Jesus] ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). This is why it’s so important to pray and ask Him for His help!
We can only have strength against temptation as we draw close to God through prayer (James 4:7, 8; Matthew 26:41). When we don’t spend time in prayer, we lose our love for God and become powerless to resist Satan’s enticements. Inevitably, we fall back into sin.
On the other hand, when we do pray, God empowers us to soundly defeat the devil! “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). “Draw nigh to God, … Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:8, 7).
How Should I Pray?
God has given us six simple steps that ensure the answering of our prayers:
- Recognize that you need Jesus’ help (Isaiah 44:3).
- Ask Him for just what you need (Matthew 7:7; Romans 8:32).
- Ask for forgiveness for any wrong things you know you’ve done, and choose to not do them again (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1, 2).
- Believe that Jesus hears your prayer and will answer (Hebrews 11:6; Mark 11:24).
- Forgive those who have wronged you (Matthew 6:12).
- If you don’t see the answer to your prayer immediately, keep on praying (Colossians 4:2).
Let’s look more closely at this last point. When we pray for something and our prayer doesn’t seem to be answered, it can be tempting to simply stop praying. But this is not the time to stop praying! This is the time to press our request before God! Remember the promise: “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).
The reality is that we can’t see the big picture. Sometimes we ask for things that aren’t best for us. When this happens, God gives us the thing that is best for us—that thing that we would want if we could see the big picture. When God doesn’t seem to answer your prayer, don’t give up! Hang on to God’s promise, and believe that He will give you the blessing you need most!
The best way to begin receiving the benefits of prayer is to simply start praying. Consciously, determinedly, decide to make prayer a part of your everyday life. Take every opportunity you see to pray with those around you. If you can, pray with your family.
While praying with others is important, the most essential form of prayer is secret prayer. Our spiritual strength to resist temptation depends on the time we spend alone with God, talking to Him as a friend. Talk with God as you would with a friend. Share with Him all about your joys and your problems. As we learn to talk to our heavenly Father with a calm trust, we will experience His strengthening, sustaining influence in our lives. We will be drawn closer to Him, and He will protect us from Satan.
Start building a new habit of silently praying throughout the day, as well. Does something make you happy? Thank God for it! Do you run into a difficulty? Ask God for wisdom. When we keep our hearts focused on God by praying silently, Satan cannot overcome us.
“There is no time or place in which it is inappropriate to offer up a petition to God” (Steps to Christ, 99). Are you teetering on the edge of sexual sin? Are you already tumbling over the cliff? Start praying! “Our Saviour is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart” (Acts of the Apostles, 532).
“Although there may be a tainted, corrupted atmosphere around us, we need not breathe its miasma, but may live in the pure air of heaven. We may close every door to impure imaginings and unholy thoughts by lifting the soul into the presence of God through sincere prayer” (Steps to Christ, 99).
By consistent practice, we can come to the place where every temptation sends us directly to the throne of grace through prayer. Then every temptation of Satan will only serve to drive us closer to Jesus!
God never gets tired of hearing from us. He cares about us more than we can imagine. He hurts with us when we fall into sin. Even our cries for help touch His heart. There’s no problem you have that is too big for Him. He is the Creator of the universe! There’s nothing too small for Him. If it concerns us, it concerns Him. Nothing we’ve done is evil enough to turn Him away. We will never have a problem too hard for Him to solve. He listens to every single sincere prayer we offer. He loves you personally, just you, as if you were the only one He sent His Son to save.
Then don’t hold back! Come to the Father, just as helpless and broken as you are. Pour out your heart to Him. Tell Him your hurts, your guilt, your needs, everything.
He’s listening, waiting with eager anticipation to hear from you.
Activity: Practice Your Lifeline
Spend ten minutes reading your Bible, hearing what God has to say to you. For another ten minutes open your heart to God through prayer. Make a list of everything good in your life and thank God for everything on your list.