Some Scriptures Relevant to Prayer
The word "prayer" appears in various forms 375 times in the NIV Bible.
Genesis 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Isaiah 30:15-16 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
Isaiah 26:3-4 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
Daniel 9:2-3 In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
Matthew 6:5-8 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Luke 6:12-13 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
James 5:13-16 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
HITTING THE TARGET
to Deepen Christian Living
Prayer is the root
of effective Christian living.
“Nine Marks of
(Based on polling
done by George Gallup and Timothy Jones
in The Saints Among Us,)
according to George Gallup and Timothy Jones
are 9% of the American population;
tend to be "Southern, non-white, and female;"
and possess a profound, constructive FAITH.
They tend to possess nine characteristics in common:
three marks relate to their vertical relationship, with God;
two marks concern their relationship with themselves;
and four marks concern their relationships with others.
1. They are consistent in PRAYER.
2. They have an ongoing sense of God's PRESENCE.
3. They've experienced God's POWER.
4. Their HAPPINESS is above average.
5. They have a balanced SELF-REGARD.
6. They spend time VOLUNTEERING.
7. They have a notable LACK OF PREJUDICE.
8. They work hard at FORGIVENESS.
9. They apply their faith to constructive POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT.
Are you among THE "SAINTS?"
To take a Spiritual Assessment based on The Saints Among Us, click here.
The most important indicator in our study was POWER. Those who’ve experienced the power of God in life scored significantly higher across the board than those who haven’t.
God’s power, of course, can’t be manipulated. It moves when it moves. Fortunately, there was also a strong correlation between being aware of the PRESENCE of God and having experienced divine POWER.
Through the millennia, there have been many long-tested ways of cultivating a sense of God’s PRESENCE. Modern seekers can easily adopt techniques such as Centering Prayer, for instance, or the "Jesus Prayer" 1.
In terms of PRAYER, many operate with a limited definition of what it is. If PRAYER is merely “talking to God,” we may not consider ourselves to have a solid prayer life. But if prayer includes such activities as Worship, Bible and devotional reading, listening to godly music, or conscious service, we might find our prayer lives are richer than we realized. The Christian monastic tradition would surely agree that such activities constitute prayer.
In fact, my favorite definition of PRAYER is "any activity that makes us aware of the PRESENCE of God."
We also tend to discount our VOLUNTEERING. For instance, anyone attending a Bible study or Worship service who doesn’t get paid for it is volunteering time and talent.
A low score in HAPPINESS usually indicates personal or economic struggles. Pastors, ministers, and caring friends do well to pay attention to such, perhaps before even addressing more “spiritual” concerns.
The LACK OF PREJUDICE indicator is best addressed through intentional, ongoing, inter-racial interactions.
FORGIVENESS needs to be seen as a process, a discipline, rather than something that is “one and done.”
POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT is far deeper than simply wearing one’s faith label as a partisan identity. It requires reflecting from a specifically Biblical and gospel-driven perspective on the old question, “What would Jesus do?” Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), for instance, or Matthew 25, then take those words into the voting booth and public life with you.
The entire point is to grow in allowing God’s Word and purpose to deepen us in this life, as a blessing to this difficult world we share, and in expectation of the life to come.
How do we manufacture an experience of God’s power? We don’t. But the most important indicator in whether someone had experienced God’s power was how much of a sense they had of His presence. And the most important indicator of whether someone had a sense of His presence was whether they were persons of regular, habitual prayer.
What’s needed, first of all, is a broader understanding of what prayer is. We broaden our sense of what prayer is. Prayer is talking to God, of course. But prayer is also more than just talking. Prayer is also:
Contemplation is alien to most of us, at least by that name. Contemplation is hanging out with the God of scripture, sometimes in complete silence. It is "Walking with Him," in this moment, as Dr. Deron Biles stressed recently.
Here is my definition: prayer is any activity that makes us aware of the presence of God.
Prayer awakens us to His presence among us.
Prayer opens us to His power, when He moves in our world.
Prayer turns what to others may be just ordinary life into a life lived in His presence.
1. Remember the link between breath and prayer. (Genesis 2:7) Repeat a verse or phrase of scripture for a specified number of breaths, to center yourself. When your mind wanders, bring it back.
2. Memorize certain prayers (the Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm) to repeat when you’re stressed.
3. Set an appointment to pray every day, then keep the appointment.
4. Find ways to integrate prayer into your “ordinary” activities.
The cumulative effect is a deepening sense of God’s presence, through prayer. We can’t command the lightning of God’s power to strike. We can put up a lightning rod, though. Cultivating a sense of His presence is like putting up a lightning rod.
A Pattern for Prayer
Reflect on a passage from scripture. Let its meaning lead you into God's presence.
Praise God's greatness.
Ask God's forgiveness for your sins and offer your forgiveness to others for theirs. God has promised to forgive you as you forgive others.
Lift Up the needs of others. Be specific. Name names. Pray for the sick, the lost, your family, church, friends, and for the world.
Share your own concerns, holding nothing back. Clear your mind and heart. Ask for what you need. Be honest.
Give Thanks, whatever the situation may be. In Christ there is always light.
A Way of Meditative Prayer
1. Sit comfortably and breathe slowly and evenly, paying attention to each breath as it comes and goes.
(See Genesis 2:7)
2. With each breath, repeat the phrase: The Lord is my shepherd. When you find your mind wandering, gently bring your focus back to the breathing and prayer.
3. Set a timer and do this for five to ten minutes during the day, to center your soul on the God of scripture.
A. C. T. S.
Adoration: praise and worship God.
Confession: laying your sins out before God, and asking His forgiveness.
Thanksgiving: thanking God for His blessings and protection.
Supplication: bringing our needs, hopes, and fears before God, for His guidance and fulfillment.