We Proclaim Jesus.
To efficiently and effectively carry out a task, one must not only know its importance, but also, certain necessary steps and requirements for its accomplishment. Prayer, the highest and holiest service of the believer, has certain prerequisites that make its labor and toil more fruitful and efficient.
What preparations should we make before approaching God? Do we rush unpreparedly into the presence of God? When we learn the necessary preparations that need to be made before approaching God, diligently applying them while in His presence, prayer will be more effective and fruitful in our lives.
A. Realizing the Presence of God
"And the LORD said to him, I have heard your prayer and your supplication, which you have made before Me" (1 Kings 9:3).
"Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us" (Psalm 62:8).
|1. It is in the presence of the true and living God that we truly pray effectively.|
|2. The major point of this prerequisite is knowing who your audience is.|
|3. The prayer that is made before God hears the assuring voice of God saying, "I have heard your prayer and supplication, which you have made before Me."|
B. Revering the Person of God
|"Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few" (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2). |
"Let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29).
|1. Anyone who prays effectively approaches the presence of the living God in reverence and awe.|
2. According to King Solomon, all who approach God without a reverential attitude receive this strong rebuke: "they do not know they are doing evil."
|3. In what ways do we show Him our reverence?|
|4. Prayer is not only talking to God, but also listening attentively to what the Spirit of God has to say to us.|
C. Reflecting on the Person of God and His Word
"For You ,Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. For You are great and do wondrous deeds; You alone are God. But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth" (Psalm 86:5,10,15).
"I will meditate on Your precepts, and regard Your ways"(Psalm 119:15; cf. vv. 23, 27, 48, 78, 148).
|1. Meditation is an essential requirement to effective prayer.|
|2. Meditation enlarges our understanding of who God is, His character and ways.|
|3. By meditating on God and recalling the promises He has given us in His Word, our faith grows and our fears dissolve.|
|"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).|
D. Remaining in God and His Word
|"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless youabide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he whoabides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me,he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; they gather them, and cast them into fire, they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples" (John 15:1, 4-8).|
|1. An important condition which Christ taught as a prerequisite to effective prayer is abiding.|
|2. Definition of the Term abide.|
E. The Practice of Prayer
|Many believers know more about prayer than they ever practice in their own lives. We have attended many seminars on prayer and read many books on prayer, but we have practiced very little of it. Sadly, there is no consistency in our practice of prayer to the detriment of our own spiritual growth. The Lord Jesus taught about prayer. But more importantly He practiced it also. The apostles followed in the footsteps of their Lord and Master. They not only taught about prayer, but also, they diligently and devotedly practiced it. They learned that the best way to learn to pray is to commit oneself to the practice of prayer.|
|1. Times of Prayer|
"As for me, I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice" (Psalm 55:16, 17; cf. Daniel 6:10).
"And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there" (Mark 1:35).
"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer" (Acts 3:1).
|2. Places of Prayer|
"Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said,I called out of my distress to the LORD, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice" (Jonah 2:1-2).
"And He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there" (Mark 1:35).
"Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer" (Acts 3:1).
"Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour (noon) to pray" (Acts 10:9).
|3. Posture in Prayer|
"Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously" (Daniel 6:10).
"Then he stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. Now Solomon had made a bronze platform... and he stood on it,knelt on his knees ... and spread out his hands toward heaven" (2 Chronicles 6:12,13).
|4. Duration of Prayer|
"They read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshipped the LORD their God" (Nehemiah 9:13).
"He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12).
"Our speaking to ourselves in meditation, should go before our speaking to God in prayer." - Richard Baxter
"Meditation is the best preparation for prayer, so prayer is the best issue of meditation. Meditation and prayer go together." - Matthew Henry
"Meditation is a middle sort of duty between the word and prayer, and hath respect to both. The word feedeth meditation, and meditation feedeth prayer. These duties must always go hand in hand; meditation must follow hearing and precede prayer. To hear and not to meditate is unfruitful. We may hear and hear, but it is like putting a thing into a bag with holes... It is rashness to pray and not to meditate. What we take in by the word we digest by meditation and let out by prayer. These three duties must be ordered that one may jostle out the other. Men are barren, dry, and sapless in their prayers for want of exercising themselves in holy thoughts." - Thomas Manton
"What is the reason that our desires like an arrow shot by a weak bow do not reach the mark? but only this, we do not meditate before prayer...The great reason why our prayers are ineffectual, is because we do not meditate before them." - William Bates
"Do you think anyone of us spends enough time pondering and marveling over God's exceeding great glory? And do you suppose that any of us has grasped the full meaning of the word "grace"? Are not our prayers so often ineffective and powerless because we rush unthinkingly and unpreparedly into God's presence, without realizing the majesty and glory of the God Whom we are approaching and without reflecting upon the exceeding great riches of His glory in Christ Jesus, which we hope to draw upon? We must "think magnificently of God." May we then suggest that before we lay our petitions before God we first dwell in meditation upon His glory and then upon His grace, for He offers both. We must lift up the soul to God. Let us place ourselves, as it were, in the presence of God and direct our prayer to the "King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only has immortality, dwelling in light unapproachableŠ to Whom be honor and power eternal" (1 Timothy 6:16). Let us often meditate upon Christ's glory, gaze upon it and so reflect it and receive it." - An Unknown Christian
"As it is the sister of reading, so it is the mother of prayer. Though a man's heart be much indisposed to prayer, yet, if he can but fall into a meditation of God, and the things of God, his heart will soon come off to prayer...Begin with reading or hearing. Go on with meditation; end in prayer...Reading without meditation is hurtful; to meditate and to read without prayer upon both, is without blessing." - William Bridge
"To read the Bible and not meditate was seen as an unfruitful exercise: better to read one chapter and meditate afterward than to read several chapters and not meditate. Likewise to meditate and not to pray was like preparing to run a race and never leaving the starting line. The three duties of reading Scriptures, meditation, and prayer belonged together, and though each could be done on its own, as formal duties to God they were best done together." - Peter Toon
"Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer after having dressed in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing was to give myself to the reading of God's Word, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord. I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words of the Lord's blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul... I scarcely ever suffer now in this way (i.e. wandering of mind). For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father and to my Friend(vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point...And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is plain to me as anything that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is to obtain food for his inner man. Now what is food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water passes through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it and applying it to our hearts... Now prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than formal manner, requires generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire, and the season therefore when this exercise of the soul can be most effectually performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. We may therefore profitably meditate with God's blessing though we ever so weak spiritually; nay, the weaker we are, the more we need meditation for the strengthening of our inner man. Thus there is far less to be feared from wandering of mind than if we give ourselves to prayer without having had time previously for meditation." - George Mueller