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4. Conversations with God:

 

Prayer

Ephesians 6:18 'Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.'

In touch with God

In Old Testament times, people couldn't come directly to God. They had to go through a priest. But all that has changed now. Jesus has opened the way so that every Christian can stay in touch with God. In that respect we are all priests and can come to him in prayer directly:

Revelation 1:5-6 Jesus 'loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father.'

Two-way conversationOn the listening end

It's important to remember that prayer is not just you talking to God; it's also him speaking to you. Prayer is two-way communication.

So there will be times when you remain silent and listen, waiting to hear God speak to you. Like the boy Samuel, you can say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening' (1 Samuel 3:9). Having said that, you must then listen! But how does he speak?

It's possible, though unlikely, that you'll hear an audible voice. More commonly, God will speak to you:

With experience, you'll learn to 'tune in' better and be able to distinguish God's voice more clearly.

Two kinds of prayer

1. Any time, any place

A husband and wife don't need to make an appointment with each other before they can talk. They are friends and naturally chat about anything and everything. The Lord and you are friends, too (John 15:15), so you can talk to one another at any time and in any place:

Exodus 33:11 'The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.'

In the supermarket, driving the car, facing a difficult interview-you'll find him always available and ready to hear your spontaneous prayers. The Bible records how Nehemiah once prayed this way when in a tight spot (Nehemiah 2:1-6). More recently, a boy who had just scored a goal in the school football match was heard to say, as he ran back to his position, 'See that one, Lord?'

2. A focused time

The busy nature of modern life means that, sometimes, a husband and wife have to decide to unplug the telephone and not answer the door-bell in order to have undisturbed quality time together. We need to do that with the Lord. Jesus said:

Matthew 6:6 'When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father.'

Be practical, and build into your personal schedule a regular time when you can give God your undivided attention in prayer. Jesus did this:

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

Since he had no home of his own during his public ministry he would find a quiet spot out in the country. You could do the same, though it may be more sensible or convenient to pray at home. Try to choose a time when you'll be alert and when you're unlikely to be disturbed by children, visitors or the telephone.God is not a slot machine

Drawing near to God

Thanksgiving and praise is always a good way to start your planned prayer-time (Psalm 100:4). You can then go on to bring your requests to the Lord, but be sure to mix your thanks even with those:

Philippians 4:6-7 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'

It's easy to become self-centred, so always pray for other people and situations as well as for yourself and your own needs. And remember: God isn't a slot-machine guaranteed to produce the answer you want, when you want, just to please you. He's a person and wants you to develop your relationship with him.

Our prayer-helper

Sometimes, when you're in difficulties, you will find that, while you feel the need to take the situation to God in prayer, you don't really know what to pray. The good news is that God understands, and has provided a wonderful helper: the Holy Spirit himself! We are to 'pray in the Spirit' (Ephesians 6:18), that is, as directed by him:

Romans 8:26-27 'The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.'

The role of the Holy Spirit in prayerThe Holy Spirit will help you to pray according to God's will:

Either way, your prayers will reach the Father through the Lord Jesus. That will lift the pressure of the situation and bring you peace.

Prayer: getting into the habit

You'll have no problem with the 'any time, any place' kind of prayer. It has probably already become as natural to you as breathing.

But getting into the habit of more focused prayer, where you deliberately get alone with God, may take a bit of time-and some self-discipline. If you haven't already done so, make a start this week:

 

 

 

Learn
by heart

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

Heart

BwG4: Prayer
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