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Article 90 - Prayer #6
Seven Lessons on Prayer
Jon Gary Williams
Lesson 6 - What Prayer Can Do For Us
There are several things inherent in prayer that are beneficial to the Christian. If there were no benefits, prayer would have no purpose. If you were asked to list some benefits of prayer, what would you say? Let's look at some things inherent in prayer, things revealing what prayer can do for us.
Prayer brings us into closer relationship with God.
It has always been God's purpose to draw man closer to Him. "Draw near unto God and he will draw near unto you." (Jam. 4:8)
Whenever men fell out of God's favor, it meant they had lost touch with Him! Throughout the Bible, when people departed from God, it is evident they were not praying people. But, in contrast to this, go back and read of those who remained close to God. In every instance they were men and women of prayer. This was the essential difference.
Ask yourself, "Am I as close to God as I would like to be?" We all feel we could be closer, don't we? All true children of God feel they could do more to be brought closer to God. This is where prayer, as a key factor, enters the picture. Think - prayer is our only contact to speak to God. It just makes sense that the more we pray, the closer to God we will be.
Prayer helps us to be at peace with God.
What is meant by being "at peace" with God? It is being in a saved relationship with Him. At first, peace with God is acquired by faith, a faith that expresses itself in obedience. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peach with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1) But while this is our initial peace, it is not the end. Peace with God must be maintained throughout life. "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful." (Col. 3:15)
One way to do this is through prayer. Paul declared: "Pray without ceasing." (I Th. 5:17) This means that prayer is to be an ongoing practice. When we sin and are not at peace with God, we can come back to Him through repentance and prayer. "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you." (Acts 8:22) Prayer is an open door made possible by God himself, an avenue by which we remain at peace with him.
Prayer helps us cultivate our spiritual lives.
"Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (II Cor. 7:1)
From this we see the two natures of man, the physical and the spiritual - the outward and the inward. One (the outward) is seen by both man and God. The other (the inward) is seen only by God. Prayer helps us to cultivate (mature) in that which only God sees. This helps us crowd the sinful things of the world out of lives, out of our hearts.
However, a heart void of prayer will not be able to keep the world out. This is so tremendously important to remember, but many fail to see it. We must use prayer to cultivate our spiritual lives.
Prayer helps us lead a more consistent life.
We must admit that one of our difficult tasks is that of maintaining consistency (steadfastness) in our lives. "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." (I Cor. 15:58)
Being steadfast (consistent) in a corrupt, degenerate world is not always easy. In this we need help, and what better help can we have than prayer. Prayer can help us succeed, but without prayer we are at a disadvantage.
The man who taught and baptized me, said, "You're going to face some bad things in life. There are three things to remember that will keep Satan from harming you. Attend every service of the church humanly possible, read and study your Bible every day, and pray several times every day." He then said, "By emphasizing prayer you cannot live an inconsistent Christian life." It took me a while to see what meant - a praying Christian cannot (that is, will not allow) himself to live an inconsistent life.
Prayer helps us lead a modest life.
By this is meant a life of humility, a life of meekness. The true Christian will not lead a life of show and display, a life given to prideful arrogance. To Christian women, Peter said, "Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the cite of God." (I Pet. 3:3,4) And to all Christians he said, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (I Pet. 5:6)
Prayer helps us lead the kind of life Peter described. Find the person who prays and you'll find the person who leads a modest life, a life that expresses dignity. On other hand, a boastful, arrogant Christian is one who is not given to prayer.
Prayer helps us lead a tranquil & quiet life.
Paul told Timothy, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men. For kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable live in all godliness and reverence." (I Tim. 2:1,2)
It is certainly a blessing to be able to worship God in freedom, without fear of ill-treatment and harm. Likewise, it is a blessing to be able to freely proclaim the gospel free of persecution. The Lord's church, however, has not always enjoyed this freedom - hence, Paul's exhortation to pray for tranquility and peacefulness. Today, we need to pray that Lord's church will continue to enjoy peace. And, too, we should pray that individually we will enjoy such tranquility.
Prayer strengthens us when all else fails.
David declared, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Ps. 46:1) When all else fails, when we have exhausted all our efforts, when there seems nowhere else to turn, we can humbly bow and seek God's help.
Throughout the scriptures, in the lives of God's servants we see times when they were drained of strength and had no where else to turn. But, they found added strength from God. It was through prayer that they found that strength. Brethren, could this be the reason some Christians become weak and inactive?
Prayer can do great things for us, and more, but only when we truly apply ourselves to prayer. Remember that God holds out no promises to those who fail to communicate with Him through prayer. Our heavenly Father is always, just a moment away. Just bow, and he is there to listen.
Click here for Lesson 7: To Whom Are We To Pray?