is a bridge, whereof the span
rooted in the heart of man,
reaches, without pile or rod,
the Great White Throne of God
traffic is in human sighs
wafted to the skies;
the one pathway from despair
it is called the Bridge of Prayer.
the last chapter we looked at “The Lord’s prayer” as a pattern for
Christian living. It is a pattern for Christian living, but its primary purpose
is that of teaching prayer. Christ, while He was with us on earth, prayed
continually. Twenty-one times the word pray or a derivative is mentioned in the
same verse as Jesus. Jesus lived in daily, almost continuous, dependency on
pray. We find in the book of Acts that the church was devoted to four things.
Acts 2:42 says “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the
fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” All four are very
important and stand together. We, or the Church cannot expect success if we do
not pray consistently.
this chapter we will look at the “how to” aspects of prayer, as well as some
tools to make our prayer lives more meaningful and effective. There are things
that we can do to make our prayer lives more productive and enjoyable. But, the
main problem in most Christians’ prayer lives is not a matter of not knowing
enough, but rather a matter of not doing enough. We are like the person on a
diet who knows very well what a good diet is all about, but doesn’t follow the
is our communication with God. As a believer we have been given a special
opportunity. In Hebrews 4:16 we are told to approach the throne of grace with
confidence. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul encourages us to pray always. The
attitude of the Christian should be one of prayer. Christian prayer is a two way
communication with God. We may receive answers both in the wisdom God gives us
to guide us in situations that do not change, as well as the intercessory power
of God to change things in our lives.
times and situations require different prayer formats. However, all prayer
should incorporate some common elements.
whom do we pray? This is a matter of some confusion and controversy. The
Scriptures are clear in this matter however. First let’s look at the pattern
prayer given to us by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount. This passage is from
Matthew 6 verses 9 to 13:
this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy
name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us
this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the
kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
Matthew 6:6 Christ gives us a quick overview of the mechanics of prayer. This is
what He says. “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.” We pray to our Heavenly Father. Nowhere in the Bible
will you find anyone encouraged to pray to anyone or anything else than the
Father in heaven. (See also Luke 11:2 and Colossians 1:3).
are to ask, and pray in Jesus’ name. (See John 14:13–14, 15:16, 16:23–24)
He has paid the price for us to have a relationship with our Father. Jesus
Christ has made the believer fit to be recognized, and heard, by God. In Him we
have been given sonship, and the privilege to talk to God as His child, to say
“Abba, Father”. (Romans 8:15)
night my little boy confessed to me some childish wrong;
kneeling at my knee, he prayed with tears—
God, make me a man like Daddy—wise and strong, I know you can.”
while he slept I knelt beside his bed, confessed my sins,
prayed with low-bowed head. “Oh
God make me a child,
my child here—Pure, guileless, trusting Thee with faith sincere”
attitude with which we pray is also important. When we pray we should not use it
as an opportunity to draw attention to ourselves. We also don’t use group
prayer as a chance to be a preacher. This can be one of the most discouraging
aspects of group prayer. When we pray we need to have some ideas clearly in
an attitude of humility. This is why we have been told since we were children to
kneel when we pray. We are not too old as adults to kneel now either. In our
humanity, our spirit and body are linked together. It really makes a difference
to the attitude of our spirit to have our body in the humble attitude of
kneeling. It also reinforces God’s
Lordship in our lives.
in the western world have a hard time understanding authority. We are not used
to the concepts of royalty or servant-hood. This means that we have to work
harder to understand fully our relationship with God and humility in prayer is a
good first step.
we pray for God’s glory and our benefit, not vice versa. We are told in the
Sermon on the Mount of the proper way to pray and give. When we pray we are not
to grandstand. The example is given of a person praying loudly on a street
corner. Everyone notices this person. This praying person is doing it for his
glory, he wants everyone to say “Wow what a spiritual guy”. Look rather at
the example of Daniel, in the book of Daniel. He didn’t hide the fact that he
was praying. It was publicly known
that he prayed, but he did it in the privacy of his home.
this mean that we are not to pray in public? No. It does mean that we are not to
pray for a public audience though.
Christian prayer is brief and to the point. Again look at Christ’s teaching in
the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 6:5–7) “And when thou prayest, thou shalt
not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues
and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say
unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy
closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret;
and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray,
use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be
heard for their much speaking.”
are some simple tools that we can use to help us pray better. One of these is a
memory aid called ACTS. It helps us
to remember four of the aspects of effective prayer.
A = Adoration, or praise for our loving God and His power.
C = Confession of our sin and need of
T = Thanksgiving for His provision
past and present.
S = Supplication, asking for our and
others needs to be met.
When we pray we can remember to include the four aspects of ACTS in our
prayer. It will help us to be right
with God and not become overwhelmed by our needs.
Prayer help is to claim some of the promises from God listed in Scripture as our
own. When we pray according to these promises we have the confidence that we are
praying according to God’s will.
for our spiritual needs, cleansing from sin. 1 John 1:7, Colossians 1:14,
Matthew 26:28, Romans 5:9.
gives us eternal life. John 3:16,
John 6:47, 1 John 2:25, 1 John 5:11, Romans 5:10, 1 Corinthians 15:55–57.
will be present in our lives. Exodus 33:14, Psalm 140:13, Deuteronomy 31:8,
can expect answers to our prayers. John 15:7, Romans 8:28, Psalm 34:17, Psalm
55:16, Isaiah 65:24, John 14:14.
will keep us safe in our relationship with Him.
John 17:11, 2 Thessalonians 3:3, Romans 8:38–39, Isaiah 40:11.
will equip us for His service. Psalm 68:35, Act 1:8, Ephesians 6:13, Philippians
2:13, Philippians 4:13.
will teach us the truth. Psalm 32:8,
2 Corinthians 4:6, Ephesians 1:17, Daniel 2:22, John 14:26, Psalm 25:9.
will work miracles in your life. John 14:13, Ephesians 3:20, Matthew 18:19, 1
will fill your life with love. 1
John 4:16, John 14:21, Ephesians 3:19, 1 John 4:7, 12, 1 Corinthians 13:13.
can grow spiritually. 2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 3:17–19, Philippians 1:6,
Ephesians 4:14–15, Colossians 1:10.
Lord will baptize you in the Holy Spirit. Matthew
3:11, Ezekiel 36:37, Acts 1:8, Joel 2:28.
instills faith in you. Romans 12:3,
Ephesians 2:8, Galatians 5:22–23, Galatians 3:26, Philippians 1:29.
Christ forgives your sins. 1 John 2:1, 2:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 1 Corinthians
Lord brings hope to you. Psalm
34:22, 1 John 3:3, Psalm 37:40, Hebrews 6:18–19, Romans 5:5.
will bless your family. Jeremiah
32:39, Deuteronomy 4:40, Proverbs 20:7, Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 26:11.
are many hundreds of promises made in the Bible. Those listed above are just a
sample. They can be an encouragement in and out of our prayer lives. When we
pray, look to the life shown us in the Scriptures, expect that your Lord Jesus
will be your helper to live the full life.
has God told us about the effectiveness of prayer? Let’s look at Jeremiah 33:3
and Ephesians 3:20. What do they say? Does this reflect your actual experience?
If it doesn’t there may be a couple of reasons. One of which is that we
haven’t prayed according to the will of God, or haven’t accepted His will if
we have. Think of a child who asks for a real fire truck for Christmas. If he
received it of course it would be of no benefit to him. When he does not receive
it for Christmas it doesn’t mean that his parents don’t love or care for
him. They are however more aware of what he should have than he is. How many
times have we asked God for a “fire engine” ourselves?
following passage is from a sermon by Peter Marshall on prayer.
a little pamphlet, I saw a story about a former missionary who had been stricken
with illness and bedridden for eight years. During those eight years, she had
steadily and persistently asked God “Why?”
could not understand why this incapacitating illness should lay her aside while
she had been doing the Lord’s work. There was some rebellion in her heart and
the drums of mutiny rolled every now and then.
burden of her prayers was that the Lord should make her well in order that she
might return to do His work. But nothing happened. Her prayers seemed to get
nowhere. She knew that they were not answered and they seemed to be rising no
higher than the ceiling.
worn out from the failure of her prayers, and with a desperate sort of
resignation within her she prayed: “All right, Lord, I give in. If I am to be
sick for the rest of my life, I bow to thy will. I want to yield to Thy will
more than I want anything else in the world—even health. It is for Thee to
leaving herself entirely in God’s hands, she began to feel a peace that she
had not known at any time during her illness. In two weeks she was out of bed,
why did this prayer unlock the very gates of heaven, to pour down blessings and
health, whereas the other three thousand prayers had produced no results?
answer is that somewhere within this missionary’s experience revealed a
little-known and rarely understood spiritual law, which if followed always
works, just as the law of gravity always works.
spiritual law in this case is that we must seek and be willing to accept the
will of God—whatever it may be for us. Our prayers must not be efforts to bend
God to our will or desires—but to yield ourselves to His—whatever they may
8:26–27 has this to say. “In the same way, 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.”
forget that God sometimes says “No.” We pray to Him as our heavenly Father,
and likewise human fathers, he often says “No,” not from whim or caprice,
but from wisdom and from love, and knowing what is best for us.
Himself, in the agony of the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed with the certain
stipulation that God’s will, not His, be done. It is this factor of divine
decision which the skeptic cannot comprehend, and which the believer must accept
that produces answered prayer.
as it is always better to get a map before we start a journey, it is better to
pray before we begin a task. Otherwise we get in the unenviable position of
begging God to enable us to finish the job, or extract us from it. This is a
real problem when God didn’t have the idea in the first place, and we are left
to our own devices.
should we pray about? Read Philippians 4:6–7.
This verse is both a promise and an encouragement.
need to condition ourselves for effective prayer. The following verses give us a
list of the things we need to prepare ourselves with to receive answered prayer.
Psalm 66:18, Matthew 21:22, John 15:7, John 16:24, 1 John 5:14–15.
when the above conditions are met, it sometimes appears as if God is not
answering prayer. But remember that “No” and “Wait” are as much of an
answer as “Yes”. However, keep in mind that if we pray in the will of God,
the answer is always “Yes”.
are many reasons for us to pray. We don’t need encouragement to talk to our
friends. Christians are personal friends with God. Just as a successful
marriage, or other relationship, depends on communication, so does a healthy
relationship with God.
way to enrich our prayer life is to keep a keep a prayer journal. This way we
are reminded of His faithfulness. We tend to have short memories, and only see
our present problems. This is especially true if we pray in a group. If ten
believers pray together they will see answered prayer most every week. This I
have seen by actual experience.
is a list of some other ways to enrich and add variety to your prayer life. Be
creative on your own as well.
through the newspaper. Read the articles and pray about those that touch your
a theme to be a common element for you or your group’s prayers for a time.
a prayer partner to be responsible to and for. Be praying for each other, and
a walk or a drive and claim areas for the Lord.
the book “Operation World”. It
lists specific needs of different areas of the world.
for your church and its staff and missionaries.
for yourself, and your situation. (Forgiveness Isaiah 1:18, Doubts Isaiah 41:10,
Guidance Isaiah 42:16). Be your own prayer warrior and place yourself in
dependence on the Lord who loves you.
What are some fears that you can
discuss with God in prayer?
Who should we be praying for?
How often are we to pray?
What does the phrase “An army travels on its stomach, and a church on
its knees” mean?
Do you remember an answered prayer you could share?
The Unseen Bridge
by Gilbert Thomas, 1891–?
by Andrew Gillies, 1870–1942
Jesus Person Pocket Promise Book”
by David Wilkerson c 1972
pub by GL publications Glendale
From A Man Called Peter
by Catherine Marshall c
MCMLI McGraw-Hill pp