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One of THE most important aspects of Christianity is the direct connection to God that is only allowed through faith in Jesus Christ.  What do we pray for and how should we pray to a all power all knowing absolutely holy God? What is the purpose of prayer if God is all knowing?  This article will address all these questions about this vital and essential aspect of Christian life.

What exactly is genuine prayer?

Prayer that the Lord desires is: honest communication directed to God for God in reverence and respectful fear for his grace and will to be done.  When we pray to him the way he wants us to, he is pleased, and we are honoring him as God; thus it is a form of worship.  It is also a service to God (Luke 2:36-38).  It is obedience to God because he commands us to (Philippians 4:6-7).  Prayer, privately and communally is a required part of Christian living (Mark 1:35; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 13:1-3).

Prayer is an intimate matter.  It is a special communication to a Holy and Righteous loving and gracious all powerful God; thus it is not to bring attention to ourselves at all!  (Matthew 6:6).  When we genuinely come to God in faith and ask for his Will and Glory, we are in the spirit  (Romans 8:26; Jude 20). Because no one can genuinely ask for anything before God unless the spirit is in them.

What does it mean "pray in the spirit"?

"The Greek word translated “pray in” can have several different meanings. It can mean “by means of,” “with the help of,” “in the sphere of,” and “in connection to.” Praying in the Spirit does not refer to the words we are saying. Rather, it refers to how we are praying. Praying in the Spirit is praying according to the Spirit’s leading. It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for. Romans 8:26 tells us, “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.”

Some, based on 1 Corinthians 14:15, equate praying in the Spirit with praying in tongues. Discussing the gift of tongues, Paul mentions “pray with my spirit.” First Corinthians 14:14 states that when a person prays in tongues, he does not know what he is saying, since it is spoken in a language he does not know. Further, no one else can understand what is being said, unless there is an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). In Ephesians 6:18, Paul instructs us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” How are we to pray with all kinds of prayers and requests and pray for the saints, if no one, including the person praying, understands what is being said? Therefore, praying in the Spirit should be understood as praying in the power of the Spirit, by the leading of the Spirit, and according to His will, not as praying in tongues.

Also read Correctly Interpret and Understand The Bible | Speaking In Tongues

Why Pray?

The reason is to be lead to the best solution that gives God the most glory.  It is NOT for the best means to gain the most wealth.  That is what Satan offers.  God's Will and Glory is the ultimate result, thus we should pray for the best solution that brings us to that ultimate result.  This is seeking a eternal, spiritual, supernatural solution; not a worldly carnal and materialistic one (also read More Valuable than Money).  

When we have a major decision we should seek the counsel of God (Luke 6:12-13).  To overcome spiritual obstacles and forces (Matthew 17:14-21).  To petition for more people to willingly serve and support servers (Luke 10:2).  To overcome temptation (Matthew 26:41).  To petition God to provide ways to support and encourage others spiritual growth as well (Ephesians 6:18-19). Even when you fail to ask for what you should have, or ask for what you should not, The Holy Spirit intercedes for you (Romans 8:26-27). And when we are in line with his will, our prayers are always heard and answered! (1 John 5:14-15).  He understands us and what we are feeling when we pray (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Also read The Self and The Center of Everything | God's Glory Alone

Who do we pray to? The Father, Son, or Holy Spirit?

We pray to the one triune God.  Because when we pray to one, we are still praying to all three because they are all the same single God (Psalm 5:2Acts 7:59Ephesians 5:20).

We also DO NOT pray to other gods, dead family members, or any people.  They are dead and they do not grant prayers; only God does (Isaiah 42:8).

Also read The Triune God of Christianity 

Why Does God Not Answer Prayers sometimes?

God is supreme in knowledge and goodness.  That means when we fail to ask for what is ultimately best for us or if we sinfully pray for things that we should not; his non answer is an answer (Romans 8:26-27).  He wants us to consider what we are praying for and trust him.  He wants us to be persistent and patient yet diligent in our prayers (Matthew 7:7; Luke 18:1-8).  When we are in tune with God, prayer can be powerful because it is God's Will (James 5:16-18).

What if we do not know God's Will?

"For situations in which we do not know God's will specifically, prayer is a means of discerning His will. If the Syrian woman with the demon-influenced daughter had not prayed to Christ, her daughter would not have been made whole (Mark 7:26-30). If the blind man outside Jericho had not called out to Christ, he would have remained blind (Luke 18:35-43). God has said that we often go without because we do not ask (James 4:2). In one sense, prayer is like sharing the gospel with people. We do not know who will respond to the message of the gospel until we share it. In the same way, we will never see the results of answered prayer unless we pray." [2]

The Sinner's Prayer

There is NO prayer that anyone can recite that will bring them into salvation.  Prayer may be used to come to faith but we are saved by FAITH and not by how hard we prayer or what special words we utter (works).  There are ZERO instances in the Bible where people were saved by repeating a 'sinners prayer'.  Hearing, receiving, accepting, and fully and genuinely trusting in The Gospel message leads to salvation.  Pray that you hear and understand the gospel!

Also read Supernatural Positive Thinking

What about The Lord's Prayer?

This is an example prayer the Lord spoke to his disciples to give examples of what we SHOULD be praying for (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4).  It is not meant to be roboticly recited and speaking it will not conjure some magical power no matter how many times no matter how many ways it is spoken.  God does not hear you because of your prayer style, word choice, or intensity; he hears you because of your heart (Matthew 6:6-7Philippians 4:6-7). breaks it down very well:  
  1. “Our Father in heaven” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to—the Father. 
  2. “Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God, and to praise Him for who He is. 
  3. The phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in our lives and the world, not our own plan. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not for our desires. 
  4. We are encouraged to ask God for the things we need in “give us today our daily bread.” 
  5. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us. 
  6. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil."[1]
Sit Back and just Listen

Have you ever sat back and listened to how people pray?  Some say "father God" or "Lord Jesus" in every sentience at the beginning and end.  Is that how we speak to people genuinely?  This is what it looks like:
"Father God we come to you now father God to pray for Bob father God and to ask for your healing father God..." 
And others will recite scripture back to God as if he does not know his own word.  They will say things like "You love us father God. in John 3:16 you say [quote scripture] father God". All of these are extremely unnecessary if we are genuinely speaking to God wholeheartedly.

Do We Hear God's Actual Voice?

Some people will claim they heard his voice.  In scripture we see some prophets hearing his voice when they pray.  But there is something very different about them and us.  They did not have Scripture to know God's Words; we do.   It is SCRIPTURE that is "God breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16–17) and he will never lead us in a way that contradicts SCRIPTURE (Titus 1:2).  Therefore SCRIPTURE is his voice to us.

This is NOT to say God will NEVER literally speak to anyone.  God reserves the right to do as he sees fit for his Will to be done.  But it is to say that SCRIPTURE is complete and contains all that is necessary for knowing God and salvation; thus new age prophets are rendered useless when scripture contains it all.

Also read Your Feelings Do Not Determine Truth | Scripture Alone | Do You Want To Hear God Speak?

Why Pray if God already knows?

On the surface this seems like a valid question rendering prayer pointless.  But we see that Prayer is serving God, worshiping God, being obedient to God; thus Prayer matures us and grows us spiritually!   It helps conform us to God's Will and not our own.  It helps us see the world through God's eyes and understand ourselves better.  The bonus is seeing God work in answered prayers.  

Also read All Christians Are Missionaries | How Old Are You, Spiritually? | Personal Bible Study: Getting Started



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