Lesson Number Nine
Methods of Communicating
Communication is the means of exchanging messages between people and places. The closer the relationship between two parties, the greater the need for an effective communication system. This is specially so where one is fully dependent on the other. To have a continuous, living communication with the supplier of every need is of vital importance.
Ever since this world’s creation people have sought to make and improve communication systems. It is not so long ago that natives in African villages exchanged messages by drumbeats, and North American Indians sent out smoke signals. At the beginning of the nineteenth century one of the best systems known to man was the semaphore, transmitting messages from hilltop to hilltop. With the advent of electricity, the wireless telegraph was invented by Marconi, and soon messages were clicking to and fro between ships at sea and stations on shore. Technology improved and the telephone appeared on the scene, swiftly followed by the radio, television, satellites, fax, and computers. Today, we cannot only hear, but see people traveling in space.
Apart from these highly sophisticated communication systems there is a system that stretches through the measureless expanse of the universe and provides an instantaneous connection between us and God. Nothing we have invented can be compared with this infallible communication system, prayer.
What Is Prayer?
Prayer is said to be “the key in the hand of faith, which will unlock heaven’s storehouse.” Prayer has been referred to as “the breath of the soul,” “the secret of spiritual power.” As much as we need to breathe in order to sustain our physical life, so we need prayer to sustain our spiritual life. This vital link is understood by so very few, even among professed Christians. Millions today are living, but are spiritually dead.
“But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” 1 Timothy 5:6.
God is able to create spiritual as well as physical life and He is longing to restore this spiritual lifeline with feeble, wayward humans. He is more willing to supply our needs, than a human father is willing to feed his child, if we only ask.
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:11-13.
Prayer has also been defined as “the opening of the heart to God as to a friend.” Too many people have a wrong concept of God. Do not think He is too high, or too great, to be concerned with the personal interests of us who are living on our small planet in the vast immensity of the universe.
“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou are mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Psalm 8:3, 4.
Nothing is too great for God to bear, for He sustains worlds, He rules over the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to see.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31.
Some see God as a relentless judge waiting for an occasion to punish every sinner with great severity. This is untrue. Read how the Lord feels toward us: “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3.
Lord! Teach us to Pray
The disciples of Christ saw how their Master prayed, and how He was endowed with life-giving power from God. They desired to know how to pray as effectively as their Lord.
“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1.
We too should desire to know how to pray effectively. True prayer has to be learned, just as any other skill we wish to master. Knowing how to pray and what to pray for, will open to us the mighty power of God. We will be able to withstand the strongest temptations and to overcome the slightest sinful traits of our character.
We need to learn how to pray, just as importantly as what to pray. No one knows our needs better than God, who knows even better than we know ourselves.
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26.
Christ Himself gave a pattern, outlining how and what to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. Notice how the Lord’s prayer starts with the endearing title: “Our Father.” What a privilege to address the Creator of the universe as: “Our Father”! Our first thoughts should not be of our needs, but express appreciation from a heart filled with gratitude and adoration. We are to praise the holy name of God: “Hallowed be thy name.”
A warning is given to take care not to follow the heathen in their senseless prayers, for there are counterfeits even in prayer: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Matthew 6:7, 8.
A continuous repetition of set phrases is of no value, and such prayers remain unanswered. We should therefore not “say our prayers,” but rather pray from the heart.
In private prayer, our deepest thoughts are brought before God.
“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.” Matthew 6:6.
We should not try to form beautiful sentences, but speak to God from an honest heart. God looks upon the heart. He knows our innermost longings before we even come to Him.
“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.” Psalm 139:1-4.
We need not fear that God will not understand our human needs and weaknesses. Do not be tempted to think that because He is God and you are human, He has not passed through the same experiences you have to pass through. This is not so. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15, 16.
To pray more effectively, pray privately like Jesus did when He was on earth. Matthew 14:23. However there is no time when we cannot pray to God. We don’t have to move our lips when we pray. We can send up a silent petition from the heart while at work, traveling, or walking on the busy street.
Conditions for Answered Prayer
True prayer and faith are closely allied and cannot exist apart from each other.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.
2. Confession of Sin
It is sin that separates us from God, and if we try to hide any sin from Him, our prayer will be in vain. God knows all about us, and we can hide nothing from Him.
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalm 66:18.
“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. . . . He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:9, 13.
3. Thy Will Be Done
Our prayer may also remain unanswered if we pray selfishly, or for that which is not for our good.
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” James 4:3.
If we ask in accordance with God’s will, we have the assurance that He hears us.
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” 1 John 5:14.
4. We Must Feel Our Need
We also must feel our need. If we pray to God without a sense of our great need, our prayers are like those of the Pharisee in the temple who thanked God that he was so good. His prayer went no higher than the ceiling of the temple. Nearby was a publican who cried in his need: “Oh God, be merciful unto me, a sinner.” He was heard in heaven.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6.
God awaits our request. He wants to help us, but He waits on us to willingly open our hearts to Him.
5. We Must Pray in the Name of Jesus
“If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14.
To pray in the name of Jesus is more than just mentioning His name at the beginning and close of a prayer. It is to pray in the spirit and mind of Christ, believing His promises, relying on His pardoning grace, and living His life.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5.
The Power of Prayer
The dormant power that is at our disposal through fervent prayer is tremendous. We cannot even begin to comprehend how much heaven has in store for those who diligently seek God.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Ephesians 3:20.
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:15, 16.
Examples of the power of prayer are abundant in the Bible.
The weather was changed: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” James 5:17, 18.
The dead were raised: “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” Acts 9:40.
Lions’ mouths were closed: “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. . . . My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.” Daniel 6:10, 22.
The experiences of answered prayer are endless. Many books have been written, and many testimonies given concerning the wonderful miracles and experiences which have accompanied prayer.
For Whom Should We Pray?
First, we should pray for the people of God, and for those who work as the Lord’s messengers and pastors: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” Ephesians 6:18, 19.
We are admonished to pray for those who are beyond the borders of family and friends: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44.
When Should We Pray?
We may lift our hearts to God in prayer at any time and in any place.
“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
This does not mean that we should constantly be on our knees in prayers, but at all times and under all circumstances we should have the door of our heart open to heaven. However, it is a good plan to set aside special times for prayer. “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” Psalm 55:17.
Allow nothing to rob you of these sacred moments; no day should pass without heartfelt prayer. Prayer is a power to keep us so close to our heavenly Father that in every unexpected trial our thoughts turn to Him as naturally as the flower turns to the sun.
“Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.” Psalm 145:2.
Quiz For Lesson Number Nine
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