Many people struggle with prayer because they feel God is far away and they are not sure if He is listening. Faith is required in prayer. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV) Faith is when you believe what God says and not what you feel. Pray by faith and later you will begin to sense the presence of God and learn to hear His voice, as you are changed. It is a great and awesome privilege to interact with the Creator of the universe in prayer.
What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! (Psalms 8:4-5 NASB) The word care above means to visit, to pay attention to, care for.
God created you for intimate fellowship with Him. Since the time of Adam, God desired relationship with those created in His image. God had face-to-face fellowship with Adam and Eve until one day. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 KJV) This is one of the saddest verses in the Bible. People still have a tendency to hide from God because of sin.
The word presence means face. Adam and Eve could not face God after sin entered their lives. Their conscience was no longer comfortable in the presence of God’s holiness. This is why God sent Jesus to Earth to shed His blood on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins so that we could be restored to our original purpose, intimate fellowship with God, our Father.
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19 NASB) Again, the word presence here means face. When you humble yourself, turn to face your Father God, and seek Him with all your heart; He is with you and you are with Him, face to face. Whenever you seek God with your whole heart, you have His attention. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. (Psalms 105:4 NASB)
God wants quality time with you alone. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:6 NKJV) Prayer is not one sided, it is talking to God and listening to Him. Waiting on God, is when your attention is focused on Him and you wait quietly in His presence. It is a time to enjoy being with Him; the way you would enjoy spending time with a best friend. When you love someone, you enjoy just being in their presence, even when you are not talking to each other. Prayer is an expression of heart-felt desires; exchanged between you and the Father.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV) In this verse, the word care means anything that causes you anxiety; it also means anything that causes a distraction. When I saw that, I immediately knew that a distraction is anything that is keeping you from experiencing the Kingdom of God; righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
What is distracting you from experiencing God’s righteousness, peace and Joy? You must bring those things to Him, in prayer. God is a loving Father. He wants you to give Him all your anxieties, fears and distractions and He will carry them for you and give you His righteousness, peace and joy in exchange.
The next verse tells why this is important. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV) Things in your life that cause fear and distractions can also be an open door for your enemy.
Talk to God about everything that is happening in your life. You may be thinking, why do I need to tell God everything in my heart since, He knows everything? It is for your benefit and the benefit of the relationship and so He can help you. You will find that as you present yourself to Him and spend time sharing your heart with Him you will begin to have new understanding as He also shares His perspective. There is a divine heart to heart exchange that happens in prayer. This will affect every area of your life that you share with God in prayer.
When you present yourself to God and turn your heart to face Him, your perspective is changed and you are changed. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NKJV)
Prayer is Divine Fellowship
It is good to have daily designated times for alone time with God in prayer. However, prayer is also practicing the presence of God and should be thought of as continuous open communication. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV) Prayer is a lifestyle of being God conscious and having constant access to the heart of your Father and in Heaven.
God desires to make you His home of fellowship. Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23 NKJV) You are a house of prayer. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER, (Matthew 21:13 NKJV). Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3 NKJV)
Below are some other Bible verses about Prayer
As for me, I will call upon God, And the LORD shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice. He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me, For there were many against me. (Psalms 55:16-18 NKJV)
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. (Colossians 4:2 NLT)
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. (1 Chronicles 16:10-11 NIV)
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, (Luke 18:1 NASB)
“Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 NASB)
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. (Psalms 25:9 NIV)
The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD, And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 29:19 NKJV)
For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15 NKJV)
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36 NKJV)
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. (Psalms 46:1 NKJV)
Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. (Psalms 105:4 NASB)
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
You may have heard the story about two Christians who were talking about their churches, and in the course of the conversation they compared notes about the greatest thing their respective congregations had accomplished that past year. One of the men volunteered, “Well, that’s easy. We doubled the size of our parking lot and put up new lights.” We Christians can often become so wrapped up in doing what we think is God’s work that we have little time left for God.
We can become distracted from our mission, and consider the physical activities of ministry (even though they are necessary) so important that we have little if any time for fellowship with God. When we are busily engaged in hectic activity on God’s behalf (at least at the time it seems that we are engaged in God’s business) we can forget what Jesus said in Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
The teachers and Pharisees lived under the specific and rigorous physical standards of the old covenant. Sometimes we read this and scoff at the nit-picking exactness of those people, but Jesus was not scoffing. He told them that they should have done what the covenant demanded of them.
Jesus’ point was that the physical details were not enough, not even for those who lived under the old covenant – he corrected them for ignoring the deeper spiritual issues. As Christians we should be busy with our Father’s business. We should be generous with our giving. But in all of our activity – even activity that is directly related to following Jesus Christ – we should not neglect the fundamental reasons why God has called us.
God has called us so we can come to know him (John 17:3). It is possible to be so busy with God’s work that we neglect to come to know him. Luke tells us that when Jesus visited the home of Martha and Mary that “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40). There was nothing wrong with what Martha was doing, but Mary chose to do the most important thing – to spend time with Jesus, to get to know him and to listen to him.
Fellowship with God
Fellowship is the most important thing God wants from us. He wants us to come to know him – to be with him – to spend time with him. Jesus set an example for us when he slowed the pace of his life to spend time with the Father. He knew the importance of quiet moments. He often went into the mountains to pray. The more mature we become in our relationship with God, the more important this quiet time with God becomes. We look forward to being alone with him. We realize we need to listen to him for comfort and direction in our lives.
Some time ago I was talking with a Christian about prayer-walking. The individual explained that this activity combined fellowship, prayer and exercise – and that this kind of prayer-walking had revolutionized his prayer life. When he talked about prayer-walking he did not mean parading his righteousness in front of others or making his views known to others by some kind of political demonstration. He was simply spending time with God by taking walks – either in his immediate neighborhood or in the beauty of natural outdoor surroundings – and praying as he walked.
When we make fellowship with God a priority, all of the urgent issues in our lives seem to fall into place. When we focus on God he helps us understand the priorities of everything else. Jesus told us to seek the kingdom first, and that all of the other things in life would be taken care of (Matthew 6:33). We can all become so busy with activities that we neglect 1) to spend time with God alone, in prayer, and 2) to meet with others in fellowship with God. If you are stressed out, burning the proverbial candle at both ends, and you don’t know how to accomplish all of the things you have to do in life, perhaps you should consider your spiritual diet.
Our spiritual diet
We may be stressed out and spiritually empty because we are not eating the right kind of bread. The kind of bread I’m talking about is absolutely necessary for our spiritual health and survival. This bread is miraculous bread – in fact, it is the real wonder-bread! It’s the same bread Jesus offered to the first-century Jews. Jesus had just miraculously provided food for the 5,000 (John 6:1-15). He had just walked on the water, and still the crowds asked him for a sign as a reason to believe in him. They explained that their forefathers, the ancient Israelites, received a sign from God, manna, and called it bread from heaven (John 6:31).
Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). After they asked Jesus to give them that bread, he declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
Who is putting spiritual bread on your table? Who is the Source of all your energy and vitality? Who gives meaning and significance to your life? Are you taking time to get to know the Bread of life?
Author: Joseph Tkach
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Prayer and Fasting – A Definition
Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Prayer and fasting often go hand in hand, but this is not always the case. You can pray without fasting, and fast without prayer. It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God’s glory that they reach their full effectiveness. Having a dedicated time of prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you desire. Rather, it is simply forcing yourself to focus and rely on God for the strength, provision, and wisdom you need.
Prayer and Fasting – What the Bible Says
The Old Testament law specifically required prayer and fasting for only one occasion, which was the Day of Atonement. This custom became known as “the day of fasting” (Jeremiah 36:6) or “the Fast” (Acts 27:9). Moses fasted during the 40 days and 40 nights he was on Mount Sinai receiving the law from God (Exodus 34:28). King Jehoshaphat called for a fast in all Israel when they were about to be attacked by the Moabites and Ammonites (2 Chronicles 20:3). In response to Jonah’s preaching, the men of Nineveh fasted and put on sackcloth (Jonah 3:5). Prayer and fasting was often done in times of distress or trouble. David fasted when he learned that Saul and Jonathan had been killed (2 Samuel 1:12). Nehemiah had a time of prayer and fasting upon learning that Jerusalem was still in ruins (Nehemiah 1:4). Darius, the king of Persia, fasted all night after he was forced to put Daniel in the den of lions (Daniel 6:18).
Prayer and fasting also occurs in the New Testament. Anna “worshipped night and day, fasting and praying” at the Temple (Luke 2:37). John the Baptist taught his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18). Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before His temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:2). The church of Antioch fasted (Acts 13:2) and sent Paul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:3). Paul and Barnabas spent time in prayer and fasting for the appointment of elders in the churches (Acts 14:23).
Prayer and Fasting – Required or Recommended?
The Word of God does not specifically command believers to spend time in prayer and fasting. At the same time, prayer and fasting is definitely something we should be doing. Far too often, though, the focus of prayer and fasting is on abstaining from food. Instead, the purpose of Christian fasting should be to take our eyes off the things of this world and focus our thoughts on God. Fasting should always be limited to a set time because not eating for extended periods can be damaging to the body. Fasting is not a method of punishing our bodies and it is not be used as a “dieting method” either. We are not to spend time in prayer and fasting in order to lose weight, but rather to gain a deeper fellowship with God.
By taking our eyes off the things of this world through prayer and biblical fasting, we can focus better on Christ. Matthew 6:16-18 declares, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Prayer and Fasting – What Does it Accomplish?
Spending time in prayer and fasting is not automatically effective in accomplishing the desires of those who fast. Fasting or no fasting, God only promises to answer our prayers when we ask according to His will. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” In the prophet Isaiah’s time, the people grumbled that they had fasted, yet God did not answer in the way they wanted (Isaiah 58:3-4). Isaiah responded by proclaiming that the external show of fasting and prayer, without the proper heart attitude, was futile (Isaiah 58:5-9).
How can you know if you are praying and fasting according to God’s will? Are you praying and fasting for things that honor and glorify God? Does the Bible clearly reveal that it is God’s will for you? If we are asking for something that is not honoring to God or not God’s will for our lives, God will not give what we ask for, whether we fast or not. How can we know God’s will? God promises to give us wisdom when we ask. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
Learn More about Prayer!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions
I have prayed that God would have complete freedom to take up His loving role as God over me, my wife, and all of my offspring. I want us to love Him so much that we willingly let Him rule us as God. I began praying this way after I noticed a chain of references from Genesis 17:7-8 to Revelation 21:3 expressing God’s desire to be God to His people. Through painful trials which I have not always understood, I have learned how much the answer costs God and us.
If God merely wanted power over us without love it would be easy. God always has absolute power and authority over both saints and sinners. He exalted Joseph to be prime minister of Egypt and used betrayal by his brothers to advance him toward that goal. He used Jesus’ enemies to accomplish His death for the sins of the world, and then raised Him from the dead. He will some day crush all opposition and make Jesus king over all the earth (Psalm 2). God has the power to do as He pleases (Psalm 115:3).
However, God’s love finds no pleasure in simply having power over all opposition so that His will is finally accomplished. He wants to be God over His people in a union of love.
Let me explain this by an illustration. When a determined parent tells his child to mow the lawn, the child has to do the chore. He can, however, choose the spirit in which he will do it. He can do it willingly to show his love for his parent or he can do it grudgingly. Any parent would be glad to see him do it willingly. No parent enjoys compelling a stubborn child to obey.
More importantly, parents cannot give their best to an unwilling child. You can force a child to mow the lawn but you cannot force him or her to be kind and loving to the rest of the family. To build good character requires his co-operation.
How many parents see their children in trouble, causing the parent’s heart to ache to help their children? They are hindered by the child’s unwilling heart. For example, suppose your grown son is struggling in his business. You have money that you could spare. He would accept that gladly. But you know that this is not the real solution. He needs to accept financial counseling and learn to discipline his spending. He strongly resists this kind of help. Yet he is angry with you because you do not let him have more money. He wants your help, but only on his terms. Many prayers are like that.
God has paid the cost of something eternally better that He wants to give you. God has given Himself and all He has to His children. He did this at the greatest possible sacrifice. He sacrificed His Son so He could forgive all our sins and win our love. Romans 8:32 reminds us that inasmuch as He delivered His own Son to such a death for us, “how will not also with graciously give us all things?”
The great barrier which holds God back from totally sharing Himself and all He has with us is our own self life. We may plead with the Almighty Father for help but we are oftentimes blind toward our real problem. The big battle in prayer is in removing the barrier of self and letting God take over as God in our life. This is usually very painful and oftentimes perplexing to us.
Another illustration may help here. A mother has to take her toddler to the doctor and hold him down while the doctor does a very painful procedure. How does she explain to the child that this hurt her and that she only did it because it was necessary? It was an act of love which was beyond the toddler’s ability to comprehend. God’s acts of love may likewise be beyond our ability to understand.
I heard Joni Eareckson Tada tell how God took over as God in her life. She said that her prayers as a teen were the kind of self-centered requests you might expect. “Lord, make that cute boy ask me for a date, Friday night.” However, even at 16 years of age she prayed one day, “Lord, I want you to have your place as God in my life, but I don’t know how to put you there.”
When she lost the use of her four limbs through her dive into shallow water, she remembered that prayer. Somehow she sensed that this loss provided an opportunity to put God in His place as God in her life.
Even so, she went through a battle before she could accept her condition and honor God in it. She said that she pouted, wanted to die, and struggled to find grace to give her best to God in her condition. The strong temptation to give up on life, lose interest and just drift in a sea of self-pity threatened to dominate her.
God seemed to whisper, “Don’t you think I knew what I was doing when I answered your prayer?”
Joni said she had to humble herself. Then the Lord lifted her up. Humbling herself meant accepting her paralyzed limbs as a part of God’s way of preparing her for glory. She must give God her best with her partially paralyzed body.
Her high quality art drawn with a brush held by her teeth, her singing, her books, her speaking and her cheerful face show what a great triumph God can bring out of great trials. She is one of those people who “owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties,” as Charles Spurgeon put it.
Your great difficulty will likely not be nearly as drastic as Joni’s. But whatever form your trials take they are opportunities for the display of God’s glory through your love, faith and prayers.
© 2017 Bible Prayer Fellowship, Oliver W. Price