What is prayer?
In general all humans have an inborn desire for justice. We want justice for ourselves and for other people. We can go to court and seek justice there but we quickly run out of possibilities, when injustice comes from sources in high authority like state or even federal government. How many have ever made it all the way to the Supreme Court of this nation and received justice from there? Few have the knowledge, the money and the patience to get there.
But here is the good news:
Every believer has direct access to the highest judge of the universe – our father God.
There is no waiting, no fees, no application forms, no lower courts to pass through and we are not even put on hold, when we call.
But this is only one aspect of prayer and it is called intercession.
Scriptural basis for prayer:
1Ti 2:1 FIRST OF all, then, I admonish and urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be offered on behalf of all men,
Paul teaches us here to pray for everyone. That means, that our prayer can be very general, especially if we lack detailed information. But nevertheless we are still encouraged to pray.
Col 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
This verse tells me to not give up praying on a matter. I prayed for five years that God would grant me to migrate from Germany to America before God fulfilled my prayer.
Mk 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mt 21:21 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. Mt 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Jesus teaches us, that there are no limits in size in what we can pray for. But we have to believe, that our prayer will be fulfilled. Jesus teaches us, that lack of faith is a reason for unfulfilled prayers. However this is not always the reason, there are others as we will read.
1Jn 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1Jn 5:15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Here is some more help on how to pray better. We have to pray in God’s will. For example if we would ask God to punish our neighbor, because he has harmed us, that would most likely not be in God’s will. God wants us to forgive our neighbor and overlook an offense.
Jas 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
I think this one is pretty obvious. James explains to us, that we can ask with wrong motives. We need to keep in mind, that God knows all of our thoughts and intensions. Nothing is hidden before HIM.
Jn 15:7 If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
John reminds us, that it is not enough to ask and pray, we ourselves are asked by God to obey and execute HIS commandments and decrees. Obeying God wholeheartedly helps us in return to pray better within God’s will and with the right motives.
2Co 10:13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you.
This verse teaches me, that if I pray within the calling or my area of life, which God has assigned to me, I have a much better chance in seeing my prayers fulfilled.
Ge 30:22 Then God remembered Rachel and answered her pleading and made it possible for her to have children.
This is another example for being persistent and not giving up in praying for a certain matter. So are the following verses.
1Th 5:17 Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];
EPH 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
Pr 28:9 He who turns away his ear from hearing the law [of God and man], even his prayer is an abomination, hateful and revolting [to God].
Ouch! That could hurt. But I am glad, that God does not sway and therefore does not hear the prayer of the wicked. Now, that does not mean, that when we sin, God does not hear our prayers. It is the man who on purpose disobeys God’s commandments and willfully sins, who God does not hear.