20 Principles of Prayer

 

 

 

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I suppose there are hundreds of principles of petitionary prayer.  I have brought as many of them together as I could find from my study, and have condensed them into twenty principles. In future blog posts I will present each of them separately, but for this post I want to show you all of them together in this acrostic.  Notice that in each of the  headings the first letter spells out the words APPROACHING HIS THRONE.  This acrostic is the whole idea of petition—that we approach His throne to try to get Him to hear us so that He will give us what we desire (Heb. 4:16).

 

 

TWENTY PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER

 

A ttentiveness to God.  If we want God to answer our prayers we must be attentive  to Him.

P riorities of Prayer.  God’s will should always take first place in prayer over our own needs.

P ower in Prayer. Every believer can have incredible power in prayer if he abides in Christ.

R esponsibility to Intercede. Every believer has a grave responsibility to intercede for others.

O nly to God. When we pray we should take the focus off of ourselves and pray to Him alone.

A nswers to Prayer. God wants us to know that we can pray to Him and receive answers.

C onfidence in Prayer. True prayer is always in faith, that is, with confidence in God.

H ear us. All true prayer is an attempt to get God to hear us.  It is the very nature of prayer.

I mportunity. True prayer is made with importunity—with a bold, intense persistence.

N ecessity of the Word. The Word teaches us to pray and gives us power to pray.

G od. The focus of prayer must always be God.

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H is Desires and Burdens. His desires and burdens must be the central force of our prayers.

I n His Name. Jesus empowers our prayers when we pray in His name.

S pecific Prayer. Faith filled, effective prayer is always specific.

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T ransparency in Prayer. True prayer is pray that is open, honest, genuine, and true.

H indrances to Prayer. Many things may hinder prayer, all of which have a root in pride.

R esisting. When we pray we are always standing against and fighting against the enemy.

O bey Him. True prayer is prayer that obeys God.

N eed for Unity. God established that believers would pray together in unity.

E arnestness. When we have urgent needs God wants us to pray with earnestness.

 

 

 

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Following in His Steps: Part 1 — Finding the Power

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I previously wrote a short review of the book, In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon.  I told how the book has deeply affected me and how I now feel led to do this bible study on the subject of following in His steps.  I began this study by looking at nine different scripture passages: three that have to do with our unity in Christ; four that have to do with how Christ lived His life, showing us how we should live; then two passages in Philippians, which give us excellent teaching from Paul on what our attitude should be, which is the attitude of Christ.  This gives us a great three point study.  This post is the first point, having to do with our being in Christ.  We must begin here because it is where we get the power to imitate Him.

 

Our Unity in Christ: Finding the Power to Follow in His Steps

We will begin by looking at 2 Corinthians 5:17.

 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

 In order to be able to do as Jesus would do we first need to be made new—to become a Christian.  Then, as Christ comes and lives in us, He will give us a new life with new desires.  Our old life, with our old desires, will pass away, and we will receive a new life with new desires.  Thus I see in this verse that in order to do as Christ would do we first have to desire to do it, for without desire to do a thing our effort will soon grow cold.  But with a godly desire, God will move us to pray and to follow hard after Him.  Another good verse is Galatians 2:20.

 Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

In this verse we see clearly that as a new believer we live the Christian life by the power of Christ who lives in us.  We generate this power by faith in Him who loves us and gave His life for us.  We can’t possibly live the life God desires us to live in our natural bodies; but through Him, as we trust in Him, we can live that new life.  Let’s look at one more passage.

Romans 8:3-5

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

 This passage is deep with meaning, but the point I want to make from this passage is that we cannot follow Jesus and do as He would do in our flesh; but we can do it in the Spirit who dwells in us (if we are a Christian).  However, as a Christian we still need to set our mind on the Spirit and be constantly asking Him to fill us and empower us.  A Spirit-filled Christian has all the power of God supplied to Him to walk as Christ would walk.

 The next post on this subject will be, Following in His Steps: Part 2 — Looking at Jesus’ Example.

 

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I Recommend the Book, In His Steps

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I highly recommend to you the book, In His Steps, by Charles M. Sheldon.  According to the forward (written in 1935), the book (written in 1896) has had more circulation than any other book except the bible.

Why do I like the book?  Because it has affected me deeply, and I find now, after reading it for the third time (and I will read it again) that I need to investigate by a personal bible study what it means to me to follow in His steps.  In fact, I have already begun my study and will present it in a future blog post.

I don’t want to tell you too much about the book—I don’t want to ruin it for you in case you decide to read it.  But overall, it is the dramatic story about a group of people in a church who pledged themselves earnestly for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking themselves the question, “what would Jesus do?”

Well, as it happened in the story, most of the people did in fact carry out their pledge, and wonderful things resulted!  And then the second half of the book tells of how news of what happened in this particular city spread to other cities and how they committed themselves to walk in His steps too.

If you decide to read this book it will bring a huge challenge to your daily walk—to live as Jesus lived.  Though the story in this book is fictional, I do believe that it could come true if we do as they did.

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Ezra Prayed for God’s Protection and Guidance — Ezra 8:21, 23

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Ezra 8:21, 23

Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions…23 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

 

The time of this prayer took place at the beginning of the second return of the Jews from Babylon, led by Ezra.  Zerubbabel led the first return in 586 B. C. as ordered by King Cyrus of Persia.  This group of 50,000 built dwellings for themselves, and they also built the altar of God and began offering sacrifices.  They also built the foundation of the temple; then after a sixteen year delay (being under great duress from the surrounding peoples), under the leadership of Haggai and Zechariah, they built and completed the temple (Ezra 1-6).

Between the time of the completion of the temple (516 B.C.) and the time of the second return (458 B.C.) we have a 59-year gap (between chap. 6 and chap. 7 of Ezra).  During this period, the events of the book of Esther took place, in which the Jews were spared total annihilation through miraculous events wrought by prayer and fasting with much courage (Esther 4:3, 5:1).

Soon after these events, Artaxerxes and his seven counselors sent Ezra (a priest and a scribe who lived in Babylon) to Jerusalem.  He was to take with him bulls, rams, lambs, money, and whatever he needed to do the Lord’s work, along with volunteers; for he was ordered by the king to set magistrates and judges over the people to teach them the law of God and of the king, and to enforce punishment on all who didn’t obey the laws (Ezra 7:26).

So Ezra gathered leading men of Israel to go with Him, along with their wives and children (about 8,000), and they set out on the long journey.

But before they had gotten far they stopped by the river of Ahova and camped for three days.  There Ezra proclaimed a fast in order to humble themselves before God and to pray for their protection and leading on the way.

Ezra could have asked for an escort by the king (Ezra 8:22); but since he had previously bragged to the king about how the hand of their God is upon all those for good who seek Him, I suppose he felt compelled just to pray and trust God for protection—lest the king would see in him a lack of faith and likewise bring to God a bad reputation.

Therefore, they prayed and trusted in God for protection; and the hand of the Lord was upon them, and He delivered them from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road (Ezra 8:31).

 

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Three Purposes for the Prayer of Petition

 

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Petition I think is the main part of prayer, and it makes all the other parts of prayer work.  For example, we can confess our sins, but sins won’t be forgiven without asking God to do it.  Also, we can praise and thank God, but without the promise of petition, praise and thanks would not be genuine and real; for praise and thanksgiving has its basis in the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, of which we cannot obtain except through petition.  That is, we received the Holy Spirit and the filling of Him each day through our asking; and it is this very Spirit that brings us to praise and causes us to be thankful.  Therefore, by petition confession is answered, praise is joyous, and thanksgiving is genuine and heartfelt.

The petition part of prayer has at least the following three purposes:

 1. That we may receive the things we need. A higher and overall purpose for prayer is that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). But a big part of His will is that our daily needs be met.  The last three requests of The Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:11-13) outline for us what these are: (1) Our daily, physical provisions; (2) daily forgiveness; and (3) daily guidance and protection.  All the things that we will ever need in our life I think are outlined in these three points, and it is God’s purpose for prayer that we receive them.  It is the way God has planned it, the way that He has designed prayer.

2. To show our dependence on Him. Another purpose of petition I think is to express our dependence on God, that we cannot survive without Him, that we are totally dependent on Him for daily provisions, daily pardon, and daily protection.

3. To bring glory to the Father. Jesus said to His disciples just before He ascended to His Father, “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (Jn. 14:13). Jesus speaks these words to us too. And they give to us the greatest purpose for prayer.  Just think, by our petitions we can have the great and wonderful experience of bringing our Father glory.  Yes, when we pray for anything in His name and receive it, He will be glorified in the Son.

 

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Prayer and Fasting Gave Daniel Understanding

 

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In the tenth chapter of Daniel, we read that Daniel lacked understanding of what would happen to Israel in the last days (Dan. 10:14), and so he began fasting.  In his fast he did not eat any tasty food, eat meat, drink wine, or use any ointment; but he mourned in prayer for three weeks.

 

daniel prayerDaniel 10:2

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.

 

Then finally, at the end of three weeks, an angel came to him with the answer to his prayer.  But first he explained his delay: “Your prayers were heard on the very first day, and I immediately left to give you the answer.  But an evil angel, the prince of the kingdom of Persia interrupted me and fought with me for three weeks.  Then finally, at the end of the three weeks, the angel Michael came to help me” (v. 12, my own paraphrase).

So, as it happened, after three weeks of prayer and fasting, God gave Daniel an understanding of what would happen to Israel in the last days (v. 14).  But I don’t think he would have received that understanding had he not so earnestly desired it and sought it out in prayer.

You too can receiver more understanding through prayer if you really desire it.  The Bible tells us clearly that if we pray for wisdom and understanding God will give it to us (Prov. 2:6, Ja. 1:5).   But we must keep praying and wait patiently for it; for the devil doesn’t want us to have God’s understanding; and he may send his demons to delay your prayers just as he did with Daniel.

 

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Three Purposes for the Prayer of Thanksgiving

 

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There are at least three purposes for the prayer of thanksgiving:

 

 1.  To give honor to God. This is the primary purpose of thanksgiving—to acknowledge that God is God and that He has supplied us with all we have. Psalms 100:3-4 says it well:

 

Know that the Lord, He is God;

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,

And into His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

 

Look also at Romans 1:20-23 to see the consequences of refusing to honor God and of not thanking Him.

 

2.  To show our dependence on God. When we are grateful and thankful to God we show to Him and to the world that we are dependent on Him and that we desire to stay in that humble place of dependence, love, and trust.

 

3.  To aid us in prayer. Thankfulness helps us in every other part of prayer. It helps in confession because when we express our thankfulness to Him our mind becomes more focused on God and therefore we are more apt to desire His forgiveness and cleansing.

Thanksgiving aids our praise because when we thank Him He does a work in our heart so that our personal gratitude overflows into praise.  Likewise, the more we see how God is good to us and we are thankful to Him, the more we will see all the good qualities of God, and that He is not only good to us, but to all of His creatures; and so our thankfulness turns into praise.

Thanksgiving prayer is an inseparable part of petitionary prayer.  In fact, God will not hear petitions that are not made with thanksgiving.  This apparently is because without thankfulness our petitions tend to be with wrong motives.  But when we remember to pray with thanksgiving it softens our heart and gives us right motives and the right attitude—an attitude of gratitude.

 

Thanksgiving also works to contribute to the overall purpose of prayer: to establish His holiness, His kingdom, and His will.  When we are thankful in prayer we establish a position of dependence on Him and a loving relationship with Him as a son or daughter to a Father.  Accordingly, because our thankfulness keeps us in that dependent, family relationship with Him, with an attitude of loving gratitude we are always working and praying to establish His holiness, His kingdom, and His will.

 

 

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