THE CHRISTIAN ENJOYS a unique advantage of having access to the presence of God through prayer, at any time and in any place. All can pray, but not all have access to God’s presence. Many things have been spoken and written about prayer, but one outstanding fact is clear, prayer is the vital breath of our Christian life. How vital is it? It is just as needful for spiritual existence as the air we breathe is necessary for the life of our body.


Prayer is not only an important subject but also an important aspect of our spiritual life, because without it there can be no spiritual existence. Prayer is universally practiced, and Christians are not the only ones who pray. The Jew prays; heathens, saints, and sinners also pray; but not all have fellowship with the Heavenly Father.

Communication is the buzzword of this generation. Technology continues to increase tremendously! As a result, the world is smaller, closer, and truly global. The first art of communication was probably the ‘smoke signal’ method. Then came the art of writing on clay tablets, followed by books, newspapers, telephones, radios, television programs, fax, e-mail, pagers, and the Internet. Never have there been so many effective ways to communicate.

Adam and Eve had special communication in the garden with the Lord God. They heard his voice! Faithful men during Old Testament times had communication with God through various means, including methods such as having dreams or visions, and talking with angels. The consecrated Christian today has the privilege of communicating with the Heavenly Father through prayer, just as our Lord Jesus had. He enjoyed the prayer relationship he had with his Father. James wrote, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) Some take a severe position on who may pray; but we think it must please the Heavenly Father to see and hear his Creation give thanks for their many blessings of life and the recognition of God as the giver of all good things.


The psalmist states, “O thou that hearest prayer.” (Ps. 65:2) God may not always answer, but he does hear. David states, “Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, … Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.” (I Chron. 16:8,11) Jesus said, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” (Luke 18:1) Jesus wanted the prayers of his followers to be effectual, meaningful, a means of strength. He wanted his followers to enjoy the same relationship which he enjoyed with his Father.

The burden of his heart is manifest in his prayer on our behalf. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) Remember the setting—Verse one: “Jesus, … lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, The hour is come,” but the entire prayer is concerned about the apostles and the church and not about himself!


To many, prayer is, however, a way of extreme supplication and to others vain repetitions. It is to many a necessity when sickness and difficulties are prevalent. Some expect miracles.

Are we skeptical or appreciative of the many miracles of God’s overruling providence in our Christian lives? Whether directly or indirectly, knowingly or in ignorance, the reality is that often the underlying objective and motive for prayer is selfishness. Selfish prayers are not answered.

What is prayer? What does the Bible teach concerning it? If it is composed of empty words, void of sincerity, and spoken as an obligation, it is meaningless. Prayer is not a formalized outline of words, or a selfish demand for material advantage. It has been said, “Prayer is the heart’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.” There is much truth in this definition. God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) He knows the thoughts of our hearts before we speak them.

“Do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:1, American Standard Version) As the Master concluded a lesson of proper and improper love, he continued to explain proper and improper prayers. (Matt. 6:1-8) The consecrated Christian’s prayer is the privilege of having access to the presence of God, and having fellowship and communion with him.

This is a privilege that can be contrasted with the experiences of Cornelius, of whom it was said, that he was “a devout man,” who reverenced God and prayed always. “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” (Acts 10:2,4) Cornelius’ prayers were heard, but he did not have ‘fellowship’ with God. Prayer is a great honor and privilege! Cornelius was then brought into the family of God as the first Gentile convert, and begotten of the Holy Spirit.

In I Thessalonians 5:17, Paul writes, “Pray without ceasing.” Or, as the Living Bible says, “Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (vss. 17,18) This is an interesting translation using expressions such as ‘always,’ ‘no matter,’ ‘God’s will.’


Prayer has objectives. One is worship. This can be expressed in praise and meditation. Another objective is communication. This is expressed by thanksgiving and requests. The attitude of being thankful shows appreciation for the many things God does for us daily. Our praise shows our gratitude and appreciation for God. We “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: … worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (I Chron. 16:29) We do this by prayer.

When Jesus gave his model prayer (Matt. 6:9-13), he said something which was new to the disciples. He told them to open their prayer with these words: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” To call God ‘Our Father,’ and to hallow his name, was the privilege of sonship, and emphasized praise and worship. What a wonderful feeling we have of being able to unfold all that is in our hearts to someone who really cares, our Heavenly Father.

Many times we have experiences that we feel no one would understand, such as our problems, turmoil, regrets, and victories. But we do have someone to whom we can take these problems. Having this direct line to God is almost incomprehensible! What a heritage is ours! Our relationship of sonship is a close relationship. What a personal advantage we have! Our prayers are heard in an instant. Often our prayer opportunity is a great stress release experience. Sharing with someone else troublesome events is a stress release factor—especially when that someone else is our Heavenly Father.


Prayer is the “balm” of Gilead. (Jer. 46:11) Many of the world’s great people have been men and women of prayer. Above them all stands Jesus, who continually sought his Father’s presence in prayer. Jesus taught and practiced prayer, and this made an impression on his disciples, and they asked him to teach them how to pray.—Luke 11:1; John 14:16; 16:26

If Jesus, in his perfection, needed spiritual fellowship and communion with his Father, how much more we need this contact also. Prayer is a powerful force. It performs miracles!

The greatest miracles of prayer are found in the daily supply of ‘sustaining power’ of grace and help in our personal needs. These are the kinds of prayers which can keep one from falling.

Another example of the power of prayer is its ability to alter our lives for good. We read, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Cor. 3:18, Revised Standard Version) “Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (I Cor. 6:11) We need to pray for this Spirit as Jesus tells us in Luke 11:13, “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”


Prayer is the privilege which helps accomplish the transformation in our lives, but we must feel a need for this help in order to appreciate our fellowship and communion with God. Jesus had this need. How much more should we.

The trials and difficulties, the sorrows and temptations of life; often impel us to pray, but this should not be the only time to pray fervently. We demonstrate a better Christian development when we come before him with joy and thanksgiving, to give praise, and worship him. It is interesting that the word praise is used one hundred eighty times in the Book of Psalms alone.

The power of prayer works on our behalf in many ways. It makes us strong when we are weak, and bold when we are fearful. It gives words of wisdom in time of need, and strength to face and endure trials. It gives words when speechless, and directs where we should turn. It gives peace with God and trust in his providence, and enlightenment and understanding of his Word.

The privilege of having access to the Heavenly Father’s presence is ours for personal use, and is not restricted to a certain time or place. He is always ready to hear our praise and petitions.


An important question often asked is “How can our prayers be most effective?” At times, it seems our prayers are not considered or answered. Why is this? The Bible gives us some reasons. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3, RSV) “Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”—Matt. 6:31-34

A prayer that will never be answered is a selfish prayer. There is much merit in the saying, “If your prayer is faithless, it will also be fruitless.”

We must have faith in God; and our faith must embrace two stipulations of Hebrews 11:6—“Without faith it is impossible to please him [God],” and “he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” When we seek him, it should be to know him, obey him, and serve him. Paul suggests that at times “we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” (Rom. 8:26) The context, however, tells us that the new mind, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, is there to help; and God “searcheth the hearts” and knows our intentions. (vs. 27) “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (vs. 28) Also, Paul writes, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.”—Col. 4:2

Every trial of patience is an occasion to pray for the promised help. Every failure to gain victory is an occasion for prayer that we be not high-minded. Every service for the Truth becomes an occasion for prayer of thanks for the privilege of serving. Sometimes the only privilege of service will be to pray for others in service. The positive side of our prayers is highlighted by many scriptures—John 16:24, “Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” and Psalm 16:11, “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Also in Matthew 5:44, “Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” and Matthew 9:38, “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”


Watch and pray is an excellent combination. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matt. 26:41) The aspect of ‘watchfulness’ is to look for an answer to our prayer. It may come in various providential circumstances—at a testimony meeting, discourse, or a conversation.

These overrulings could be the Father’s way of communicating with us. Because prayer is a ‘one-way’ conversation, it becomes very important to watch for answers through our experiences. We are to pray for one another. Paul often speaks of our prayers and supplications on behalf of our brethren. How often we hear the request, “pray for me,” or “us.” Prayer is companionship with our Heavenly Father, and in that fellowship there are many features; such as adoration and worship, confession of misgivings, pleas for forgiveness, and petition for wisdom and his Spirit.

May we always remember, ‘The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.’ God, our Heavenly Father, will take time to listen if we take time to pray. As the Scriptures say, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”—Ps. 84:11

Dawn Bible Students Association
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