Prayer

sunset-585334_640Daniel 9:3: Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.

Where did he turn? He probably turned towards Jerusalem (Daniel 6). But now that Jesus has said that neither in Jerusalem nor on a mountain would people worship God, but those who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth, where will you have to turn to pray (John 4:24)? No longer specified. Now is much more about an inner disposition, not a physical position.

This is the way Peter puts it: be the sober-minded for the purpose of prayer, i.e. be serious in your inner disposition to prayer (1Peter 4:7).

You cannot be a person who lives on perpetual excitement (1Timothy 5:6), who feeds on social interaction and be able to spend time in prayer. If you regard the seen as more important than the unseen (Hebrews 11:3), then you are going to be a shallow person and so will not see prayer as that important.

Esau was different from Jacob in their inner disposition as shown in their actions (Hebrews 12:16-17). Because Esau was tied to his immediate need, to meeting his hunger needs and had lesser inner hunger for meaning in life than Jacob, he sold his birth-right, neglected his spiritual essence as the natural carrier of the blessing of God on the Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 25:29-34).

He traded his birthright for a plate of food. He exchanged the limited for the unlimited. It was a bad bargain. It is the same bargain we are making if for whatever reason we are not fully embracing the need to pray. Jesus said that men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1). That is about priority.

Not only do you have to sacrifice time to pray but we need to sacrifice something of our natural relationships. In the book of Corinthians Paul said that sometimes when a husband and a wife wanted to separate themselves for the purpose of prayer and fasting, they need the other to allow it (1Corinthians 7:5). The couple, separately or jointly, can spend time and be apart from human association to seek God. That shows that the primary relationship is the relationship with God.

Jesus did not allow success in ministry to take him away from the presence of God, he did not allow the demand for his attention by many men to distract him from seeking God. He gave God more attention than others.

In the book of Mark we read that long before day, Jesus went to a solitary place and prayed. When Peter found him he said that the people were looking for him to minister to them. But Jesus told him that it is not the will of God that he stays in that one place but it is to reach out to other places also (Mark 1:33-39). He said this because in the time of prayer Jesus connected with the will of God as he should.

Paul said he does not want to fight as one beating the air, in a spiritual sense (1Corinthians 9:26). But that will happen when we do get our spiritual senses sharpened in the place of prayer. While talking about our wrestling with principalities and powers, Paul said we need to put on the whole armour of God, praying with all prayers in the spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18).

In prayer we get to be active in our spirit, we spend time to touch eternity, we leave humanity to touch divinity. That takes time; that takes effort; that takes commitment. Just as Jesus was blind to the demands of others on his time because he is committed to time with God, so should we.

Seeking God in the focus verse was by the means of prayer. When we read the bible we seek to know him but to seek God, seek his intervention, is by prayer.

Prayer is approaching God, it is a direct conversation with God. As mentioned earlier, it is a mental disposition, with a psalmist saying: I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from where comes my help, my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Psalm 121). Prayer requires a dependence disposition.

In the prayer life of Daniel, he separated himself three times a day, amidst the intensity of the job demands. Therefore, though in a foreign land, by his practices of prayer he affirms his identity as being of the people of God.

Similarly, prayer is also about the identity of the church. Jesus confirmed this by quoting a verse of the bible where God says: my house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations (Matthew 21:13). The church is the true house of God (Ephesians 2:22).

Daniel was so identified with prayer that when his enemies wanted to trap him, it was based on his distinction as a committed praying person. If prayer does not define you then you have not really started as a Christian. Your Christianity is not yet defined. For example, the first thing you do to become a Christian is to say something to God. We confess with our mouth the lordship of Jesus, believing in our heart that God raise him from the dead and are saved (Romans 10:9-10).

From that first prayer at the beginning of our Christian walk, we can learn what prayer entails.

Recognition

Prayer is a recognition of the Lordship of Jesus as we use his name in prayer, depending on that name as the basis of receiving anything from God. The name is invested with his perfection, his holiness and the guarantee of his relationship with the father to delivers things to us.

Faith

The bible says that he who comes to God must know that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Prayer is about recognising where your help comes from. Prayer is what you say based on what you believe. There can be no ritual in real prayer (Matthew 6:5-8). It is not just say what I say to mark time, to impress anyone. It is focused on God. When we pray the prayer to be saved, we expect to be saved; that means prayer is an act of faith. James says that we should ask in faith because the one who wavers is like the wave on the sea, and such a person should not think he will get anything from God (James 1:5-8).

Results

Prayer is about getting something from God. And we do not just get something, we get him; we connect with heaven. Jesus said we can pray to God: let our kingdom come, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-13).

Cooperation

If prayer is not about the will of God as revealed in his word then it is not prayer. If it is not about cooperation with God for his will for be done in us, and around us then it is not true prayer. It is not about trying to arm-twist God, it is cooperation with God. It is bringing God in connection with a situation on the earth, to bring his power to bare on it. Prayer is to get done what we cannot do by ourselves. We should therefore approach prayer with the attitude of cooperation with God.

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