Perhaps the most important and definable trait of the character of a Christian is prayer, for it is in this way that we speak to God, in fact, it is so important to Him that we are told to pray without ceasing. (1st Thess. 5:17) Our very thoughts on a continual level are to revolve around a form of constant communication with our Lord, never ceasing, no breaks from His holy presence, continual fellowship.
There are of course special occasions for certain prayers, when we are ill, when we need guidance in a way that is not familiar to us, when circumstances arrive into our lives that are not of the normal routine, times when we need His assistant beyond what we might consider the daily walk with Him. We are encouraged to pray, even commanded, but there are times when we need, as it were, special assistance. Think on the prayers of Daniel, if he would not have received assistance in the knowledge of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, (Dan. 2) many people were destined to die, including himself, even our Lord in the garden prayed that perhaps there was another way, yet gave Himself over to the will of God. Special circumstances require special prayers.
For those who read and study the Word of God daily, one thing in this area stands out, those that have been set in the Scriptures as a positive example for us, those that sought the face of God and the mind of Christ, did it thru prayer. The instances of prayer in the Bible are astounding, from adoration and praise, to needs desired and filled, from thanksgiving to answers that were nowhere near what the individuals were expecting, prayer is our direct access to the throne room of God. We pray to God, thru Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, there is no need for a mediator from the world of men, Jesus Christ is our mediator. Those who offer prayers in any other way, whether it be to a relative that has gone on to be with the Lord, or to one who has been declared a saint by a religious organization, are in error, no ones prayers reach the Father except thru Jesus Christ our Lord.
Although we are to keep every thought captive for Christ, (2nd Cor. 10:15) and to think on these things, (Phil. 4:8) this is not prayer, these are the actions that we are to perform of our own free will in obedient service to the Lord, to be in submission to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, teaching us how to transform and renew our minds. (Rom. 12:2) The very way that we direct our thoughts when we pray, in its simplest way, is the glorifying of God, acknowledging that He alone is worthy of all praise and glory. It is sad to say, but I do not think that all prayers start in this fashion today, but instead begin with give me, heal me, take this away from me, far too many today believe that God is here to serve them, not the other way around, if we do this, that and the other thing, then God is obligated to answer our prayers in the way that we believe He should, no matter how frivolous and self-centered they are.
It is of no wonder that the faith of so many is faltering these days, they do not even realizing that they are asking amiss, (James 4:3) and as our Lord continues to say no to these self-centered request, their prayer life continues to diminish, and as time goes on, their prayers become as the waves of the sea, (James 1:6) they begin to doubt whether He will ever again answer any prayer request that they have. They refuse to search the Scriptures diligently as to the reason, they do no research at all in His Word, and so as time goes on what faith that they had begins to weaken, and their demeanor becomes one of a petulant child who did not get what they wished for. These have forgotten that it is the Lord we are to serve, not the other way around.
Far too many have missed in what is incorrectly called the Lords prayer, for the Lords prayer is in chapter 17 of the Book of John, the very first thing that we are to do when we enter into prayer, and that is to reverence God, (Matt 6:9) the prayer that the Lord taught those present that day was meant to be an example, not a repetitive set of statements that were to be treated like some sort of religious incantation. Our Lord is not well pleased just because we repeat a certain section of Scripture over and over again, thinking that by doing so we will receive that which we have requested, in fact, when prayers are repetitive in nature, a rote routine that is accomplished because we think it will get His attention, I do not believe that He is even listening.
Take an honest look at your own prayer life, does it revolve around praise and the glorifying of his Name, is it intercessory, on the behalf of others, are they full of thanksgiving and love for Him, is its main tenant “Thy will be done.” Do you feel at peace when you have offered up your prayers to our Lord, or is there an anxiousness within your heart, a dread of doubt, wondering if your request will be granted, much less heard by Him. What if all that you ever asked for in your prayer life was that He would see fit to make you more like His Son, nothing else, just that one request, what if you never again asked Him for food, for money, for health, nothing but one prayer, make me like your Son.
Our Lord knows the beginning from the end my friends, and it is an incredible blessing and honor to be invited into His presence with our praise and requests, so do not try to barge in there, come humbly on your face, come boldly, but with great humility, for you are in these moments in the presence of the Sovereign creator of all reality. Give Him thanksgiving and praise for allowing you to be there, a place that none of us has a right to enter, yet one that He bids his children to come to often. Always remember in your prayers that you are in the presence of Almighty God, even if it is just the quick thanks that you give Him before every meal, He answers to nor respects any man, but He loves His children dearly, for in them He sees the image of His Son.
We are not only encouraged to pray, but we are commanded to, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near;” (Isa. 55:6) I remember seeing a drawing in a Christian tract some time ago of a person in hell, hands together, head bowed, on their knees with the words written above their head, “Lord, I am willing to believe and accept you now.” Right beside him stood a caricature of a demon saying, “It’s way too late for that.” I am quite sure that this is happening every moment in hell, but it is so sad that everyone there knew before they arrived in that place that this was what they were supposed to be doing here. Were you aware that if your heart is not right with the Lord, that God will not hear your prayers, that they are hindered from reaching Him, as it were. (1st Peter 3:7) You cannot hide sin, or anything for that matter, from the Lord, for He knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. (Heb. 4:12)
We bow our heads in reverence when we pray, we fold our hands so they are not fidgeting, we close our eyes so that we are not distracted, granted not all the time, this would be an extremely bad posture to be in when attempting to drive down the road, but it brings up a good point as it relates to the character of the Christian in his prayer life. How do you offer thanksgiving when you are in a public place, say a restaurant for instance? Do you hold the hands of your wife and children, bow your head in respect, or do you just wipe a hand across your forehead, if even that, do you ask for His protection and guidance before you embark on a trip somewhere, do you thank Him for warm sunny days, but not the severe thunderstorm? The ways to pray and give thanks are endless, there is no certain posture that the body is to be in, but there is for the mind.
When we are preparing to come into His presence, we must concentrate on who God is, not what He can do for us, or even what we are deciding to ask of him, simply that He is. Our mind should have nothing of the world in it, no cares, no worries, simply the knowledge that we are about to ask for entrance into the very throne room of God Almighty. And our posture should be one of humbleness and gratitude. He is never to busy for us, we are always welcome, He loves to speak with us and He is always welcoming of His children, but His children must always understand one thing, He is Lord of all, and we are seeking for His will in our lives, not just some materialistic want. He is well aware of our needs, and our wants, and He wants us to ask of Him whatsoever we will, but we must understand His will for us. We come before Him in humbleness, praise and thanksgiving, thanking Him for what He has done for us, and all that He has in store for us, even when we do not know what it is.
The highest form of honor that we can give to the Lord is the praise of His Holy Name, that should be the opening statement for every believer in our prayers to Him, it is the main character of the Christian, for we were made to glorify Him, and so our first words to Him each time should be those that lift up His Name above the heavens. The character of a man of God in his prayer life should be one of humble servitude, knowing full well that he has no right to be in the presence of his Lord, and yet he has been bid to come, and so he does, with thanksgiving and praise on his lips every time.