Teach Me To Pray

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In November of 1988, the Los Angeles Times reported, “A screaming woman, trapped in a car dangling from a freeway transition road in East Los Angeles was rescued Saturday morning. The 19-year-old woman apparently fell asleep behind the wheel about 12:15 A.M. The car, which plunged through a guardrail was left dangling by its left rear wheel. A half dozen passing motorists stopped, grabbed some ropes from one of their vehicles, tied the ropes to the back of the woman’s car, and hung on until the fire units arrived. A ladder was extended from below to help stabilize the car while firefighters tied the vehicle to tow trucks with cables and chains. ‘Every time we would move the car,’ said one of the rescuers, ‘she’d yell and scream. It took almost 2 1/2 hours for the passers-by, officers, tow truck drivers, and firefighters – about 25 people in all – to secure the car and pull the woman to safety. ‘It was kinda funny,’ L.A. County Fire Capt. Ross Marshall recalled later. ‘She kept saying, “I’ll do it myself.” There are times when self-sufficiency goes too far.

Many of us try to go through life without prayer. In fact our spiritual lives reflect our great need of prayer. In Atlanta, a woman seeking a divorce complained that her husband was careless about his appearance. She said: “He hasn’t showed up in two years.” When was the last time that she talked to God?

There are four (4) types of prayer.

Personal Prayer. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane in John 17. In the Gethsemane prayer, Jesus prays for Himself. “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. There is great pain for himself, in that prayer. There is nothing wrong with praying for our own personal needs. Luke writes: LUK 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” There is nothing selfish or unacceptable about praying for ourselves. If our Father in Heaven doesn’t want to do it or knows its not in our best interest, God won’t do it. That is why God sometimes says “NO” to our prayers. The board of deacons was being briefed on techniques for making church calls. One newly elected member was obviously timid about her responsibilities. The pastor hoped to encourage her by stressing the power of prayer. “You’ll find it helpful, before you make the call, to spend a few moments talking to God about it,” he said. When the deacons met later to report, the timid one waylaid the pastor and said enthusiastically, “Oh, thank you for what you said about prayer. I tried it when I went out on my call, and it works.” “I’m glad to hear that,” beamed the pastor. “Tell us what happened.” “Well, I prayed the people wouldn’t be home, and they weren’t.” God hears every prayer. It is personal by the very nature that it is between you and God. “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. “ …for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Intercessory Prayer. Beginning at the 6th verse of John 17, Jesus changes to intercessory prayer. He prays for the Disciples and then He prays for all believers. Intercessory prayer is prayer on behalf of someone else. In the Church we use intercessory prayer to pray for the needs of each other. The “Prayer List” invites us to know the needs and then we pray for their needs. The Holy Spirit gives intercessory prayer on our behalf. Intercessory prayer is the greatest gift of love that we can give to another person. It is sacrificial and selfless. Intercessory prayer is not to be a public spectacle but to be prayed from our closets. ROM 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. A park ranger at Yellowstone National Park tells the story of a ranger leading a group of hikers to a fire lookout. The ranger was so intent on telling the hikers about the flowers and animals that he considered the messages on his two-way radio distracting, so he switched it off. Nearing the tower, the ranger was met by a nearly breathless lookout, who asked why he hadn’t responded to the messages on his radio. A grizzly bear had been seen stalking the group, and the authorities were trying to warn them of the danger. How important it is that we never turn off God’s saving communication! Want to love someone that is unlovable? Want to forgive someone that is unforgivable? Pray for them, for their good!

Community Prayer. Community prayer takes place in the mist of the Church. MAT 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (NIV) Community prayer has great power. MAT 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (NIV) God pays special attention to the Church. MAT 18:19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. (NIV)

Travailing Prayer. Travailing prayer is a prayer lifted up in the middle of sorrow or pain. It is the prayer of the bereaved. It is the prayer of the terminally ill. It is the prayer of the persecuted. As Jesus was dying on the cross, He prayed, LUK 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” I believe that God has a very sensitive heart for this prayer.

Answering our prayers! It is remarkable to think that God has given us a partnership with him in directing the course of human events. It is extraordinary to realize that our prayer can change events and circumstances in the world around us. But what is just as remarkable is that when we pray, “we” change. More often than not, we become the answer to our own prayers as we open up ourselves to God in prayer.

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