Prayer
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Prayer Document Transcript

  • 1. Prayer & Spirituality[Selected Prayers][ Prayer Home Page][Meditation][Yoga][ HYPERLINK " http://www.holistic-online.com/herb_home.htm" HolisticonLine Home Page] <br />  <br />The Proof That Prayer Works<br />There is ample proof that prayer works. Many scientific studies have been conducted that validate this observation.<br />A 1993 Israeli survey following 10,000 civil servants for 26 years found that Orthodox Jews were less likely to die of cardiovascular problems than " nonbelievers." And a 1995 study from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., monitoring 250 people after open-heart surgery concluded that those who had religious connections and social support were 12 times less likely to die than those who had none.<br />In an attempt to understand the depression that often accompanies hospitalization, Duke University researchers assessed 1,000 hospital patients from 1987 to 1989; patients who drew on religious practices, including prayer, were found to cope far better than those who didn't.<br />NIH recently convened a panel to determine the merits of integrating conventional medicine with behavioral and relaxation therapies to treat hypertension. The team found that the conflation of therapies, of which prayer was a key component, " can lower one's breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure." <br />The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque is studying the power of prayer to heal alcoholics. And there is a prayer-and-healing study in progress at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington, the nation's leading naturopathic-training institute. Certainly, following a spiritual or religious lifestyle might lead to better health; the devout may be less likely to succumb to the hazards of smoking, drinking, and sleeping around. However, for the non-believers, it is hard to understand how intercessory or non-local prayer works. This is thew situation when the sick persons are prayed for and don't even know it.<br />In the most widely publicized studies of the effect of intercessory prayer, cardiologist Randolph Byrd studied 393 patients admitted to the coronary-care unit at San Francisco General Hospital. Some were prayed for by home-prayer groups, others were not. All the men and women got medical care. In this randomized, double-blind study, neither the doctors and nurses nor the patients knew who would be the object of prayer.<br />The results were dramatic and surprised many scientists.The men and women whose medical care was supplemented with prayer needed fewer drugs and spent less time on ventilators. They also fared better overall than their counterparts who received medical care but nothing more. The prayed-for patients were: <br />Significantly less likely to require antibiotics (3 patients versus 16) <br />Significantly less likely to develop pulmonary edema-a condition in which the lungs fill with fluid because the heart cannot pump properly (6 versus 18). <br />Significantly less likely to require insertion of a tube into the throat to assist breathing (0 versus 12). <br />Less likely to die (but this difference was not statistically significant). <br />Even more outrageous experiments in distance healing involve nonhuman subjects. In a survey of 131 controlled experiments on spiritual healing, it was found that prayed-for rye grass grew taller; prayed-for yeast resisted the toxic effects of cyanide; prayed-for test-tube bacteria grew faster. " I adore these experiments," says Larry Dossey, M.D., perhaps the world's most vocal expert on prayer and medicine. " Because they don't involve humans, you can run them with fanatical precision and you can run them hundreds of times. It's the best evidence of all that prayer can change the world. And it operates as strongly on the other side of the Earth as it does at the bedside." <br />In his 1994 book, Healing Words, Larry Dossey, M.D., co-chair of the Panel on Mind-Body Interventions of the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., reviewed over 100 experiments, most published in parapsychological literature ' on the effects of prayer/visualization. More than half showed an effect on everything from seed germination to wound healing.<br />In several experiments, volunteers visualized stimulating or retarding the growth of bacteria and fungi and achieved significantly positive results from as far as 15 miles away. <br />At the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio, Texas, researchers took blood samples from 32 volunteers, isolated their red blood cells (RBCS) and placed the samples in a room on the other side of the building. Then the researchers placed the RBCs in a solution designed to swell and burst them, a process that can be measured extremely accurately. Next the researchers asked the volunteers to pray for the preservation of some of the RBCS. To help them visualize, the researchers projected color slides of healthy RBCS. The praying significantly slowed the swelling and bursting of the RBCS. <br />In another study at the Mind Science Foundation, volunteers in a room on one side of the building were asked to visualize volunteers in a room on the other side of the building becoming calmer or more agitated. Meanwhile, the " receivers" were hooked up to biofeedback-type equipment to gauge their reactions. The results showed that the " influencers" exerted a statistically significant effect on the receivers' moods. <br />These experiments have shown that prayer can take many forms. Results occurred not only when people prayed for explicit outcomes, but also when they prayed for nothing specific.<br />The experiments showed that a simple " Thy will be done" approach was quantitatively more powerful than when specific results were held in mind.<br />A simple attitude of prayerfulness, an all pervading sense of holiness and a feeling of empathy, caring, and compassion for the entity in need, seemed to set the stage for healing.<br />Experiments also showed that prayer positively affected: <br />High Blood Pressure <br />Wounds <br />Heart Attacks <br />Headaches, and <br />Anxiety. <br />The subjects in these studies included: <br />Water <br />Enzymes <br />Bacteria <br />Fungi <br />Yeast <br />Red blood cells <br />Cancer cells <br />Pacemaker cells <br />Seeds <br />Plants <br />Algae <br />Moth larvae <br />Mice <br />Chicks <br />The processes that had been influenced by prayer were: <br />Activity of enzymes <br />The growth rate of leukemic white blood cells <br />Mutation rates of bacteria <br />Germination and grwth rates of various seeds <br />Firing rate of pacemaker cells <br />Healing rates of wounds <br />The size of goiters and tumors <br />Time required to awaken from anesthesia <br />Autonomic effects such as electrodermal activity of the skin, rates of hemolysis of red blood cells and hemoglobin levels. <br />It did not matter whether the praying person was with the person who was prayed for the power of prayer to work. You can pray for someone who is far away and still will have an influence on the outcome.<br />Nothing seems to block or stop the effects of prayer - the object in one study was placed in a lead-lined room and in another in a cage that shielded it from all known forms of electromagnetic energy, the effect still go through.<br />Given the scientific evidence, Dossey and several other researchers now admit that withholding prayer from an ailing patient is downright irresponsible. " It became an ethical issue for me," says Dossey, who defines prayer as " communication with the absolute." <br />At a Boston conference sponsored by Harvard Medical School, one of the participants predicted that in just 10 years patients will be questioned about not only their personal medical history but also their spiritual belief system.<br />Certainly, the idea of distance healing is catching on even today. Cyberspace is full of fellow believers who post their requests on daily prayer chains. Those who believe in distance healing are not sure how it works, though theories abound. Some say it involves sending some kind of subtle, as-yet-unidentified energy to the person in need. Others, including Dossey, say quantum physics may play a role, or what Cambridge-trained biologist Rupert Sheldrake calls " morphogenetic fields," unabounded by space or time.<br />In the absence of hard data, it remains a mystery or a miracle.<br />The other kind of prayer, in which sick people pray for their own recovery, is far easier for science to explain. Given the proven health benefits of meditation — lowering blood pressure, reversing heart disease — it's not difficult to see how prayer, which can be equally meditative and relaxing, might induce the same effects.<br />According to Koenig of Duke University, " when prayer uplifts or calms, it inhibits cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine - hormones that flow out of the adrenal glands in response to stress. These fight-or-flight chemicals, released over time can compromise the immune system, upping the odds of developing any number of illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, peptic ulcers, and inflammatory bowel disorder (IBS)." Many experts feel that the immune system is strengthened and nourished by a sense of peace, which can be transferred from one individual to another or used inwardly. Of course, the ancient stories of the Bible and seminal works of Eastern religions link healing with faith.So, it is reasonable to assume that something such as prayer that provides comfort and peace would influence the propensity for you to get disease or how you recover from a disease. <br />Recent scientific investigation shows that prayer can be used as an alternative therapy as successfully as meditation, exercise, or herbalism. A study of 91,000 people in rural Maryland showed that weekly church attendees had 50 percent fewer deaths from heart disease than non-churchgoers and 53 percent fewer suicides. Churchgoers have lower blood pressure levels than nonbelievers, even after smoking and other known risk factors are taken into consideration. <br />Many doctors believe that if they prayed with their patients before and after surgery or before administering a course of powerful drugs, this treatment might assist in the patient's recovery. Thirty medical schools in America are now offering courses in faith and medicine.<br />" Prayer works," says Dr. Matthews, associate professor of medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and senior research fellow at the National Institute for Healthcare Research in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Matthews has reviewed more than 200 studies linking religious commitment and health, cited in his book, 'The Faith Factor'.<br />Dr. Matthews cites studies suggesting that people who pray are less likely to get sick, are more likely to recover from surgery and illness and are better able to cope with their illnesses than people who don't pray. Some evidence indicates that sick people who are prayed for also fare significantly better than those who aren't. In fact, some physicians report that people who are prayed for often do better even if they don't know they're being prayed for.<br />Identification<br /> The word " praying" appears in the Bible 36 times. Some form of the word " pray" appears in the Bible 365 times. Clearly, praying is an important act in the Bible. Praying is how God's people communicate with God. People pray for things that they want (Genesis 25:21), for protection (Genesis 32:11), for relief (Numbers 21:7), for intercession (Deuteronomy 9:20), for strength (Judges 16:28), for guidance (1 Samuel 14:41) and also in gratitude (1 Samuel 2:1). <br />Function<br /> Praying is a way that God's people can stay connected with God. The Bible provides a wonderful example of this in I Samuel 1 and 2. An infertile woman named Hannah is shown praying to God " out of my great anguish and grief" (I Samuel 1:16) and later praying to God out of joy (I Samuel 2:1-11). In the Psalms, the Bible provides examples of praying in all sorts of situations, from despondency (Psalm 39:12) to joy (Psalm 66:20). <br />Significance<br /> Praying has the potential to change the course of your life and/or the lives of others. Hannah's praying resulted in the healing of her infertility (I Samuel 1:20). Nehemiah's praying resulted in strengthening him in his weakness (Nehemiah 6:9). Ezra's praying resulted in God's people repenting and returning to God (Ezra 10:1-3). The church's praying even got the disciple Peter released from prison (Acts 12:1-19). Even Jesus found praying necessary to strengthen him through the last day of his life (Luke 22:39-46). <br />Misconceptions<br /> Many people mistakenly believe that praying must be done out loud. They set aside time to get on their knees for audible praying. The Bible says that praying can be done " in the heart" at any time, even spontaneously throughout your day-to-day life. In fact, Nehemiah sent a quick prayer to God between hearing the king's question and providing an answer (See Nehemiah 2:4-5). Abraham's servant sent up a similar type of " arrow prayer" in Genesis 24:45. <br />Benefits<br /> The Bible says that praying has many benefits. Of course, there is the obvious benefit of receiving what you are praying for (I Samuel 1:20). There is the benefit of God providing you with the strength to get through a difficult situation (Luke 22:39-46). However, the biggest benefit is finding comfort in God and building a relationship of trust with Him. Psalm 6 provides a wonderful example of this benefit. Read more: What Does the Bible Say About Praying? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_4598637_what-does-bible-say-praying.html#ixzz0uwLm0sBc<br />Steps to Effective Prayer<br />A Sermon by Coty Pinckney, Community Bible Church, Williamstown, MA 3/1/98<br />Please turn in your Bibles with me to Ephesians 6:18; we will read the next 3 verses:<br />18 With all types of prayer and petition pray in every season in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and [pray] on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in [proclaiming] it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (NAS)<br />Last week: we asked the question, " Does prayer work? Does prayer make any difference?" We noted that prayer works in at least two ways: First of all, prayer changes us. As we pray, as we turn our thoughts toward God -- his power, his majesty, his faithfulness, his accomplishments -- our perspective changes. So that as we pray, God joins our heart to his, he gives us grace to help in our time of need, he changes our thoughts and our attitudes. <br />In addition, prayer changes the world around us, not because our prayers change God, but because God has ordained that he will work through our prayers. And I suggested that the way God works through prayer is not fundamentally different from the way God works through preaching, or witnessing, or service: in each case, we could accomplish nothing unless the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of those we serve.<br />So what kind of prayer works? As we thought about these words of Paul, we noted that this passage provides us with seven lessons for effective prayer, seven lessons that we need to take to heart if our prayers are to work.<br />Put on the armor of God (verses 10-17) before you pray;<br />Use all types of prayer -- especially, I encouraged you to pray through the Scriptures;<br />Pray at all times, in all seasons of your life;<br />Pray in the Spirit;<br />Be watchful and alert, looking out for each other;<br />Be perseverant, be devoted to prayer;<br />Pray in accord with God's promises and gifts.<br />This morning, we will elaborate on these lessons for effective prayer, particularly the second: using all types of prayer. I'll mention seven types of prayer that we might use. In addition, we'll discuss using all four parts of prayer: Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and petition. Like last week, some of these points I will emphasize while others only mention; please note them all down, and try to put them into practice this week.<br /> So let us begin by examining our use of the four parts of prayer.<br />(1) USE ALL PARTS OF PRAYER<br />Many of us have profited from using the acronym ACTS for the parts of prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (or, as I prefer, Petition -- but ACTP is hard to pronounce!). Let us consider these in turn: <br />Adoration<br />I well remember my first week teaching secondary school in Kenya in 1977. My 2nd or 3rd day at the school, I had some business with the headmaster. I walked into his office, saw that he was busy, so just blurted out my request for additional math books for my students. The headmaster looked slightly pained, then asked me, " So how are you this morning? Are you settling in well? And your parents, have you heard from your parents? How are they?<br />Those questions were a polite reprimand to me. You see, in most of Africa it is exceptionally rude to make a request of a person as soon as you enter their presence. You must first greet the person, ask about their family and children (and their grandparents and their neighbors!) and only after all these preliminaries make any request. The idea behind this custom is that the two of you have a relationship, and that relationship is more important than any use you might have for each other. You care about each other, you are concerned for each other first and foremost. Once you have established that through your greeting, then you can make a request. <br />Our prayers should follow a similar custom. We should not approach God immediately making requests, but our prayers should begin with adoration and praise. This pattern is apparent in the Bible. Indeed, almost every one of the prayers of great men of faith recorded in the Bible begins with invocation. For example:<br />When Daniel prays to God out of concern for his nation, he begins: Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments <br />When Hezekiah confronts the likely destruction of his nation, as the most powerful military force in the world is about to attack, he begins his prayer: O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. <br />These prayers do not have 10 minute long invocations. But they do begin by acknowledging who God is, they begin by reminding the speaker of some of the characteristics of the God whom we address. They also, like the African custom, establish the relationship between the speaker and God. Our prayers should do the same.<br />Although all our prayers should begin with adoration, at times we should focus longer prayers solely on adoring the God who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. These prayers may focus on one characteristic of God, such as:<br />His faithfulness -- think of God's revelation of his faithfulness as recorded in the Bible, and then of examples in biblical history, national history, and your personal history; <br />His creative power -- think through the mighty power of God as evidenced by his creation. My oldest son, Jonathan, gave me a good example of this last week: Given present estimates, if all the stars were divided up among all the people on earth, how many stars do you think each of us would receive? Ten? A hundred? No: Two Trillion. Two trillion stars for every man, woman, and child. That is the kind of God we have -- a God of unimaginable power, a God who has created unimaginable wealth.<br />Confession<br />Let us now briefly consider confession. When we praise God, we are remembering who God is; when we confess, we are remembering who we are, how weak we are; we are agreeing with God concerning his statements about our actions. <br />Our confession should first and foremost include acknowledging our specific failures to live a life worthy of our calling. But there are two other aspects of confession I would like to point out:<br />Group confession: In addition to our personal sins, we need to confess sins committed by groups with which we are identified. If you continue reading Daniel's prayer, you find that he is confessing the sins of the Jewish people, even though he was not personally guilty of those sins. We too need to be cognizant of the sins committed by our families, our nation, our race, our church. <br />Second, while most confession has to do with sin, we also need to confess before God our inability to accomplish anything without him, our lack of power to accomplish anything of eternal significance. This, again, is agreeing with God concerning his statements about us, and thus is logically a part of confession.<br />Thanksgiving: <br />The third part of prayer is thanksgiving. Here, we usually think of the blessings God has given us: our salvation, our families, our friends, our material possessions, etc. And, of course, we should thank God for all of these. But according to the Bible we should also thank God for the trials and difficulties we face. Remember the beginning of the book of James:<br />Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4, NAS)<br />Consider it all joy, or " pure joy" as some translations put it, when you face trials. Do you consider trials to be a joy? James is not saying here that we should jump up and down, saying, " Oh, Goody! A Trial!" Rather, he is saying that we should have a quiet confidence that God will use these trials for our benefit, and the benefit of others who see us encounter trials with this attitude. Anyone can be thankful and joyful when things are going well; when we are thankful and joyful even in the midst of trials and difficulties, we stand out from the world around us, we are letting our light shine.<br />Let me challenge you: Commit yourself right now to thanking God for the next five disagreeable things that happen to you. And let me know how it goes . . .<br />Petition <br />The last part of prayer is petition. Most of our prayers are dominated by petition; we don't need a lot of instruction concerning this form of prayer. But let me make three suggestions for you to keep in mind concerning your prayers of petition:<br />First, acknowledge that " No" is the best answer for some of our petitions. Amy Carmichael, who spent over fifty years as a missionary to India, told the story of her earliest memory. Amy's mother taught her about prayer when she was three. And Amy believed with a child's simple faith that all her prayers would be answered. Now, the desire of her heart was to have beautiful blue eyes instead of her own deep brown eyes. So she prayed one night, " Oh, Lord, please, make my eyes blue tonight!" And she went to sleep with full confidence that her eyes would be blue in the morning. When she woke up, she immediately ran to the mirror to look at her pretty blue eyes. She looked -- and was devastated. God had let her down. <br />Now, in many cases we never know why God says, " No." But sometimes we find out. Amy believed in her later years that she knew why she had to have a dark complexion and the accompanying brown eyes. In India, she was able to dress like the locals and walk through the city streets without calling attention to herself. That would have been impossible had she been blonde-headed and blue-eyed. So when we get no for an answer, we should thank God, and believe that he is working all things together for the good of those who love him.<br />Second, we can be confident that the answer will be " Yes" if our petitions are based on the promises of God. This is why Scripture prayers can be so effective -- we are basing our requests on God's explicit promises. Now, it is ok to pray for cares for which we have no specific promises -- we are instructed to take our concerns to God, whatever they may be. For those requests, however, we need to be ready to acknowledge no for an answer. But when we pray based on a specific promise, we can KNOW that God will answer in the affirmative. For example, when we are suffering through a trial, we can pray that God would use this testing of our faith to produce endurance in us, to perfect us, to make us complete, so that we would become like him. And we can know that God will do so.<br />Finally, our petitions should include asking that God would be recognized as holy and just, praying that God's will would be done in this world and that the world would acknowledge him. This, of course, is part of the Lord's Prayer: " hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" -- but how often do we pray about this topic other than when we recite that prayer? I encourage you to include this most important petition in your prayers this week.<br />So we have considered Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Petition. I encourage you to use all of the parts of prayer. Now let us turn our thoughts to different types of prayer.<br /> (2) USE ALL TYPES OF PRAYER <br />I will mention seven types of prayer, discussing only the first in any detail. <br />(a) Pray through the Scriptures<br />As we mentioned last week, praying by using the Scriptures is an important step toward effective prayer. There are at least three reasons for this:<br />First, to learn how to praise God. Praise is usually the weakest part of our prayers. Asking God for things we think we need is relatively easy. We may not like to confess our sins, but we can always think of what we have done wrong. And we may not have a thankful heart, but with some reflection we can readily think of things for which we should thank God. But praise is more difficult for most of us. The Bible is full of wonderful examples of praise; praying through these examples serves as effective praise while we do it, and teaches us how to praise God when we don't have a Bible in front of us. <br />Second, using Scripture gives us examples of how to pray for others. Last week in Sunday School we used Paul's prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3 to pray for others -- this is a particularly powerful way to pray. <br />Third, God speaks to us through his written word. By praying through the Scriptures, by knowing the Scriptures and having them right on our lips, we put ourselves in a position to hear God as he speaks through his word. <br />There are different ways that we can use the Scriptures in our prayers. We can simply read a passage prayerfully. Alternately, we can change the pronouns or the names so that the Scripture is specifically relevant for the case we are concerned about. Third, we can use the Scripture as a starting point, and elaborate on the points brought out as we pray. <br />Let us actually do that now. I would like us to pray together using Psalm 23 as the base. I will pray, and expand on the thoughts in the passage:<br />O Lord, my shepherd, our guide, our protector: Because we belong to you, we will never lack anything we need. Lord, help us to believe this and act upon it when the circumstances of our lives seem to indicate otherwise. My Shepherd, you make us lie down in green pastures, in places of abundant nourishment; you provide us with safe and quiet places to rest, so that we might be restored. Thank you, Lord, for guiding us in your paths of righteousness. Lord, without your guidance we would constantly be losing the path. Keep us on your paths, O Lord. Father, here is a mystery: we can ask " For your name's sake!" Lord, thank you that you choose to glorify your name through such weak and unworthy vessels as those of us worshiping you here this morning. <br />Lord you are our shepherd even when -- especially when -- we are in frightening situations, when it appears that everything we depend upon is falling apart. But Lord, we will not fear if we draw close to you, if we acknowledge that you are with us, armed to defend us from every evil attack and equipped to keep us on the path. Your discipline and protection comfort us, O Lord. <br />Lord, we know that you will honor us in front of those who have opposed us, that you will lift us up and exalt us, providing us with riches that we cannot imagine and do not deserve. You have given us a foretaste of this by the gift of your Spirit, as you have anointed us; the riches that you give us are worth more than we can imagine; we have a superabundance of good things. <br />Our shepherd, your goodness and your lovingkindness, your covenant love, will follow us and accompany us every minute of every day of this life on earth. And, praise you my Lord, each person here who knows you as Savior and Lord will delight in you for all eternity in your presence. Thank you, our Father. Amen.<br /> I heartily commend this form of prayer to you. Commit yourself to taking a block of time and praying ONLY this way. I believe it will open the Scriptures to you, help you to hear God, and make your other prayers that much more effective.<br /> (b) Pray through the Writings of Others<br />While the Scriptures are the best tool to use in our prayers, other writings by Christians can be helpful also. In the book A Life of Prayer Edith Schaeffer gives numerous examples of her own use of the Scriptures for prayer, along with examples of prayers of other Christians that she has used. Using such prayers once a week or so can help us to get out of the rut of offering similar prayers every day. <br />One resource that I have found helpful as a prayer-starter is the small book by Pamela Reeve entitled Faith Is . . . The author meditates on the meaning of faith, offering dozens of one sentence definitions. Here are some of them:<br />Faith is cooperating with God in changing me rather than taking refuge in piously berating myself. <br />Faith is refusing to feel guilty over past confessed sin, when God, the Judge, has sovereignly declared me pardoned. <br />Faith is accepting the ordinary as God's best for me when I want to be special. <br />Faith is accepting the truth that despite the wreckage I've caused and grieved over, God who has wiped the slate clean delights in me. <br />Faith is having the confidence that God will take the bad choices others have made that affect me and use them for my ultimate good. <br />Faith is taking my eyes off my good self, or my bad self, or my wounded self, and keeping them on Himself.<br />Taking one of these sentences, meditating on it, and praying to God concerning our own need for this type of faith can be deeply rewarding. We can also pray for others to have this type of faith. I commend that to you.<br />(c) Pray out loud<br />Has your mind ever wandered while praying? You are saying in your mind, " Oh, God, I praise you for your mercy and your lovingkindness . . . now how did the Celtics blow that game last night? I just don't understand how professional basketball players . . . Oh, Lord, sorry, I praise you . . ." <br />God is the only person we try to address in our heads; we have little practice in speaking this way, making it is easy to lose focus. Silent prayers are often appropriate when we are in the presence of others, but when alone I suggest that you pray aloud. One author has stated, " Praying out loud controls 90% of mind wandering." I do not believe that Daniel would have prayed what is recorded for us in Daniel 9 silently; though he was alone at the time, this is a spoken prayer. So I encourage you this week to try saying all your solitary prayers out loud. <br />(d) Write your prayers<br />Daniel eventually wrote down his prayer in chapter 9. I have been writing many of my prayers for the last three years, and I would have to say that this is the single most helpful change in my prayer life. Now, I write professionally, so when I am positioned in front of a computer with my hands on the keyboard, it is natural for me to be focussed on my work. I think simply assuming the position is helpful to me, in keeping me from allowing my mind to wander. In addition, I have found that writing especially helps my praise time. Typing slows me down just enough that I can't simply rattle off fifteen attributes of God in a few seconds and go on to another part of prayer. <br />In his book Too Busy Not to Pray, Bill Hybels suggests writing your prayers and then reading them aloud. I rarely do this, praying instead as I type. Try it both ways at least once this week, and see how this affects your prayer time.<br />(e) Offer songs as prayers<br />Singing during a prayer time can be quite effective, especially as a form of praise. And there is clear biblical precedence, as the Psalms and other parts of the Old Testament (such as Habakkuk 3) were originally written to be sung. Make use of the praise songs we sing in church, make use of hymns, offer up your own creations. Your voice doesn't have to be good, and your songs don't have to be great pieces of music. God is delighted when our hearts are turned to him in prayer, and singing adds another dimension to our prayer life that is especially helpful at turning our hearts to him.<br />In addition, singing as part of a performance of a great work of Christian music can be a deeply prayerful experience. Many of you know that God turned my life around while we were living in Kenya in the early 1980's. During the fall of 1984 I was practicing Handel's Messiah with the Nairobi Music Society, an excellent 100-voice choir. Unfortunately, the concert was to be performed on a Friday night, the very night of our departure for the States. Nevertheless, I participated in the practices all fall because of the joy of singing this great piece of music. In mid-November, the airline on which we were flying changed its flight schedule, forcing us to delay our departure until Saturday night -- and allowing me to spend my last night in Nairobi singing praises to God. For me, that night was incredibly meaningful -- feeling that God as a special gift had made the arrangements so that I could sing, thinking of all that He had accomplished during my three years in Kenya, and ending with the most glorious chorus ever written: " Worthy is the lamb that was slain and hath redeemed us to God by his blood to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing! Blessing and honor, glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the lamb forever and ever! Amen! Amen!" The entire 2 1/2 hour concert was one long prayer for me. <br />(f) Pray through your creativity <br />In addition to praying through songs written by others, we can effectively pray to God through our own creative expressions. This can include our own musical compositions, our artwork, our writings -- praising God, bringing glory to him through our creativity can be one effective method of prayer. Clearly masterpieces bring glory to God, but our own songs written to express our thoughts to Him can also please Him, just as three-year-old Joel's music and drawings which he offers to me bring me pleasure. <br />(g) Pray through our excellent work<br />Finally, I would like to suggest that we also effectively praise God when we honor him through excelling in areas in which he has gifted us. This can be in our ministry, in our work -- as Doug discussed a few weeks ago when preaching on the first part of Ephesians 6:5-9 -- or in athletic endeavors. One of my favorite expressions of this idea comes out in the Academy Award winning film, Chariots of Fire. The film tells the story of Eric Liddell, who won the 400 meters at the 1924 Olympic games. Eric was born in China, where his parents were missionaries, and knew he was called to missionary service in China. In the film, Eric's sister Jenny confronts him concerning the amount of time and energy he is expending on his running, as she suggests that he is forgetting his calling. Eric replies, " Jenny, I believe God made me for the purpose of serving in China, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." <br />When we work to the best of our abilities by God's power in whatever we do, when we give Him all the glory for whatever we accomplish, we are praising Him in a most effective way. And this also is a type of prayer.<br />CONCLUSION<br />So in the last two weeks we have learned much about prayer. The question now is: What will you do? Will you put these truths into practice? <br />In Psalm 27, David tells us that the Lord said to him, " Seek My face." And David's heart replied, " Your face, O LORD, I shall seek." Seek his face! Will you seek the face of the Lord?<br />My three-year-old Joel will sit on Beth's lap, reach up with his hands, put one on each of her cheeks, turn her face toward him, look dreamily into her eyes and say, " I wuv you Mommy." He seeks her face, he longs to stare one on one into her eyes. We are to do the same with God. <br />God commands us to seek his face, and tells us that we cannot live the Christian life or experience true joy unless we do so. And he promises that persistence in prayer will change both us and the world around us.<br />In Psalm 34 David writes, <br />O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! <br />We must taste in order to see, we must reach out to him in prayer -- regularly, persistently -- and then we will see that the Lord indeed is good. There is true joy to be found in tasting the Lord's goodness.<br />So I hold out to you that promise of God: If you persevere in prayer, you WILL see that the Lord is good, you will see the impact on yourself and others of your prayer. <br />But I warn you: it won't be easy. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, " Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer." We are in a war, and prayer is one of our most effective weapons. So Satan will fight us every step of the way. But because we are in a war, because the body of Christ depends on each one of us holding up our part of the front line, we need to strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees, we need to discipline ourselves so that we regularly, continually turn in active dependence to the Lord. <br />So I encourage you: Taste and see that the Lord is good. Commit yourself to using at least one of these types of prayer today, and another this week; commit yourself to using all parts of prayer. Seek his face. <br />Let us pray:<br />Our Lord and Father, you who have reached out to us and given us such great and precious promises, you have told us that we have the tremendous privilege of approaching your throne of grace boldly, with confidence because of the blood of Jesus shed for us. Our God, we confess that we have neglected to do so, that we have allowed the Enemy to divert us from this most important task. Lord, may we believe that you have ordained to work through prayer; may we then act on that belief even today. And may Community Bible Church become a community of believers who are devoted to prayer, so that we might be effective ambassadors for you in this hurting world. <br /> 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24,25, NAS)<br />Addendum added 5/28/01: Another suggestion for prayer, which God has used mightily in my life since I preached this sermon: Try to find an isolated spot that you really love, and regularly go there to pray. I fought this for many years: " I should be able to pray anywhere! I'm just giving in to weakness if I have to go some place special to pray effectively." But that thinking is wrongheaded. For I could say the same thing about my relationship with my wife, Beth: " We don't need to go anywhere special; if our relationship is good, we can talk fine at home." Of course we can talk fine at home. But our relationship benefits from regular special occasions when we go somewhere we both enjoy, and relate to each other in that special context. Just so, your relationship with God will benefit if you take the time to go some place you particularly enjoy (God enjoys all places!) and spend time with Him<br />Having an effective prayer life is very important, and a blessing beyond what anyone can imagine. Remember God's arm in never to short or is he ever to far away to listen to your prayers. All you need is a little faith, and help from above. '<br />1. The first step to having a good relationship with your heavenly father is to read his word. It is amazing how many do not even believe in a creator. Take a moment and look at your hand. We all know a house cannot build itself or a bridge too.<br />Reading his holy word everyday will strengthen your faith and hope for a prosperous future. It is truly better to believe and not see than to believe and to see. Pray for the holy spirit to help you understand his word.<br />2. Take time out for a daily walk with your heavenly father. Acknowledge him and he will acknowledge you. The bible says to love him with all our hearts, lives and with all our strength. He is not partial to anyone and loves all his children that follow and do his commandments. Draw close to him and he will draw close to you. He can be your best friend you have ever had and better.<br />3. Understand all things are done in his timing. Also remember he always hears your prayer even if you think he doesn't. He will sometimes answer no even if we don't understand why. Time will tell the truth and reason for his answer.<br />Never give up hope or faith. Remember he knows your thoughts, has a count of all the hair's in your head and knows your heart. You are more important to him than even the angels in heaven. Worship whole heartedly and be still for he will fight for you.<br />Tips:  Try writing down all your thoughts and concerns and presenting them to him. He cares for you and wants to hear your thoughts. Remember to seek him first and his kingdom to come. Pray in Jesus name with an amen. Give him time to answer your prayers and exercise patience for God is loving, patient, and merciful.<br />ail This Article <br />How To Make Prayer More Effective<br />For many people, the purpose of prayer is to fulfill their desires and wishes-to get God to give them what they want. Motivated by selfishness and greed, they suffer from the “gimmies,”-that is, “give me this and give me that.” Few of these prayers are answered. Most people find personal private prayer very laborious. They find it difficult, if not impossible, to spend much time in prayer. Since they seldom receive answers to their prayers, they develop an attitude of distrust and disgust for God. Perhaps Job best expressed the attitude of some when he said: “What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?” (Job 21:15). Could this be the problem of many today? If one is having difficulty praying or not receiving answers, what can one do to change this situation?<br />Let’s list some suggestions that may be beneficial.<br />To Profit From Prayer One Must Pray<br />First of all, one cannot expect to profit from prayer unless he spends time praying. This may seem so simple that it is not worth mentioning, but the fact is one who never prays will never receive answers from God. The Old Testament is replete with examples of prayer. The prophet Samuel certainly recognized the importance of prayer. He could see that the people of Israel were making a serious mistake. They no longer wanted judges to rule over them. Instead, they wanted a king like the nations around them. God allowed them to make this mistake, then Samuel told the people: “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Sam. 12:23). Samuel’s prayer was directed for the best interests of the people and not his own.<br />Having an interest in others is a noble use of prayer, far superior to praying for our selfish desires. The Apostle Paul demonstrated this same attitude. In Colossians 1:9 he wrote: “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” While we should pray for our personal needs, we should recognize that the needs of others are equally important.<br />Jesus emphasized the importance of prayer by this example: “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1), that is, they should not become discouraged and give up. One thing is certain; prayer is a personal matter between each Christian and God. To receive answers to prayer we must pray. But how should we pray? Even the disciples asked Jesus that question.<br />Jesus explained:<br />And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matt. 6:5-8)<br />Jesus pointed out that even hypocrites pray, but such public prayers are a sham for the purpose of show. He said prayer should generally be in private between each indivisual and God. As God already knows our needs, He said that it is useless to use vain repetitions.<br />Continuing, Jesus gave a guideline for us to follow-an outline on how to pray,<br />After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matt. 6:9-15)<br />Notice the instruction here. The prayer begins by acknowledging God’s great glory and power, and showing appreciation for all His graces and benefits. The prayer begins by extolling God and expressing to Him the gratitude He deserves. This places us in the proper frame of mind and helps us to realize we are speaking to the Great Sovereign Ruler of the universe.<br />Next, we should pray for the Work of God-that is, His purpose and plan- the Kingdom of God, and what He is working out and accomplishing on this earth. By this means we will be praying for God’s interests. And because God’s interests involve mankind as a whole, we will be praying for others as well as ourselves.<br />Then we should pray for our daily needs. All that exists on this earth comes from God by means of the sun and soil. We are indebted to Him for our physical lives and all we possess. The basic needs of man are food, clothing, and shelter. Yet millions of people lack these fundamental requirements. How thankful we should be for what we possess. But there are also spiritual needs that go beyond the physical bread of life. This is the spiritual bread of life-the knowledge of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit. While many possess the physical bread of life, they do not possess the spiritual bread of life. Without the spiritual bread of life, we cannot have any meaningful relationship with God, and we will never achieve the purpose for being on this earth.<br />We should pray that God would forgive us our offenses and that we might have the graciousness to forgive those who have offended us. Because Jesus said: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15). Jesus added: “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment . . . . Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt. 5:22-24). One cannot properly pray if he is full of bitterness and wrath against another. His prayer life will be hindered (1 Pet. 3:7).<br />We should pray that we might not be led into temptation, and that we should be delivered from the power of Satan-the invisible ruler of this world. The prayer then ends by acknowledging God’s great Sovereign power and our complete dependence upon Him for all that is important in life.<br />When praying to God it is absolutely imperative to be honest and open. While God already knows our hearts and minds, our attitude and how we think, He wants to hear it from us. Jesus said: “. . . Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:8). Nevertheless, He said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7). It is futile to try to hide anything from God. We read: “The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity” (Ps. 94:11). What God desires is a willingness to be completely open with Him and to reveal even our most intimate thoughts and desires. This is why Jesus said to pray in privacy (Matt. 6:6). There are things we say to God that need not be said to any other human being. The reason the publican was heard was because he was completely open and honest. He hid nothing. Alone and by himself he acknowledged the things that made him a sinner. Alone and by himself he could not be distracted or interrupted.<br />For Prayer to Be EffectiveOne Must Pray to the True God<br />Many people do not comprehend the supreme or Ultimate Reality. They do not view God as absolute. They do not know God and have never had contact with Him. Attempts to pray under these circumstances are generally futile. Many idols have been placed ahead of the true God. An idol is not necessarily an image; it is anything that takes the place of God. Perhaps the most prevalent idol of all is the self. Anytime one places his or her own desires and interests ahead of God, an idol has been created.<br />Who is the god many people worship today? The answer: Satan the Devil! Consider this: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world . . . . ” (Rev. 12:9). The Bible plainly states that Satan is the present god of this world. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3-4). We are to give glory and honor to the true God, not to Satan (Rev. 14:6-7). Many professing Christians have been deceived into worshipping Satan by Satan’s ministers. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:14-15). Satan is the prince of the power of the air, the god many people follow today. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).<br />When Christ came with the gospel, He brought the message of the coming Kingdom of God. At His return that Kingdom will be comprised of a King, territory, laws, and subjects. Christ will rule over the entire world. He will not only be King, but Lord also, worthy of all worship. Paul brought the same message-the message of the Kingdom of God (Acts 28:31). God sent him to the Gentiles and instructed him to ” . . . open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). True Christians have been delivered from the power of Satan. They are the people whose prayers are effective. Why? They have removed all vestiges of idolatry from their lives and have placed God above all. Jesus said: “If any man come to me, and hate not [love less by comparison] his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). Those who abide by this instruction are the people who worship in spirit and serve the true God alone. Their prayers are answered.<br />To Make Prayer Effective<br />One Must Obey God<br />Obedience to the commandments of God is a prerequisite. Many profess to keep God’s commandments, but do they? Would God honor the prayers of a liar-a violation of the ninth commandment? Not likely. The Apostle John wrote: “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). Here is what God says about sin: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2). God does not hear lawbreakers. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9).<br />When King Saul turned from God’s instruction, here is what Samuel told him:<br />Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Sam. 15:22-23)<br />Why do true Christians receive answers to their prayers? The Apostle John tells us: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22). A man that Jesus healed told the Pharisees: “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth” (John 9:31). This man understood what Jesus meant when He said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).<br />Truly, we cannot expect to receive answers to prayers unless we are making every effort to obey God according to the best of our ability with the understanding we possess.<br />One Cannot Make Prayer Effective<br />While in a Wrong Spirit<br />A wrong spirit or attitude directed toward God or toward one’s fellow man is detrimental to effective prayer. Jesus made this very clear in the Sermon on the Mount.<br />Here is what He stated:<br />. . . Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;” “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matt. 5:22-24)<br />Offering a gift on the altar was an act of worship. Prayer is also an act of worship. To expect God’s blessings, one must remove all bitterness and resentment from the heart and mind. Christians should not express unreasonable leniency with respect to sin, but while hating the sin, they should not hate the sinner. David expressed it in the following manner: “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Ps. 139:21-22). They were David’s enemies because they were the enemies of God. Yet, Jesus said we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44). Since David was a man after God’s own heart, he too hated what sinners did, but he did not hate the sinners.<br />If we desire answers to our prayers, it is extremely important to maintain a right spirit and attitude toward others. This especially applies to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Here is how the Apostle Peter expressed it: “. . . Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:5-6). Yes indeed. God resists the proud. One who maintains a proud and defiant attitude toward God and his fellow man will not receive God’s benefits. And he will certainly not receive answers to his prayers.<br />Jesus gave the perfect examples of the proper and improper attitude for receiving answers to prayer.<br />And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)<br />The publican expressed true humility. He felt undeserving of God’s grace and mercy. So humble was he that he would not look up to God in heaven, and when he said, “God be merciful to me a sinner” he expressed deep remorse. The text should read “the sinner,” not “a sinner” as it reads in the Authorized Version. The publican felt he was the sinner-the worst of all sinners. In his own mind there was no one worse. And what was Jesus’ answer? “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” This man’s guilty past was erased. He was forgiven. His prayer had been answered.<br />Humility requires the need to ask for correction-not only acknowledging our faults before God, but asking for correction that we may be able to change. Daniel was one of the three most righteous men in the Bible (Ezek.14: 14, 20).<br />Here is why his prayers were answered:<br />And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. (Dan. 10:11-12)<br />Daniel chastened himself by asking for correction. He asked God to show him where he was wrong; he was heard because of it. What does God instruct? “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:6-7). Jeremiah manifested this same attitude when he wrote: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). He continued by saying: “O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing” (v. 24).<br />A right spirit before God means humbling the self, acknowledging one’s sins, and asking God for correction. Yet, many find this difficult to do, if not impossible. The book of Proverbs tells us: “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:” (Prov. 3:11). “Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die” (Prov. 15:10). “Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour” (Prov. 14:9). In the light of these Scriptures what should one’s choice be?<br />Effective Prayer Requires Faith in God<br />What is faith? Paul tells us: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen . . . . But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). In brief, faith is belief in God’s existence, and that He will perform what He has promised.<br />Jesus told His disciples: ” . . . Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21:21-22). This, of course, must be according to God’s will. This is why we are told: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). When one’s prayers are simply a case of the “gimmies,” it is unlikely that many of them are according to God’s will. Such prayers will not be answered.<br />This is why it is important to study the Bible. This helps us to determine God’s will. The Bible is the recorded Word of God that speaks to us. When we pray we speak to God. Unless we study the Bible we cannot understand what God desires of us, or what we can expect from God when we pray. But we must ask in faith. The Apostle James tells us: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (Jas. 1:5-8).<br />If we go to God in faith, having confidence that He will fulfill His promises, we can expect God to answer our requests in His due time. This is where patience comes in, a very important requirement for living a Christian life.<br />To Be Effective in Prayer<br />We Must Pray Without Ceasing<br />Patience was mentioned above. One who does not receive an immediate answer to prayer must not give up. Our desire for an immediate answer, and God’s will in the matter might be two different things. One can never expect to experience effective prayer if one quits praying about a specific matter until God has revealed an answer. Bible study and wise counsel from those who may be more spiritually mature can help us learn this. Recall what Samuel told the people of Israel when they wanted a king. He was disheartened by their request and knew that it was an act of rebellion against God’s rule. Nevertheless he said: “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Sam. 12:23). Samuel knew the value of prayer without ceasing. All his life he prayed for God’s people and for their best interests. And all his life his prayers were answered, and the people prospered, even though Saul eventually refused to obey God.<br />New Testament examples include Colossians 1:9, quoted on page one: “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” The New Testament servants of God knew that they had to make prayer an unceasing part of their daily routine. Jesus gave a parable to illustrate the importance of this. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). The Apostle Paul admonished, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). When Jesus gave His instruction on prayer, He did not say if you pray. He said when you pray (Matt. 6:5). Then He gave the sample prayer, generally referred to as the Lord’s Prayer.<br />How much time should be spent in daily prayer? The Bible does not say, but a good rule of thumb might be at least one half hour of whole-hearted supplication. How much effort we should put into a prayer will be covered shortly, but for now let it suffice to say, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (Jas. 5:16).<br />Effective Prayer Requires an<br />Understanding of the Purpose of Prayer<br />Many people do not have the remotest idea of the purpose of prayer. They assume that public prayers given in church are all that the Bible requires. Prayer for many who profess Christianity is relegated to religious formal occasions. Is this all the Bible teaches about prayer?<br />To repeat, the Bible is God’s word. This is how He communicates with us. Prayer is how we communicate with God. Unless one maintains contact with God, he has little chance of receiving answers to his prayers. We must abide in Christ-that is, we must be in union with God by means of daily prayer and study. Jesus said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). When Paul wrote the Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing,” what did he mean? He meant that private prayer should be done on a daily basis. Daniel the prophet prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10). Due to job requirements, etc., many are not able to do this. Nevertheless, it is necessary to maintain regular contact with God on a daily basis as an essential for answered prayer.<br />This is the time of the end. As world events unfold it is a must that we remain close to God and have His protection. This is why Jesus said: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36). Whether or not we are delivered from the coming tribulation will depend on how we maintain contact with God, how we allow ourselves to be corrected for the things we do that are wrong, and how we are willing to grow in grace and in knowledge (2 Pet. 1:4-8). There are many temptations this world has to offer. Jesus told His disciples: “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). The flesh can be strengthened by means of the Holy Spirit. We should be praying that we can overcome the world, Satan, and the pulls of the flesh. One of the most important purposes of prayer is to give us the guidance and strength we need to overcome and to stand before Christ at His second coming.<br />Effective Prayer Requires<br />Asking God for Help<br />Effective prayer is not something that comes naturally. It must be cultivated. We require God to help us to pray. This is what the disciples asked Jesus (Luke 11:1). They recognized that of themselves they could not accomplish what was necessary to maintain close contact with God. They said: “. . . Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” The disciples were asking for help to pray properly. They saw the miraculous results of prayer in the life of Christ and knew how much He depended upon prayer to God. They wanted to do the same.<br />We read in Psalm 46:1-2: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” If God has the power to deliver His people from severe trials and tribulations, would He not help us pray? While it is not found in the Bible, the statement “More is accomplished through prayer than this world dreams of” is certainly true. Never underestimate the power of prayer.<br />Why? The Bible tells us Christ, as our High Priest, is more than willing to help.<br />Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16)<br />What if we become lax and do not spend sufficient time in prayer or spend time in prayer at all? What should we do? We must go to God and ask Him to give us a desire to pray. Prayer does not come naturally. It must be developed, and this can be accomplished only with God’s help. Anytime we pray, it is beneficial to ask God to help us to pray properly so that contact can be made with Him. Many of us have known that at times our prayers have not gone beyond the ceiling, and we should not want this to continue.<br />Effective Prayer Must Be Intense<br />The Apostle James tells us: “. . . The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16). When we pray we must be intense. We must mean business. Consider this. When one asks something of you in an indifferent manner, how likely are you to respond? Not likely. Why should God be any different? On the other hand when one asks something of you in an intense manner, one of earnestness and purpose, how likely are you to respond? Again, why should God be any different? How one asks something makes a huge difference.<br />Effective prayer should not be routine or apathetic. When one realizes prayer is made to the Creator and Ruler of the universe, one cannot afford to be lackadaisical. Would we address a king in such a manner? Of course not! Why should we think God would answer us if we approach Him in this fashion? Daily earnest prayer is not a ritual; it is an absolute necessity for salvation. There is nothing more important at the time. This is why we need to know how to pray, and to pray effectively. Those who have experienced answers to prayers are sometimes astounded at the results.<br />Christians are admonished to be: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). Should this be applied to prayer? Notice how Jesus prayed just before His crucifixion.<br />And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:39-44)<br />Jesus was intense. He knew that He needed help from God to go through this terrible ordeal. Jesus knew the power and capability of God. Many human beings do not. Jesus appreciated the value of prayer. Many human beings do not. God gave Him the strength to undergo the ordeal He faced. So today we have a Savior who was able to pay the price for our sins. As a result of this, we can now be saved. Without God’s help Jesus knew what was likely to happen. We need to develop the same kind of dependency upon God.<br />An example of intense prayer is seen in the book of Colossians. Paul writes: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis” (Col. 4:12-13). The fact is: Effective prayer requires effort. Paul called it labor. It cannot be effective if done in any other manner.<br />Effective Prayer Must Be Done<br />at Times of Physical Peaks<br />Prayer done when one is tired or exhausted cannot be effective. Just before His crucifixion Jesus saw how His disciples were too tired to pray. “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. . . ” (Matt. 26:40-41). This is why it is very important to pray early in the morning, before one is exhausted from the day’s activity. A prayer made when one is tired will be largely a waste of time. Notice the example Jesus set. “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).<br />The key to successful prayer in the morning is getting a sufficient amount of sleep. This requires going to bed at a decent time. One cannot stay up half the night, miss out on needed sleep, and then expect to pray effectively. Effective prayer requires organization and discipline-characteristics that are sadly lacking in many today. Such people can never expect to make the kind of contact with God required to overcome and qualify for the Kingdom of God. Praying at times of peak energy makes one’s prayer effective and meaningful.<br />If applied, the suggestions given in this article can bring a whole new meaning and dedication to one’s life. We should not relegate prayer to some insignificant aspect of our Christian profession. Effective prayer is the key to contact with God, and contact with God is the key to salvation.<br />HOW TO CONTROL UR THOTS<br />You can carry thoughts around that push you toward depression, retribution, and psychosis. Learn to train your thoughts and plan your emotions so that no gets hurt.<br /> <br />You Will Need Responsibility, Self-control, Self-counseling, Pen and paper, Visualization techniques, and Meditation techniques.<br /> <br />Step 1: Accept responsibility<br />Accept and believe that your thoughts are up to you, that you are already in control. You must take responsibility for what occurs to you and understand the patterns.<br /> <br />Step 2: Talk to yourself<br />Talk to yourself aloud, as if you were another person. Counsel yourself, tracing thought origins like a private investigator – concentrate on negative thoughts and explore what the fear is.<br /> <br />Step 3: Write and face it<br />Write down negative thoughts and visualize what you think will happen if nothing is done. Follow through with actions that defeat your obsessions about helplessness.<br /> <br />Step 4: Rate your thoughts<br />Rate the thoughts that occur to you on the basis of importance or regularity and set out to reduce occurrences of the self-defeating ones.<br /> <br />Step 5: Imagine what you want<br />Imagine what you want in your life. Write these things down to practice the habits that make change real, and free your life of angst.<br /> <br />Step 6: Cherish what you have<br />Cherish what you have, meditating on the beauty in your life. Plan to do this every day, or every hour if necessary.<br /> <br />Step 7: Practice from now on<br />Practice positive thinking every day in a disciplined, peaceful way to make the control of your thoughts – and the actions that follow – habitual<br />