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Effective and regular communication is a part of every healthy, personal relationship, including our relationship with God. Prayer is simply communication with God – talking and listening. When you talk to God, you don’t have to use fancy words or say special phrases – just be yourself and speak from your heart; and be prepared to “listen” quietly in his presence (Matthew 6:7)
Prayer for Forgiveness
Just as conversations between people may serve different purposes, people pray for different reasons. Most people have started their Christian life by asking God to forgive their sin. They have come to the realisation that they are unable to live by God’s standard of moral perfection and so they call on God for his forgiveness and help.
God’s forgiveness is assured! God went to enormous lengths, sending his son Jesus to earth to pay the full penalty for our sins with his death on a cross. So when we pray and own up to our sinfulness, and say we are sorry, God promises to forgive us and cleanse our hearts from the stain of sin (1 John 1:9)
Prayer for Companionship
Because the Holy Spirit lives inside Christians, God is always with us. We can talk to him any time of the day, at any place, in any circumstance. We can share our thoughts, joys, needs and concerns with him. Spending time alone with God, in his presence, is one of the most precious joys of the Christians life.
For many Christians, prayer doesn’t come easily; however prayer is one of the most powerful resources we have and so must not be neglected. Through prayer God strengthens us, comforts us and guides us. Spurgeon (a famous English preacher of the 19th century) once said, “Practise prayer.” Prayer is spiritual and not an exact science; however as we make prayer a part of our daily Christian life, the Holy Spirit will guide us and help us to pray more effectively (Romans 8:26-27).
Prayer for Guidance and Help
For many people, prayer is a last resort. They only think of prayer when they are in a difficult or unpleasant situation – some crisis. In fact most people, when they think of prayer, think that it is asking God for help.
God is a loving Father who desires to help his children. As we practise prayer, develop our relationship with him, and grow in faith, we learn to pray according to his will. Praying according to God’s will helps us to more effectively receive his blessing and assistance in our lives, as well as in the lives of others we pray for (James 5:16b).
When you pray for help, pray in faith. Believe that God hears you. Believe that God wants to help you. Believe that God will help you. Know that God wants the best for you and will answer your prayers in ways that will benefit you and promote your spiritual growth. (See Matthew 21:22; James 1:6, 5:15)
It is tremendously reassuring to know that we can place our lives and all its circumstances into God’s hands through prayer. Because of this, prayer should be our first impulse, not our last resort. The Apostle Paul wrote about this:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Prayer and Worship
God is wonderful! He is supreme, eternal, all-powerful and all-knowing. Despite his transcendence and awesome power, he is also close-by, compassionate and caring. Moreover God is magnificent, beautiful and glorious! True knowledge and appreciation of who God is, what he has done, and what he continues to do for us, should inspire our sincere, deep, joyful and respectful worship of him.
Worship can be as simple as having an attitude of devotion, gratitude and obedience towards God. It can also involve verbally expressing the greatness of God and your commitment to him. This can be said or sung. The words may be your own and be spontaneous, or they may come from a written text. You can worship alone, with family or a few friends, or in church meeting of many people.
God wants us to worship him! He wants us to worship him, not for his sake, but for ours. When we worship God we are reminded of his power and love, and this strengthens and revives our faith in him. When we worship and focus on God and his greatness we get a truer perspective on life.
Worship is not just about saying words or thinking wonderful thoughts about God. Like prayer, when we worship God we are connecting with him spiritually. [Worship can also be expressed when we are obedient to God in practical ways.]
The Bible does not stipulate a certain posture for prayer, however the most common stance seems to be standing with hands raised (1 Kings 8:22; 1 Timothy 2:8). Interestingly, the Bible never says to “close your eyes and fold your hands” when you pray – the most common posture for western evangelical Christians.
You can kneel (Daniel 6:10), bow (Exodus 4:31), lie face down (2 Chronicles 20:18; Matthew 26:39) , sit, or walk around while you pray. You can pray as you drive the car, as you wash the dishes, or as you’re falling asleep at the end of the day. Different levels of intensity in prayer may lead you to different physical postures.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, Pray continually. So keep the lines of communication open with God, put prayer into practise and see what God will do. God uses our prayers.
More info on prayer here.