The Purpose of Prayer in the Christian Life

God tells us to pray (Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:22; 1Thess. 5:17), and Jesus makes a promise, “Ask and it shall he given you…” He promises that He will hear, and answer, the prayers of His people (Matt. 7:7; James 5:16; 1 Peter 3:12). All genuine believers believe in the power of prayer, but prayer will not set aside the laws of God. Not in the physical realm, nor in the spiritual. When Miriam sinned against God, all the prayers of her brothers, Moses and Aaron, could not set aside God’s law that she remain outside the camp for seven days (Num. 12). Paul prayed to the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” but the answer was “NO” (2 Cor. 12:8-10). Sometimes God answers our prayers in this way, because He knows what is the best for us. When sickness and death come, when troubles and trials beset us, we pray to God, and we should, for “…He careth for you…The prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (1 Peter 5:7; James 5:16).

God states some conditions for prayer to be acceptable to Him. First, we must be willing to listen to Him: “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination…God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, He heareth” (Prov. 28:9; John 9:31). To expect God to hear our prayers while we refuse to obey Him is to expect too much. “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). The same apostle writes, “…if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us” (1 John 5:14). Jesus faced the agony of trial, humiliation and death as He prayed in Gethsemane, saying, “Father…not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). That must be our attitude as we pray, “Thy will be done.” Not ours! We must hear God’s will, worship God, ask according to His will, and then we will have the assurance that God will hear and answer our prayers. His answer may be “yes,” or “no,” or “wait a while,” and it may not be to our satisfaction, but we can be assured that which ever answer He gives, it will be the one which will be the best for us, for God has all power, all knowledge, all wisdom, and He knows better than we what will be the best for us. Believe, obey God’s gospel plan of salvation and then He will hear and answer your prayers (John 9:31; Heb. 5:9; Matt.7:21).

I.D. Byars
Hooker, OK

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