PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING
Sadly, we live in a day when we are so blessed yet many people had rather forget God. We are so prosperous yet many are ungrateful to God for His blessings. In the United States we have enjoyed unprecedented prosperity and yet we fail to recognize that God is the source of these blessings. You have more cloths in your closet than many of your ancestors possessed in their entire lifetime. Your houses, in past generations, would have set you just below the highest nobility. Kings of old would have gone to war to acquire your telephone, air conditioner, car, television and computer. Our cry today should be, "Lord teach us to pray." Prayer is one of the greatest blessings God has given His children. We are weak and always stand in need of prayer. Always remember, God answers the prayer of His faithful children. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20) This is a specific reference to joining together with others in prayer.
Prayer is a glorious privilege of the child of God. John 9:31 teaches us that God does not hear sinners. "Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him." The man who said this was not an inspired man but what he said was truth. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." (Psalms 66:18) This principle would lead me to ask, have you become a Christian and are you faithful to God so your prayer can be answered? To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (John 8:24), repent of sins (Luke 13:3), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). After baptism you must continue to love God with your whole heart if you expect answers to prayers. (Matthew 22:37-40) God is our Creator. He is the giver of life both in this world and in the world to come. Through Him life has meaning and purpose.
God answers prayers that are prayed in faith. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord." (James 1:5-7) God deserves both our faith and our gratitude.
God answers prayers prayed with urgency. "And He said to them, Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him; and he will answer from within and say, do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Luke 11:5-9) Our prayer provides an opening for God to act in and through us and others. We must pray fervent prayers with great urgency. We must pray energized and aggressive prayers.
God answers prayers prayed by righteous men and women. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (James 5:16) God listens to those who fear Him, who stand in awe of His greatness, who goodness and power. "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." (Malachi 3:16-17)
God answers prayers that are prayed persistently. "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." (Luke 18:1) Scriptures teach that Christians must be committed to prayer and consistent in prayer. Jesus said that we "ought always to pray." Prayer is more than an obligation. It is also an opportunity. Through prayer we stay in touch with God. Through prayer we change our lives, our world and the lives of others. We ought to pray and not faint or lose heart! Keep praying. Do not give up! "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)
God answers prayers prayed from a humble heart. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:7-10) Our heart and life must be under control when we pray. Let us preserve in prayer with quietness and modesty of heart. Let us pray humbly confessing our sins. When we pray with a humble heart we will receive pardon and answered prayers.
God answers prayers that are prayed sincerely. "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." (Matthew 6:5-6) A sincere prayer implies that you are willing to do anything you can do to serve God and build up his kingdom. How could we even imagine that we could pray and then not do our best in serving God?
Prayer is the opportunity and privilege of talking to God. Let us never fall short in our prayer life because this will have an effect on everything we do or say. What an honor to be able to speak to God and give Him thanks in the name of His Son! God desires our prayers. "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." (1 Timothy 2:8) Are you praying "without ceasing"? (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18) The Bible says, "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." (Colossians 3:15.) God has been so good to us. It is God's will that we be thankful. Our thanksgiving should never be limited to one day or even one week. "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalm 107:21)
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA