Powerful Prayer Requires Practice #TraditionallySouthside

The second principle that we see is that Elijah was a man of persistent communication. Do you remember the definition of prayer you learned as a child? Prayer is “talking to God.” As you got older, someone probably added to that definition and told you that prayer is a two-way communication. Read the story of Elijah, and do you know what you will find? Elijah having a conversation with God. He prayed, and the rain stopped. God told Elijah where to go to be taken care of. Elijah prayed and a dead boy was brought back to life. Over and over again, we see that Elijah was consistently talking to God.

You and I need to understand this very important fact. Powerful prayer requires practice. I don’t mean working to perfect your prayers. I mean praying on a consistent basis. Paul said in 1 Thess. 5:17 that we are to “Pray without ceasing.” And I think that Paul had two things in mind when he wrote this verse. First, I think he meant that we should always be in close fellowship with the Lord and live with such an awareness of His presence that prayer comes as naturally to us as breathing. When a need arises, we breathe a prayer on the spot. When we think of God’s goodness and love, we offer up thanks immediately. Second, I think Paul meant that we should never let there be a break in the pattern of our prayers.

Do you remember the story of Daniel in the Old Testament? He was such a righteous man that his enemies knew that the only way they were going to get rid of him was to convince the king to outlaw praying to anyone other than the king. And when Daniel heard about the decree, do you know what he did? He went home, threw open the window, and prayed “as was his custom since early days.” You say, what’s the big deal? He got thrown into the lion’s den for his trouble. Yes, he did, but he was also delivered from the lion’s den. And on top of that, in chapter 9 of Daniel, he was praying again. And Gabriel came and said, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given…for you are highly esteemed.” And I think it was because Daniel was consistent in his prayer life.

It’s a shame that so many Christians approach prayer like they do a coffee break. Give God five minutes of their time then rush back to the important things like visiting, preaching, teaching, and committee meetings. My friends, these are important things, but I firmly believe that we could accomplish more through a consistent practice of purposeful prayer. Powerful prayer requires purpose.

In James 4:3, James says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” You see, the right purpose that leads to powerful prayer is to pray for God’s glory. Elijah’s purpose in praying for rain was not to say, “Look at how great I am!” His purpose was to point to the one who controls heaven and earth and bring glory to Him. His single solitary desire was to bring the people of Israel back to the worship of Yahweh alone.

Jesus taught us to pray in that way. Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV) 9  In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10  Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11  Give us this day our daily bread. 12  And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

It’s all about God’s glory. And listen to me now. I’m not talking about trying to manipulate God by offering Him praise or by making promises to Him. When we give Him the glory and honor He deserves no matter what our situation, while this life will never be perfect, we will know perfect happiness and we will be satisfied with having what God has given us.

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