This blog was written by my sister, Connie Willoughby. She was baptized and added to the Lord’s Church some 60 years ago. This is her explanation on the importance and power of prayer.
I BELIEVE–not in Santa, the Easter bunny, or the tooth fairy!! I believe in the One that created me and sustains me. I read in Ephesians that this very One planned, even before the count of time, that I could become his daughter. My God loves me and I love Him. I thirst for a relationship with Him. The means to this relationship is different than any human, earthly relationship because of the way God and I communicate. He tells me through His word everything He wants me to know about Himself, this world, and how He wants me to live in this world. He tells me about heaven and his desire that I would one day dwell with Him there. I, then in turn, verbally communicate with God through prayer.
Volumes have been written by men about the subject of prayer. Many people find themselves intimidated by the very act of praying. Over the years I have come to believe there is a time each day for formal prayer and time all day–every day for conversational prayer.
The model for a formal prayer is the Lord’s prayer, found in Matthew 6: 9-13. A formal prayer should be done in a predetermined quiet time and should include praise to God (Matthew 6:9), confessions of ones sins ( 1 John 1:9), thanksgiving to God for His gifts (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and a time for requests (Mark 11:24). This a very good time to read from His Word, creating a true time of devotion. Setting aside time each day at a specific time requires discipline, but it reaps rewards untold.
We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 to “pray without ceasing”. I believe this includes conversational prayer all through out the day, spoken verbally or silently. These prayers are often praise for the moment or pleas for help for a current problem, but it is a constant sense of being in communication with God. Conversational prayer or visits with God help me realize my complete dependence on Him.
We are told in God’s Word that he will answer prayer. A few such scriptures are as follows: Matthew 7:7, Matthew 18:19 and 1 John 5:14-15. While the promise is to answer all prayers we must remember that God is in control of what those answers are to be and how quickly they will be answered. God has our spiritual well-being in His mind with the answer of every prayer. It is pretty safe to assume I won’t find a new Cadillac in the driveway just because my best friend got one!
As flawed humans, we have a difficult time understanding God’s timeline. When we pray a fervent prayer we expect an immediate answer. Recently I had an answer to a pray that I had been offering to God for 30 years. Since God’s action depended on the heart of another as well as my heart I knew wasn’t the right time spiritually–but 30 years??? When this prayer was answered in April of this year our family could see the hand of God on each step. No one likes to have to exercise patience, but God shows His love in abundance when we pray in love and faith.
Prayer is not magic. It is not a coin to put in a vending machine, expecting blessings in return. It is communication between man and God about man’s needs and desires. God’s answer is dependent on what is best for the spirituality of His child.
In our fast paced, self centered world we often neglect being grateful It grieves God when he answers prayers and those answers are not acknowledged. Luke 17:11-19 tells a story of Jesus’ healing of ten lepers. They all went away rejoicing, yet only one returned to thank Jesus. Ask yourself if you tend to be like the nine or are you truly grateful like the one. You might keep a list of prayer requests and check the list frequently. When you discover a request that has been answered, even if you aren’t pleased with the answer, take time to thank the Father for the answer. GIVE THANKS in all circumstances for that is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.