This is Part 2, of a 3 part Teaching series on Prayer and Faith.
Starting out the real basics of Prayer, Andy B takes a good look at what Prayer is. He also looks at when we should pray, how we should pray.
He also answers the question of what we can pray!
Returning to the most simplest forms of prayer – conversation - Andy B seeks to show us how prayer is a gift from God, that God desires us to use, because God uses our words to change situations around the world.
Andy B also reminds us that this doesn’t mean we get what we want – but that when we’re walking God, we’ll have everything we need, to do everything God is asking us to do.
If you want the PowerPoint slides Andy was using, click here for a PDF version.
In our first two, erm, teachings part we looked at What is Faith?
And we're looking at what is Faith and Prayer, and we are into, erm, part 2 now. We're looking at What is Prayer?
As part of this - do faith and prayer really fit together, is it important? Does it matter?
So what is prayer?
Well, at its simplest level, prayer is a conversation between us and God.
That's it. That's what prayer is. I could stop here, but I'm not going to!
Prayer is simply us conversing, communicating, having a conversation with God. It's speaking, and it's listening.
It's what we say and it's what we do. It's our lives as well.
It's using bigger words 'n little words, and it's all sorts of things.
But prayer, at its simplest, is simply us speaking with God. And the really exciting part is, God wants us to speak to Him - t's not just for the sake of it.
God really desires us to speak with Him. That's why He sent His son to die a cross, so we can have an internal relationship with Him.
So what can we pray for?
Well, everything! God cares about the details.
Look at the earth. Take one example - the hydrological cycle, something science discovered recently; something you can read about in the Old Testament from thousands of years ago. God was already telling us what the hydrological cycle was like.
Water taken up into the clouds and it falls back as rain.
The hydrological cycle. It's a water processing system.
We have a water filter in our house, because where we live, lots of limescale - lots of the UK has lots of limescale. If you do nothing with that, you put the water in a kettle it wrecks your kettle, because it turns it inside of your kettle to rock, to stone.
So we have a little water filter, and the water comes through and it cleans the water, it takes a limescale out so we can put it in our kettle. It's kind of, a bit like, a miniature - very localised - hydrological cycle. We're adding water and using it again.
That's the level of detail that God went to, to make sure we have clean water.
Just look at the earth. Look at what God did.
God is therefore, definitely, into the details of our lives. And if He's into the details of the worlds, and we're more important than anything we see - because we were made in His image - therefore, He's interested in the details of our lives.
Somebody once said 'Oh, God would never ask you to pray about whether you should have a Mars bar or or something different, in a shop, you know, is it a Mars bar or Twix or or an Aero, oh He would never do that.'
Do you know what? God would actually care about that because God cares about every detail. And if you think God doesn't care about this, then, where does that line for 'this' end? God cares about every detail!
So how should we pray?
What does prayer look like?
Well one of the things I love is that prayer can be groaning and moaning. The spirit interprets - the Holy Spirit - the comforter, the amazing, beautiful, Holy Spirit, that Jesus left when He went back to heaven. He ascended to heaven and left the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit, helps us, and helps us with our praying in different ways, we'll come into that in a bit, but we can even groan and the Holy Spirit will interpret that, into prayer.
Jesus sits at the right hand of God in heaven, in the throne room, praying and interceding for you and for me. That's how important prayer is. Jesus does that.
So the Lord's prayer. Let's let's start with the Lord's Prayer.
One of my biggest frustrations, as somebody who's been involved in ministry, is we see the Lord's Prayer, 'Okay, I can repeat the Lord's Prayer'.
As a boy in a school - that wasn't a Christian School - I learned to repeat the Lord's Prayer, erm, with Old English. And, erm, we moved on from there - we use modern English now, so there's no 'thee's' and 'thou's' - we use normal words, English words.
But being able to repeat the Lord's Prayer, whilst good - because all scripture is useful for teaching and all that - the Lords prayer is not just a piece of scripture just to rattle off, 'cos you know it.
And we've, we've seen that - certain denominations will just repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it, and it's great to repeat Scripture. But the Lords prayer isn't supposed to just be repeated, it's supposed to be a template for action!
We talked about this when we looked at What is Faith? We're saying that faith isn't just something we have, it's actually supposed to lead to action.
Prayer is supposed to lead to action.
The Lord's template - Jesus said this is how you should pray.
And when you break down the Lords prayer into segments, and we've done this many times - and people have their eyes opened, it's amazing to see - the Lord's Prayer is a template, that we can change to pray how we pray; the words we use.
It's a wonderful template.
Write it out. Write your own Lords prayer. Don't just repeat it. Learn it. Memorise it . It's scripture - brilliant. But also, in addition to that, use the Lord's Prayer as a template for how to pray.
Write your own version of the Lord's Prayer. "Our father, who art in heaven" - you might write "my dad. He is the king".
Now you just rewritten it. Now it's personal to you, and God loves it when we get personal with Him, because He got personal with us.
The Lords Prayer is a brilliant template. Learn it, memorise it.
Even better than that? Take it and make your own version!
Jesus reminds us to pray like He taught us. Not as parrots, to repeat what He said.
But if you can't say anything else, say what Jesus said. But Jesus encourages us to pray like Him, not to be exactly the same - we're on a journey to become more like Jesus.
But when it comes to praying, He wants us to pray like him. And Jesus prayed into different situations, in diff ways, different ways.
So when should we pray?
Well, there's all sorts of times you could pray.
Maybe it's the morning or the evening.
Maybe it's times, erm, of intimacy with your spouse.
Maybe it's when you're buying food in the supermarket.
Do you know what 's the easier question - when should you not pray?
And the simple answer is, never!
So what types of prayer are there?
Well, I'm just going to list a few. There are many.
Erm, petitioning to God - if you write a petition or you think about petition in the news, 150,000 signatures against something, it's lots of people saying the same thing. That's something we do quite frequently as a family. We petition God. We have a list. We read out the list, there's no real, kind of, spur of the moment stuff. It's just reading out a list of things we need to pray for.
Thanking God - equally important.
We have one maths we have two ears, therefore we should be thanking God far more than we actually we think.
We should listen to God far more as well.
But we need to thank God!
Prayers of healing - praying specifically into somebody's situation, that they can be healed, that's another type of prayer.
I've mentioned groaning and moaning. The Holy Spirit takes our moans.
Sometimes I've prayed and I've been crying so much I can't have any words, and it's just sound. Well, the Holy Spirit interprets that - which is very encouraging!
Erm, if you, like me, speak in tongues, then that's another form of prayer. But you're having the Holy Spirit give you the words to speak.
And the Psalms, are a lovely - if you can't think of a way of praying, get some of the Psalms, read the Psalm out, stick an Amen at the end, and now you're praying.
They're great, perfectly written, wonderful prayers. It takes you through all the sort of stuff that you should be going through - 'God, you've abandoned me, God, I know you love me, but God, where are you, and I'm gonna praise you, 'cos You are God and you are good. That's the Psalms.
Here's some't I heard along time ago, which I love.
God is everywhere, but God allows Himself to work within the limits of time and space, in order that we can speak with Him. That's how much He loves us. That's how much He wants to spend time with us. That's how much He wants us to spend time in prayer.
And prayer isn't just speaking at God - God wants us to pray because it changes situations. Jesus didn't just pray for the heck of it, Jesus prayed because the words of the prayer, spoken in faith - we'll come into that in the last section - those words spoken in faith, through prayer, are what heal people. People having faith - at that prayer - that's what healed them.
Prayer is just speaking, like we normally do!
Erm, I've been in churches where people are all grandstanding and 'look at me, I'm praying to God, and I'm using all these huge, amazing, theologically correct words', and if that's how they normally pray, then great. If it's not, then they're probably not praying from the heart, they're praying from the head. And God wants our heart - why did He choose David to become the King of Israel? Because David's heart was what God was seeking.
God is seeking your heart, He's seeking my heart - more than He's seeking our minds.
He doesn't work around our minds. He doesn't, erm, crowbar us into place. He doesn't bypass what we're thinking - that's the enemy's distraction.
God wants our heart.
Two ears, one mouth - I keep saying this.
We need to speak to God. Absolutely.
H desires us to communicate with Him in conversation.
But God wants us to listen to Him as well.
So what is prayer? Really simply, it's a conversation with God - in your closet, in your bedroom, on the toilet, in the shower, in the car, in the bus, at work.
It's a conversation with God.
Sometimes we use words. Sometimes it's, we, don't. But that's prayer, and it's a really simple way of talking with God.
Written by Andy B