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KEYS TO AN EFFECTIVE PRAYER LIFE

Everybody would like to have a powerful and effective prayer life but there are things about this subject than many Christians have never been taught. Prayer is simply talking to God, no more and no less. This can be done at any time and in any place. Psalm 100 is one of the shortest psalms (consisting of only 5 verses) never the less it has much to say to us on this subject. "Make a joyful noise unto The Lord, all you lands. Serve The Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing."

Know that The Lord he is God: it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless his name. For The Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures for all generations."

If you want The Lord to hear your prayers and act upon them then do what this psalm suggests, enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. It does not mean that you cannot share your heart with Him when you are going through a time of trouble but doing it this way at the beginning helps you to get things into proper focus.

We have so much to be grateful for, being delivered from Hell, given salvation a guarantee that we shall spend eternity in the presence of God Himself, His mercies are new every morning and His love (for you) endures forever and ever. That alone is wonderful enough to thank and praise God for all eternity.

Once you have become properly focused then you can bring before God whatever is on your heart and it may be that He will share with you some of the things that are on His heart also. Psalm 142 tells us the following: "I cried unto The Lord with my voice; with my voice unto The Lord did I make my supplication.

I poured out my complaint before him; I showed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then you knew my path. In the way wherein I walked they laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.

I cried unto you, O Lord: I said, you are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise your name: the righteous shall compass me about; for you shall deal bountifully with me."

When David was going through a bad time he poured out his troubles before The Lord, and as we can see from this psalm he went away with his faith increased if not restored. He began by telling The Lord of his trouble and ended up getting his problems into focus when he was reminded of how great and mighty

The Lord our God really is. Clearly we can see from this psalm that David was so very close to The Lord through his prayer life. We share things like this with our closest friends and God wants so much that we would treat Him as our closest friends because that is exactly what He wants to be.

We can talk to God anywhere and at anytime, we even do not have to be alone. In Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus we read in chapter 6 and verses 18 and 19: "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."

In other words when you are going through a troubled time don't do what the worldly people would do and drown your sorrows with drink and making yourself drunk but take your trouble to The Lord, you will get far more success and satisfaction doing that. Many people talk about Philippians chapter 4 v 19 as being the provision of The Lord but say nothing about verse 18.

The two verses must be taken together or the latter verse will be out of context. Verses 18 and 19 read: "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things that were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. "These verses say in effect that if we are caring for other people outside our own family and we are generous to them then The Lord will look after and be generous to us also, such is the biblical principle.

God desires so much that we trust Him and believe His word, therefore if there is a problem in our lives or a lack that urgently needs meeting bring it before The Lord, leave it with Him and believe that He will either give you the wisdom to deal with the situation yourself or that He will deal with the problem Himself on your behalf. Doubting prayers are rarely heard. Let us come before The Lord in faith and thanksgiving.

There are two examples in scripture, one from the Old Testament another from a parable that Jesus told that show us there are occasions when our prayers need to be persistent before we see the answer to them that we desire. The first is the passage in Daniel chapter 10 where the angel comes to Daniel to encourage him.

In verses 10 to 13 of this chapter we read: "Behold, a hand touched me, and me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. He said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto you, and stand upright: for unto you am I now sent. When he had spoken these word unto me, I stood trembling.

Then said he unto me, fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to chasten yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I am come because of those words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia."

The prince of the kingdom of Persia is not a human being but a demonic force, just one of many causing trouble around the globe. This should not surprise us for we read in Ephesians chapter 6 verses 12 and 13 remind us: We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Therefore take unto yourselves the whole armour of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. "The New Testament reminder that we should be persistent in our prayers comes in a parable that Jesus told known to many as the importunate widow, it is found in Luke chapter 18 verses 1 to 8 and reads as follows:

"He spoke a parable unto them to this end that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, there was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, avenge me of mine adversary. He would not for a while: but afterward he said to himself, though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow trouble me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

The Lord said, hear what the unjust judge says, shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man come shall he find faith on the earth?"

The message of these two scriptural passages is obvious, do not give up praying for what you need and desire for there is a spiritual battle going on in heavenly places, unless there is a fault in you continue to pray and know for sure that eventually you will see what you are asking for come into being.

There is something else about spiritual warfare that Jesus taught His disciples but is much neglected and overlooked by many churches today. These particular scriptures will come up time and time again in these studies because they are so important. The first is found in Matthew's gospel chapter 12 and verse 29 and it reads as follows: "Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man?

Then he will spoil his house. "The second is similar to it and read as follows: "Verily I say unto you, whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by my Father who is in heaven.

Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. "In both scriptures these are the things that Jesus told His disciples. If we do not do what Jesus has advised us to do then we cannot see the results that would otherwise have come about. Many people have either misunderstood or misinterpreted this scripture (in some cases both) as it clearly says that whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Do not ask God to do the binding and loosing, that is your job, further you have been given the authority to do it so go ahead and use that God-given authority. There is no point in you having this authority if God has got to do these things for Himself.

There are some things in scripture we are commanded to pray for. One of these is for all who are in authority over us. That means local and national government, the police force and anything and everything else that has legitimate authority over us. Here we shall not include our Pastors and leaders as they are included in a scripture that we shall be looking at very shortly.

I Timothy chapter 2 verses 1 to 4 are very important, especially to the subject that we are looking at now. They read: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all who are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."

So what about prayer for your minister, Pastor and leaders? To see a scripture that is very relevant to that we must turn to the book of Exodus chapter 17 and read verses 9 to 13 which say the following: "Moses said unto Joshua, choose men, and go out to fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.

So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. It came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel had the advantage: and when he let down his hand, Amalek had the advantage.

But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword."

In that scripture the leaders of Israel experienced more and more victory as their leaders were supported throughout, surely then if we pray for our Pastor and the leaders every day (even if it is only for a short time) then they will see more and more victory against the enemy also.

However, there are two other things that must be taken into account. The first of these is found in Psalm 66 verse 18 we read: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me" The second is a scripture that most people think is not associated with the parable that goes before it, but in fact they are all one section of the words of Jesus to His disciples.

These can be found in Mark chapter 11 verses 20 to 26. "In the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. Peter calling to remembrance said unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree that you cursed is withered away. Jesus answering said unto them, have faith in God.

I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be removed, and be cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things he says shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he says. Therefore I say unto you, whatever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.

When you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anybody: that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses. "Want to know how your intercession can become dynamic?

A look at the following scriptures will certainly aid you in that. Genesis chapter 18 verses 16 to 33 tells the story of Abraham's intercession with God for the sake of his nephew and Lot's family. When we intercede for the lost it should be as though we had a personal interest in seeing the people come to salvation.

The account given reads thus: "The men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. The Lord said, shall I hide from Abraham that thing I am going to do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of The Lord, to do justice and judgment; that The Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he has spoken of him. The Lord said, because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it that has come unto me; and if not, I will know.

The men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before The Lord. Abraham drew near, and said, Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked? What if there be fifty righteous people within the city: will you also destroy and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous that are in there?

It would be far from you to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from you: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? The Lord said, if I find in Sodom fifty righteous people within the city, then I will spare the whole place for their sakes.

Abraham answered and said, behold now, I have taken upon myself to speak unto the Lord, who is but dust and ashes: perhaps there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: will you destroy the whole city for lack of five? And he said, if I find there forty five righteous people I will not destroy it. Abraham spoke unto God once again and said, perhaps there shall be forty found there. And He said, I will not do it for forty's sake. Abraham said unto God let not The Lord be angry, and I will speak: perhaps there shall be only thirty found there? And God said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

Abraham said behold now, I have taken upon myself to speak unto The Lord: perhaps there shall be twenty found there. And The Lord said, I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty. Then Abraham said let not The Lord be angry, and I will speak yet once more: perhaps only ten shall be found there. The Lord said, I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten. The Lord went his way as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place."

Another great example of intercession is found in Daniel chapter 9 where Daniel intercedes for the people. In Daniel chapter 9 verses 15 to 21 we get a picture of what happened when Daniel was before God interceding for the people of Israel. "Now, Lord our God, who has brought your people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and has gained renown, as at this day.

We have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all your righteousness, I beseech you, let your anger and fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, your holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a reproach to all who are about us.

Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of your servant, and his supplications, and cause your face to shine upon your sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord's sake. O my God, incline your ear, and hear; open your eyes, and see our desolation, and the city that is called by your name: for we do not present our supplications before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercies.

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for your own sake, O my God: for your city and your people are called by your name. Whilst I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before The Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whilst I was speaking in prayer, Gabriel whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. "What effect would there be if you began interceding for your nation in this way? Is it something you regard as worth trying?

Finally scripture speaks of two kinds of fasting, we should be doing both. The first is what Jesus taught His disciples to do and the second comes from the book of Isaiah. In Israel and in the book of Acts Jesus and His disciples would fast for a number of reasons, all of which are made very clear in scripture.

Direction, intercession, wisdom, instruction from God, discernment, healing and deliverance. Since Jesus did it and taught His disciples to do it then we should do it also. Fasting is actually going without food for at least 24 hours and only drinking water between times.

There is another fast referred to in Isaiah chapter 58 verses 6 to 8 inclusive read as follows: "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to give bread to the hungry, and bring in the poor that are cast out of their homes?

When you see the naked, cover him; and hide not yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of The Lord shall be your reward."

James chapter 1 verse 22 reads as follows: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. "Every Christian must be a doer not just a hearer. If we go forth and practice the things we are learning then quite literally the world would be a very different place.

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