Prostrateology is the theological term for the doctrine of prayer. Prayer is the oldest form of worship and is universal to all types of religions and believers. Even atheists rely on prayer in some form or another to make it from day to day. Man has always marveled at how things happen in life and how to change those things that have not yet happened. The answer for the Christian has always been prayer to God, Jehovah, in the name of His son Jesus.
Without Prayer, You Have Nothing
Nothing happens outside of prayer. It may not have been your prayer, but somebody else's prayer that has brought you to where you are today. Prayer is the prerequisite of possibility. There is no possibility where there is no prayer. Many lives have been changed as a result of an answered prayer. One can only imagine the billions of lives that have been changed as a result of someone's prayer. Imagine, if you will, how many prayers are offered up every second, every minute, and every hour of every day. That's a lot of prayers and a lot of impacted lives.
When God Says No
Each answered prayer affects so many things, people, and situations. For each prayer answered in the positive, some prayer must have been answered in the negative. Some things we won't get from God because someone else prayed for that very same thing. And God could only do one thing or the other. For instance, we might ask ourselves how God chooses one minister to become a pastor of a church, when all the candidates were qualified. All candidates prayed, and others prayed for those candidates as well. Yet only one is chosen. One prayer was answered, but the outcome affected all involved. How then do we effectively pray?
Timing Is Everything
First, you have to pray. Thinking about something does not make it a prayer. The story of Samson in the Bible (Judges 13-16) gives an illustration of what prayer is. All through Samson's life he never mentioned God or even prayed to God. Surely Samson knew it was God giving him strength, wisdom, and favor to do the things he did, but he never called on God. His life seemed to be going great; he never seemed to need anything. It seems, however, there was a search going on in Samson's spirit. All the while, God had deliverance for him, but Samson never asked for it until his life was almost over, at a young age. When Samson finally did pray, God immediately answered his prayer. Timing is everything. Samson's prayer was too late to change the course of his life, yet just in time to avenge his death.
The Importance of Honesty In Prayer
Samson's prayer at the end of his life affected not only his future, but the future of others as well. At the time of his death, his people were in danger, his enemies were present to mock him, but his people were out of harm's way. It was the right time for Samson to die - his people were safely away and his enemies were present to die with him. His simple prayer at the end of his life defeated more enemies in death than he ever did in life. Samson knew his death would be the result of his answered prayer and accepted it and prayed his prayer anyway. Honesty in prayer is important because prayer really changes things. When you pray, you must make an honest assessment in regards to the effects of an answered prayer. Many of our prayers are not answered because the ultimate effect would be contradictory to what we really want. Sometimes we may ask for a new job or a promotion, but we are not really willing to take on the additional responsibilities the position requires. Some of us would have no job if God had given us the job we thought we wanted! Just because something looks or sounds good, doesn't make it good for us. The idea of some blessings are attractive, yet so dangerous. Honesty in prayer launches us into the best results when the prayer is answered. Great thought has to be come before prayer, just as John the Baptist came before Jesus, to make a way for the Messiah. Think about it. Then pray.
Prayer Should be Coupled With Faith
Most of all our prayer must be coupled with faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of the things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Without faith there is no possibility in prayer. Prayer without faith is just empty conversation, and wasted time, breath, and effort. The Bible teaches us that all things are possible. Christians love to quote that verse, but often fail to complete the statement. The point of the possibility is for those who would only believe (Mark 9:23). Circumstances and situations can usher in doubt, and doubt can accompany itself with our prayer. But prayer refuses to travel any place with doubt as its passenger. As powerful as prayer is, it is no match for doubt. Doubt renders the most elegant, thought out and sincere prayer impotent. Doubt always brings fear along with it. Fear always deactivates possibility.
How do we know when we have caused there to be no possibilities in prayer? Look closely and examine your prayers. Root out the fear in your life. You will find fear dressed up as laziness, or fear dressed up as procrastination, or as excuses, and the list goes on. How prepared are you for an answered prayer? Here are some factors to consider: Have you considered who can benefit from your prayer other than you? Is your prayer in the will of God? Does your prayer have sacrifice attached to it? And, finally - Do you believe in the possibilities in prayer?
Minister Anthony Bullock is a Contributing Writer to Urban Christianz Ministries, which can be found at http://www.urbanchristianz.com. Visit Urban Christianz Ministries to find articles and practical advice about spirituality, God, relationships and other contemporary Christian issues.