In the Ministerial Association offices we are frequently asked to give to the field suggestions for prayer meeting topics. Bible instructors as well as ministers' wives on many occasions can be called on to give such a study, or even a series for a month. It is then helpful to have a few leads, especially when time is at a premium. We would appreciate elders and workers remembering us with their material for prayer meetings.—Editor.
I. Introduction: Men Have Always Prayed
1. For different things.
a. For lengthened life. 2 Kings 20:5, 6.
b. For help. Daniel 9:16.
c. For mercy. Psalm 51.
d. For rain. James 5:18.
e. For a son. 1 Samuel 1:11.
2. In many places.
a. In the deep. Jonah 2:1.
b. On the housetop. Acts 10:9.
c. On the bed. 2 Kings 20:2.
d. In the wilderness. Genesis 21:16.
e. In the street. Luke 8:41.
f. In jail. Acts 16:25.
g. In the mountain. Mark 6:46.
h. On the cross. Luke 23:42.
3. With varying types of expression.
a. Short prayers. Matthew 14:30: Luke 18:13.
b. Long prayers. 2 Chronicles 6:12-42.
II. Definitions of Prayer
1. Prayer is an invitation to God. Mark 5:22, 23; 1:40-42.
2. Prayer is work. Deuteronomy 4:41, 42. "We must not attempt to achieve by supplication what can be achieved only by supplication and service."
3. Prayer is part of the Christian's defense equipment. Ephesians 6:18.
4. Prayer is taking time to talk to God, having time to listen to God.─Abraham's conversation with God. Gen. 18:22-33. Moses' conversation about the welfare of the people. Exodus 32:31-34.
5. Prayer is laying hold of God's highest willingness. Luke 11:9,10.
6. Prayer is power. 1 King 18:36-38, 42,45.
7. Prayer is communication with heaven. Psalms 86:7; 91:15; Isaiah 65:24.
That we may enter into this communion with Heaven and enjoy the experience of conversation with the Lord.
HOW TO PRAY
1. Christ's formula for triumphant living. Luke 18:1.
2. Prayer, the greatest and most neglected force in Christian service. James 5:16.
3. The law of prayer is as real as that of gravity, germination, or the movement of the heavenly bodies.
II. God's Rules for Prayer
1. Pray without hypocrisy. Proverbs 28:9; Matthew 6:5; 15:7, 8.
a. Jesus refused to grant a sign to the Pharisees. Mark 8:11, 12.
b. He refused to give His credentials to those who opposed Him. Mark 11:33.
c. But Jesus never refused an earnest request for help.
2. Pray privately. Matthew 6:6. God said to Elijah, "Hide thyself" (1 Kings 17:3) before He said, "Shew thyself" (1 Kings 18:1).
3. Pray in faith. Matthew 9:27-29; Mark 9:23, 24; 11:20- 24; Hebrews 11:6.
4. Pray definitely. Matthew 6:7, 8; Luke 11:5. Be specific. "What things soever ye desire." Mark 11:24.
5. Pray with importunity (with urgency of request, persistently).
a. Parables that teach the result of importunity. Luke 11:5-9; 18:1-7.
b. The pleading of the Syrophenician woman. Matthew 15:21-28.
6. Pray submissively.
a. God knows better than we. Romans 8:26.
b. Even Christ prayed that God's will be done. Matthew 26:39.
7. Pray forgivingly. Matthew 5:23, 24,43-45; Mark 11:25,26.
8. Pray in Jesus' name. Luke 11:11-13; John 14:14; 16:25-27.
That we may learn to follow God's rules for prayer and receive the blessings He promises.
JESUS' PRAYER EXAMPLE
a. "Pray ye." Matthew 6:9.
b. "Pray always." Luke 21:36.
c. Pray for laborers. Matthew 9:38.
d. Pray for your persecutors. Matthew 5:44.
e. Pray for spiritual and physical protection. Matthew 24:20; 26:41.
f. Pray in secret. Matthew 6:6.
g. Pray as Jesus taught. Matthew 6:9.
2. Jesus' example.
a. "I pray" found four times in John 17.
b. Jesus' secret prayers. Matthew 14:23; 26:36; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 6:12.
c. Jesus' public prayers. Matthew 11:25; Luke 11:1; John 11:41; 17:1.
3. Jesus' prayer for Himself. John 17:1, 2.
a. The hour is come,
b. Jesus pleads His relation to God.
c. He pleads God's glory.
d. He pleads for His redemptive mission,
e. He pleads His holy living. John 17:4, 5, 8; Philippians 2:8.
f. He pleads His equality with God before the incarnation. John 17:5; Colossians 1:17.
4. Jesus' prayer for His disciples. John 17:6-19.
a. For the security of the eleven,
b. For the sanctification of the eleven,
c. For all who would ever believe in Him.
d. For the perfection of all believers.
5. Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane. Mark 14:35, 36.
a. He prayed that if man's redemption were possible some other way, He might be spared, suffering and death,
b. He prayed that God's will be done.
6. Jesus' present intercession. Romans 8:33, 34; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24.
a. Jesus is our court advocate against Satan, our court adversary,
b. He is the high priest presenting His own blood in the heavenly sanctuary.
That we may have our joys and sorrows to the Lord in prayer often and avail ourselves of His willingness and power to present our petitions to the Father.
HINDRANCES TO PREVAILING PRAYER
1. Statements emphasizing the value of prayer:
a. James, by the Holy Spirit: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16.
b. Andrew Murray: "In relation to His people God works only in answer to prayer."
c. Dr. Jowett: "I'd rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach."
d. Cortland Myers: "God's greatest agency for the winning of men back to Himself is the prayer of other men. How few ever enter into the positive, practical power of prayer! It is the mightiest force in the universe, and the Christian world is blind to this fact."
e. Joseph Neesima: "Let us advance upon our knees."
2. Satan tries his best to make effective all hindrances to prayer.
II. Hindrances to Avoid and Overcome
1. Disobedience to God. Deuteronomy 4:30, 31; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 1:15, 19, 20; Zechariah 7:13.
a. Abraham's prayers answered because of obedience. Genesis 22:18.
b. John's rule for answer to prayer. 1 John 3:22.
2. Sin cherished. Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1,2.
3. Unbelief. Mark 11:24; Hebrews 11:6; James 1:6, 7.
4. Marital discord or home discord. Ephesians 6:1-4; 1 Peter 3:7.
5. Pride. Job 35:12, 13.
a. Abraham's humility. Genesis 18:27.
b. God's attitude toward the humble. 2 Chronicles 12:5-7; 12:32-36; Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 57:15; 66:2; 1 Peter 5:5, 6.
6. Unforgiveness. Matthew 6:14, 15; 18:22; 1 John 4:20.
7. Selfishness. Proverbs 21:13; James 4:3.
a. Jacob in search of God's blessing. Genesis 35:2, 3.
b. Idols in hearts. Ezekiel 14:3, 4.
c. Worldliness an idol. John 2:15, 16.
d. Covetousness. Colossians 3:5.
9. Unpaid debts.
a. Restitution, Zacchaeus' first thought at conversion. Luke 19:8.
b. Philippian jailer did all he could to right wrongs. Acts 16:33, 34.
For a decision to lay aside any of the above hindrances in our own lives.
Mrs. Georgina G. Hayden served for many years as a mother, nurse and Bible instructor in Peru.