For the Christian, prayer is simply our direct line to God and it is always on 24/7. My children know how frustrated I get whenever I call them and I get sent to voicemail either because they exhausted their phone batteries and didn't recharge or they placed their phones somewhere while they were elsewhere.
When praying to God, you can be sure that there is no point of failure. When we pray in Jesus name, heaven hears us instantly. There is no linking from one communication tower or network to another. It is instant and immediate!
Having defined what prayer is, the next logical question is, "Who is qualified to pray?" The only qualification for prayer is having a right standing with God. Without this, prayer is more of a wish list and a gamble. Naturally, the follow-up question would be, "How then can one earn this qualification? Do I need to register for a course and write an exam or do I need to go through some form of ritual to obtain this right standing with God?"
The clear answer to this question us, "There is nothing you can do to earn right standing with God". How then can we pray if we can't earn the qualification to pray? Well, the answer is also simple, Jesus already did all that is required to earn us that right standing with God. All that is required of us is to give our lives to Him. This is why the first thing that qualifies us to pray is to pray the prayer of forgiveness.
Does this mean therefore that if a person does not give his life to Christ, his/her prayers will not be answered? We can find the answer to that question in Proverbs 28:9, "God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law." and Psalm 66:18 "The Lord will not hear me if I hold on to sin in my heart".
Many books have been written about prayer and how to pray. While I encourage the reading of these books, I would rather that you look at the blueprint that the master Himself gave us. After all, if those books are not grounded on the principles laid out in what Jesus taught His disciples, then they are not worth reading.
In Luke chapter 11, the disciples of Jesus asked Him to teach them how to pray. In His response, He gave them and us by extension, a blueprint for prayer.
Our Father in Heaven - Our prayer is to our Father who is in Heaven. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (John 1: 12) Not everyone believes that God, the creator of heaven and earth is their father. In fact, their are religious faiths who balk at the idea that anyone can claim that they are children of God! As Christians, we don't claim this right based on anything we've done but on what Christ did.
Hallowed Be Your Name - Because God is our Father, we have intimacy with Him and we can come boldly into the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) However, we need to be mindful of who we are dealing with. We often take our intimacy with God for granted but we need to remember that He is a Holy God. We often remember and cherish the fact that He is a God of mercy but often forget that He is also a consuming fire. "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrew 12:28-29)
Your Kingdom Come - We look forward to when the prophecies of Christ to rule and reign on earth will be established but we also submit that little part of earth we occupy now to His rule and reign. This means we must be willing and ready to pull down any kingdoms taking the place of God in our lives and replace it with His Kingdom.
Your Will Be Done
We pray for God's will to be done on earth as His will is done in heaven. This is usually the point where we struggle. In many instances, we have it all figured out. We just want God to make it happen. We often forget the foundation to all our prayers is His will. John tells us the assurance we have when we pray according to God's will, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15)
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread (God's Provision)
This refers to God's provision. Sometimes it is easy to think that we don't need to bother God with 'trivial' things like the meals turning out well after cooking, the bus coming on time or being able to complete our shopping list. Instead we want to focus more on the big things like, God providing the deposit for a mortgage or money for a new car but these are not daily needs according to the blueprint Jesus gave us. He is telling is, "The Father is interested in providing what you need every day!"
Forgive Us Our Sins (God's Mercy)
The sin question always makes people uncomfortable. Even sinners don't like to be called sinners. Nobody wants to be told that they have done anything wrong. As we realise our need for "daily bread" we also need to realise our need for forgiveness of our sins. The twin lesson we learn from this is that when we have been blessed with much, we will share freely with others and when we understand our need to be forgiven, we will readily forgive others.
Do Not Lead Us Into Temptation (God's Protection)
Every moment of our lives, we are faced with a constant onslaught of attacks from satan. He relishes nothing more than to re-enact what he did in the Garden of Eden in our individual lives and collectively as a Church. This prayer helps us to recognise our weaknesses, Satan's ability and power to exploit those weaknesses and God's ability to cover and protect us.
Yours is the Kingdom, The Power and The Glory
This prayer ends with the doxology. Praise and adoration to the One who is in Heave, Whose will be done, who provides for us daily, who forgives our sins, who protects us from the wiles of the evil one! The prayer does not end with us in apprehension of temptation but it ends in triumphant praise.
God's Response To Prayer
God does not just want us to pray because He is this God who relishes and revels in our helpless dependence on Him. He is always willing and ready to answer our prayers and even when He does, we often don't expect it as was the case with Peter's release from prison while the disciples were praying in Acts chapter 12. In this case, God responded to prayers of the church for one of its own. God also responds when prayer is made of nations as exemplified by Paul's prayer for Israel in Romand 10: 1-4. Other responses by God to prayers can be found in Acts 10 (Peter sent to Cornelius) and Ananias prayer for Saul (Acts 9: 17-18)
The Power of The Praying Church
A powerful church is the Church that prays. We can however not be a praying church if as individuals and families we don't have a lifestyle of prayer. While it is good to plan prayer meetings and events, if individually we don't make prayer a constant part of our daily lives, all efforts made to empower ourselves as a church will not yield much results.
The only way we can impact our families, community and nation at large is when we put a wield the weapon of prayer and launch attacks at the kingdom of darkness with devastating impact which will result in souls being saved, those who are bound being released, the sick getting healed and the enlargement of God's kingdom here on earth. We are not all called to be pastors, teachers, prophets or musicians but we are all called into a life of prayer.
“I’d rather be able to pray than be a great preacher; Jesus Christ never taught His disciples how to preach, but only how to pray.”—D. L. Moody
“There is more that you can do after you pray, but there is nothing you can do until you pray.”—Dr. Curtis Hutson