The Young Man And His Prayer Life

The Young Man And His Prayer Life

Donald K. Steele

Mr. Donald K. Steele of Peterborough, Ontario, is an elder at Edmison Hts. Bible Chapel and president of Kawartha Lakes Bible School. He is employed as an audio-visual coordinator by the Peterborough County Board of Education. This is our brother’s sixth study in his edifying series on “The Young Man.”

There is a terrible lack of prayer among the people of God, both young and old. Few indeed are those whose calloused knees record the long hours spent in intercessory prayer. The results of our lack in this vital ministry are all about us; rebellious youth, lack of growth in local churches, satisfaction with mediocre spirituality, and so on. Then too, when we do find a very little time for the ministry of prayer, far too often our prayer life resembles that of the Shakespearean character from “The Tempest,” who said, “Immortal gods, I crave no pelf; I pray for no man but myself.” How seriously we need to heed God’s exhortation, “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.” Paul exhorted the Thessalonian believers to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer is thus seen to be a serious and reverential communication with God, an attitude of seeking His face on frequent occasions, not something that we do occasionally or only when we find ourselves in serious trouble. Let us ask a few basic questions about prayer, and try to consider the answers.

What Is Prayer?

It is talking to God. It may be audible or inaudible, private or public, sincere or hypocritical, earnest or routine. The quality of our prayer life will be determined to a considerable extent by our knowledge of God, our appreciation of His attributes, character, and concern. We can never know God as wonderfully as He knows us, but we can all know Him better than we do now. Private, personal prayer, puts the believer in touch with the Almighty, the great God whose power and love are limitless, and whose holiness and justice are forever uncompromised. Even a small appreciation of God will bring us into His presence with great humility, and when we talk with God we have all got a great deal to be humble about! In the front of my Bible is a simple outline on prayer, attributed to Norman Tucker. It is very brief: Prayer is ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Adoration involves telling God what we appreciate of His greatness, His goodness, mercy, love and holiness. Confession deals with sin in our life, on a very regular basis. See 1 John 1:9 for the reason for confession. Thanksgiving is an essential part of every prayer, as we remember what God has done for us on a daily basis. Supplication is the business of asking for God’s direction, aid, and assistance not only for ourselves, but also for others whose needs have become known to us. There may be more detailed analyses of what prayer is, but this will get us started on the right track.

Why Should We Pray?

We should pray because prayer is essential to a healthy spiritual life. If the Word of God is our spiritual food, prayer is our spiritual air, and praying becomes as necessary to spiritual life as breathing does to physical life. We should pray because God asks us to do so. We should pray because God delights to answer our prayers; He is always more willing to bless us than we are to seek His blessings! We should pray because we enjoy communion with God, the time spent in His presence alone, letting Him see us as we really are, and seeking to know Him better. We should pray as well because God assures us that it is effective: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b). These and many other reasons suggest that we should pray.

To Whom Should We Pray?

It is my firm belief that we pray to God the Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the power of God the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus said, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). I know that there are many young people today who pray to the Lord Jesus, but it does seem that the pattern set out in the Word is to pray to God in the name of Christ our Lord.

For What Do We Pray?

Scripture again gives us numerous suggestions as to what is the proper subject of prayer. In Matthew 26:41 we read, “Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” God would have us use prayer as a safeguard against sin. The underlying idea is that through prayer God will give us a more realistic understanding of our own fleshly weaknesses, and that He will strenghthen us through prayer. So often we fall into sin and pray afterward for forgiveness: God would like us to pray more often for strength to resist the temptation and the devil. Through prayer even a besetting sin, a recurring weakness, a troublesome habit can be brought into subjection to the Spirit of God who indwells us.

James 5:13 says, “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray.” This is a definite instruction to pray for our own illnesses. We are to hold ourselves up in prayer when we are sick. James 5:16 says “pray for one another, that ye may be healed.” Here is further instruction to pray for the illnesses of others, so that God may do His healing work in their lives. It is certainly Scriptural to pray for the sick, and to trust God to deal graciously with them, according to His perfect will.

Ephesians 6:18 exhorts us to “pray with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Thus we are to pray earnestly and persistently for other Christians. How much better off would we all be if there were a more significant volume of prayer ascending to God from His people on behalf of one another? God alone could answer that question! Pray for your workers, missionaries, and for leaders of God’s people today. Be sincere. Be earnest. Be specific. God delights to answer definite prayers from fervent followers.

Luke 11:9 records the Lord Jesus’ instruction to his disciples and followers, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” To me this suggests the soul-winner’s prayer. The barricades of sin, the defences that people erect against the gospel, their fear of ridicule and their fears that they cannot live godly lives — all of these and more can be broken down by God if we pray earnestly and believing that God will do it. He WANTS to give us souls for our hire! He really wants every sinner that you know to come Christ! Once you grasp that fact, it will help you to pray more sincerely and more faithfully for your unsaved friends. Water your witnessing with prayer and watch God give the increase!

Besides prayer for overcoming temptation, for sickness, for Christian friends and for unsaved friends, there are many other specific things for which we should pray. The list is too great to include here. Common sense will surely tell you that you can pray for any matter large or small, since God is interested in our concerns, ranging all the way from a hangnail to terminal cancer. There is no matter too insignificant or too overwhelming for God! Keeping that in mind will surely direct us and provide us with numerous opportunities to pray.

What Are The Barriers To Prayer?

I believe that unconfessed sin in the life can be a hindrance to an effective prayer life. 1 John 1:9 tells us that confessing our sins results in forgiveness. The sins which have already been covered by the precious blood of Christ can be confessed, forsaken, and forgotten. For the married man, 1 Peter 3:7 instructs all husbands to treat their wives with the utmost consideration and respect, in order that your prayers be not hindered. It surely appears that those who treat their wives with cruelty, callousness, or even indifference to her feelings and sensitivities, will not have an effective prayer life with God. If that is God’s rule for the married man, it must also have a message for the unmarried man who has a special interest in a young lady. Treat her with care, consideration, and gentleness, if you would have God’s ear tuned to your prayers.

What Are The Conditions For Effective Prayer?

James 5:16 has already pointed out to us that righteousness is one condition for effective prayer. In 2 Chron. 7:14 we are told that contrition, or humility, is a condition that is required if revival is to come, and it is clear that we are to humble ourselves BEFORE we pray. Jeremiah 29:13 says that we shall find God “when we search for Him with all our hearts,” so it is evident that wholehearted sincerity is required. Mark 11:24 says that believing faith is required for answered prayer, and 1 John 3:22 stresses obedience as a condition preceding effective prayer. Therefore, if we are proud, or insincere, or unbelieving, or unrighteous, or disobedient to the clear teaching of the Word of God, we may very well have placed ourselves in a position where God will not be able to respond to our prayers, For example, if a Christian fellow goes with an unsaved girl, and gets to the point of praying for God’s will regarding marrying her, will God hear his prayers? What do you think? In 2 Corinthians 6:14 God has already clearly instructed every young believer, male or female, as follows: “Be ye not equally yoked together with unbelievers.” Can God answer a prayer which is in direct opposition to His revealed will? In no way can He do so and remain just, holy and righteous. God will never compromise His character. So we see that there are definitely some conditions for effective prayer, and these are linked both with God’s character and our own.

We have barely scratched the surface of this great topic. Search the Scriptures for yourself, and see what else God has to say about prayer. In conclusion, let me say one word: PRAY. Pray regularly. Pray earnestly and effectively, and believe that God will answer. Pray when you feel like praying and when you do not feel like praying. Be completely honest with God, for any other posture is futile. He knows you better than you know yourself. When praying for the lost, persevere. Pray on and on. If they do not respond to the gospel this week, or this month, or this year, pray on. God is more interested in their dying souls than you are, and He will answer your prayers. God desperately needs prayer warriors in this closing day of the gospel age. Let Him find great numbers of us on our knees at His coming!