Our bodies are built up from the vitamins in the food we eat. In general, most vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can be obtained from food. But you may ask yourself: What is healthy food? When should we eat? How much should we eat? Where should we eat? Why should we eat?
When we have a vitamin deficiency our body suffers. For example, a vitamin A deficiency (one of the most important vitamins) results in problems with our eyesight (night blindness), sinusitis, frequent colds, abscesses in the ears, infections in the respiratory system, pneumonia, skin diseases, acne and reproductive difficulties, such as abortion. A vitamin B deficiency leads to problems with our nerves. A Vitamin C deficiency results in viral infections. The same thing occurs with our spiritual health. When we lack the “vitamin” of prayer, our spiritual eyesight suffers, our faith weakens, and we can easily fall a prey to temptation.
“Temptations often appear irresistible. . . through neglect of prayer and the study of the Bible.” –The Great Controversy, p. 599
Once when a criminal was being taken to the scaffold, he said: “Oh, if I had only prayed to God that morning, I would not have committed that crime! If I had only thought of You, my Lord, You would have protected me!”
In order to be healthy, we not only need to know what are the most healthy foods to eat, but we also need to follow different guidelines for healthy living, and be able to answer above questions (what, when, how much, where and why . . . should we eat?). The same applies to our spiritual growth. In like manner we need to have a deep understanding about prayer. People talk a lot about prayer. Many pray in public. Does God listen? What does the Bible teach about prayer? Do our actions or neglects play a factor in answered prayer? In this article we will examine, when, where, and how we should use our spiritual vitamin—prayer.
Different types of prayer:
Public: During pubic prayer, only one person prays while the rest of the people listen with heads bowed and kneeling. Public prayer should not be long. It is a cause of disorder if more than one person prays at a time.
Family: Every morning and evening the family should gather for worship and prayer to thank God for His blessings and the protection He provides, asking Him to direct their paths for the day.
Private: Private prayer is secret communion with God which sustains the life of the soul (Matthew 6:6).
What is the best position for prayer?
People pray in many different positions, such as:
- Lying flat on the floor, face down, with hands stretched out (also known as ‘prostrate‘);
- Standing, hands raised and spread, palms up, looking upward;
- Sitting, head bowed, eyes closed, hands folded (the most common position today);
- Kneeling, head bowed, hands folded;
- Kneeling, head to the ground, hands face down on ground next to head;
- Standing, eyes forward, facing the altar;
- Sitting, eyes closed, hands in front, palms up;
- Lying flat on the floor, face up, palms up;
- While walking leisurely.
When a Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Christian prays to God, the very act itself assumes that they believe:
- there is One beyond each and all of us, beyond all that is around us;
- this One cares enough to listen to you;
- this One cares enough to want your response;
- this One cares enough to respond to you;
- this One cares enough that His response will make a difference.
Although we can offer a prayer to our Heavenly Father any time and in any place during the day, when it comes to formal, public, family or private prayers, the following counsel is given: “I have received letters questioning me in regard to the proper attitude to be taken by a person offering prayer to the Sovereign of the universe. Where have our brethren obtained the idea that they should stand upon their feet when praying to God? . . . ‘Get down upon your knees.’ This is the proper position always.” – Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 311 (emphasis mine)
Christ is our pattern. “And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed.” Luke 22:41
The apostles also left us a good example: “Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed;” Acts 9:40. “They stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59–60. “When he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all.” Acts 20:36. “When we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed.” Acts 21:5. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 3:14
The patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament also left us good examples: “At the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.” Ezra 9:5–6. “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” Psalm 95:6
“Kneeling in prayer teaches reverence and awe for God.—May God teach His people how to pray. . . Both in public and in private worship, it is our privilege to bow on our knees before the Lord when we offer our petitions to Him. . . . . Daniel ‘kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God.’
“True reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a realization of His presence. With this sense of the Unseen, every heart should be deeply impressed.” –Prayer, p. 209
Where should we pray?
Some set aside a special room solely for the purpose of prayer (Prayer Rooms). A personal space for prayer can really be just about anywhere that you can stay (relatively) undisturbed. Perhaps there is a quiet place in a park, in the woods, in a field, or in a garden (as Jesus used). It may be indoors, in the spare bedroom or some other quiet corner. You may be more likely to use the room if it is cleaned out and set aside just for prayer.
We can pray in silence any time during the day, for example: when we are traveling or working (1 Corinthians 14:15), or in moments of danger or need (Jonah 2:1). Even though it is ideal to pray three times a day as Daniel did (Daniel 6:10), we should “pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
We only have to remember that “the hour and place of prayer are sacred, because God is there; and as reverence is manifested in attitude and demeanor, the feeling that inspires it will be deepened. ‘Holy and reverend is His name,’ the psalmist declares. Angels, when they speak that name, veil their faces. With what reverence, then, should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it upon our lips!
“Well would it be for old and young to ponder those words of Scripture that show how the place marked by God’s special presence should be regarded. ‘Put off thy shoes from off thy feet,’ He commanded Moses at the burning bush, ‘for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
life of constant prayer. He knows that the light and strength of one day is not sufficient for the trials and conflicts of the next. Satan is continually changing his temptations. Every day we shall be placed in different circumstances; and in the untried scenes that await us we shall be surrounded by fresh dangers, and constantly assailed by new and unexpected temptations. It is only through the strength and grace gained from heaven that we can hope to meet the temptations and perform the duties before us.
It is a wonderful thing that we can pray effectually; that unworthy, erring mortals possess the power of offering their requests to God. What higher power can man desire than this,—to be linked with the infinite God? Feeble, sinful man has the privilege of speaking to his Maker. We may utter words that reach the throne of the Monarch of the universe. We may speak with Jesus as we walk by the way, and He says, I am at thy right hand [see Ps. 16:8].
“We may commune with God in our hearts; we may walk in companionship with Christ. When engaged in our daily labor, we may breathe out our heart’s desire, inaudible to any human ear; but that word cannot die away into silence, nor can it be lost. Nothing can drown the soul’s desire. It rises above the din of the street, above the noise of machinery. It is God to whom we are speaking, and our prayer is heard.” –Gospel Workers, p. 257–258
In whose name should we pray?
“And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23–24. Sin separated us from God. It is only through the grace of Christ that we can expect our prayers to reach the throne of God’s mercy (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1–3).
What or whom should we pray for?
- For the sick, for individuals (James 5:13–16)
- For the messengers of God and progress of the Gospel (Acts 12:5; Habakkuk 3:2; Philippians 1:3–6)
- For the Holy Spirit to come upon us (Luke 11:13)
- Pray for the Church Leaders
- For our enemies
The three parts of the prayer model:
- Address: our Father in heaven
- Body of prayer:
Praise: hallowed be Thy name
Thanksgiving: I thank You for. . .
Confession: Forgive . . .
Request: I ask you to . . .
Mediation: please help (self and others) . . .
- Ending: in the name of Jesus
End: AMEN, which means “so be it”
Speak as though you are talking directly to God, because you are.
The Bible plainly declares that powerful praying can accomplish much. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16. God wants people to pray. Jesus set the example. He prayed. He taught His followers to pray, and how not to pray. He brought His closest followers with Him to keep watch and to pray with Him, as He began His hardest day in prayer. The apostles call on the believers to be in “unceasing prayer” (Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20; 1 Peter 4:7; Philippians 4:6.). Paul also prayed (2 Corinthians 13:7; Ephesians 1:16–23; Philippians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11).
Throughout the Bible, prayer is described as powerful (a strong vitamin) for many spiritual diseases and situations:
- Prayer has power to find a spouse without a dating service or matchmakers (Genesis 24:12–15).
- Prayer has power with a spouse though the situation may be difficult (Esther 4:13–17; Malachi 2:13).
- Prayer has answer when health fails and the prognosis is grim (2 Kings 4:22–37; Isaiah 38:1–8).
- Prayer has power for life in general to be blessed and sheltered (1 Chronicles 4:9–10).
- Prayer has power over enemies (Exodus 3:7–10; Numbers 16:15, 22; 2Kings 19:14–19; Psalm 18:4–19).
- Prayer has power over nations for God’s praying people (Genesis 18:23–33; Jeremiah 29:4–7; Dan 9:1–3).
- Prayer has power for children when a godly father intercedes (Job 1:4–5; 42:13–17).
- Prayer has power during prayer meetings as when the early church prayed (Acts 4:23–31).
- Prayer has power in desperation as with Hagar (Genesis 16:6–14; Matthew 14:30–31; Acts 12:5, 17).
- Prayer has power for spiritual revival among the lukewarm (1 Kings 18:21–40; Psalm 119:25, 37).
- Prayer has power for conceiving children even when barren (1 Samuel 1:9–20; 2:20–21).
- Prayer has power for jobs and businesses (Genesis 28:16–22; 32:9–10; Nehemiah 2:1–8; Daniel 2:14–23).
- Prayer has power while we are sighing and crying (Exodus 2:23–25; Psalm 56:8; Malachi 2:13).
- Prayer has power for restoration (2 Chronicles 33:11–13; Psalm 51:7–15; Jonah 2:1–10; Luke 23:42–43).
- Prayer has power over weather (Joshua 10:12–14; 2 Kings 20:8–11; James 5:17).
- Prayer has power for godliness (Exodus 33:18–23; 2 Kings 2:9–12; Luke 11:13; Acts 10:1–6; Ephesians 3:14–21).
- Prayer has power for wisdom (1 Kings 3:5–13; Proverbs 2:3–9; Luke 11:13; Ephesians 1:17–18; James 1:5).
- Prayer has power for all our dilemmas (2 Chronicles 20:12–18; Proverbs 16:33; Acts 1:21–26).
- Prayer has power when overwhelmed (1 Samuel 30:6–8; 2 Chronicles 14:9–15; Psalm 142:1–3).
“Ask God to do for you those things that you cannot do for yourselves. Tell Jesus everything. Lay open before Him the secrets of your heart; for His eye searches the inmost recesses of the soul, and He reads your thoughts as an open book. When you have asked for the things that are necessary for your soul’s good, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.” –The Youth’s Instructor, July 7, 1892
“To every sincere prayer an answer will come. It may not come just as you desire, or at the time you look for it; but it will come in the way and at the time that will best meet your need. The prayers you offer in loneliness, in weariness, in trial, God answers, not always according to your expectations, but always for your good.” –Gospel Workers, p. 258
God will answer either, “yes”, “no” or “wait”, but He does answer all sincere prayers. For this reason, we must always add: “Thy will be done” to all our prayers.
Prayer is made powerful:
- By adding fasting when experiencing greater difficulties (Matthew 17:15–21; 1 Corinthians 7:5).
- When practiced effectually (James 5:16; Luke 11:1).
- When done fervently (James 5:16–17).
- When done righteously (James 5:16; Psalm 34:15; 66:18). Obey God.
- Without adding unnecessary details, repetition, or length (Matthew 6:7–8; 10:29–31; Romans 1:9).
- Without unnecessary eloquence (Romans 8:26–27). The Holy Spirit adds to your prayers.
- By not ceasing (Luke 11:5–8; 18:1–6; Romans 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Not only is the quality of food important but also a proper quantity is needed. This is true also for our spiritual vitamin—prayer. “Important lessons are presented to us in the experience of Elijah. When upon Mt. Carmel he offered the prayer for rain, his faith was tested, but he persevered in making known his request unto God. Six times he prayed earnestly, and yet there was no sign that his petition was granted, but with a strong faith he urged his plea to the throne of grace. . . . God does not always answer our prayers the first time we call upon Him; for should He do this, we might take it for granted that we had a right to all the blessings and favors He bestowed upon us. Instead of searching our hearts to see if any evil was entertained by us, any sin indulged, we should become careless, and fail to realize our dependence upon Him, and our need of His help.
“Elijah humbled himself until he was in a condition where he would not take the glory to himself.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 1034
Begin the morning with prayer—“The very first out-breathing of the soul in the morning should be for the presence of Jesus. ‘Without Me,’ He says, ‘ye can do nothing.’ It is Jesus that we need; His light, His life, His spirit, must be ours continually. We need Him every hour. And we should pray in the morning that as the sun illuminates the landscape, and fills the world with light, so the Sun of Righteousness may shine into the chambers of mind and heart, and make us all light in the Lord. We cannot do without His presence one moment. The enemy knows when we undertake to do without our Lord, and he is there, ready to fill our minds with his evil suggestions that we may fall from our steadfastness; but it is the desire of the Lord that
from moment to moment we should abide in Him, and thus be complete in Him.” –The Bible Echo, January 15, 1892
We must climb the prayer ladder ourselves:
“After we have offered our petitions, we are to answer them ourselves as far as possible, and not wait for God to do for us what we can do for ourselves. The help of God is held in reserve for all who demand it. Divine help is to be combined with human effort, aspiration, and energy. But we cannot reach the battlements of Heaven without climbing for ourselves. We cannot be borne up by the prayers of others when we ourselves neglect to pray, for God has made no such provision for us . . . . The unlovely traits in our characters are not removed, and replaced by traits that are pure and lovely, without some effort on our part.”–The Signs of the Times, August 14, 1884
If you are convicted that you have neglected prayer, then begin tonight to pray more earnestly. If you do not know how to pray effectually, then seek the Lord and study your Bible. Prayer is a large subject. Much is written in the Bible, and if you study earnestly, you will learn more.
Take time to reflect by asking yourself, how do you pray? What do you pray for? Have you ever felt afraid to pray? Is there something you are afraid of, or afraid to ask? Why? What kind of answers did you receive from your prayers? When you were ill or in serious trouble, did you ever feel the prayers of others?
Beginning on Friday December 7, until Sabbath December 15, 2018, there will be a worldwide program called the Week of Prayer. Sabbath, December 15, 2018, will be a special day of fasting and prayer. It will be a day to afflict our souls “between the porch and the altar” in the presence of God. Joel 2:17. The subject for the week of prayer is “The Spiritual Gifts” Some of the websites that you can download the readings from are: www.sda1844.org, www.sda1888.org (English, Spanish and French), www.asd1844.org (Spanish), and www.reform-adventisten.net (German). All are encouraged and invited to take part in the special meetings for study, fellowship, worship, prayer, and praise. All over the world believers will be united in mind and heart through the grace of Christ. Wherever you are, find the nearest location of the International Missionary Society, SDA Church Reform Movement; do not miss this privilege.
“The patriarchs were men of prayer, and God did great things for them. [What about ourselves, living in the time of the end?] When Jacob left his father’s house for a strange land, he prayed in humble contrition, and in the night season the Lord answered him through vision.
“Joseph prayed, and he was preserved from sin amid influences that were calculated to lead him away from God. When tempted to leave the path of purity and uprightness, he rejected the suggestion with, ‘How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’
“Moses, who was much in prayer, was known as the meekest man on the face of the earth. . . . While he was leading the children of Israel through the wilderness, again and again it seemed that they must be exterminated on account of their murmuring and rebellion. But Moses went to the true Source of power; he laid the case before the Lord. . . . And the Lord said, ‘I have pardoned according to thy word’ . . .
“Daniel was a man of prayer, and God gave him wisdom and firmness to resist every influence that conspired to draw him into the snare of intemperance. Even in his youth he was a moral giant in the strength of the Mighty One . . . .
“In the prison at Philippi, while suffering from the cruel stripes they had received, their feet fast in the stocks, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praise to God; and angels were sent from heaven to deliver them.” –My Life Today, p. 20
Let us use the “telephone” to God, the key in the hands of faith, the vitamin of the soul, to praise Him, to thank Him, to confess our sins to Him, to tell Him our worries, and to keep in daily, personal contact with Him.
Cultivate the habit of praying in the family, teaching your children how to pray. This is the only way we can live happily and in peace, having the confidence that He will help us in our most difficult circumstances. He has promised to sustain us.
Victor Shumbusho, D R Congo