Is Prayer as Effective as Dialing 911?

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."Philippians 4:6 "In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."John 16:23 Putting Absolute Hope in Prayer Prayer is mentioned so often in Scripture, as the link between man and God, between creature and his Creator. In Scripture God promises to respond to the urgent calls of His children. In Psalm 91:15,16 the psalmist confirms this wonderful promise, "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." All the giants of the Christian faith confirm that prayer is a crucial component in walking with Christ. They witness by experience how many mighty miracles came about by fervent prayer. "The children of God are not left alone and defenceless. Prayer moves the arm of Omnipotence. Prayer has subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire- we shall know what it means when we hear the reports of the martyrs who died for our faith." E.G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, p.172. "Let all who are afflicted or injured or unjustly used, cry to God. Turn away from those hearts of steel, and make your requests known to your Maker. Never is one repulsed who come to Him with a humble heart. Not one sincere prayer is lost. Amid the anthems of the celestial choir, God hears the cries of the weakest human being. We pour out our heart's desire in our closets, we breathe a prayer as we walk by the way, and our words reach the throne of the Monarch of the universe. They may be inaudible to any human ear, but they cannot die away into silence, nor can they be lost through the activities of business that are going on. Nothing can drown the soul's desire. It rises above the din of the street, above the confusion of the multitude, to the heavenly courts. It is God to whom we are speaking, and our prayer is heard." E.G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, p.174. Prayer is Most Powerful in a Package So here I sit, alone, surrounded by my set of insurmountable circumstances, and I wonder if the prayers I pray will practically relieve or release me from all I have to face. I have prayed so many prayers before and there seems to be no answer. Surely if I put my absolute hope in prayer, I need some immediate relief. When I lift up my aching or joyful heart to heaven, there are a few prerequisites that I need to fully understand and accept in order to be able to have this absolute hope that my prayer is heard, and that my prayer will be answered in a way that will be the very best for me in the long term. These prerequisites to making prayer really practical and really powerful have been written in detail in other articles, but they are summarized below as follows. (Please click on each one to study the subject in full): 1. Complete Forgiveness Before bringing any request to God, the petitioner needs to go through a time of thorough forgiveness--forgiveness from God to him or her, for sins that they have

committed, and then forgiving all people that have wronged them, hurt them, or caused any anger or bitterness. Forgiveness is the password to be able to link into the Divine Mainframe. Without it, our prayers are superficial and shallow, and we are easily distracted and disorientated. 2. Fully Accepting the Creator's Spoken or Written Word After or even during prayer, Satan will flash thoughts of doubt and distrust into our minds. Can God really be trusted? Will He really even hear my prayer? I'm far too sinful to have my prayer answered. These thoughts, and many more, will be laid aside when we get a clear picture of who we are really praying to--a God who created and now controls the universe by the word of His mouth. Wow! That's amazing! So if I happen to doubt Him, I look at His creation below, or at the endless heavens above, and I re-establish my complete confidence in His capacity to take complete control. 3. Waiting On God Once I have firmly fixed the concept of the Creator and Controller of the universe in my mind, I now learn to unconditionally wait on God. I find out that this waiting demands a unique intimacy and oneness with God in the present, and this relieves me from fear or fretting about the future. I look at people mentioned in the Bible, like Joseph, who waited on God for 12 years or more, and I see how God worked in his life to bring him to the perfect place God wanted him, because he remained loyal to God, one day at a time. The True Purpose of Prayer Now that I have linked my prayers to the prerequisites that support and strengthen my prayers, I take a closer look at what the specific purpose of prayer should be. Generally, prayer is a checklist of requests that I bring before God. A checklist that more often than not revolves around my short sighted needs and, very often, demands. The following are what the true purpose of prayer really is: 1. Getting to Know God Oswald Chambers, in his inspiring devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, in the reading for April 27, states that "God wants you to be in a much closer relationship with Himself than simply receiving His gifts--He wants you to get to know Him . . There is nothing easier than getting into the right relationship with God, unless it is not God you seek, but only what He can give you . . . Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given you . . ." Matthew 7:7. Ask God for what you want and do not be concerned about asking for the wrong thing, because as you draw ever closer to Him, you will cease asking for things altogether. "Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him." Matthew 6:8. Then why should you ask? So that you may get to know Him . . . Are you prepared to ask yourself what it is you want from God and why you want it? God always ignores your present level of completeness in favor of your ultimate future completeness. He is not concerned about making you blessed and happy right now, but He's continually working out His ultimate perfection for you--"that they may be one just as We are one. . ." (John 17:22)." A perfect way to illustrate this point is by comparing my relationship I have now with my step-father today, as compared to the relationship I had with him twenty years ago. When I was in my teen years, I rebelled against my mother getting married to my step-father. After they got married, I kept a distance from him, and would only be associated with him when it came to getting things from him. I would demand clothes, schooling, free lodging, and money from him. He would have to ask me repeatedly to do things around the house, many of which I ignored or did half heartedly. As I matured, and saw all he had done for

me, and all the problems he worked through for me and the family, I changed my short sighted attitude. I started reaching out to him in a helpful, loving, and caring manner. The result was unbelievable. The closer our relationship became, the less we had to ask each other. The more we did for each other, without asking, the closer our relationship became, and the more time we spent together in unselfish giving. Today, we hardly have to ask each other anything. We are so close that we know what the other person needs by simple togetherness. As we communicate, so I pick up, between the lines, the small needs that he has, and he picks up mine. Before either of us get to the point where we have to ask, the other person has already stepped out and met that need. Jesus says, "In that day you will no longer ask me anything." (John 16:23). Which day is "that day?" It is the day that we get to know God so intimately, and have such a great love between God and us, that we won't have to ask Him anything, and He won't have to ask us anything. "The purpose of prayer is that we get a hold of God, not the answer."(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 7). In the long periods of time that we spend with Him daily, alone, quiet, meditating, speaking back and forth, us in prayer and God through His still small voice and through His Word--we will know the requests coming from each other. There will be no need to ask, there will be no need for long checklists of petitions, and there will be no need to wrestle with God for the things we think we need. We will just know that He will take care of us, and bring us to the perfect point in His long term purposes, and see to every natural need along the way. 2. Shutting Out Satan If you have read the section on "The War for Control of Your Thoughts," you would have seen that the only way Satan can bring you to sin, or bring you to get depressed, or bring you to feel totally alone, totally helpless, and totally worthless, is by flashing thought images into your mind that will lead to one of these negative aspects. Our minds are filled with either good or bad thoughts that come from either Satan, ourselves or from God. Those from Satan or ourselves are always bad thoughts, but those from God are always good thoughts. Prayer is indeed the "sealing of our thoughts" into God's throne room. When we are in a state of prayer, Satan cannot flash any alluring thought into our minds. No wonder Paul admonishes us to "Pray without ceasing."1 Thessalonians 5:17. Prayer is when our thoughts are totally focused, totally concentrated, and totally channeled on and toward God. Satan has no inroads when our thoughts are so intensely riveted on God. Satan is the main reason for all our despair, all our despondency, and all our discouragement. He is the one who keeps thoughts of revenge and hatred locked into our minds from the past, he is the one who tells us we aren't worth anything and reminds us of our many failures. He is the one who holds us captive by our weaknesses and then accuses us for failing over and over, bringing total desperation and dejection. By constant prayer, we "take captive every thought, and make it obedient to Christ Jesus." 2 Corinthians 10:5. 3. Removing Self Focus The way most people pray is very self-centered and self-focused. This is not the ideal way to pray, as mentioned above in paragraph 1. In this section, on the true purpose of prayer, the most important objective to be reached by prayer, is to become totally intimate and one with God. As you and I put unconditional trust in the Master and Supreme Creator and Controller of the universe, through prayer, we forget the petty particulars of our petitions, and wallow in the wonder of who He really is and will accomplish and achieve. Our focus moves away from our physical, emotional and mental needs, and concentrates on giving and receiving forgiveness, or thankfulness for the countless gifts which God lavishes on us daily, and on the needs of others. Satan's greatest weapon against each one of us is to get us locked into looking and lingering on the "sad and sorry" state of our souls. Well,

this is how he makes us out to be. The more we fall prey to Satan's subtle sabotaging of our self-esteem, the further we will fall from the way God wants us to see ourselves--His precious children whom He empties heaven for. If our prayer time is a time of outward gratitude and thankfulness for all the gifts which God has given us--things we take so for granted, and things we have become blind to-our perspective toward our trials will change, making them a lot more trivial. If our prayer time is a time of reflection on how people around us are suffering, how much worse their situation is, and how much prayer and support they need, we will forget how severe we see our situation to be. Yes, using prayer as a means to divert the focus from ourselves, rather than a means to delve deeper into ourselves, is a healing therapy that will help us and heighten our spirits, bringing a renewed heart filled with hope and happiness. Prayer is the Ultimate For Help and Healing Prayer is indeed the means to move the helping and healing hand of God to reach and touch us in our specific situation. God has packaged together many marvelous and miraculous benefits when we pray in the unselfish and God-centered manner as we have discussed. They go together inseparably."Through asking, God puts His process in motion, creating something in us that was nonexistent until we asked . . . A child of God never prays to be made aware of the fact that God answers prayer, because he is so restfully certain that God always answers prayer." My Utmost For His Highest (December 17, August 20). "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord.Jeremiah 29:11-13. For more go to: www.