Acceptable Prayer: Part One
In Thibet everyone prays. But they do not pray as we do. Some have a little prayer written out and put into what looks like a baby's rattle, except that the top part goes round and round as they swing it. They believe that every time the prayer wheel turns the prayer is repeated to their idol. People carry these prayer wheels with them all the time, and keep them turning around all the time. Is this true prayer? Of course not. We know that idols can neither see nor hear nor speak, nor have they any power. They cannot answer prayer. In Old Testament times when a great many of God’s people were worshipping the idol Baal, Elijah the prophet gathered all the nation to Mt. Carmel. There the priests of the idol built an altar, and laid a sacrifice on it. Elijah did the same. Then the priests prayed to their idol to send fire to burn the sacrifices. All day long they prayed, but of course there was no answer. Then Elijah prayed, and immediately God answered with fire, and the sacrifice was burned. This showed that God is the true God and that idols are nothing at all.
Prayer is talking to God. It is not just asking for things. When you talk to your mother or father or to your friends you do not just ask for things. You talk about what you are doing and about what they are doing. There are always many things to say to a good friend. Talking to God, or praying, is just like that. We can talk about what we have done all day, and about how good He is, and how loving and kind. We can thank Him for all He has done for us, and of course we can ask Him for what we need, too.
There is a story about two angels who came to earth with baskets to take the prayers of the people to God. One basket was for the "thank-yous" and the other for the "pleases.” Which basket do you think was the fuller? It was the "please" basket, for people asked for so many things, and then forgot to say thank you to God. Of course, this is only a story, for God does not have to send angels with baskets to receive our prayers. He hears them Himself. But the story shows us that we often forget to give thanks to God for what He has done for us.
Can everyone pray? No! Some people think that anyone who wants to, can come to God and pray to Him. But that is not true. Not everyone can play on a football team. If you went to the Army and Navy game and asked to be permitted to play on one of the teams, people would just laugh at you. You have to be on the team before you can play. So you have to be in the family of God before you can pray to Him. When we pray we say, "Our Father.” You cannot call God your Father unless you are His child and you are His child only if you are saved. "As many as received Him, to them gave He the power to be called the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). If you have believed in the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, you are a child of God, and then you can pray.
When unsaved people pray, they are not praying to God, though they may say His name. They are really praying to Satan, for Satan is the father of all who refuse to believe in the Lord Jesus. When the Pharisees came to Jesus, and said to Him that God was their Father (John 8), He corrected them, and said that their father was Satan.
If we are Gods children and hating sin God will hear and answer our prayers.
- What is prayer? Why is it so important?
- Is prayer commanded of us by God?
- Why is gratitude so important?
- Why can't everyone pray? Does that make prayer more special for those of us who are able to pray?
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