1. Do only Christians have access to God in prayer?
"We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him." John 9:31
"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6
God created all things, knows and hears all things, even sends rain and sunshine on all men, but sinners and unbelievers have no access to His throne of grace through prayer. That is why, we believers in Jesus Christ, those who have access to God in prayer, we must pray for others. No one else has the privilege that we have.
2. Do our prayers make a difference?
"15 and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." James 5:15-16
The Holy Spirit assures us that our prayers are heard that they are effective. Now if the Bible says so, that is enough for me, but an interesting piece of research highlights the truth of what James is saying.
Dr. Rudy Roundtree, who was a featured speaker at the O.C. lectureship one year, reported on a study that had been conducted on prayer:
He explained that a researcher, fed up with claims about the effectiveness of prayer, decided to conduct a study to debunk this whole idea. He acknowledged that maybe a one on one prayer at the bedside of a sick person might have some therapeutic or psychological effect, but this business of a prayer list or prayer board where a group prays for a person, especially a person far away or one they did not know, this was nonsense, superstition.
Well, in his class Dr. Roundtree went on to describe how after a long and thorough survey the researcher came to exactly the opposite conclusion:
"The more prayer there was, the more healing there was. The more people who prayed the greater rate of healing and improvement."
As Christians we do not need research to confirm God's word, but it is very encouraging when unbelievers have their eyes opened to see what we have seen all along by faith: prayer works!
3. Does God really command us to pray?
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7
Luke says that Jesus, when He taught His disciples, said that "… men ought always to pray" (Luke 18:1)
Paul said, "…continue in prayer" Colossians 4:2
And again in I Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing"
Over and over again we are commanded, taught, urged to pray and always to pray. When we gather for worship or devotionals, we pray because God commands us to pray.
And so even when we are discouraged or our faith is weak or what we ask for may seem too great, remember, we do not come to God as an idea born inside of us, no we come to Him because He has commanded us to do so.
I could go on and talk about the great joy and privilege it is to pray and discuss the various types of prayer. Suffice to say that most of our prayers are intercessory (meaning on behalf of someone). Let us take advantage of our relationship with God through Christ; our numbers willing to pray, and our understanding of God's will in the matter of prayer. Let us take advantage of these things to minister effectively for those on our prayer list.
And for those of you who may have specific needs, whether it be a prayer for someone else or yourself; whether it be a prayer for illness or forgiveness; whether it be a prayer of thanks or whether it be the prayer of faith in confessing Jesus in the waters of baptism, let us take advantage of the mighty power of prayer.