I have heard it said that “prayer is as natural as breathing to those who have been born again into God’s family.” To illustrate this truth let’s consider the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, a proud religious fanatic who persecuted Christians in an attempt to wipe Christianity off the face of the earth (please read Acts 9:1-9). After the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to Saul and he believed on Him, the Lord appeared to a disciple named Ananias and he told him to “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, FOR HE IS PRAYING” (NKJV…verse 11). So, instead of PERSECUTING, Saul is PRAYING! Since Saul had been a religious man, he had no doubt prayed many times to God, but now he is praying as child of God to his heavenly Father! This, I believe, is the first “birth mark” of a child of God. When a baby is born into this world we hear them “cry out” and thus we know they are alive and well. When a sinner is born again into God’s family, they “cry out” in boldness “Abba Father” (see Romans 8:15), and we know that they have eternal life and are in happy communion with Him.

Here are five instructions for the believer as to prayer:

1) Pray BELIEVING! In James 1:5-8 we read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ASK OF GOD, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But LET HIM ASK IN FAITH, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” The real KEY to believing prayer is in knowing God’s will through His Word, for we will then ask in faith. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that IF WE ASK ANYTHING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, HE HEARS US. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1st John 5:14-15).

2) Pray IN SECRET! Matthew 6:5-6 says, “And WHEN YOU PRAY, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, PRAY TO YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN THE SECRET PLACE; and your Father who sees IN SECRET will reward you openly.” We want to “gain the ear of our heavenly Father,” NOT “the ear of our fellow-men.”

3) Pray FROM YOUR HEART! Matthew goes on to say in verses 7-8, “And WHEN YOU PRAY, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Our heavenly Father does NOT want us to pray a “memorized prayer”; He wants us to pray according to our needs.

4) Pray IN HOLINESS! James tells us, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). We can’t expect God the Father to hear and answer our prayers if we are living in sin. David spoke of this in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

5) Pray FOR OTHERS! Ephesians 6:18 declares, “PRAYING ALWAYS with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication FOR ALL THE SAINTS.” This would include “praying for the salvation of unbelievers” as we see in Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and PRAYER TO GOD for Israel is that THEY MAY BE SAVED.”  (396.3)  (DO)