If you want to be a Christian you must pray! There is nothing more powerful to change the life than prayer. It is impossible to grow in grace without connecting your mind to the infinite mind of God through private prayer.
Praying in the privacy of your home or room or any place where there is no one else around is called secret prayer. Secret prayer is very different from public prayer, in that secret prayer is opening up the heart to God about things that are private to you that others need not know. Here you can speak to God about your personal life, growth, development, desires, needs, pains, joys, character, sins, short comings, labors, works, plans, or anything else you’d like that are for His ears only. Secret prayer is conversing with God, and Him conversing with you.
There is instruction in the word of God to pray in secret and there is a blessing attached to those who follow this practice. The Bible says, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matt. 6:6. Isn’t that a beautiful promise? If we follow this simple instruction to pray in private with no other ear to hear, God will answer our prayers and reward us openly!
It is very unfortunate that we sometimes shortchange God the time He deserves from us. Actually, the reality of the matter is that we are shortchanging ourselves heavenly blessings and benefits which would last throughout eternity. Just think about this for a minute…if you were to be consistent in your prayers, getting to know the King of the Universe better, receiving from Him what you need on a daily basis, constantly growing in His grace, how much different your days and your life would be. But because of a neglect to invest in daily prayer we sometimes struggle through our day, and even feel as if things in our life are not flowing and flourishing as they should. We then begin to ask God “where are you”? Hmmm, and where is God? He is there waiting for you to commune with Him. Waiting for you to have that ever-deepening oneness with Him.
HOW WE SHOULD APPROACH THE GREAT I AM
First of all, we must acknowledge that God has complete ownership of our body. 1 Cor. 6:19, 20 says, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Once we come to the point of really understanding this we will be inclined to approach His throne with humility of both mind and body. Prayer is not purely cerebral but something that engages the entire being; mind, body, spirit, and emotion.
We should in reverent humility bow down upon our knees if there is no health condition preventing us from doing so. “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 95:6. There are times when you need to send up a petition to God and you cannot kneel, and that is okay, God still accepts those prayers. However, when you have opportunity to kneel down, you should.
There are many examples in the Bible of how we are to approach God in private and public prayer. When Abraham talked to God, Gen. 17:3 says, “And Abraham fell on his face: and God talked with him...”
When King Solomon prayed during the dedication of the temple, he kneeled the Bible says. “And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.” 1 Kings 8:54
“The prayer offered by Solomon during the dedication of the temple, was not made while he stood upon his feet. The king knelt in the humble position of a petitioner. Herein is a lesson for God's people today. Our spiritual strength and our influence are not increased by conformity to a worldly attitude during prayer. In these perilous times, those who profess to be God's commandment-keeping people should guard against the tendency to lose the spirit of reverence and godly fear. The Scriptures teach men how to approach their Maker,—with humility and awe, through faith in a divine Mediator. Let man come on bended knee, as a subject of grace, a suppliant at the foot-stool of mercy. Thus he is to testify that the whole soul, body, and spirit are in subjection to his Creator.
Both in public and in private worship, it is our duty to bow upon our knees before God when we offer our petitions to him. Jesus, our example, “kneeled down, and prayed.” And of his disciples it is recorded that they, too, “kneeled down, and prayed.” Stephen “kneeled.” Paul declared: “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In confessing before God the sins of Israel, Ezra knelt. Daniel “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God.” And the invitation of the psalmist is: “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”1
PRAYER SHOULD BE PHYSICALLY ENGAGING
There are correct and incorrect positions for prayer, and the way we make use of these positions can determine the outcome of our prayers. If you pray in a slouching manner or with a nonchalant tone of voice, it is not only irreverent but a communication to God that you are not in great need for that of which you are praying. As you can see from the previous Biblical examples, those who were in earnest prayed upon their faces or their knees, with their hands stretched out to heaven.
Luke 18:10-14 gives a contrast between two men’s prayer in accordance with their need. “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
The Pharisee approached God in a self-righteous manner, boasting of who he thought he was in comparison to the publican. While the publican approached God with a humble reserve, beating upon his breast expressing his great need of mercy as a sinner. His prayer being humble, earnest, and physically engaging was heard and accepted of heaven.
In 1 Kings chapter one is the story of Elkanah who had two wives, Peninnah who had children and Hannah who was barren, yet longed to have a child. When she petitioned the Lord through prayer, take note how she expressed herself. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.” 1 Kings 1:10. She was not able to hold back her emotion, and in so praying with all of her heart, the Lord granted her petition and she gave birth to a son, Samuel.
WE SHOULD PRAY WITH OUR VOICE
When we approach God upon His throne of grace, we are to approach Him as we would approach a compassionate friend. The communication between two friends is just that, communication. It is with the voice we speak to each other, and in secret prayer between you and God, it should be no different.
When David prayed he said, “Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. 2Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. 3My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:1-3.
Psalms 19:14 teaches we are to use our mouth. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
You could even consider starting off your prayer this way, “Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.” Psalms 54:2
Praying with your voice is an excellent way to prevent the mind from wandering during prayer, as well as to shut out other distractions. As you hear yourself petition the throne, your prayers will be more intelligible and specific. It is much more difficult to ramble out loud or use vain repetitions (Matt. 6:7) when speaking to God than it is when you pray in your mind.
PRAISE GOD AND THANK HIM IN ADVANCE
Paul tells us in 1 Thess. 5:16 &18 we are to “Rejoice evermore” and “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Our prayers are always to contain the component of heartfelt thanks. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.” Phil. 4:6
Although Matt. 6:8 tells you that “…your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before you ask Him” prayer is still vitally important to your walk of faith. The more you respect God, and physically and verbally engage Him in prayer, the more you will sense your own need and communicate it to Him. When you pray in secret, the Lord promises to hear you and reward you openly. Make prayer the most important part of your day, and your whole life will change. All He is waiting for is you!
1Review & Herald, Nov. 30, 1905, par. 16