FIRST-PERSON: Let us pray

Tags: prayer

COVINGTON, La. (BP) -- No one on earth has a precise formula for prayer. It is so much more than a formula or a recitation.

It is coming into the presence of the Holy God. It is seeking Him with all your heart.

We need to pray to know God. We need to be in the presence and under the leadership of the God of the universe. If God created us, He also knows what is best in our lives. We were created to know Him and to enjoy His presence. Prayer opens the door for that wonderful reality. Often when I pray, I don't do much talking but simply seek to meet with God and understand His will for my life.

We need to pray to learn what pleases God. This too will involve much listening and seeking to understand Him. Ask God to teach you His ways. He wants to guide us through life. Ask God to show you who He is and what He does. We need to pray to seek His wisdom, guidance and leadership. Scripture will help to open the door to knowing what pleases God.

We need to pray to call the names of people before our Father in heaven. God tells us to intercede on behalf of others. We need to pray for them -- and we need the meaning and blessing that comes from our intercession.

Many other actions accompany prayer that is pleasing to God.

We certainly need to confess our sin and selfishness. We can never fully enter into God's presence until we have dealt with those areas which keep us from His presence. Repentance is hard, but it is also sweet. As we confess, we are showing that we truly need and want God in our lives.

Adoration and praise are important in prayer. Most of the prayers of the Bible begin with adoration. For example, when Daniel prayed, he began by addressing his prayer to "the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments" (Daniel 9:4). I like to begin my prayers by praying Psalm 8, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is thy name in all the earth!" And we should praise God for His goodness. You will find this kind of prayer throughout the Psalms.

We often need to pray because we are desperate for God. Hannah, Samuel's mother, cried out in anguish and grief to the Lord. She poured out for soul to God (1 Samuel 1:15-16). How many times have we desperately needed God? How many times have we needed to pour out our soul before the God who loves us?

Set a special time and place for prayer. Doing this helps you to remember to pray. It helps you do what you want to do in meeting with God.

You may be beginning to pray or you may be beginning again. Good for you. Don't be afraid to get started even if you are unsure.

We need to pray because prayer matters to God. It is imperative that we obey Him. Remember the wonderful promise of Jeremiah 29:13: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." We need to pray because the Lord is God and besides Him there is no other.

Waylon Bailey, online at waylonbailey.com, is pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington, La., and a former president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
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