By Colleen Donahue

Prayer -- it's something Christians talk about but few spend time at. Those that DO spend time with God in prayer often voice a sense of frustration in not being very good at it. Whether you are a believer that doesn't pray , prays very little, or prays much you'll find the Lord's directives in this study uncomplicated and encouraging.

Our Lord's Teaching on Prayer and Fasting - Part 1
Matthew 6:5-8 / Matthew 6: 16-18 / Matthew 9:14-15

Day 1- Is prayer optional for a child of God?
Matthew 6:5a, 6a
Note the small repeating phrase "when you pray" -- NOT "if you pray". Talking with our Heavenly Father is to be a regular and normal part of everyday life -- almost like continual breathing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Day 2- How are we NOT to pray?
Matthew 6:5
What is the problem with praying just to be heard and seen by men?
Matthew 6:5b

Day 3- Where is our reward and answers to prayer to be found?
Matthew 6:6b
Yes, there is reward that comes with real prayer to our Father in Heaven. That reward is certain but you don't know the timing of it. If our prayers are for a show before men then we receive our reward instantly. We have the satisfaction that others think us righteous and very spiritual. But we forfeit any reward that our Father has for us in Heaven. For a little temporal satisfaction we forfeit a reward that is eternal.

Day 4- What is the second way NOT to pray?
Matthew 6:7
What is it that God objects to with a lot of words and empty phrases?
Isaiah 29:13

Prayer is a conversation between you and your Father in Heaven. Let's say you were having a conversation with a friend. Suddenly that friend starts talking loud with hands in the air and repeating the same phrase over and over. You would think it very strange and wonder why he was doing it. Weren't you standing right next to him? Well, God is right by your side as well. There is no need to shout, wave, and repeat. He sees you and hears you. If you are praying for the benefit of men to notice your spirituality then don't pretend to be talking with God!

Day 5- Now let's look at the definite things Jesus instructs us to do when we pray. In these verses He mentions a few practical things. What is the first instruction?
Matthew 6:6
It is what Jesus himself did.
Mark 1:35 / Luke 5:16

Day 6- Finally in these verses we are told to pray knowing that our Father knows what we need even before we ask him. Read....
Matthew 6:8
If that is the case why do we need to pray at all? Our answer lies beyond these verses.

What is the first reason to pray?
Luke 18:1 / 1 Thessalonians 5:17

God commands it and we are meant to literally pray about everything. The subconscious mind is meant to constantly be in touch with God even when we go about our daily work.
Ephesians 6:18-19 / Philippians 4:6

Day 7- If God commands us to pray and ask Him for things but we neglect it, then NOT praying is sin.
1 Samuel 12:23

Day 8- The second reason for prayer is that it is the way God has appointed for us to get what we need and want.
James 4:2

Day 9- The world's way is to plan, toil, fight and scheme. But a Christian's way is to ask God.
Matthew 6:11

"Certain it is, that when God takes charge, He can bring the results out of our poor labors. But remember this, that God does not always use human means. God can heal the sick without medicine...... God can give jobs where you do not have the application in..... God can send money you didn't earn. But the point is that whether God uses well known means or does it by ways utterly unexpected, or even by ways impossible to men, still it is God who gives what we need. What good is it to be a Christian if you have no one to answer your prayers, no one to care for your needs, no one to give you what you want! There is no joy, there is no testimony, there is no victory in that kind of Christianity." (Prayer -- Asking & Receiving by John R. Rice)

Day 10- The third reason to pray is because it's God's way for us to have great joy!
John 16:24
God teaches us through the Holy Spirit to ask for the things that will be right for us and not a curse.
Proverbs 10:22

Day 11- A fourth reason to pray is because it is our way through worry, trouble, and care.
Psalm 55:22 / Philippians 4:6-7 / 1 Peter 5:7

This doesn't mean we won't have any troubles, but by the habit of praying (about every care, every worry, every problem or a concern of any kind) we are enabled to walk in peace whatever the circumstances. Then we are able to obey Christ's command.....
Matthew 6:25, 31

Day 12- A fifth reason to pray is that it is the answer to skepticism, doubt, unbelief, and atheism.
Hebrews 11:6
In this verse we see that no one can come home to God unless he believes that God exists and that He will answer the one that diligently seeks Him (or prays to Him).

Day 13- There are many examples in the Bible of God proving Himself in answer to prayer. Here is one of those instances......
1 Kings 18:16-39 (Take the time to read the whole story first)

Now let's go back and focus on a few verses.....

Day 14- Who was Ahab?
1 Kings 16:29-33

Why was Ahab in pursuit of Elijah to kill him?
1 Kings 17:1

That is why when Ahab saw Elijah he called him the "troublemaker of Israel."
I Kings 18:16-17

Day 15- Notice that the people were wavering between two opinions. What were they indecisive about?
1 Kings 18:21

What was the challenge?
1 Kings 18:22-24

Day 16- What did Elijah as God for?
1 Kings 18:36-37

What did God do?
1 Kings 18:38-39

The point is, that a whole nation of indecisive, skeptical people saw the God of Israel answer Elijah's prayer and thus were convinced as to who was truly God. Thus, "the way to answer infidelity is to let God prove Himself by answering prayer." John R. Rice

Day 17- The sixth reason to pray is to have the power of the Holy Spirit to do God's work. When Jesus was teaching His disciples about prayer He taught them a pattern for praying in the "Our Father" and then immediately went on to tell this story in the gospel of Luke.
Luke 11: 5-12

What does it mean?
We all have people in our lives (family, friends and coworkers) that have needs. In their times of trouble they may come to us for help of almost any kind. But in and of ourselves we have nothing to give that can satisfy their needs (Luke 11:5-6). So we -- as an intermediary -- must go to God on the behalf of our friends and family and ask for what is needed. God alone has the resources to meet all their needs and much more. We don't, and thus we must ask Him on their behalf.

Day 18- But if we are to ask Him on their behalf why isn't He quick to give on the first request?
Luke 11:7

I believe God will test us to see if we're REALLY concerned about our friends and family. Do you love them enough to pray daily for them? Are you really concerned for them or do you just "want them off your back?" Are you ready to persevere until you can help your friend? God is looking for someone bold enough and concerned enough to keep asking until you receive.
Luke 11:8-10

Importunity is the Lord's way to get bread for a poor, and hungry friend.

Day 19- What is it that we especially need to be able to give to others? (The answer lies not in what we need but WHO we need.)
Luke 11: 11-13

This verse is not speaking about the Holy Spirit indwelling us as children of God. This verse is speaking of the Holy Spirit coming upon us in a fresh way so that we would have the resources to meet the needs of our friends.

Day 20- The Holy Spirit has the power to meet every need of man. God will not give this gift for a casual request. But for any serious seeker He will never withhold the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38

Day 21- The seventh reason we are to pray is that it is the way we as sinners may obtain salvation. When our heart's desire for God is expressed through our words (whether spoken or silent) then God's mercy and forgiveness is poured out upon us and we become His child.
Luke 18:13-14 / Luke 23:39-43 / Romans 10:13

Day 22- Do you want to please God? Then pray. That is the eighth reason to pray -- it pleases God when we talk with Him and ask Him daily for the things concerning the life He has given us.
Proverbs 15:8b

God gets so excited when we come to Him in prayer. What does He do?
Isaiah 65:24 / Jeremiah 33:3

So there are eight reasons we are to pray even though our Father knows what we need before we ask.

Day 23- Like prayer, Jesus taught that fasting should be a part of our life. Twice in these verses He says "when you fast" NOT "if you fast". But, His main point is that fasting like prayer is not for other men to see how holy we are. Fasting, to give an appearance before men feeds our pride. What does pride lead to?
2 Chronicles 26:16 / 2 Samuel 22:28 / Proverbs 16:18

Day 24- In these verses Jesus does not go into the question of why we should fast because he was speaking to the Jewish people that fasted regularly. Today fasting is seldom done or even thought about. Looking back at scripture, what are the reasons for fasting?

Reason #1 for fasting: Repentance before God
1 Samuel 7:6 / Joel 1:14 / Joel 2:12-13

Day 25- Reason #2 for fasting: So we can concentrate on being with God and hearing His voice.
Exodus 34:28

God Himself sustained Moses for these 40 days and nights

Day 26- Reason #3 for fasting: When we are in mourning for the sins of a nation, or group of people, or a tragic event.
Ezra 10:6 / Nehemiah 9:1-3 / Daniel 10:2-3

Day 27 - Reason #4 for fasting: When we are going through trial or temptation it can help to strengthen our spirit.
Matthew 4:1-2 / Luke 4:1-2

Day 28- Reason #5 for fasting: When you have a major decision to make.
Acts 13:2-3 / Acts 14:23

Fasting on its own has been proven to have wonderful medical benefits, but when combined with prayer and time spent with God it can bring light and clarity to your life. It says to God -- "My full attention is on you!"

Day 29- For the Jewish people; almsgiving, prayer, and fasting were the three great works of their religious life. Therefore, to observe Christ's disciples NOT fasting seemed puzzling to John's disciples. Christ likens Himself to a bridegroom and His disciples as guests of the bridegroom. For one week after a wedding the bride and groom stayed at home to receive friends and relatives who came to rejoice with them and celebrate. When it is time to rejoice there did not need to be fasting.
Matthew 9:14-15a

Day 30- But in the same verse Christ makes it clear that trouble will come and the early joy will fade. Are we ready to meet the challenge and suffering of a Christian's cross?
Matthew 9:15b / John 16:33 / 1 Peter 4:12

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