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YOUR BROTHER'S KEEPER

Christianity Oasis Ministry has provided you with this Your Brother's Keeper study. We'll be looking into that and all aspects of the Christian Walk. This SON-derful study reveals truth as to bring forth understanding and peace within.



YOUR BROTHER'S KEEPER

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This My Brother's Keeper Bible study program was designed specifically for Christian teens.

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YOUR BROTHER'S KEEPER

EFFECTIVE PRAYER

WELCOME BACK MY FRIEND

Remember the word integrity from the step about your character? I trust that you have the integrity to take just one step a day, it IS the best way!

Psalms 25:21
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.

You may be wondering why PRAYER isn't one of the first Steps in My Brother's Keeper. It's simply because the sincerity of your prayer is more important than the procedure of it, and you've been increasing your sincerity with every step you take. I'm not saying that I didn't want you to pray up to this point, I'm just saying that we will now discuss ...

THE WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY AND HOW OF
EFFECTIVE CHRISTIAN PRAYER

You're going to love this step. It doesn't matter if you're a shepherd or a sheep, we all want our PRAYER to be more effective and to feel closer to God. In this study, you'll discover that EFFECTIVE PRAYER is simple and with just the tips that are in the Bible, you can improve your PRAYER life dramatically.

Before we start, there are a few misunderstandings about prayer, and habits that you may have formed that need to be looked at before you can expect positive improvement in your prayers, so let's talk for a moment about what prayer is NOT. Don't be offended if one or more of these things describe a pattern that you follow in prayer. But instead, rejoice that after learning more from the Bible about prayer in the next few minutes, you'll be on your way to a closer relationship with the Lord.

Prayer is NOT . . .
A daily rattling off of your list of complaints to God. Most of the things we complain to God about can be changed by our own choices. Always remember, we are God's servants, He is not ours.

Prayer is NOT . . .
Something we do because we feel obligated. Our Father wants us to spend time with Him because of a sincere desire to, not because we need to have our prayer time card punched.

Prayer is NOT . . .
A one sided conversation. You're not the only one present and participating. We'll talk about this more a little later in this step.

Prayer is NOT . . .
Better because of how long of a time you spend in prayer.

Prayer is NOT . . .
Reciting the same words over and over and over again, most of the time with no emotion, or many times with your mind concentrating on something completely different while the words drone in your mind. When Jesus spoke the Lord's prayer, He said that this was
the manner in which we should pray, not the only prayer we should offer. A heartfelt prayer is not repetition without thought.

If any of these things have become your habits, get ready for a totally new attitude about prayer. The first thing you need to do is relax. There are no procedures to follow or prerequisites to fulfill. Your prayer is as unique as you are. No two people pray alike. Only you can decide how you pray.

Ready?

Let's get started.

WHO?

An important thing to know about prayer is understanding
who you're praying to.
Get to know who the Lord is.

The Lord is your Spiritual Father. So when you pray, do not imagine some far off deity. Instead KNOW that He is your loving Father who seeks to share time and thoughts with His child as often as He can. He wants you to talk WITH Him ... Not at Him.

Proverbs 15:8
Prayer of the upright is a delight to the Lord.

WHAT?

What is prayer? Prayer is the way that Christians communicate with God. But do you feel like you're at a loss for words when you pray? What on earth are you supposed to talk about when you pray, anyway?

If you're new to prayer and you're having trouble getting started, maybe this will help. Pretend that someone just introduced you to Jesus for the first time, and left you alone together to talk. Get to know Him. How do you do that? TALK! What would you tell Him? What would you ask? You may feel a bit silly, being that He already knows you better than you do, but tell Him all about you. You may learn things about yourself that you didn't know, because many times we don't discover things about ourselves until we talk about them. Are there questions that you've always wondered about Him? ASK! Are there things about yourself that you've never told anyone? TELL HIM your secrets. It will bring you closer to Him and your friendship will begin to flourish. TRUST HIM! Share your successes, your failures, your dreams, your disappointments, your happiness, your sadness . . . EVERYTHING! He IS your best friend.

Now that you're getting the idea, remember that God and the Holy Spirit are there for you too. When you feel you need a more Fatherly ear, give your prayer to God. If you feel you need guidance, or if you're lonely, the Holy Spirit is waiting for your invitation.

Sometimes you may just feel like spending time with the Lord, without speaking. Just knowing His presence is with you, is very fulfilling. Sometimes you just can't put your thoughts into words when you want to pray, but don't worry, because God knows your heart. The Apostle Paul explains:

Romans 8:26
Our Spirit groans during prayer, the Holy Spirit searches the heart and mind of your Spirit and tells God.

Ephesians 6:20
Pray in the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:16
Know ye that the Holy Spirit dwells in you.

WHEN?

There is no designated time when to pray.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are available whenever you want or need to talk to them. You don't have to make an appointment, call ahead of time or save up your prayers for Sunday morning. Just invite them into your heart.

When you first wake up, say "Good Morning" to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Hide and watch whether the times you remember to do this, your day goes better. Make this a habit in your life. Put something on your nightstand, or your bathroom mirror that will remind you that He is waiting for you to talk to Him. Attach a "post it" note to your kitchen cabinet, on the refrigerator, or anywhere and everywhere to remind you to greet Him throughout the day. If your child woke up and didn't say good morning to you, you would be hurt or think he was mad at you. Don't ignore God . . . You are His child. Starting out the day, giving your undivided attention to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit WILL result in a better day.

When things go wrong stop and pray. If you don't, they may just get worse, but if you ask God for help, will He not help His child?

Oh, and one more thing ... Don't wait for things to go wrong to pray. God is happy to hear from you when things are going right too, otherwise it may seem like you are taking Him for granted or taking advantage of Him.

WHERE?

Where should you pray? Jesus taught us that we should pray in private.

Matthew 6:6
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.

This doesn't mean that you're confined to your room when you pray. You can pray anywhere, anytime, just as long as it's only between you and God.

This brings up some questions. What about blessing meals or praying in church?

Certainly our Father wants the church to pray together, but community prayer is quite different from personal prayer. If everyone present is praying in unity, remember what Jesus said:

Matthew 18:20
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

If you're giving thanks for a meal, and everyone present is in agreement to give thanks, likewise, you are glorifying God together, if you're not seeking edification (attention or glory) because of your prayer.

Saying a little "God bless Grandma and Grandpa" with Junior before bed? Splendid! We do have to teach the children. But now let's look at some other situations.

In a restaurant, among strangers, you may just want to give your thanksgiving to God silently without revealing it to others. If you bow your head, you're really just saying "Look at me, I'm praying." If you're moving your lips while you whisper your prayer, or give any hint at all that you're praying, you're not really doing it for God, you're doing it for attention.

Matthew 6:5
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Did you catch that? What is their reward? The attention they got from people. Let your reward be in Heaven.

In a chat room, let's say someone opens up the floor for prayer for something or someone. Everyone begins to put their petitions up on the board. They're not really speaking to God, they're speaking to the other people in the room. They carefully choose their most eloquent words to post, clearly for self edification (praise). Some continue, trying to outdo the others present. There's no need to display sincere prayers to God. If someone wants to be prayed for, your silent prayer speaks volumes to God, compared to revealing your intimate conversation with Him in an open forum. It's an insult to the Lord when you want others to share in your communion with Him. If there is Godly conversation in the room and you're spiritually moved by it, an enthusiastic "Amen" or something similar is quite different. Nobody wants to quench your passion, but there is a time and a place for everything. In prayer, the time is anytime, and the place is in the privacy of your mind, with God.

This can be a very controversial topic. The best thing to do is follow your conscience, not your pride and you will be able to FEEL when it is appropriate, and what is appropriate to say in prayer in public.

WHY?

There are millions of reasons why to pray, but most of them fall into about five categories.

Praise

Confession

Request

Thanksgiving

Communing

Psalms 150:6
Let every thing that hath breath
praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

1 John 1:9
Confess your sins.

John 15:7
Abide in Jesus, His words in you, and
ask what you will.

Philippians 4:6
In everything by prayer and supplication with
Thanksgiving
, let your request be known to God.

Psalms 62:8
Trust in Him at all times; ye people,
pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Do you ever pray with thanksgiving? That means do you thank God in advance for the things you ask Him for? When you do this, you're showing the strength of your faith and your lack of doubt.

James 1:5-8
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But
let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Being double minded means you're not sure of something, you have doubt or you have different opinions about something ... You're hopeful, but you're not absolutely positively, without a doubt. To be single minded means to be certain and confident about what you think.

(Make sure) when you ask with thanksgiving, you're not being presumptuous by doing this. In other words, don't assume that God owes you what you're asking for just because you gave Him thanks in advance. Your thanks should be given with the intention of showing praise, not expectation for your own gain. Here's an example:

Dear Father,
In the name of Christ Jesus, at one with the Holy Spirit, if it be according to your will,

Make your request here

I believe that with you, all things are possible. Thank you for answering my prayer.
Glory and praise to you, my Almighty Father. I love you.
Amen.

Don't forget you are here to glorify God, not only in REPRESENTING Jesus Christ, but also in the praise and thanksgiving you offer to Him. What better way is there to glorify Him than to praise Him?

Praying for others is such a wonderful gift. In praying for someone else, you could actually be releasing miracles for them. You just never know the POWER of prayer!

2 Corinthians 1:11
Prayer of others can cause miracles.


HOW?

As you learned at the very beginning of this study, everybody prays differently. Sometimes you may pray for hours at a time, and sometimes you may just whisper one word (like Alleluia or Thanks or Amen). How you pray is entirely up to you. Just remember, there are no limitations on prayer, small or large. Your Father judges your heart, and the only thing He wants from you, is sincerity. With that in mind, there are some things in the Bible that you may find helpful to know about prayer.



IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST

Pray in Jesus' name. Jesus said:

John 14:13-14
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Does that mean that if you forget to say "In the name of Jesus, I ask . . . " that your prayer won't be answered? Absolutely not. Again, your Father judges your heart.


GOD'S WILL BE DONE

Here's a very important thing that the Apostle John wrote about prayer: Ask according to God's will.

1 John 5:14-15
If we ask according to His will, God hears us, and if we know He hears us, we know it will come to pass.

This is especially important when you're praying for others. Think about this. What if someone asks you to pray for a special reason for them, or what if you, in the goodness of your heart, take it upon yourself to pray for something that someone didn't ask for, but you believe it would be a blessing for them. So, you pray for them, but you didn't know, the wish is not God's will for them. The prayer is not answered in the way hoped for, and questions arise about believing to receive, and asking in Jesus' name, and many other doubts. This, my friend, can be harmful to their faith, and yours. Not only this, but if the prayer does come to pass, if it wasn't God's will, this can be become a disaster. When you pray for someone else, ALWAYS be certain, that you're praying for God's will (God's wish or intention) to be done.

There's a humorous little saying that someone came up with that goes like this: God answers all prayers. His answers are, Yes, No, and Not now. All joking aside, praying for God's will to be done in our lives may be a little hard to understand at first, because the human creature is naturally a selfish being. We want what we want. But what about what God wants? He is our Creator, after all. He owns the remote control of our lives. He created a plan for us, but sometimes we think we're the ones in control. What does that mean, anyway . . . According to His will? It means that you're putting your life in God's hands . . . Giving Him back the controls.

Many things the world offers may appear exciting, but we don't see what lies behind it's deceiving promises. God does. He wants our prayers and plans to be His plans. We often make our own plans and think we're headed in the right direction, but if we don't involve God in the planning, we'll probably end up on the wrong path. Don't get this wrong now, God loves you so much that He wants to give you the desire of your heart, and He wants your plans to succeed and your dreams to come true, so when we pray for something that is not His will, He patiently leads us in the right direction.

He finds ways to fulfill our hopes while still being in harmony with His will. At first it may seem like your prayer is not answered, but if we follow the direction that He points us in, we'll find what we were looking for, without disappointment. Many times you'll realize that what you were praying for, was something you really didn't want. Praise God for His infinite wisdom!

So, how do you avoid going in the wrong direction in the first place? Commit (trust) your prayers and plans to Him, and He'll show you the right thing to do.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

The more you grow in Him by following His plans, the more you become like Him. You will take on His character and His thoughts will become your thoughts, because He lives through you, guiding you and conforming you to His image. The more you become like Him, the closer you'll be to the center of HIS will and your selfishness will vanish.

Jeremiah 29:12-13
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Don't forget to listen when you pray. Listen with your heart. Ask Him what He wants to say from His heart, and then listen. You're having a conversation with the Lord, so give Him a chance to talk. Give Him time to answer. Don't forget that God is a Spirit ...

John 4:24
God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

His answers may not be in the form you expect. You never know how He may answer you . . . Wind, thunder, or perhaps a still small voice as Elijah described ...

1 Kings 19:12
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

SING PRAISE TO THE LORD

Did you know that singing is a way of praying?

All of the Psalms in the Bible are songs that king David wrote to the Lord. There is a saying that goes like this: "He who sings, prays twice!"

Psalms 7:17
I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

Psalms 33:2-3
Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto Him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto Him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.

In these next passages, the words highlighted in red show the different ways that some people in the Bible prayed.

Psalms 1:1-2
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law doth he
meditate day and night.

Psalms 5:3
In the morning I direct my prayer to God and
look up.

Psalms 95:6
O come, let us worship and
bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

Psalms 141:2
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as
incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Daniel 6:10
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber
toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.

1 Kings 8:54
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 Timothy 2:8
I will therefore that men pray every where,
lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Luke 22:41
And He (Jesus) was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and
kneeled down, and prayed.

Acts 9:40
But Peter put them all forth, and
kneeled down, and prayed

Below are some of the words of Jesus concerning prayer.

Matthew 7:7
Ask and you shall receive.

Mark 11:22-25
You must desire, believe, forgive all when you pray.

LOVE is also a VERY important part of prayer.

1 Peter 3:7
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.


OTHER WAYS YOU CAN OFFER PRAYER

KEEP A JOURNAL

NOTE: THIS IS A PRIVATE JOURNAL TO GOD
AND SHOULD NOT BE REVEALED TO ANYONE.

You may have heard before that the Bible is the Lord's love letter to you. How about writing down your prayers to Him? It's also a great way to see the progress of your prayer life and your walk of faith.

ANSWERED PRAYERS

Think about when we discussed praying for God's will a few moments ago, and remember that God's perspective (what God takes into consideration when He answers our prayers) is eternity. When He answers a prayer, our temporal outlook on our lives, sometimes cause us to limit our perspective and we can't see the potential of the blessings that He bestows on us. You may pray for the opportunity to serve God better, and His answer to your prayer may not be the same plan as yours. Keep your heart open to the doors He opens in your life. There may be sacrifices that are necessary in order to fulfill His will. The means by which His will is accomplished may seem extreme to us, but don't forget, He's in control, and He knows what's best. Things that seem tragic to us, are sometimes a blessing from our Father. For example: Sometimes the only way to make time in some peoples lives to serve Him is to remove us from things that we hold most important to us, because we put those things above Him. That may even mean things that we love. A child may move away, you may lose your job, a loved one may even die. These things seem extreme at first, but if you pray for the wisdom to understand God's plan, you'll find the blessing that He intends.

John 15:2
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Jesus' words mean that God purges, or prunes our lives, so that we can produce more fruit for Him. Often times we have false expectations that blessings mean more (family, friends, possessions, power, money, etc.) in our lives. My friends, in serving the Lord, less IS more!

FATHER, IT'S ME AGAIN

Remember that little saying about God's answers to prayer being, Yes, No, and Not now? Let's talk about when the answer is, Not now. Sometimes we must be patient in waiting for our prayers to be answered. God's timing isn't always our timing. We tend to want things to happen NOW, we don't want to wait. But, again, we don't see the full picture. From eternity, the things we think are important don't amount to much, but God created us with a specific purpose in mind, and His timing is perfect! So, when we think things are moving too slow in our life, we need to wait, because God is moving everything into its proper place.

Whether you hit your knees when you first wake up in the morning, or whether you squeeze your eyes shut, or whether you lace your fingers so tightly that your knuckles turn white, or open your arms and lift your hands toward heaven, or whether you look up or bow down, or face the east, or light incense or burn a candle in the dark, these things are all up to you.

I cannot say it better than a little boy named Timmy
who said this on TV after being rescued from the bottom of a well that he fell into:

"Best prayer I ever done was when I was upside down in that well."

The important thing to remember when you pray is your sincere and earnest desire to communicate with God, your maker, and share your heart with Him.

Well, that was quite a lesson, and you probably can't wait for the next time you pray, because you've probably thought of a bunch of different things you want to talk about with God now that you know a lot more of what the Bible says about prayer.

STEP #6

To complete this Step, you must CHOOSE to go to the Partners in Prayer board at Christianity Oasis and post a prayer there.You can remain anonymous if you like. Be sure to read some of the other prayers that are on the board, and say a little prayer for someone ... Remember, your prayer could cause a miracle to happen!

Continuing in EACH step daily is so very important.

Go back over each step often to be sure you have not missed anything.

To continue our program, you can return tomorrow and select:

STEP #7

I'll meet you there!

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