Prayer is Sincere communication with God:
Simply repeating words to an invisible force, or reciting a blessing over food, or even eloquently praying in church to be heard by people is not prayer. In order to be actual prayer, there must be "sincere" communication with God. The person praying, regardless of the words or even if it is silent, must be "sincerely" directing the prayer to God.
Questions for study:
Is prayer real? Does it work? Can it be proven? Is it Scientific?
A Scientific study should be, at a minimum:
1. Observable - We could hardly say we had proven something if there were no way for anyone to see results
2. Measurable - Not only must we be able to observe the subject of study, we need to be able to measure the result
3. Repeatable - coincidences do happen, if there is a real scientific phenomena, it should be repeatable again and again.
The thesis for our study is that God created science and is therefore scientific. All scientific laws are based on God. Since prayer like all forces in the universe was created by God, it is real and provable. One possible reason that there is so much doubt concerning prayer could be that there are principals which must be followed in order for prayer to be effective. People can repeat words even the same words others have used (like the "prayer of Jabez") but unless the principals are met the prayer may not be effective, or may not even be a prayer at all.
Listed below are some principles which increase the effectiveness of prayer. Prayer is a real force which has real effect. When these conditions are met there is tremendous potential for successful prayer. However, just like with fire, which has real effects, even if you have all the ingredients necessary for fire (fuel, heat, flame, etc.) it is still possible for someone to hinder the fire, or put it out by throwing water on it. So also can prayer be hindered by a number of things.
Here is a table of some of the things which will affect prayer, positive and negative (not an exhaustive list)
|Prayer requires:||Prayer is hindered by:|
|Sincerity: As stated above, in order to even be a prayer, there must be sincerity toward God. (Heb. 11:3, 11:6)||Pride A major deterrent, when prayer is answered, there may be a temptation to become proud, this will hinder continued success. (James 4:6)|
|Faith: (Heb. 11:6, Mat. 21:22)||Selfishness: (prov. 21:13, James 4:3)|
|Perseverance: (James 5:17, 1 Kings 18:43-44, Luke 18:-7)||Doubt: (Mark 6:6,16:14, Mat. 13:58)|
|Love: (1 John 4:8)||Sin: (Psa. 66:18, Isa 1:15, 59:1-2)|
|God Focus: (Psa. 91:9-10, 14, Mat 6:33)||Other people's doubt/discouragement: Many times a person will pray effectively and actually be receiving the answer, only to be convinced by someone else that there is another explanation and then doubt takes over and the prayer becomes faithless.|
|Strife: (James3:16. 1 Peter 3:7)|
|God's Will: Finally, we must understand that because real prayer is to a real God and is subject to His will, there are times when even if everything is done right, and all hindrances removed God will have some better plan which we may not understand yet, but if we persevere in faith we will one day. (Heb. 11:13, 11:39-40) The key here is to let the focus of your thoughts and heart be on the many times God did answer prayer, rather than the few times you don't understand. Prayer is "subject to" God's will.|
Even though we don't see all the ways He works, like we don't see wind, we know He is real, and HE cares (Luke 11:11).