Atmosphere of Prayer
Jesus in Matt 24 and Lk 17 described a ‘last days’ atmosphere that we need to be aware of.  An atmosphere characterised by an increasing tide of religious deception, oppression, strife, anxiety, and uncertainty.  As these things escalate we need to heed Jesus’ words (Lk18:1) that we are not to lose heart but to pray.  Rather than breathing in this atmosphere of doubt and despair, we should pray and let prayer be the oxygen to our souls that will keep our faith alive and our spirit buoyant.

Jesus Himself, when He was on earth, demonstrated and placed prayer at the heart of His relationship with the Father and also everything else He did.  Jesus lived in an atmosphere of prayer. (Lk 22:44, Heb 5:7, Jn 17, Heb 7:24).  The early church disciples too, were immersed in prayer (Acts 6:4).

We too, need to make prayer a priority.

In Matt 6:5-8 (NIV)…And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Have a functional place and regular time with God
Find a specific place or functional place and a set time where you can be alone with God.  Develop a prayer habit and eliminate distractions and focus on God.

Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Jesus will often pull away from the busyness, the distractions, the crowds, and find time alone to speak to the Father. We may not see the immediate benefit of what we are doing, but daily, we are building something around our lives. That consistent time with God, the reading of the word in that secret place constructs an edifice, a structure where our faith and confidence in God is contained and strengthened.

Prayer enables us to empty our hearts before God

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Matt 11:28  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Learn to pour out our heart of its worries, anxieties, stress, and frustrations before God. Many times when we carry stuff on the inside, rather than talking to God, we can end up spending more time on the phone talking to people around us, who themselves may be going through difficult times.  People can pray for you, they can pray with you but you need to get into that place of prayer by yourself.

Prayer acknowledges our dependence on God
When we pray we are acknowledging to God that the answers to life are beyond our human ability or grasp, that we are totally dependent on Him.

Prov 3 :5-6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

Acknowledge Him in every aspect of your life, when you have to work through difficult seasons, e.g. processing a bad medical report or grief or loss. When you feel inadequate about taking on a task or when you need to make decisions or need divine direction.
We live in a climate of rapid changes, uncertainties, complexities and at times find ourselves in this constant flux. Take time to pray. Your prayer becomes the umbilical cord between the will in heaven and the will on earth.  When you pray you are connecting with that realm, the will of heaven flows through your praying into the earth’s situation. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will direct your paths.

Prayer strengthens our intimacy with God

Jas 4:8 Come near to God and He will come near to you.

The secret place of prayer is a place where you get acquainted with the attributes of God.
We get to know His heart, His mind, His character. When you sense a spiritual apathy creeping in or you become jaded in your relationship with Him, ask Him to draw close to you, to give you a fresh desire to pursue Him, to stay emotionally engaged with Him (Ep 1:17).

Discussion Questions
1. How has prayer impacted your life?
2. Do you have a set place and time to meet with God?
3. When was the last time you poured out your heart to Him?
4. Has God guided you in some specific way when you prayed?
5. How is your intimacy with God?
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We recognise the sovereignty and Lordship of the one true God, revealed through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we work and live, the Kulin Nation, and pay our respects to Elders past and present.