The first component of prayer is ATTITUDE.
The O.T. passage includes: "If my people,who are called by my name, will HUMBLE themselves . . . and TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS . . .". We see here the need for attitudes of humility and repentance. The N.T. passage also shows the need for repentance. As well, in the Lord's Prayer we come into the presence of God with humility by acknowledging that God is our FATHER, that He is in Heaven (outside the natural realm) and that His Name is to be HALLOWED.
Jesus clearly described the incorrect and correct attitudes for prayer in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14). The former EXALTED HIMSELF and went home UNJUSTIFIED (in wrong standing) while the latter HUMBLED HIMSELF and went home JUSTIFIED (in right standing). Remember: "Judge not and you shall not be judged". Similarly, we can see in Matthew 6:2-8 that "praying to be seen by men" is condemned while "secret" (personal, quiet, inward) prayer is encouraged (Note: THIS DOES NOT PRECLUDE OUTWARD VERBAL PRAYER BUT ESTABLISHES THE CORRECT ATTITUDE REGARDLESS IF THE PRAYER IS INWARD OR OUTWARD). The POWER of humility as precursor to answered prayer is well illustrated in
2 Chronicles 33:1-25. This is the story of Manasseh, king of Judah for 55 years. The first part of the story describes a reign in total opposition to God. Eventually, God brought judgment against him by having Assyria defeat him and take him in exile to Babylon. Now let's see what happened to this WICKED king: "In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and HUMBLED himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And WHEN HE PRAYED TO HIM, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God" (2 Chronicles 33:12-13). We might also review the case of Ezra who was called by God to lead a contingent of captives out of Babylon and back to Jerusalem to REBUILD THE TEMPLE. Ezra contemplated the dangers of the journey and found a solution as follows: "There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might HUMBLE ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey . . . So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, AND HE ANSWERED OUR PRAYER"
By far the greatest testimony regarding attitude and prayer is seen in
Heb. 5:7 "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears . . . and He was heard BECAUSE OF HIS REVERENT SUBMISSION." Here we have the SINLESS Jesus, NO ATTITUDE PROBLEMS, humbling Himself before God. WHY? . . . Because He knew He would be heard. In fact, the passage goes on to say "He became the SOURCE of eternal salvation". Can we contribute to the eternal salvation of others by prayer? BELIEVE IT! . . . WE CAN. Isn't it worth approaching God with the right attitude? There are many attitudes which might be hindering our prayers today. Let us SUBMIT them to God . . . even ask God to reveal those attitudes which are hindering our prayer.
The first component of true prayer is to:
PRAY WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE.
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