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Rules adhered to that Govern Prayer
The benefits of prayer and the rules that govern it:
Everything has rules that govern it and if a person is going to get the full benefits from something those rules must be adhered to. Take for instance an automobile; the rules that govern it says that the oil must be changed at the proper time, a tuneup is required at times and other parts must be kept in working order so that a person can get the full benefit of the vehicle. If any of those rules are not adhered to, the vehicle will break down. To look at another example, take for instance a person's job. If a person is going to get the full benefit of their job, then they must adhere to their job description. If the rules that govern their job description and not followed, they will lose the full benefit of their job. They may end up being fired and replaced by someone who can do the job better.
There are even rules that govern relationship and if a person does not adhere to those rules, then they may become enemies. Another rule that governs relationships says that everyone cannot have the same equal access to you because some people may not be able to handle your weaknesses or strengths. A person's perception may cause discouragement if what they have perceived about another person proves false. How many people become discouraged when a man or woman of God are not true to the words that they preach. Take for instance the mailman and the relationship that the homeowner has with them. Even though the homeowner has a relationship as mail is brought to the house every day the homeowner does not give the mailman access to the house.
Many people who cross the boundary line of relationship or permit the boundary line of relationship to be crossed may not enjoy the full benefits of that relationship. Even Jesus set certain boundary lines as he related to his disciples, because at times he would take with him Peter James and John and leave the other disciples. Take for instance Matthew 17 when Jesus took Peter James and John up to the mountain of Transfiguration and was transfigured before them. After that wonderful experience he told Peter James and John to tell no man what they saw until his resurrection, not even the other disciples because Jesus understood the importance of boundaries and not giving everyone equal access to certain experiences about him.
I have given a few examples and the rules that govern them but I would like to give one final example that sports fans can understand. Basketball, football, soccer, baseball, and hockey are different types of sports that are all governed by different rules. In a basketball game the rules of football would not apply even though they are both sports and to do so would only bring confusion. This same principle applies to prayer because many people tend to think of prayer as a whole instead of many different parts that require different rules. For example there is the prayer of petition, supplication, intercession, Thanksgiving, confession, and submission, each with their own set of rules. Prayer becomes mundane and boring if the rules that govern prayer are not in their proper place. Many people become discouraged because they feel as though God has not answered their prayer when in fact the rules of prayer were not properly applied.
For example Psalm 66 and 18 declares if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me. This Psalm lets us know that if a person prays the prayer petition and has unconfessed sin in their life, the Lord will not hear the prayer. So this individual must pray the prayer of confession before they pray the prayer petition. First John one and nine declares if we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So then we can see that when the proper rules are applied to a specific type of prayer then the benefits of that prayer will be maximized.
What are some of the rules that govern prayer? Well in Matthew chapter number six Jesus gives a discourse on prayer and explains the rules that govern it. First of all he declares when you pray don't 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. So we see that one of the rules that govern prayer is to not be hypocritical in our prayer. A hypocrite is a pretender and a pretender has other motives for what they do. Jesus declared that the hypocrites prayer does not come from the heart which is what God looks at, but it goes through the motions of what religion expects to receive... Which is the Accolades of men. The only benefit that this prayer will receive is the praises of men because God does not honor it. Jesus names another rule that governs prayer by saying when you pray enter into your closet and when thou has shut the door pray to thy father which is in secret; and my father which sees in secret shall reward thee openly.
Even though there are times when people gather together for public prayer some of the most beneficial prayer time is experienced when a person is alone with God. Everything must be shut out including all of the worries of the day as well as other hindrances that may keep one from entering the presence of God. In public prayer many people do not reveal their entire heart because of possible embarrassment or some other reason. But in one's own private time with God a person can be open and honest with God without others listening or interfering. This is another benefit of prayer. Jesus goes on to mention another rule that governs prayer by saying when you pray use not vain repetitions as the heathen do for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Vain repetitions does not mean we cannot come to God with the same prayer request over and over. Luke chapter 18 declares Jesus gives a parable outlining the persistence of a widow woman who had one request... Avenge me of my adversary. But the difference between vain repetitions and persistence in prayer is one comes from the heart while the other is mechanical. Remember if a person is going to receive the full benefits of prayer, then the rules that Jesus laid out in Matthew six must be adhered to.