What more can we need? He knows what our desire is; we don't know how to express it; so what does GOD do? He comes to our rescue. The Spirit, Himself, helps our infirmities.
'For we know not what we should pray for as we ought,'
so He prepares our hearts. He says, 'This is how to put it across; this is how to articulate your need.' And then He causes His ear to hear! What a merciful GOD we have! And we do all in the Name of Messiah. He says:
'If you ask anything in My Name, I will do it.'
There is a built-in condition there that is spelt elsewhere. And that is that it must always be in line with the will of GOD.
So that's the practice of prayer, generally. Privately, in private prayer, we should read much of the Word of GOD. As an old writer put it, 'He who is mighty in the Word of GOD, is mighty also in prayer.' The better you know the Scripture, the better you pray. Because you take those Scripture arguments; you take those prayers of the saints, and you adapt them for your own use. You have precedence there; a sacred precedent.
If it's helpful to bring yourself into a prayerful state of mind, use devotional aids. Use devotional helps. Good devotional helps that will turn your heart and your mind to GOD. And the third thing you can do is to make a list of your concerns, so that you don't have to scratch your head; 'Now what else do I say,' or 'what else should I ask for,' or 'who else have I forgotten?' Make a list; make a prayer list.
Begin with worship before proceeding to supplication. And you will find that if you establish this steady, regular fellowship with GOD in prayer, when it comes to emergencies, (you find them in the Psalms for example,) David says,
'Help LORD, for the Godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men!' He's crying out to GOD:
'Be merciful to me, O GOD,'as he fled from Saul in the cave. GOD will hear those outcries; those emergency prayers; that SOS; He will hear it because of your ongoing daily relationship. He does not so readily hear the person who ignores Him day in and day out, and then suddenly he is in trouble; 'O GOD, help me! O GOD, save me!' He's not likely to hear; sometimes He does out of sheer grace. But He doesn't always. And he doesn't have to.
But when you and I are in a living relationship to Him, with Him, He listens to us when suddenly, 'LORD, SOS! I've got an emergency! I'm in trouble!' Nehemiah was like that. He prayed four or five months before he had an opportunity to say anything to the king, and then suddenly the opportunity came. He was caught off-balance; and he says,
'So I prayed to the GOD of heaven.' And GOD heard his prayer, because for months previously, he had been worshipping and praying to GOD on a daily basis.
So that's what we must do. When we go to the system of sacrifice that GOD gave through Moses, we find the same thing. The free-will offerings of the children of Israel; the offerings of their vows; their thank offerings, or whatever; they were all accepted on the basis of the daily sacrifice. Morning and evening the lamb was offered on the altar; and their sacrifices were put on top of that. Without that, their sacrifices were not accepted. There had to be the daily sacrifice; and we have a priest, a High Priest in heaven,
'Who ever lives to make intercession for us. Therefore, He is able to save us to the uttermost,'that come to GOD by Him. 'Uttermost,' as a little girl put it, is 'a little bit further than the end.' He saves TO THE UTTERMOST; just to give you an idea!
Private prayer. Family prayer. There ought, also, to be in our families the regular, daily practice of family prayer. The state of the church depends on it. Look at the history of the church. And you will find in the history of Israel; the history of the church; whenever families worshipped together, all was well with GOD's people. But when they neglected it; lukewarmness, coldness, backsliding set in. And when there are revivals; the first thing that is mended is the family altar. We don't have to wait for revival; we can begin right away. Or if we are doing it; GOD bless you! And GOD prosper you in that!
When everybody's together, usually after breakfast, or after lunch, or after supper; get your Bibles out; everybody take a part in reading from the Word of GOD, maybe Dad or Mom, or both; make comments on the passage; and then give the children the liberty of talking to GOD in turn; as well as yourselves. Teach them that GOD loves to hear little children praying to Him. Encourage them to develop this habit from their earliest days. Sing a song, if necessary, if it's a useful tool; but keep it brief, because children have a limited attention span. Don't overload them, or they'll get fed up. We have to keep a fine balance; you are walking on a tight rope here. Fifteen minutes at the most. Don't let feelings determine whether you do it, or not. There'll be times when everybody will be at each other. It happens; family quarrels. Don't' let that stop it. You say, 'Okay, we are quarrelling with each other, but GOD commands us to pray.' And therefore, 'force majeure' as they say in French; it's a power; it's authority above our's. GOD tells us we've got to do it; we'd better do it, whether we like it or not! And you usually find when you grit your teeth and you go ahead anyway, that GOD blesses it. And it usually turns out that the atmosphere is several degrees cooler at the end of it all. GOD says,
'Them that honour Me; I will honour.'