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What prayer will and will not do

 Prayer is our communication to the God we serve. Prayer should not be a chore but a joy, just as you love to talk with someone that interests you- that you love, and you want to grow in a relationship with. Prayer is not necessarily worship but it is an essential element to our Christian life. Our relationship toward God is sustained and strengthened by our prayer, as His relationship toward us is sustained by His word through His spirit.

If we are going to spend serious time in prayer we need to first put some things in order. We need to have our own heart searched out, any unforgiveness or resentment is to be dealt with. Any sin we may be practicing needs to be repented of. We need to be cleansed before we enter the holy place. We come to him on the basis of the blood of Christ. Any prideful attitude needs to be humbled by exercising our will and come to God in total dependence on his mercy and His grace. When we pray we should not just be speaking but be still enough to listen, as the Lord through His spirit may lead us to a scripture. It may be for us, it may be for another in showing us how to pray.

We find the Holy Spirit in Rom. 8:14-15 leads us to cry out Abba. Gal 4.6:  “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, (the Spirit) cry’s out, ‘Abba, Father. He is another advocate to our relationship to God by prayer. There is no evidence in scripture that anyone prayed or worshipped the Holy Spirit unless he is included in worship with the triune God.   It is the Spirits ministry that brings one to Christ. The Holy Spirit has a different position functioning in a submissive role to Christ. Just as Christ was in a submissive position to the Father on Earth. Likewise the Spirit does the same, taking a subordinate role to both Christ and the Father when He is sent to earth (Jn.16:13). His purpose is not to bring attention to himself but to the Son.

We may have list of needs to pray on but there should be room for the Holy Spirit to show us how to pray. We are to be led by the spirit in our prayers to know the will of God, in other words we need to be flexible. In this way we may not always have the knowledge in praying for a specific request but trust in the Holy Spirits leading.  

 If we are speaking to God and being influenced by His spirit then our prayer will never be self centered or on things not pertaining to his kingdom. On one hand we submit our hopes, our needs. On the other hand we need to examine our motives and God's will in a given situation. The longing desire of our heart has to be what Christ would want done or the prayer does not rise to him to even be considered. If we pray as Jesus would then we should expect our prayers to be answered. A study on Jesus and the apostles prayers is helpful in understanding and training oneself in prayer.

Prayer is the means in which God gets His will done on earth, not the means in which man gets his will done in heaven.

James 5:17-18 tells us, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” It wasn’t Elijah’s asking that accomplished this but it was God answering his request because it was his will, He had a purpose in it.  God can take away things by our praying and affect people and nations and He can add things and bless them. He can do beyond even what we ask for as we are under a covenant of grace. He can and does miracles for his namesake. We cannot limit God in our prayer nor can we command him or control him what to do what we would like by our request.  Ps.145:18 “the Lord is near to all those who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.”

 

I Jn.3:22-24 “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.”   Notice if we keep his commandments do what is right we will have get our prayers answered. In Isa.65:24 “God says before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking I will hear.” He loves to respond to what we ask.

 

We all have practical needs that we should submit to our Lord. We all need funds for the rent or maybe for our house or car repairs, our children's education.  We all need food and gas in the car.  If we are asking to spend the funds on a holiday or something bigger or newer than we already have without it being a necessity God will see our prayer as selfish and He will not answer that prayer.  God is able to read our hearts to see what our secret motives are, these may not even be known to us. So we should examine what is in our own hearts and ask as David said search me O’ God and see if there be any wicked way in me. We should not have token prayers as a quick throw up of words to heaven without considering the content.

Many of us do not have the confidence in coming to God and asking our needs in our prayers I Jn. 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” We should understand the general will of God for people and have spiritual insight to know what he is specifically doing in someone’s life to pray on target.

Some of us are overconfident and become bold to ask just about anything WE want. James says two things James 4:2-4 “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

 When we put the things of the world our physical comforts ahead of God in our life we forfeit him as being Lord. We are at enmity with God. When we pray for something we must make sure that we are not asking for something that goes against God's revealed will.   If we are asking for prosperity to live in luxury to satisfy our insecurities we best hope God does not answer this prayer. Many have had it answered only to learn a hard lesson.

 Just as we are to handle our doctrine correctly we are to handle our prayers. Our petitions will reveal what we believe is most important in our lives. Our prayers are to come through the cross. This means dying to our self desires so that we can be focused on God’s purposes, it is these prayers he delights in answering. But there is also a condition of faithfulness in our lives. If we ask for more ministry he may have that intention but if we have not been faithful in the small things we need to wait and become faithful for any expansion. God is not going to grow a church if the people are not being fed and they are being neglected.

We should not write out prayers and send them in with a very generous donation at the request of a famous TV evangelist. Don’t expect them to be more appropriately answered because you exercised faith by sending a gift that was more than you had in your bank. When you see the prayer requests piled up in front of the “man of faith”, this is done on purpose for their TV program to prove the reaching effects of his ministry.  He then utters a general public prayer over the thousands of requests to be answered and its over. This is not how prayer is to be done. The motives of an intercessor is just as important as what we ask for. Our prayers are to specific and to be for an individual if possible.

Twice Jesus said, “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations? But ye have made it a den of thieves.” Don’t let their spiritual props fool you.

Our prayers are to God and no other. We do not address unseen spirit beings and threaten them or fight against them to have God gain control over a certain area or person. If your speaking to the Devil in the atmosphere you are no longer praying to God.

We don’t want to become narcissistic, praying what I want to be, what I want to happen in my way. It should be God’s will and plans we are concerned about. Praying in Jesus name is not a warranty to receive anything we ask or say, and we can certainly thank him for that. He doesn't want spoiled little children, but mature heavenly minded people who look at His word and are willing to be conformed to His likeness even if it’s uncomfortable.  Those who can trust Him in His decisions, He can entrust to answer. 

If we petition God for riches, power, honor, knowledge, or reputation, for ourself it is seeking our own kingdom. If we petition God for riches, power, honor, knowledge, or reputation, for his kingdom we need to have him search our hearts to know if our motives are pure. So how do we know how to pray and be on target? Charles H. Spurgeon stated it like this, “Sometimes a fog will settle over a vessel’s deck and yet leave the topmast clear. Then a sailor goes up aloft and gets a lookout which the helmsman on deck cannot get. So prayer sends the soul aloft, lifts it above the clouds in which our selfishness and egotism befog us and give us a chance to see which way to steer.”

James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” So we ask in faith, meaning we believe he heard us and to trust his decision when and how to answer our prayer.

 I Jn 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

The power is not in our prayer no matter how earnest or eloquent it may be. The power rests in the one who answers the prayer and it always according to what he wants to see accomplished. It may be through us or another but it rests in God’s hands. W. R. Reynolds- “The sovereignty of God does not override the want, the will, the tears, the cry of his children; but does, in the first instance, express itself through that very want — those tears and those strong desires. It is not that man changes God’s purpose, but that man verily and indeed discovers that purpose through his own earnest prayer.”

 

So how do we get our prayers answered? John 15:7-10"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.” We need to be walking with the Lord and seeking to do the things pleasing in his sight  and he is more than willing to answer our requests. Not that we will ask for something for ourselves but if we are really and truly walking with him our prayer will be a dying to our self wants and lifting up to him his kingdom wants.

Paul says in Eph.6:18 praying always with all prayer and supplications in the Spirit. “ We are to consistently have an attitude of prayer for anything that happens even if we know we have the ability to correct or fix something.  Now this kind of attitude breads humility and is a hard thing to discipline ourselves to. But it is necessary so that we train ourselves to be God dependent.

 

Col 1:9-10 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

It would be good to pray this for we are to walk correctly thereby having the confidence that God hears us and will answer. Because we have the understanding of his will. Paul's prayer is for a knowledge which leads to godly living in accordance with wisdom and the Spirit, rather than the theoretical knowledge of the false teachers. True knowledge leads to wisdom for living .Paul is asking for this in their walk in contrast to the effects of the false teachers' "wisdom" they were exposed to. God's people have always been destroyed by a lack of knowledge

Phil.4:6 “do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” To wait with patience is very different from commanding God for what you think you may want.   We should not expect that every prayer will be answered the way we would like. Elizabeth in Lk.1 was righteous yet her prayers were not immediately answered. It wasn’t until she was very old that God granted her and her husband their request - the answer a miracle in their lives with John the Baptist as the herald for the messiah. It was God’s perfect timing.

Paul asked in 2 Cor.12:8-9 about the thorn in his flesh. The Lord responded by saying to him that his grace is sufficient. God’s purpose was not to deliver Paul from his immediate uncomfortable position but he had a greater purpose. Paul’ suffering became his pulpit with power, for when he was weak God was strong through him.

  If we look at Heb.11 the great men of faith they became outcasts at certain times of their lives or most of them. Hebrews 11 mentions all these faithful ones Abraham, Moses Samson etc. the writer also states Heb 11:36-12:1 “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented--  of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

E.M.Bounds wrote,  Obedience helps faith, and faith, in turn, helps obedience. To do God’s will is essential to true faith, and faith is necessary to implicit obedience. Yet faith is called upon, and that right often to wait in patience before

God, and is prepared for God’s seeming delays in answering prayer. Faith does not grow disheartened because prayer is not immediately honored; it takes God at His Word, and lets Him take what time He chooses in fulfilling His purposes, and in carrying on His work. There is bound to be much delay and long days of waiting for true faith, but faith accepts the conditions — knows there will be delays in answering prayer, and regards such delays as times of testing, in the which, it is privileged to show its mettle, and the stern stuff of which it is made.

1 Pet 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We are married to Christ and His love will see us through the worst of times in our pilgrimage on earth. He never told us to pray to be delivered out of the trials but that we should be strengthened through them. This is for our own benefit. If we were to be delivered out of every trial we would be weak in spirit. If you ask the people in China how to pray for them they will tell you not to pray for their deliverance from persecution but that they would have the fortitude to stand in the face of adversity and persecution. If those in America who claim to have great faith in prayer were to spend some time over in China or a place of persecution would get a reality check and see what 1st century Christianity is about. There lukewarm bless me abundantly prayers would be blown away as chaff in the wind. This is where we learn true faith and to submit ourselves to God’s ways even when we don’t understand them.

The mature Christian prays through his sufferings, adversity strengthens our faith and trust, all of Gods great saints went through trials to perfect their faith even Jesus learned obedience by his experience of suffering and was brought to his goal becoming mature and complete. Heb.4:8-9. It when we are in the cauldron of adversity that drives us to pray like we are on fire.

Acts 21:14 “After Paul refused the warning of his being bound in chains and given over into gentile hands They all said let the will of the Lord be done.” If my prayer does not line up with God's will as revealed in the Scriptures, then I need to ask Him to change my heart.  Molding us by changing our desire is part of the sanctification process. If a prayer does not have God’s will in its center, it is not a “biblical prayer. It doesn’t mater how many testimonials one gets to prove it was answered.”

The psalmist reflecting on Israel’s trek through the wilderness in Ps 78:16-18 “He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. But they sinned even more against Him by rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness. And they tested God in their heart by asking for the food of their fancy.” We can ask for things on ourselves and ignore God’s will and guidance to our own destruction, Israel did. Sometimes he will ignore our prayer as it misses the mark, other times he may just give us our request to test our hearts.

Jesus prayed thy will be done and taught the apostles to do the same. The apostles followed Jesus ' way of praying God’s will. If God has no will then He would have no influence over the affairs of mankind, we would then be in charge which is not a comforting thought. Imagine hundreds or thousands praying for the same thing such a s job but only one would get it. Its not because one prayed more or better. God’s will is involved, he has a plan and we need to gain insight into it to be part of His plans. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray he taught them to pray in a certain manner, it was never meant to be a repetition said over and over, no prayer is. Jesus never said a certain prayer is more powerful than another.

Jesus taught the disciples to pray in this way, contrary to the way the Pharisee’s prayed.

Our Father which art in Heaven
speaks of our relationship- We are to consider the person we are speaking to and address Him in reverence.

 

Hallowed be thy name
speaks of worship, exalting him for who he is- We are speaking of our reverence and respect of Him who we now know praising and thanking Him.

 

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

 Submission to His Lordship in our lives and our affairs on earth. Asking for his influence to change things that are contrary to his ways. First in us so we can be his representatives to others. We should look for God’s will in a given situation that we may be part of it. If it is not apparent to us we should pray that it will be.

 

Give us this day our daily bread

addresses dependence and petitions God to be our supplier. This speaks of our physical and spiritual needs to be met by his hand. We are promised he will supply our needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.

 

forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors

forgiveness is to be consistent lifestyle. We want to practice forgiveness and let things that are not crucial roll off of us. We should be willing to hear things out and try to make peace. To forgive does not mean we intentionally ignore biblical issues but human ones.

 

Do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.

addresses our need for guidance and discerning good from evil. God will always make a way out for those who want to be delivered from bondage and evil. We should be aware of the schemes of the enemy.

 

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen

We are to give Him all the honor, allegiance, loyalty and worship. No man should receive this no matter how Godly they are, it is due  to the one who is our creator and the maker of all things.

 After Jesus died and rose from the dead, our access to God is now immediate as the book of Hebrews says we can come boldly before the throne of grace because of his shed blood.

It’s not the position of our body nor how uncomfortable we are when we pray. Its not how loud we are nor how many we may have praying in agreement. Nor is it any repetition of our prayer that would bring a speedy answer. It begins as a matter of our heart. We being open and honest. We are to seek God’s will in our prayer and that we are found inside it. If it is not apparent pray for His will to be known to you. Sometimes a person praying to receive an answer from God may get a yes -a wait or a no. There are decisions from God that we will never understand this side of heaven and we are to accept them as his hand of divine providence on our lives. 

It is not a certain prayer that yields results. Not the prayer of Jabez, not the prayer of Jesus repeated over and over that will bring you blessings. Cleverly designed techniques only feed into our carnal desires and they will never reach the presence of God for answers. There is no package of words that can move the hand of God to be quicker or more constant.  The Christian object in prayer is God, not the prayer itself. It means to trust in someone greater and wiser than us. Real faith has anticipation in prayer that God hears us and that He will answer in His way and His time.  Faith is to have an absolute, yet simple assurance of God’s promise, and have the patience for God’s timing. 

We want to be confident that God will answer our prayer. We want to pray on target so our prayers hit the mark. Intercession is someone pleading on behalf of others. Jesus is the church’s high priest who continually intercedes for each of us personally to the father. Jesus leaves the unsaved in our hands to pray to God to save them. If you know someone who needs the Lord in their life, start praying for them and see what God can do. He just may answer beyond your wildest expectations.

 

 

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