What We Need to Know About Prayer
Have you ever wondered why all your prayers are not answered?
In one sense, they are. It’s just that we don’t like the answers. God answers prayer in three ways: yes, no, and wait.
Aligning Our Will With God’s
We tend to think of yes as a definite answer. But we don’t accept no and wait. However, they are answers to prayer just as much as yes is.
So, how do we see our prayers answered more often in the affirmative? What can we do to cause God to say yes to our prayers?
First, we must align our will with God’s will. In fact, the primary objective of prayer is to do just that. It isn’t to bend God our way; it’s to bend ourselves His way.
As Martin Luther pointed out, “We by our praying are rather instructing ourselves than Him.”
The Bible tells us, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14 NKJV). And the way we’ll discover God’s will is through careful study of the Bible.
Jesus’ Model for Prayer
Jesus provided us with a template for prayer, if you will. We traditionally refer to it as the Lord’s Prayer. But I think a better description for this model prayer would be the Disciples’ Prayer, because Jesus gave it to his disciples as a pattern for prayer.
Luke’s gospel tells us that one of the disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1 NKJV).
So Jesus replied, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Luke 11:2–4 NKJV).
When we come before God, we should always stop and think about who it is we’re addressing. Far too often we rush into our petitions and immediately begin to ask God for what we need.
What Jesus taught in this model is that we should start by contemplating the awesomeness and glory of God: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” Before we utter a word of personal petition, we give glory to his name.
And when we pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we’re essentially saying, “Lord, if what I am about to pray for is somehow out of your will, then overrule it. Disregard what I am about to pray if it is not the right thing for me.”
Next, we come to this petition: “Give us day by day our daily bread.” It’s really an amazing thing to consider that this all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipresent God who created the entire universe is interested in us personally.
Yet the Bible clearly teaches this is indeed the case. In Job 7:17 we read, “What are people, that you should make so much of us, that you should think of us so often?” (NLT). God knows about all things that concern us. He is interested in us, and He wants us to bring our needs before him.
It’s also an acknowledgment that we’re recognizing everything we have comes from God. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (NKJV).
Next, the statement “forgive us our sins” also could be translated “forgive us our debts” or “forgive us our trespasses.” Some people don’t think they need God’s forgiveness. But according to Jesus in this model prayer, it is something we should be asking for on a regular basis.
The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8 NKJV). The closer we are to God, the greater our sense of sin will be.
I would also add that if there is no confession of sin, your prayer life will come to a halt. The psalmist wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18 NKJV). If you’re presently holding on to some kind of sin in your life, then your prayers won’t be answered in the affirmative.
We must also forgive others: “And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Let’s not misunderstand what Jesus is saying here. Some have suggested this is teaching that if we don’t forgive others, then God will not forgive us. I think that’s wrong, because if that were the case, it’s essentially saying that our salvation will come through self-effort.
Let’s remember that Jesus gave this prayer to His followers. I’m forgiven because I believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross for my sin. I turned from that sin and put my complete faith in Him. He justified me. That is why I stand right before God today. It’s because of what He has done for me.
Therefore, if I am a forgiven person, then I should be a forgiving person. If we know anything of the forgiveness of God, then we should extend that same forgiveness to others.
Jesus also taught us to pray, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” As much as possible, stay out of the place of temptation. We love to blame temptation on others, but here’s what the Bible says: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13 NKJV).
We need God. Therefore, we need to pray persistently and fervently. We need to keep bringing our petitions before Him. Many times our prayers are flippant, and we put no heart in them. I think we need to pray with intensity. And I think we need to pray more often.
Keep praying and don’t give up.
Originally published at WND.com
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