Luke 6.12 Now it came to pass in those days that He (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (NKJV)
Prayer is much more than duty. It is much more than a spiritual discipline. It is much more than petitioning God. It is both wondrously simple, profoundly life changing, and absolutely necessary.
Prayer is communication with the truest best friend you will ever know. Think of the ease, comfort and pleasure you have spending time talking with a person you consider to be a life long best friend; that person whom you trust most with your worst fears, most embarrassing failures and craziest dreams; that person you feel safe with; that person who understands you, accepts you and knows you.
God is infinitely a better and trustworthier friend than any human will ever be. He’s just waiting on us to discover it.
We approach God in prayer recognizing Him, honoring Him, respecting Him, fearing Him and worshiping Him. We come to Him without pretense or facade realizing that our verbal trickery can’t conceal our true selves from Him. So we confess our sins and glory in the restored fellowship. This brings us to a very natural state of appreciation and gratitude and we are blessed in time of thanksgiving for God’s endless bounty of blessing.
Now we ask of God and petition Him concerning our needs and make requests of Him. Will He grant them?
God is not a Heavenly Supply Sergeant
or Celestial Super Walmart
There is much false teaching today about answered prayer. It’s not practical to refute those teachings here, but suffice to say this:
- God is not a genie to be rubbed and commanded
- God is not bound by certain formulas or spiritual laws that force Him to do our will nor by the fact that we speak certain words in a certain way
- Biblical prosperity and abundance as applied to the Believer pertains primarily to spiritual riches and only takes the form of material wealth when God’s purposes are achieved through the faithful use of that wealth
- He is not forced to honor our requests because of some silly notion that humans can “create reality” or “confess into existence” financial wealth, blessings or positive circumstances simply by speaking certain words enough times or in a specific way; true creative power through words (ie, “let there be”) is the domain of God alone. God is sovereign, not our words. Our future is in the hand of God’s providence, not some mystic power of the human tongue. It is easy enough to create an illusion of this power but it is not Scriptural, nor eternal.
So what do the Scriptures say about God answering our prayers? (NKJV, emphasis mine)
- 1John 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.
- John 15. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
- Mark 11. 22-23 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
- Luke 22.42 “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
- James 5.16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
- Phillipians 4. 6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
- Romans 12.9-10 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
God will grant our prayer requests if we ask according to His will; if our faith is in God (not in our own words, or faith in our faith); if we obey His commandments; if we have purified our lives through confession of sin; if we don’t doubt God’s ability; if our motives are pure, if we are righteous, if we don’t worry, if we are thankful… in short, our faithful, selfless, Godly prayers will be answered if our lives are in line with God’s Word.
If our lives are in line with God’s Word,
we don’t tend to ask for things that are not His will.
It’s a positive spiritual catch 22: if our lives our in line with God’s Word, we won’t tend to ask God for things that aren’t His will. If we ask according to His will, He gives us what we ask.
We could list many verses that show the conditional nature of answered prayer. Can we be confident God will answer if we ask in faith, not doubting, according to His will? Yes. But how do you know His will?
Time. Time with God every day getting know Him better. The more we know God, the closer we are to Him, the more we understand God’s will. Getting to know God is the key to answered prayer.
Let’s put this down on our level. Think of the one person you know most intimately… your wife, a brother or sister, a lifelong best friend, whoever. Are you not fairly confident that you know what the answer to any given request you might make of this person? Can you not confidently guess their response to something you ask of them because of your close relationship to them?
As a child, did you not have a pretty good grasp on how your parents would answer your request to get something, do something or go somewhere? Did you tend to avoid asking those things you knew they would say “no” to? Why bother, you knew the answer would be “no”.
I pretty much know how my wife is going to answer something. So I rarely bother asking her things I know she will say “no” about, or things that I know she doesn’t care if I ask her or not. I just go forward knowing what her answer will be and respond accordingly. I know her “will” in other words. Why? Because I live with her. I see her everyday. I talk to her everyday. I can talk to her about anything. I know her will, she knows mine.
Every human analogy applied to God’s truth is weak. But I think this one is adequate to help us understand the whole idea of “whatever we ask God in faith without doubting according to His will” He will answer.
Spending time with God allows us to:
- Know His will more accurately and with greater depth over time
- Ask in faith not doubting
- Confidently expect it to be answered
- Avoid “failed” prayer because we won’t even bother to ask those things that aren’t His will
Think of the beautiful, simple logic here: if you ask something that you know is God’s will (because of your intimate friendship with Him) of course He’s going to answer your prayer because of the very fact that it is His will in the first place!
As with all things Godly, there is no shortcut. Our nature wants the blessing of answered prayer without sacrifice, without time and without discipline. Won’t happen. Daily, consistent, disciplined fellowship in prayer, worship and study is the answer and the only answer to praying with confidence.
Lord, help us today to make time to get to know You, and thus know Your will. Then may we in faith, without doubting, make our requests known to You that You may be glorified through the answer. Amen.
Contemplation: Do you know God well enough to know His will? If it is unreasonable to expect to know a person well that you spend very little time with, how much more unreasonable is it to believe that about God?
Application: If you want to experience a life of answered prayer, live a holy life and ask God for things according to His will. If you don’t know His will, spend more time with Him until you find out what it is..
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?
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