Prayer in our walk with God
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”-John 14: 8-15.
Prayer is one of the most powerful things we possess as Christians. The ability to speak to God, converse and petition Him.
Many of us pray for God to help pass school exams, find a job, bless a football team, make a politician win an election, make someone love us, secure our finances or succeed in our career. And there is nothing wrong with these prayers because we all want to believe that God is concerned with every detail in our lives. We think we know what we need and our prayers usually fall in this category of making our lives more blessed, more comfortable and more profitable.
We believe that God is there for us, citing John 14:13a -"Whatever you ask in my name, that I will do."
If our prayers don’t seem to be getting answered, it might be because we are praying for all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons.
"You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."- James 4:2b-3
Prayer is basically talking to God, and when one talks and communicates a relationship is formed. The main reason so many prayers are unanswered is because many people only pray to God when they want something. There is no relationship with Him. Have you ever had a friend who only calls you when they want something and when you help them, they disappear? It is the same with God. He desires more from us than just asking Him for stuff.
1. Examine your heart.
It is very important to pray with a pure heart.
As Christians, we believe in God's goodness, hope, love, mercy, compassion and purity and all these must also abide in our hearts.
Anger, hatred, sin, violence, pettiness, vengeance, bitterness...all negativity, cannot live in us because they are the opposite of everything God is for. So though we may believe that we are OK with God, how many of us still hold grudges against people we can't seem to forgive. Or speak and act harshly to people in our lives. Or are too deeply involved in our own stuff to care for anyone else. You see our hearts are not quite up to par.
Negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors automatically block our relationship with God. So don’t expect to hear much from Him until you are more in tune with Him.
"The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous." - Proverbs 15:29
"You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. - Matthew 7:16-18
The pure heart of God is filled with the fruits of the Spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:22-23
When our hearts are aligned with Jesus, His desires become our desires and we can then be one with Him.
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." - John 15: 7
2. Pray with Faith.
All prayers are dependent on faith.
As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes Lord," they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you", and their sight was restored."- Matthew 9:27-30a
Or lack of it.
"And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith."- Matthew 13:58
And we know that when we pray, we must not doubt.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."- James 1:5-8
We say to ourselves “I believe” and somehow think that is enough to activate this promise to give us “whatever” we ask for. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for our sins and that He answers prayer. So we muster up our faith for our prayer so we can pass the "Faith Test".
Well, faith is not an exercise or a test. It is our relationship with God.
Even Christ's devoted disciples had trouble with faith:
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. "Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him." "You unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me,'" Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." -Matthew 17:14-21
Jesus is scolding them about their lack of faith while attempting to heal a boy. It seems what little faith they had was still not enough to qualify to be as small as a mustard seed, amounting to basically no faith at all! So if the disciples had a hard time with faith, what does that say about us?
Faith is a requirement in all prayers and those prayers are our dialogue with God. Our relationship with Him. The more we talk to God the stronger our relationship will be.
3. Submit to God's will.
All Christians pray for God to take away painful struggles in our life to make our paths easier, but we always forget that God permits some situations in our lives to help us learn, grow, attain wisdom, and have life experiences that we can use later when we serve Him.
God's answers to prayer can be YES, NO or WAIT AWHILE, but many times we don't like the NO or WAIT AWHILE answer and so we lose faith in God.
And there are times when we ask for things that are not appropriate for us, like a 4 year old asking his parents for a car. The child is asking for something that could essentially hurt him and others and doesn't fully understand what it all means. And like pouting babies we frown when we don't get what we want and lose faith.
When we pray for God to remove our pain and struggles, we are essentially saying that we don't want to go through what He would have us to go through. When a child is learning to walk, there are those times that he will fall. It is in the falling, when we learn to walk successfully and it is by our pains and struggles in this life when we learn to rely on God when the road gets rough.
" I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’” - Zechariah 13:9b
Even Jesus prayed for the Father to remove the persecution that awaited Him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
"Abba, Father," he said. "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will"- Mark 14:36
Even though Jesus knew that His upcoming persecution and death was necessary to restore God to the world, He still prayed for the possibility that it would pass. Yet He acknowledged that God's will had to come first.
All prayers are subject to God's plans, purposes and timetable.
There are times that we pray for a sick or dying loved one. That seems like a perfectly reasonable prayer request. It is a prayer for someone else. It is a prayer for healing. But again, is healing for your loved one within God's will? Perhaps it is the appointed time for them, or he/she must come to their own personal reckoning or faith with God.
Many of us will also pray for someone we love to come to Christ, but again, no amount of prayers will counter the free will that each person has to choose God on their own. The same goes for praying for someone to change, fall in love or stop a destructive life. God never forces Himself on anyone and no amount of prayer will change a person's personal decision making. However, prayers for another person will beckon God to make Himself known to them and work in that person's life in hopes that the person will choose the right paths.
We need to pray and pray continuously, because prayer is our HOPE.
"Pray without ceasing." -1 Thessalonians 5:17
4. Prayer is Shared.
"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."- James 5: 13-16
"Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven." - Matthew 18:19
In our churches and communities, we must pray together to lift our collective voices to God that He might pour His Spirit onto this world that so desperately needs Him.
5. Faith in Action.
When Christians pray, many of us claim these promises of Jesus:
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible to you." - Matthew 17: 20b-21
"And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" - John 14: 13, 14.
We believe that if we have enough faith then God will give us anything we want.
Well consider this. When Jesus says, “believe in me”, He means REALLY believing in Him. This is not just a one-time mind/faith exercise test. Because if we really believe in Jesus, (who He is, everything He stands for and everything teaches) then we would have to change our life and that means seriously following Him.
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. - James 2:14-17
In both Matthew 17 & John 14, God promises to answers the prayers of His disciples, but in the context of doing God's work.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”-John 14: 12-15.
This is the problem with us and so many Christians in the world. We love to ask God for things, but very few of us do anything for Him. Very few seek to do the work of God.
"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." - Matthew 9:35-38
So what are His works?
Helping the poor. Caring for the widows and orphans. Healing the sick. Visiting those in prison. Preaching God to the unbelievers. Doing acts of charity. Loving and forgiving those who need love and forgiveness. Praying for our enemies. Welcoming the stranger. And doing all acts of love in the name of Jesus Christ to bring His Kingdom to the world.
Consider all the people that the world rejects: criminals, the homeless, the poor, the sick, immigrants, minorities, foreigners, etc. These are the people society rejects, but Jesus asks us to love them because He loves EVERYONE and He desires all to return to the family of God. When we love all these people in His name, we start the process of healing and reconciliation for them and for us.
So again, the promise of answers to prayers to move mountains are to His servants who have faith and put that faith into action. They have sacrificed their own life for the Kingdom and will be the ones who need God's help spreading the Gospel to a cold, unbelieving world.
"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." - 1 John 5:13-15
Many Christians can only do a tiny bit of the work that Jesus has assigned to us. Our hearts are still too immature and our way of serving God by putting money in the plate, trying to stay holy or criticizing sinners is not the way to serve God. We need to grow up.
The one who truly believes serves God humbly; giving up the very things that others are praying for- money, wealth, success and comfort, because serving God really does mean going out into the world, getting our hands dirty and spreading God's love to others.
Each of us must surrender our lives to God daily, because the one who denies himself for God will be the one who will have the faith to move the mountains of unbelief and resistance in the world for the Kingdom of God.
© 2015 Edrick
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