I have not only been praying for our church that we would become a people of genuine prayer, but I have been asking God to teach me how to pray more intimately and effectively. Many churches and quite a few people are known for prayer that is ceremonial, polished and safe, but what I am referring to is something much more than that; I am speaking of direct and honest communication with the God of all creation.
After reflecting upon it, there are some things that I have learned about prayer that have shaped the way I approach God…
- When we pray God’s will, he will do it (1 John 5:14-15). The problem we run into is that we assume that just because we want something that God wants the same thing for us. If we take the time to search the Bible and know the heart of God, we will find that he changes many of our faulty expectations and aligns our asking with his will.
- We should be as thankful when God answers a prayer with a “no” as when he answers with a “yes” (Psalm 84:11). When God denies a prayer, what we are asking might be the wrong thing, it may be the right thing but the wrong time, or our hearts might hold the wrong motivation (James 4:3). When God closes a door, it is for our good and for his glory, so praise him in the denial.
- Prayer is hard work (Colossians 4:12). When you seek to deepen your prayer life, you’ll face distractions, discouragement, exhaustion and a host of other battles. Satan knows that prayer is a powerful weapon, and he will do whatever it takes to keep you powerless. Keep laboring, wrestling and struggling in prayer, regardless of the opposition.
- God sovereignly works through the prayer of believers to accomplish his will (John 15:7). Though a mystery in many ways, God limits his working at times to the prayers of his children. It is not simply a matter of God waiting on a prayer before he works in certain instances, but that prayer is the means by which God has chosen to work.
- Being clean before God is a prerequisite for effective prayer (1 John 1:9). So often we forget that our spiritual lines of communication can be hindered by unconfessed sin. We can’t hear God clearly or know how to pray with focus if our hearts and minds are clouded with sin.
- We often pray far too much for temporal things and far too little for eternal things (Colossians 1:9). Physical needs should certainly be brought to God, but when we only voice concerns about things that we can see or touch, we are neglecting the weightier, spiritual reality that lasts forever. Do you pray as much for your spiritual development and growth as you do your physical provision and protection?
- Persistent prayer demonstrates deep dependence (Matthew 7:7-9). We go to God in prayer with a recognition that we do not have the power to accomplish all he desires. When we live in a place of constant communion with our heavenly Father, we live with a continual reminder of our reliance upon him to meet our every need.
Would you commit to developing a deeper, richer and more consistent life of prayer with God? Your spiritual walk, your family’s growth and your church’s mission to make Christ known will be shaped and forever changed by prayer.
“When God has something very great to accomplish for his church, it is his will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of his people.”
– Johnathan Edwards