How then shall we pray? Here are reminders of some powerful, yet simple truths about prayer.
- God is building His kingdom, His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17-18)
- He has chosen us to be part of that process through prayer. We’re told to ask, knock (Matthew 7:7-8) and to seek first His kingdom. (Matthew 6:33)
- When we pray, God works.
Here’s the question that keeps rolling around in my mind: “Why then aren’t we praying more? Why aren’t we asking God for bigger things? Why aren’t we seeing more people get saved and more lives radically transformed?” James 4:3 says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”
Maybe we’re not seeing God work because we’re not asking. Maybe it’s because we’re asking with selfish motives. I know that my self-absorbed heart often has me-centered motives. I want relief, happiness, health, prosperity. But the nature of prayer itself is one of surrender. It’s admitting that God has the power and we do not. It’s praying for His Kingdom and His will to be done, not ours. Jesus prayed earnestly in the garden of Gethsemane to be saved from the terrible trial He was about to face. But then He submitted to the Father and finally prayed Not my will but yours be done (Matthew 26: 42-44). He gave up His human desires and surrendered to God’s will. So praying Kingdom prayers means we are asking for God’s plans, not ours.
Maybe, also we focus too much on the end result and not the relationship. If we seek the gift and not the Giver, we may be too short-sighted. Jesus wants us to come to Him like little children, seeking His arms, not just what He can provide for us. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6, He instructed them to do so in secret, not for public show. It’s a private relationship between us and Him. Then the first part of the Lord’s prayer is about worshipping Him.
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10
Before we move on to our requests for daily bread and forgiveness and sanctification (forgiving others!), we must remember who He is. He is in heaven and most holy, far above anyone else in the universe. He is far more powerful than any other power. This is our God! I must admit I skip this part sometimes. I go straight to the asking without first remembering Who He is and how amazing it is that He even hears me!
Without the work of God in my life, I would now be a lonely, angry and very bitter woman, blaming everyone else for my problems. I was headed down that path and nothing but God’s Holy Spirit was able to redirect my course. All glory goes to Him! I am so thankful and grateful.
But He did this work because I asked. Desperately. I begged and pleaded: “I don’t want to be this way, Lord, help!”. Others also interceded on my behalf and encouraged me. Much fervent prayer went up to heaven. And slowly, I saw God working in my mind and heart, which encouraged further praying and asking. And then there was submitting to His will. It was hard and not very much fun. Sometimes I would take a step backwards and would again cry out to God. And again He would answer, provide forgiveness, and enable me to continue. He is building His Kingdom.
And finally, we are told by Jesus that whatever we ask for we will receive:
Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13
Several other verses say this same thing – John 15:7, John 15:16, I John 3:22, I John 5:15 – that we can have whatever we ask. What’s the qualifier? If we are asking for the sake of God’s glory, God’s kingdom, God’s purposes, He promises to do it!
I Thessalonians 4:3-4 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” We are told explicitly that it is God’s will for us to become more holy, to put away anger and bitterness and sexual sin and impurity and bad thoughts and unkind words, etc. This is God’s will for us. And if it’s God’s will, then surely it counts as a “whatever you ask” kind of prayer.
So let’s ask! And keep on asking! Let’s claim these promises and pray for God’s glory and God’s Kingdom to advance in us, our families, and our churches. And let’s not forget to love Him, worship Him and thank Him in the process.