THE ANATOMY OF BIBLICAL PRAYER
I have seen numerous articles on NEWS24 relating to prayer. Most are derogatory and come from a position of ignorance or incorrect understanding. There are some that question and seek….
Why is it that prayer sometimes seems to go unanswered?
Please allow me to share my own experience and understanding with you
Let me begin by saying that my original take on prayer was that it was the ‘easy stuff’ of Christianity. This turned out to be very wrong. Prayer is not easy. It takes either desperation or dedication. There is no middle ground. To be diligent in prayer is impossible in our own human strength – that is why we need help!
Secondly, sometimes the answer to a prayer is “Wait’ or simply ‘No”. When we pray with this knowledge, we can also pray for clearer understanding as to why a particular prayer request seems to go unanswered.
This is the most common form of prayer: “Dear God - please forgive me; please be with me; please bless me”
What is wrong with such prayer?
When Jesus Christ died as the ultimate sacrifice for ALL sins, and we became believers through faith in Him as our Lord and Saviour, we became justified (just as if we’d never sinned) and we started on the path of sanctification (being holy).
This is our STATE – forever! We are forgiven for ALL sins: past, present and future. His shed blood is FOREVER efficacious to remove every single sin as far as the East is from the West. This is not a license to sin, though some foolishly believe it so. Continuous, habitual and willful sin leads to the hardening of the heart and a weakening of the conscience.
However, our STANDING can change on a minute to minute basis, as we work out our salvation. God KNOWS we are weak, and that we will fail, but because He KNOWS our heart and can SEE our innermost thoughts and motives, He is able and willing to KEEP us in a state of forgiveness whenever we respond to our conscience with sincere remorse and repentance.
If we understand the principle of reciprocal forgiveness, then we will not hold on to unforgiveness towards others as this is probably the single greatest impediment to receiving forgiveness and answers to prayer.
So – praying for God to forgive us is simply praying ‘amiss’. (James 4v3)
When we received our free gift of salvation, we also received the ‘seal of promise’ in that the Holy Spirit was given residence on the throne of our hearts. We thus became Temples for the Holy Spirit. There is only ONE known way to lose this status, and if you are reading this, you have not committed that one sin from which there is no redemption. Having God the Holy Spirit living in us is the most wonderful gift! We join with Almighty God in the most intimate and personal way when His presence and voice are in the very core of our being!
So – praying for God to be with us is also, simply praying ‘amiss’! (James 4v3)
When we became the adopted sons and daughters of God through our chosen brotherhood with Jesus Christ, we became the heirs of more than we could ever dream of! According to Ephesians 1v3 :” All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”
Did you get that?
EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms! This is ours already! If we LIVED as though we HAD all these blessings, we would be able to share so much more and give away blessing upon blessing!
So – praying for God to bless us is also, simply praying ‘amiss’! (James 4v3)
James 4v3 “And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong--you want only what will give you pleasure”
Effective (correct) Praying
Now we come to the revelation of what God considers effective prayer.
According to James 5v16: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man/woman avails much.”
Fervent prayer is prayer which is led and assisted by the indwelling Holy Spirit: According to Romans 8v26 "The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words”.
Our righteousness is that which is appropriated through our relationship with Jesus Christ, We have NO other righteousness of our own.
Effective prayer is simply prayer which is based on the Word of God.
- Every single promise that God has made to His children can be prayed back to Him as a request.
- Every single request for obedience must be fulfilled to achieve effective prayer.
--- John 15 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and THEN it shall be done for you."
---Mark 11 "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
--- 1 John 5 "And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us"
How different is this approach to seeking God’s face, compared to those who claim that prayer is a waste of time and energy. All these people prove is that they neither know God, nor know how to approach Him in prayer.
Knowing God’s Will
Finally, there is a powerful, yet little known fact that the Bible clearly states what God’s WILL is for each of His children who entreat Him in prayer: “
--- Ephesians 5: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
--- 1 Peter 2: "For it is God's will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men."
--- 1 John 2: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
--- 1 Thessalonians 4: "Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you His Holy Spirit."
--- 1 Thessalonians 5: "Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
In a nutshell, God asks that we pray according to His will, effectively, led by the Holy Spirit and BELIEVING that we shall receive what we have asked for, and ALWAYS praying with thanksgiving!
This last aspect of prayer is what changes one’s prayer-life from a shopping-list to a litany of thanks for everything already received and for all that God has in store for us!
We no longer have to ASK God to protect our loved ones; He KNOWS that and a prayer which THANKS Him for His protection (in advance) is a prayer of faith. We no longer have to ASK God to guide us; He simply says that we should acknowledge Him in ALL our activities and He will guide our steps (and stops!) – so thanking God for His provision of guidance is again, a prayer of faith. (Prov 3v5).
The fact that God already knows exactly what we need even before we ask for it (Matt 6v8), makes this then, the ultimate prayer of faith:
“Almighty God – my Heavenly Father – THANK YOU! In Jesus Name. Amen!”
However simplistic this may seem, and in spite of the fact that so many have questions about their pain from ‘unanswered’ prayers, or incidents where it seems that God has acted contrary to our expectations, our final and most important understanding must be that the only way to please God is to continue trusting in Him through faith – no matter what!.
Neither Church membership nor charity work nor ‘good living’ or ANY other form of self-justification holds any sway with the God of all creation. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.(Heb 11v6)
May God richly bless all who receive this with the desire to understand and know Him better.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.