Payer is definitely one of the most powerful, but misused, tools in a Christian’s arsenal. For most, it’s a one-way request for stuff or a spontaneous cry for help. We like talking to God when we want something. We like thinking that God is just hanging out waiting for our requests despite the condition of our heart, practice of sin, or lack of faithfulness in the covenant we are supposed to be in with Him through the Christ.
What is prayer . . . really? How should it be used? It’s necessary for us to communicate our thanks, desires, needs, and requests on others’ behalf to our Father of Spirits (God the Father). We do this by the Holy Spirit and through our Christ who intercedes with God on our behalf.
Toward that end, we’re taught how to pray by Jesus who gave a model – a template – for prayer (what we call the Lord’s Prayer) (Matthew 6:9-13).
That model teaches us what to pray (ACTS): Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. It also shows us how to pray.
- Trust and don’t be anxious (Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 4:6).
- Ask with the right motives (i.e. to fulfill God’s desires and plans) and keep asking (1John 5:14; Luke 18:1-7).
- Be specific! The effort shows intent and helps to see God at work.
- No rote, repetitive prayers; pray in private (to ensure it’s from the heart and without pride) (Matthew 6:5-8).
So, what is the role of the Spirit and our Christ in this prayer/connection? Communicator, helper, and intercessor (Romans 8:26-27).
Let’s look at a few things that will enable our prayers as we exercise faith and obedience:
- Ask with the right motives.
- Keep asking and don’t lose heart.
- Living right and be obedient (1John 3:21-22; John 15:7).
- Walking by the Spirit.
Contrary to unbiblical thinking and teaching that proposes God is waiting with bated breath to hear and answer every prayer despite our lack of participation in covenant, there are certainly things that can keep our prayers from being ‘heard’ or answered. The following list can basically be summed up under a heading of, “The lack of a right heart/intent”:
- Impure motives (James 4:3).
- Bad relationships (1Peter 3:7).
- Lack of repentance and reconciliation (Psalms 66:18; Matthew 5:23-24).
- Disobedience (lack of the obedience shown in scriptures above).
Summary: Jesus gave us a template to pray by in our Adoration of God, Confession of anything we do in opposition to His ways, in Thanksgiving for His mercies, and in Supplication. Ask with the right motives and keep asking. Wait. Trust. Be righteous and holy to enable, and not inhibit, prayer. And, always remember that we should want what God wants; it has always been, and always will be, about Him!
Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!
And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!