2013 ~ God’s Best Ministries
As we begin discussing prayer, think of it as your chance to sit down and “pick the brain” of the smartest person in the universe. It is a chance to pick up on some of that person’s power, anointing and insight. It is a chance to have some of that person’s power rub off on you. What an opportunity!
We can look on prayer as an obligation, a chore, something we need to do because that is what is expected, a part of the package of being a Christian. Or, we can see prayer as an incredible opportunity that we would be foolish to miss out on. Why go at life alone when you can go at life with the master creator and the master-fixer?
God moves on earth when He is asked – He is not a puppet master who is pulling strings – He becomes involved when He is asked – many things happen in our lives that are not God’s perfect will for us – they just happen. God is not pulling the strings for each and every circumstance that we experience – there are other forces at work, including our own choices that shape our lives and our circumstances.
Belonging to God is a choice. We can choose to belong to Him, we can choose to be a member of His family, we can choose to ask Him for help, we can choose to be loyal and stick with Him and listen to Him. It is all our choice. Consequently, there is a way in which answered prayer is our choice. God has set up the system, the expectations, and the outline of how He wants things done and accomplished.
Success in answered prayer starts with us realizing 1.) God only involves Himself in our lives when asked – He is not behind the scenes pulling the strings and micro-managing our lives; and 2.) God has ways that He prefers to have things done. It is up to us to find His system and follow it.
These two truths set us up to see things God’s way and enable us to be on our way to a successful prayer life.
A third foundational truth defines how we are able to come before God with our prayers, and get them answered. This is because of God’s Son, Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life on this earth, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. This action created the pathway to put us in God’s family and allow us to talk to God, as described in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God [in right relationship with God]”. Because of the right relationship with God, we now, as Christians, can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Being the righteousness of God also gives us access to have our prayers answered, as described by James 5:16b: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
As we discussed earlier, becoming part of God’s family is a choice. Choosing to become a part of God’s family means we are accepting that Jesus was the Son of God, that His death and resurrection were for me personally, and that daily I choose to live and act in accordance to what God wants. This keeps me in a right relationship with God and puts me in a position to have my prayers answered.
Before we go on, let’s discuss how one would define a successful prayer life. How do we see and how do we define successful prayer? The most obvious answer is that successful prayer is prayer that is answered, prayer that brings about the desired results. That is indeed successful prayer.
But, there is more to it than that. Successful prayer means we have a relationship with the living God, with the Creator of the universe. We can tap into “the Man”, the one who knows, the one who has power, ideas, wisdom and the solutions to whatever we need.
Successful prayer also means that we can hear from God. We hear Him speaking, directing us, comforting us, admonishing us, and showing us things. A relationship with anyone is two sided. They speak and we listen; and then we speak and they listen. The same is true in a relationship with God. It is two sided, with dialogue going back and forth.
Now, hearing from God is not always easy. We can have many “voices” that are speaking to us; and it can be hard to distinguish God’s voice among the others. Our ability to hear God is greatly shaped by who has taught us about God and what we expect to hear from Him. If I expect God to be angry, I will hear angry things from Him. If I believe God wants to teach me something, then that is what I will hear. If I believe in God healing people, then that is what I will hear from Him and see Him do because I am looking for it. If I believe only certain things about God, then that is all I will look for Him to do. I will hear and see only what I expect to hear and see from Him. The voices of others, the voices of our own experiences, the voices of others we have read or whom we have heard preach or teach will all shape our opinions and our ability to hear God. They also could limit our ability to hear from God and hinder us from hearing the fullness of what God is saying to us.
But, if I study God’s promises and miracles and I listen to stories about people who have experienced the power of God, then I will be more open to experiencing God in those ways myself. I will look to experience God in those ways.
All of this will help (or hurt) our prayer success. If we are not sure that God wants to heal, then we will have a difficult time coming to Him in prayer expecting healing. If we are not sure what God promises us in the scriptures, then we will not know exactly what we can come to God and ask for in prayer. That makes our prayer life confusing at best.
So, being able to hear from God, and being able to hear from God accurately, is a major piece of successful and effective prayer.
The next foundational truth for successful prayer is seeing and understanding who is in charge of bad things that happen. If we believe God allows tough things to happen to us, or even sends bad things to us to teach us something, then that will shape how we approach God in prayer. If we know there is an enemy working on the earth that brings trouble, heartache, lack, disease and struggle, then our prayers can be more focused and accurate. The scripture is clear that an enemy exists, and he desires to cause trouble. Jesus recognized the work of our enemy (Matt. 4:1-11; Matt. 12:25-29; John 10:10). Paul said to the Corinthians, “…we are not unaware of his [Satan’s] schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11), implying that we need to be aware of how the devil works. James admonishes us to, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The Apostle Peter also explained to Cornelius that Jesus healed “all who were under the power of the devil…” (Acts 10:38), implying the devil was responsible for sickness and disease.
We will have a hard time relating to God accurately if we don’t understand Satan’s place. Satan has power to do bad things on earth, but he doesn’t have authority in Christians’ lives. I can go to the mall to rob a store. I can walk into that store and take anything I’d like. But, I don’t have the authority to do so. If I get caught, I get arrested. Satan steals; that is the essence of his nature. That is what he does. But he does not have the authority to steal from us. God gave us authority through what Jesus did on the cross.
So, it is our responsibility as Christians to recognize Satan’s activity and to stand against it. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5: 8, 9a).
As we (accurately) see the enemy’s work in our life or someone else’s life, it will shape how we will pray. If we believe that all things that happen are from God, then it will be hard to pray accurately and confidently because we believe God allowed it.
These are a few of the truths that we can build our prayer life upon as we seek to establish effective and successful prayer.
[All scriptures NIV]
“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.” Abraham Lincoln
“Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But, it doesn’t pull God down to us: It pulls us up to Him.” Billy Graham
|Food for Thought|
|A Guide to Shaping Prayer|
|The Bible & Prayer|
|Scriptures As Prayers|
|Scriptures For Prayers|
|Power of God Scriptures|
|Scriptures for Children|