A vast subject that many talk about, but much fewer accurately practice. Did you know that there is an effective and ineffective way to pray? The Bible makes it very clear that we can pray and not receive what we pray for, because we pray “amiss”, that we may spend what we receive from God on our own pleasures (James 4:3). Yes, I am submitting to you that there is an inaccurate way to pray. What is wild to me is that we can pray 100% sincere, yet be inaccurate in our approach; causing us to likely become frustrated. Yes, God knows our heart. But do we know His? If we love God or want to know Him, we ought to want to pray in the manner which is most effective.
As children, and maybe even adults we are encouraged at times to repeat after others in order to pray. While this may serve as a launching pad to understand a proper approach, it can also become a clear example that repetition is not equal to obedience. God is a being. Infinite in His nature, yet accessible in His person. Furthermore, humanity was created in His image (Genesis 1:26). Huge common factor? We have specific forms of communication that get across better than others.
You know what causes God to turn His listening off to our prayers? Selfishness (Psalm 66:18). If we want things our own way, God won’t give us access to His way. They are diametrically opposed to each other. Our humanity is bent on having things done its own way and one of the greatest things God can do for us is not listen to us when we are being selfish. Even looking into the interpretation of “lukewarm” in Revelations 3:16, reveals that selfishness makes God want to vomit (Strong’s G1692, cold water is to refresh others from a long journey, hot water is to provide medicinal provision for others, Laodicea was bent on selfishness). So, as gross as it sounds, God is being emphatic about the fact that if He were to listen to us in moments of selfishness in prayer, He would vomit on us.
Either you find that funny, or tongue-in-cheek, or just plain gross, God is serious about wanting to establish effective communication with us. Why? Simply put, humans are the only other being that have the right to exercise personal will, either for self or for God. No other being in all that exists, has the right to do that. Not animals, not demons, not devils, not any of God’s angels. Only humans.
The value of HUMAN WILL, in the eyes of God is insurmountably precious. Again. Why? It’s majorly because of God’s love that functions through the vehicle of God’s will. God’s love, while offered, must be received to become fulfilled. The Scripture makes it very clear that God does not want anyone to perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). That is His will, for us to have eternal life. But His love only comes full circle when we receive what His will is.
So if selfishness in prayer causes God to turn away from us – and His love is married to His will, being incomplete without each other – then it must be that praying God’s will and God’s love is what causes God to turn toward us. I’ve often wondered; why do many people only equate an “answered prayer” as a “yes” from God? Resulting in people thinking a prayer that was given a “no” as “not being answered”. A prayer that is truly “unanswered” is one NOT RESPONDED TO (a prayer with selfishness). Moreover, many people say God mainly answers in three manners: “Yes”, “No”, or “Wait”. While as sincere as that may be, I’m not sure of the last meaningful relationship I had in my life where communication was based off of: “Yes”, “No, or “Wait”. God called Israel unto Himself to REASON with them (Isaiah 1:18). If we just looked at prayer through the Old and New Testament, we would see how elaborate God wants to be with us through this portal called prayer. God wants to share His wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and mind with us. How fascinating is that?
So how do we enter this portal, having God’s attention? We’ve got to give HIM our attention. In case you missed that, to get God’s attention, He’s got to have our attention. This is what praying His will is about – fixing our attention on who God is, what He wants, what He is doing, what He wants to do, why He wants to do it, how He wants to do it, and all of those wonderful secrets of His (Psalm 25:14). People that think praying God’s will is grievous, because it’s about Him, don’t understand how involved and focused God is on having our best interest at hand.
This is why when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how they should pray, He IMMEDIATELY focuses on God’s role, God’s position, God’s holiness, God’s authority, God’s mission, God’s will, God’s desires, and God’s objective before anything about US is mentioned. Don’t believe me? Read Matthew 6:9-13. Because when these things are prioritized, then “all of these things [that we have need of] will be added unto us” (Matthew 6:33).
Prayer must be our priority. And we ought to pray HIS prayer requests over ours. What are His prayer requests? OH, if we just searched the Scriptures for all of things God is and wants to do! We would walk in mighty peace, provision, and spiritual prosperity. You know the Bible says if we ask anything, in His name and according to His will, God will do it (John 14:14, 1 John 5:14)? Why? Because HE WANTS TO DO IT. How simple, yet how powerful! But why would God not do what He WANTS to do, unless we PRAY it?
Boom. Here it is.
He wants us to participate with Him. To grow in Him. Being crafted into becoming like Jesus by praying and desiring what God wants, over what we want. That’s how we can pray and grow effectively.
I believe we should receive the challenge of the Scriptures and pray what God wants us to pray. Here are some references to pray. Enjoy!
- The Disciple’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13
- A Prayer Request by the Lord: Matthew 9:38, Luke 10:2
- Paul’s Prayer of Thankfulness for Others: Romans 1:8-10, 1 Corinthians 1:4, Ephesians 1:16, Philippians 1:3-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3
- Paul’s Prayer For Wisdom & Revelation: Ephesians 1:17
- Paul’s Prayer For Joy & Peace: Romans 15:13
- Paul’s Prayer For Peace & Unity: Romans 15:5-6, 2 Thessalonians 3:16
- Paul’s Prayer For Abiding in Christ, Spiritual Strength & Power: Ephesians 1:17-19, Colossians 1:11, Ephesians 3:16-19
- Paul’s Prayer For Growth in Love, Righteousness & Purity: Philippians 1:9-11, 2 Corinthians 13:7, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
- Paul’s Prayer For Opportunities To Bless Others: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10