Biblical Prayer

So much has been written about prayer and so many things have been said about prayer. Some of which has been helpful and challenging and others have been based on man's opinion or experience. The purpose of this article is to draw upon God's Word to determine what kind of prayer is appropriate before the Lord and what kind of prayer request are answered by the Lord. Psalm 66:18, says "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear." Isaiah 1:15, says "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. 

Your hands are full of blood." Christians need to know that God will not answer the prayers of the un-confessed and unrepentant sinner. Jesus' model prayer teaches us Mat. 6: 9-13 "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." We should pray often and confess our sins as often as necessary. The apostle John tells us in 1John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God has no desire to answer the prayers of someone who does not acknowledge His Holiness and Hatred against sin. So, if we desire to have answer to prayer, then we must confess our sins and aim to live righteously for the Lord. Don't think you can live like the world lives all week long and then show up on Sunday morning or at Wed. night prayer meeting and lift up prayers that God wants to listen to or answer. First, confess your sins.

We also need to pray "in faith"! James tells us in James 1:6 "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind." Certainly faith is needed. God has no pleasure in His children coming to Him doubting that He can answer their prayers. James also tells us of the prayers of Elijah, James 5:16-18 "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit." Faith understands that God the Creator is able to do anything within His Holy nature and within His will. As the Lord said to Abraham "Is anything too hard for the LORD?" We can approach an Almighty God with unwavering faith in God's Power and ability.

Finally, after confessing our sins and approaching God with unwavering faith, we also need to pray according to His will. While it's true that we can boldly come before the throne of God (Heb. 4:16), we must never place demands on the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe. Even when it comes to asking for what seem to be good things, God honoring things, we must not presume that our desire is His desire. James 4:3 explains the wrong way to ask of God "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." If you're praying for something that you're coveting, then God will not be interested in answering that prayer. The apostle John in 1John 5:14,15 says "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." Does this mean that anything we claim in God's name will come to pass? No! Certainly, it would be a marvelous thing for everyone to have the gift of evangelism, but not all do. Should we then pray that all in a given church receive that special gift? Well, in this instance, God's word has already revealed His will in 1Cor. 12:11, "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills." All the prayer for receiving a spiritual gift will not change the Spirit's will. Even in the case of praying for someone's physical healing, James 5:16-18, tells us that God may heal that person, but let us remember the apostle Paul's prayers for his thorn in the flesh in 2Cor. 12:8 & 9, "Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness'." Paul's will was not the Lord's will at first (he desired to be healed), but God's answer for Paul's prayer request did become Paul's will (God made Paul spiritual strong in his weakness). What if we desire to see someone saved? Can we claim the salvation of others in the name of God? Certainly this kind of prayer seems honorable, but is it biblical? The apostle Paul's heart gives us some understanding here. In Romans 10:1 Paul says, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved." Paul wanted them to be saved, he desired for them to be saved. Paul's desire for other Jews to come to Christ was so great that he wrote, " For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh." No one would ever doubt Paul's earnest prayer and earnest desire. Yet, Paul also said in Romans 11:25, "that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." Paul desired that all his Jewish brethren would come to Christ, but God's revealed will showed Paul that that was not to be so at that time. We see then, that our wills and desires expressed in prayer, although accompanied by unwavering faith in God honoring things, must be subject to the will of God. The greatest example of this is seen in Jesus' prayer in the garden. Luke 22:42, records the words of our Lord Jesus praying to God the Father, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Jesus' model prayer and His prayer in the garden teach us emphatically that God's will must be sought after at all times. Although we may cry out for biblical things, God honoring things, we still must be ready to accept what ever answer God gives us and in some cases graciously accept His silence.

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