Many times when I talk to others about prayer they describe their discouragement when they seem to fail to get their prayers answered. In my experience this is often the result of the widespread confusion about what Biblical Prayer actually is and how to go about it. In this blog I am attempting to lay some Biblical foundations on prayer that will assist you in being able to develop your prayer life with confidence and get far more of your prayers answered.
Then He spoke a parable to them,
that men always ought to pray and not lose heart
Prayer is almost universal among all the world's religions, different faiths pray in different ways. However, not all religions are the same and more importantly not all religions will get you to heaven. Jesus Christ made this abundantly clear when He said "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6)
Helping people to get their prayers answered starts with the pre-requisite that they are praying to God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ His Son, this is the foundation required for all Biblical (Bible based) prayer.
But what does the Bible really say about prayer?
To help us truly understand what Biblical prayer is, I think it's important to first clarify what Biblical prayer is NOT!
Biblical Prayer is NOT Magic
It's Not Like Using the Force
In the movie series Star Wars the Force is a power which is available to certain people that enables them to do amazing things. The force is merely an impersonal power source that can be used to assist you to accomplish seemingly supernatural things.
Prayer is NOT LIKE THE FORCE, It is NOT impersonal!
Biblical prayer is intimately personal.
It is Not merely reciting a religious creed or doing a ritual
It is earnest communication between man and his Creator,
It is communication between man on earth and God in heaven
It is communication between God's children and their loving heavenly Father
We are to communicate personally with God, spirit to Spirit
(John 4:24) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Biblical Prayer Should Seek God's Will First Not Yours
(Matthew 6:9-10) 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
When Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray He gave them what is commonly known as the Lord's Prayer. This prayer grants us a heavenly insight, it presents us with a foundational understanding about how heaven works, and shows us how we can interact with God successfully.
When we come to Christ to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation, we are commanded to leave our old life behind through repentance and to take up our own cross and follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour through becoming His disciple.
A Christian disciple is not to be self seeking any longer, but to always desire to find and walk in God's will for their life. In Christ, our life is always to be "Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done!"
In Christ, our life is always to be "Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done!"
Seeking and accepting God's will for your life first is a cornerstone of Christian prayer, and becomes a great joy as we realise that God always has the very best in mind for His children!
Only God knows whether the things we are praying for will actually help us or disadvantage our future lives and as our loving Heavenly Father, God retains the right to sometimes say NO to our requests.
When we put God first in our lives then He makes sure that all our needs are provided throughout our lives, and He loves to surprise us at times with heavenly blessings. God knows the things that will truly become a blessing in our lives and He delights to give them to us.
(Matthew 6:33) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you
(James 1:17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning
Biblical Prayer Must Line Up With God's Word
God has given His Word, the Bible, to teach us the way He thinks about things and reveal to us His Will on many different subjects of life. As an example, God has given us The Ten Commandments so that we know how we are meant to relate to Him and toward our fellow man. He has commanded "You shall not kill", "You shall not steal" etc. and therefore has revealed His will to us on this subject.
If I were to come to God in prayer asking Him to kill someone for me, I know that He will not hear that type of prayer, because He has already told us in His Word, "You shall not kill"
(Luke 9:54-56) And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” ..
However there are many things that God has already revealed in the Bible as being within His will and we can come before Him confidently in prayer to request and receive them.
God has already Revealed Himself in His Word as:
Our Saviour (Luke 2:11)
Our Creator (Isaiah 40:28)
Our Healer (Exodus 15:26)
Our Counsellor (Isaiah 9:6)
Our Healer (Exodus 15:26)
Our Provider (Matthew 6:31-33)
Our Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:9-13)
Our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
Our Strength (Exodus 15:2)
Our Life (Deuteronomy 30:20)
Our Peace (Philippians 4:6-7)
and many more....
*We can confidently claim all these things above in prayer because God has already said that He will provide them for us, if we approach Him in the right way.
Biblical Prayer Is Not Merely Praying In Jesus Name
(John 14:13-14) And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it
Many people think that by finishing a prayer "In the name of Jesus" that they have magically opened the door to answered prayer. They think that no matter what it is they are praying for in life, by using Jesus name they can get anything they want, this is NOT Biblical prayer.
Biblical prayer is not like ordering a pizza to be delivered. If you are merely praying for God to send you lots of money so you can buy a bigger house or a sportier car just so you can show off to your friends, then this does not qualify as a prayer that is acceptable "In Jesus Name"
However, because God truly does want us to rely upon Him as our provider, He wants us to approach Him with prayers that He will want to answer. If you are seeking a financial breakthrough so you and your family can stop living in an old car on the street, or so you can help support others who are in need, then you have a far greater chance of your prayer being acceptable to God "In Jesus Name". God wants to be our provider in life, but not when we are merely asking for things selfishly.
To Pray In Jesus Name means to ask for things that He would ask His Father for...
To Pray In Jesus Name is to seek things that align with Jesus' character
To Pray In Jesus Name is to request things that are within God's will and not merely our own selfish desires.
We must always remember that we are coming into the presence of Almighty God, who is Holy and Pure. We should be careful to prepare our hearts beforehand to ensure that we are approaching Him in the correct way!
God is Holy and if you want Him to answer your prayers you must come in a way that is acceptable to Him.
(James 4:2b-3) ..Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures
Biblical Prayer Requires Us To Be Honest with God
(Psalm 66:18) If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear
If you have hatred toward others in your heart toward another person or are planning to do something that you know God would not approve of, then you need to realise that you have already hindered any chance of getting your prayers answered before you even start. God will not hear prayers that are not brought to Him in the correct way.
God knows everything about you, He knows your every thought and it is impossible to hide anything from Him
In Biblical terms this is called God's 'Omniscience' or His 'All Knowing' ability and because of this it is crucial for us to be totally honest in our relationship with God. God already knows all of your sins, confess them and ask for His forgiveness first, then bring your requests in prayer before Him.
Biblical Prayer Requires Us To Get Right With Others
(Matthew 5:23-24) Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Jesus Christ did not just come to earth to help reconcile man to God but also to bring reconciliation between man and his neighbour. Much of what Jesus spoke about taught us to treat others in the same way we would like to be treated.
Much of what Jesus spoke about taught us to treat others in the same way we would like to be treated.
To live this way you will find that it is important to always be ready to say 'Sorry' to anyone you may offend or wrong in life and to make amends as required to mend any relationship breakdowns. This unfortunately is not always possible, but if you do your best to live peacefully with all men then God will know it and your prayers will not be hindered.
Biblical Prayer Should Come Before God In Humility
(Luke 18:13-14) And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
There are many things that men do commonly that are NOT acceptable to God, and one of the things He really does not like is 'Self Righteousness'. Jesus came to pay the price for our sins, because mankind had NO WAY to become right with God apart from His sacrifice. When man acts self righteously, he thinks of himself as being better or holier than he truly is, and minimises the eternal significance of Jesus death on the cross.
God particularly does not like when one man thinks or acts like he is better or holier than another, and this is a trap that many religiously fervent people fall into at times.
God particularly does not like when one man thinks or acts like he is better or holier than another, and this is a trap that many religiously fervent people fall into at times. We have all failed the standard of righteousness required for entrance into heaven, and truly it is only through Christ that we can find forgiveness for our sins and eternal salvation.
To avoid this we must strive to continually walk in an attitude of humility before God and other men, not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. We should always be thankful to God that our righteousness before God comes ONLY through our saviour Jesus Christ and NOT by our own works.
(Isaiah 64:6) But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away
Faith must be Present in Prayer, with No Doubting
(Hebrews 11:6) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
(Mark 11:24) Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 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. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Many people read the above scriptures and think that if they can only BELIEVE ENOUGH that they will finally get their prayer answered. In my experience although we are required to exercise our own will to decide whether we choose to believe or not, believing whether our prayer gets answered is not only up to us, but it is ultimately decided by the person who has the power to answer our prayer, namely God.
*Many times when people pray and can't seem to believe for the prayer to be answered, it is because the prayer they are requesting is NOT within the will of God or they have not come before God in an acceptable way. We lack the faith to get our prayer answered because God has not given us the assurance in prayer that we are looking for.
God's assurance = Faith to receive!
True faith comes when we have prayed a prayer that is within God's will and He gives us an inner assurance that He has heard our prayer and granted our request. Then it's simply a case of continuing to thank Him for the answer and being patient until it is manifested in our lives!
*(1 John 5:14-15) 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.
Secret Prayer is Powerful
(Matthew 6:6) But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly
Without doubt one of the most common and yet also most powerful ways to pray is to shut yourself away privately with God in prayer. Praying in secret helps avoid many of the distractions we experience in corporate prayer meetings and provides a wonderful opportunity to truly 'get real' with God.
There are things in life which are far more effectively dealt with in a strictly private setting as we communicate heart to heart with our Heavenly Father. Remember, God already knows all your secrets, He's just waiting for you to ask Him for His help with them! Often it's within the privacy of secret prayer that we first learn how to truly believe God.
Secret prayer is also where many people begin to hear God's voice and learn to use the gifts and abilities that they received through the infilling of the Holy Spirit!
Remember, God already knows all your secrets, He's just waiting for you to ask Him for His help with them!
Prayer Needs To Be Patient
(Hebrews 6:12) that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
It is important to know, that after we have brought our prayers before our Heavenly Father that we continue to trust Him that the answer will arrive when the time is right in His sight. Our time is always NOW, because we are experiencing the stress that comes with having a serious need.
We would prefer our prayers get answered immediately by God, but He has a plan that involves the whole world and millions of people requesting prayers to be answered simultaneously. God also has an overall purpose of increasing our faith as believers, more often than not our faith and trust in God is developed while we patiently await His answers to our prayers. Continuing to offer God thanks for the answer before it arrives is one of the best ways to ensure you stay in faith and get the result you are looking for.
Continuing to offer God thanks for the answer before it arrives is one of the best ways to ensure you stay in faith and get the result you are looking for.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1) To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven
Our Heart Motivations Must Go Through These Filters If We Are To Become Successful In Biblical Prayer
Does my prayer line up with God's Word?
Is my prayer within God's Will?
Is my prayer something that Jesus would pray for?
Am I coming to God in a way that is acceptable to Him?
Am I prepared to be totally honest with God?
Have I done all I can to be right with my fellow man?
Am I coming before God humbly seeking His help?
Am I praying to God in faith, fully trusting that He will hear and answer my prayer?
Am I keeping my prayer secret between myself and God, so that only He will get the glory and praise when the answer comes?
Am I patiently awaiting God's answer and continuing to thank Him for it?
I truly believe God wants to be generous toward all His children, and reward our faithfulness in prayer with an abundant life. When we come in the way that He has shown us in the Bible, allowing our motivations to be filtered and our heart fully prepared, and as we wait patiently for His divine timing to receive our answer, then we can confidently expect to get many more of our prayers answered.
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