And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
We all know that for the Christian, prayer is a good and desirable activity but for many, it is a difficult topic. Let’s look to the Bible for some pointers on effective prayer. We see from the verse above that it’s not about saying things over and over or praying long prayers with fancy words.
The first thing to remember is that when you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you were born-again into God’s family and families are about relationship. God becomes our loving father and we become His sons and daughters.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
2 Corinthians 6:18
“I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”
God wants to know and be known by you! We know from our human interactions that communication is critical to any successful relationship. No matter the nature of the relationship, if the parties never talk to each other, there is no relationship. God is always talking to us, we need to take the time to listen and to talk with Him. I like to call this “hanging out” prayer and it’s not about asking for stuff, it’s about getting to know the person. “Hanging out” with God is a major key to enjoying your prayer life. As you get to know God personally, not just know facts about Him, you will find your desire to spend time with Him grow.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
Once we have the foundation of relationship, we can move on to prayer for specific things. When we approach God, it’s important to do so in faith, believing that He will fulfil His promises and that His word is always true. We must ask without doubt (double mindedness), fully confident that God will respond to our advantage.
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.
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.
When we come to God, we must do so boldly, knowing that He is our helper in time of need. Our boldness is rooted in the fact that Jesus has taken away all our sins and made us righteous and justified. God remembers our sins no more!
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
2 Corinthians 5:21
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
When we have a problem, we need to understand whether it is something God wants us to take authority over and remove in His name or whether it’s something we should ask God about. We have been given authority and power on the earth to speak to things, commanding them to change. When you are confronted with something you have been given authority and power over, it is wrong to ask God to change the thing. To ask God to rebuke something, when you are suppose to be doing so, shows either a lack of understanding of how things work or a lack of faith.
Let’s look at Jesus modeling this for us:
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.
Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
In the example of the fig tree, we see Jesus command that the tree would no longer produce fruit. (Fig trees by nature have leaves when they also have figs on them. This tree was operating outside the natural order by having leaves but no figs.) The next day, Peter notices that the tree is now dead and he is amazed. Jesus then goes on to teach that when we meet an obstacle (mountain) we are to speak to it, commanding it to move out of the way. We have the authority to get anything we say in faith, when we believe that we have received it. Expectation is important here, you can’t be in faith if you are expecting nothing to happen.
There is one thing that can cancel out this promise; if we ask in a selfish manner, pursuing our own greed and avarice. Greed is a destructive emotion which the devil will use to neutralise you. God in His love will not allow you to be destroyed with what is supposed to be His blessing.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. 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.
It is important that we are abiding in Jesus and He is abiding in us. When this is the case, our desires are in the right place and we can be confident of receiving all that God has for us.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
We should ask God for wisdom (James 1:5). Wisdom on how to live our lives to His glory. Wisdom on how to co-operate with Him to see His power at work in us. God has already done everything that was needed for us through Jesus on the cross. Let’s be a people of prayer, who communicate with our loving father effectively and in faith.
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