The more you pray, the more you will find to pray about, and the more you’ll be led to pray for others”–Stormie Omartian (Book: Seven Prayers that will change your life forever by Stormie Omartian, Thomas Nelson Publisher, 2014)
There seems to be a lot of books being published about “how to pray”. It makes me wonder, is there some magic formula to prayer? Or has something been lost in these last generations where people really don’t know how to pray?
As a child I was taught to spend time in prayer. In my later years I’ve learned that meditation on the word of God is a huge part of prayer. I’ve learned that we should never rush our prayers. We should also think about the words that we say out loud. I’ve learned that the invisible world hears our words and our words have consequences, either good or bad.
I’ve noticed that those who struggle with faith often tend to be dismissive about the prayer process and use the excuse “God knows what’s in my heart.” Well, yes. God does know what’s in your heart. He also knows exactly what you are thinking. But I believe that he wants us to verbalize our needs and our connection to him. He wants us to ADMIT our need FOR him. He wants to hear our worship OF him. Worship is a form of thankfulness, a demonstration of our heart’s desire to be closer to God.
When you read the book of Psalms, you will notice that King David and the other writers always started their prayers and songs with a worship of God and thankfulness that he is always watching over us and his hand is constantly working in the things that happen in our lives. This book shows us that worship is a form of prayer. So if you are singing half-heartedly in church, God sees and knows the seriousness of your heart. Take that into consideration and you will realize that whether you sing off key or not, the fact that you sing at all is what matters. (If you can’t sing verbally, sing with your mind and your heart and show some physical expression to demonstrate your desire to get closer to the Almighty One.) Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30). Worship is a demonstration of our obedience to that first commandment and our love of the Eternal One.
Let’s not forget that the enemy also watches our lives, but for a different reason. His job is to kill, steal and destroy everyone and everything. The battle in the universe is always raging between good and evil. He sits back and analyzes our commitment to God by what we do and say. Fortunately, he can’t hear our thoughts or know our heart’s desire. So he sees how we worship, watches how we conduct ourselves with others, listens to our conversations, looks at our body language, and from all this makes the decision on how, when and where to pounce on us and disrupt our lives.
This is not to say that we have no say in how, when and why things happen. Ultimately we do have a certain amount of control over who wins and who loses through the choices we make. Of course if the war involves other people, those other people also have choices to make and the whole picture gets even bigger. So sometimes our prayers don’t get answered because other people don’t make the right choices. Other times, God allows the other side to win for a greater purpose than we can ever imagine. Because he and only he knows the final outcome.
So where does prayer fit into this big picture? How do we influence what happens in our own lives and in the lives of others?
King David prayed, sometimes for a very long time before God moved. Daniel prayed his way out of the lion’s den. Jesus prayed and fasted in the wilderness and verbally fought Satan while he was hungry, thirsty, tired and tempted. Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, begging God to find another way to redeem mankind so that he wouldn’t have to go through a cruel, inhumane death. He won the battle in the wilderness, but lost the battle on Calvary (or so it seemed so to Satan). After a seemingly impossible struggle, he won the battle through his resurrection. But what a price he paid.
All the apostles, except John, were martyred for their faith despite the prayers of those who loved them. Today we hear of so many Christians in the middle east who are being held in prisons, tortured for their faith, and many beheaded. Despite millions of prayers, God has not intervened and saved them. The reality is: prayers sometimes don’t get answered the way we want them to. Why? BECAUSE GOD SEES THE BIG PICTURE. We don’t.
Does that mean we should give up and quit praying? NO. WE don’t know how or when God will intervene. We don’t know what else is going on behind the scenes. We don’t know who or what is influencing the outcome. But the one thing we can count on: the more we pray, the closer we get to God; the more our heart grows more to desire his will in our lives; the more we love; the better we live; the happier we will be.
Prayer changes everything, but most of the time pray changes us.
Is there a magic formula to prayer? No. The key is the condition of our heart, our desire to know him better, and our willingness to thank him whether he answers our prayer the way we want or even when he doesn’t.
When you have prayed and prayed with no results in sight, don’t despair. Pick up the Bible and read the stories of the great men of biblical history who plodded through impossible situations feeling desperately lost and alone, but eventually God’s plan was revealed.
Today’s prayer: Dear God, today we honor you. You who are King of the Universe and the Master in Command of all eternity. We praise and give you glory. For you have redeemed us who are unworthy to be redeemed. You hate our sin, but love us so completely that you gave us the opportunity to be in your presence through the shedding of the blood of Jesus at Calvary. Thank you for forgiving us of our sins. Thank you for redeeming us. Thank you for giving us the privilege to be called your children.
Today, dear God we ask you to please be with those who are suffering in the name of Jesus. Draw close to those who cry out for relief of pain. Comfort those who suffer with emptiness in their lives because of death of loved ones through war, disease or persecution. Comfort those family members whose loved ones are imprisoned for your name. We think of those like Saeed Abedini and his family. Hold them in the palm of your hand. Give them endurance to fight this fight just a little bit longer.
Dear Lord, grant us deliverance in our time of need. Give us comfort as we struggle through our daily lives. Provide our financial needs. Help us to meet the needs of others that we meet on a daily basis. Give us grace, and teach us to give grace to others. As you have forgiven us, help us to forgive others.
We praise you Almighty God for the answers to our prayers. We don’t know how those answers will arrive, but we do know that you are in command and you see the big picture. Teach us to trust you in all things. Cancel the enemy’s plans against us, as we continue to give you the glory. In Jesus name we pray.