The silence is broken
You must be wondering why I have been silent since the beginning of this year. Firstly, I never want to write just for the sake of an article. Secondly, I have found myself continuing to be challenged about how we pray, what we pray and the motivation to pray. As I shared with a group of prayer leaders in a recent gathering, “Prayer is not the goal, our goal is the answer we seek through our prayers.”
I have been seeking and asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and insight. Have you ever looked at a scene, having a feeling that you are missing something, that you are not quite seeing what there is to see? That is how I have felt these past few months. However, my constant prayer has been twofold, “Lord teach me, show me.”
Prayer with results
I don’t want to just pray. I want to be part of something that brings change, a prayer movement that sees HIS Kingdom come and HIS will be done. We need to see tangible results from our praying, for surely that is the whole reason why we pray. I wonder sometimes if there is a kind of fatalistic attitude in our praying, which goes something like this. “Well I have prayed so the rest is up to God. If things change they change, if they don’t, God knows.” Sorry, but that just does not work for me. I want to see results. The timing might not always be according to my agenda, but there has to be a result.
That then prompts the question, “What must a pray in order to see the right result?”
Over many years I have preached a message entitled “Praying prayers that God answers.” This morning as I waited on the Lord, seeking HIS insight and answers for which I have become more desperate, I began to see afresh an aspect of prayer and action that is most powerful and effect in seeing answers to prayer and in the process lives transformed. It is the prayer of blessing and not cursing.
Before speaking further to this let me re-emphasize two important fundamentals.
- Prayer according to the will of God tunes God’s ear to our request, which in turn fills us with the confidence to keep asking.
And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him:[we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.
1 John 5:14-15 (Amplified Bible)
- Prayer that brings the Kingdom of God into our now, so that HIS will can be outworked here on earth.
This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven….”
HIS way – the only way
One does not have to be a believer too long before you realize that the values of and life in the Kingdom of God are radically different than that of the world. Isaiah certainly had insight when he wrote.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So it is, when we come to pray. We must first be connected with and in tune with HIM whose ways are vastly superior to ours. What we may like to pray or even consider the thing right to pray must be submitted to and filtered through the above two fundamentals. “HIS Kingdom come and HIS will be done.”
More desperate by the day
The world is in turmoil. We are facing enormous challenges on several fronts and trying to deal with critical and crucial moral issues threatening to undo the very fabric of decent society and drag us down a path back into the ‘dark ages’. Tyrants rule and democracy is shaky at the best. We observe the Presidential nomination race in the US and are left wondering, mystified and possibly fearful of what might happen if either of the present front-runners became President. In other regions of the world thousands of people are dying in war ravaged nations, tens of thousands displaced daily and millions now homeless.
In the State in which I live we too are greatly challenged with the ruling government. Their Marxist ideology is being reflected in legislation aimed at removing the values, rights and freedoms we have long lived with. We are also one of two Australian States, with shameful laws, that allow babies to be aborted up to full term.
How then should we pray
If there was ever a day to learn to engage in prayer that brings about change, it is today!
I was some what taken back and amused recently while talking with a colleague about a certain murderous, cruel, tyrant, in a particular Asian nation, when he said, “I don’t have any problem praying and asking God to take him out.”
No doubt we all have probably had an occasion, or two (I have), when praying about someone who has caused trouble and not particularly been a blessing, to be tempted to ask God to, “Bless them with a brick in Jesus’ name!” I’m yet to find any scriptural foundation for that type of prayer.
On the other hand I find the opposite to be true. There is a better way, a higher way; truly challenging instructions in scripture and something deep within me rises and I petition heaven, “Lord, please help me pray such prayers.”
The Lord Jesus said:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…”
The apostle Paul said:
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse….
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:14 & 17-18
“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.”
1 Thessalonians 5:15
The apostle Peter said:
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing….”
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
1 Peter 3:9 & 12
These are so contrary to our own human ways of doing things. Nevertheless, I believe that as we embrace the Word of God and obey it, it will lift us to new places of faith and victory as we speak blessing over those who oppose us. There is a better way, it is HIS way!
Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray––not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God.
1 Timothy 2:8 (Message)
The Almighty God hears and answers prayer
Our prayer life is not simply satisfying some religious code or requirement, but it is a heart to heart connection with the living God who through HIS own wisdom and choice has chosen to unite HIS eternal purpose with us, the crowning glory of HIS creation, mankind. Our role is to pray according to HIS will, to partner with HIM and be a voice of blessing, to stand in the gap on behalf of those who cannot plead for themselves, for God does nothing unless we pray.
Not the easy road, but it is the right road
Friends I am not asking you to do something that I am not prepared to do or have not done myself. When the injustice brings me to tears, as I look into the face of an innocent, eight year old girl, knowing that her parent is planning to sell her into a life of sex slavery. When I want to be and am angry, when I feel the person deserves the full weight of God’s wrath, when I’m tempted to pray the ‘bless them with a brick prayer’, I must turn to HIM who has been merciful to me, and cry, “Not my will, but your will be done.” The grace and mercy that has been lavished on you and me by a longsuffering and patient God must also be reflected in our prayers.
One goal – salvation
At the end of the day it is not about being right or proving our moral stance or winning the debate. It is about people for whom Jesus died. If it is only the issues we are wrestling with then we may only have a crusading spirit. What we need is a Spirit of evangelism. The outworking of all our praying must be for the influence of the Kingdom of God on a person’s life, that he/she will have an opportunity to hear the Good News of that Kingdom and the chance to surrender to Jesus Christ.
For such [praying] is good and right, and [it is] pleasing and acceptable to God our Savior, Who wishes all men to be saved and [increasingly] to perceive and recognize and discern and know precisely and correctly the [divine] Truth. For there [is only] one God, and [only] one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a ransom for all [people, a fact that was] attested to at the right and proper time.
1 Timothy 2:3-6 (Amplified Bible)
(All scripture references unless otherwise noted are taken from the New International Version)