If we want something done we often seek someone with an “In.” Want to change something in your city, who do we know that knows the Mayor? Access to someone in power is the world’s way of getting things done. Guess what? We have that kind of access to God. You might say “Why pray? God already knows what we want.” God wants us to ask. God hears our prayers. Sometimes they are misdirected and God doesn’t give us the answer we seek. Why not? Because he has something better in mind. He always answers. The answer may be “Yes,” “No,” or “Not yet.” Also, it may be “Yes, with some changes.”
John 14:14 (NASB) reads “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” We often close our prayers “In Jesus name, Amen.” That isn’t a magic phrase we add to our prayer to make it come to be. Think about what it means to do something in someone’s name. When we invoke someone’s name we are saying that something is to be done with the authority of a specified person or thing. When we invoke Jesus’ name in our prayers we are agreeing with Him that this prayer is in accordance with His nature and character. God would not grant a petition that is contrary to who He is.
As we pray, we sometimes get a clearer view of what God wants. It is somewhat like a planning session. We start off in one direction, but as we progress we see that our original idea isn’t best. We may need to modify it. God may show us His modifications when we talk (and listen) to Him in prayer.
Sometimes we may be critical of others or feel uncomfortable ourselves in bringing a matter to God time and time again. Some feel that we should bring it to God once. He has heard our prayer, now I’ll wait for the answer. It’s somewhat like the 60’s practice of calling the radio station with our song requests. God is not there to take and fulfill our requests. He is there to listen to us and to talk to us. The interaction we get in prayer gives us clarity. It is ok to continually bring a matter before the Lord in prayer. By continuing to talk with God about a matter, we see more clearly.
As we pray and listen, our prayers change. As our prayers change, we change. When we pray we need to be prepared to be part of the answer. If God has placed a matter on your heart, He probably wants you to put feet to your prayers and work toward the answer you seek.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB) reads “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit” To pray without ceasing means to maintain an attitude of constant intercession. Always in a state of prayer, always listening. Our failure to pray may mean we are quenching the Spirit.
Prayer should never be a last resort, it should be our first step. Don’t take the attitude that you’ve tried everything else, I might as well try prayer. Internally, I cringed once in this regard. My church was embarking on some project, I don’t remember what it was. But our pastor was outlining the various tasks involved. Then he said “And if you can’t do anything else, you can pray.” I wanted to stand up and shout “NO NO NO!” Prayer is the first step, not something added as an afterthought. Not something left to those who can’t do anything else.
Nothing is too insignificant to pray about. I remember when my father died, Gloria and I were driving to his home. On the way we had to stop and buy something. I don’t know why, but the parking lot was packed. I was tired and I was stressed. I uttered a silent prayer for a parking spot. Almost immediately I saw a woman walking to her car. She stopped and asked me if I was looking for a space. To this day I believe God sent her as an answer to my prayer.
Pray first, believe God will answer, and heed his response.