You can pray anywhere, anytime, in every circumstance. As you go through your day, you can talk with the Lord, expressing your love and your thanks, or you can ask Him for His help and advice, or seek His favor and
blessing. We could literally pray our way through the day’s events, and in this way, we are praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Additionally, however, it is important to set aside specific times, at least once a day, for getting away in a place where you won’t be disturbed for prayer and reading the Bible. As we read, we should pray, worship the Lord, speak to Him about our needs, and listen for His answers. This should be a time of communication – and communion - between your spirit and His Spirit.
Throughout the blogs in this series, we talked about building a strong loving relationship with your Heavenly Father – that is most important. Sharing and enjoying time with Him,
and realizing how much He enjoys time with you, will transform you. Once you have built this foundation of relationship, you realize that you can go comfortably to your Heavenly Father at any time – just to be with Him and let Him know you love Him, and also to go to Him with any situation, need or problem in your life. In this blog, I want to take us more in-depth into praying for needs, either for ourselves or on behalf of others.
God tells us in Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
The Bible is filled with God's repeated promises to hear and answer His children's appeals.
"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, He listens to and hears us. And 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." (John 5:14-15)
To pray according to God's will means that we should pray in a way that is consistent with the principles in His Word. The Bible tells us that a righteous person's prayers WILL be answered. James 5:16 says, "The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working.”
If you’re thinking right now, “Well, that knocks me out of eligibility. I can’t call myself righteous. I don’t do everything right,” don’t let that word “righteous” throw you off, thinking that this promise excludes you. While we absolutely should pursue and follow God’s instructions for living as laid out in His Word, the reality is that none of us perform perfectly. (And if someone out there thinks they are perfect, well then, good on you – you get to cast the first stone!) Most of us perform better or worse than others at times because we are human. Hopefully we are getting better and improving every day but we make mistakes. We all have weaknesses, and we are all on a journey of being transformed into the image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
Listen. Do you really think that any sin you commit, or even any sin you STRUGGLE WITH, you know – that thing you do over and over again even after you promise God you
won’t, is a surprise to God? Do you think He’s wringing His mighty hands up in heaven, saying, “Oh no, Johnny cut that person off on the freeway again! Again! And he fought with his wife this morning! Again! And he lied again to his boss at work! Oh what am I going to do about Johnny?!” No, nothing is a surprise to your Heavenly Father.
Now obviously if Johnny is having that many difficulties, then perhaps he needs to spend more time in prayer with the Lord and in reading His Word, so that his mind can be renewed to God’s standards (Romans 12:1-2) but God still loves Johnny. He may not love some of the things that Johnny does but He always loves Johnny the person. Even with our mistakes, God adores us as His children and His creation. He knows we’re not perfect in the flesh (as distinct from our re-born spirits, which are perfect.) God knew that we could not keep all of His commandments to a “T”; that is why He sent His Son Jesus as the perfect sacrifice in our place. Jesus did perform perfectly on our behalf, and because He did, He took our sin on Himself and made us the righteousness of God.
See here: 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake He made Christ to be sin (Who knew no sin), so that in and through Him we might become endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of the righteousness of God - what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness.”
So when you see that word “righteous,” in Scriptural promises, do not let your heart sink. If you believe in Jesus, you are part of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6) where you are counted as righteous because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
How Can I Know God's Will?
Likewise, do not get into worry over the words “according to His will,” or similar. You
CAN know God’s will from His Word. His Word IS His will.
In His atonement, the Lord Jesus provided all kinds of good things for us as part of
our salvation – peace and restoration with Father God, joy, peace, healing, prosperity, restored relationships and more. When you see God’s promises in Scripture regarding these types of things, you may ask for them. However, if something is not part of Christ’s atonement, then God has not provided it for you. That’s why, if you asked God to help you rob a bank, or you asked for someone else’s spouse, God will not give them to you because God did not provide murder, fornication, adultery, nor stealing (and similar) through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Become familiar with the Bible and you will know the will of God, because He has laid it out for us there. When you bring His Word into your prayer life, it brings the power of His Word into your situations. As you take His Word in, His wisdom will grow in you and will guide you more and more in areas and situations of life not specifically mentioned in
Scripture, such as where to buy a house or whether to take that job.
So when faced with a need, either for ourselves or others, we should begin by humbly seeking the Lord to know His will in the matter. “Lord, what do You want me to do in this situation?” Ask for His guidance and revelation as you read and study His Word to see what He says about it, and then base your prayer upon it. Then you can ask Him to bring about the answer or miracle you are seeking, and because you have His promise in His Word on it, you can be confident that He wants to bring it about. Understand, you are NOT presuming; you are, instead, aligning yourself with His Word and with what He has already said He would do.
Therefore, do not just blindly add to the end of your prayers, “If it be Thy will.” I realize a lot of us have prayed that way out of habit or from tradition because our family or friends always prayed that way, or we were taught that way in school. But if you are praying for something SPECIFIC that is in alignment with what God has already promised in His Word, adding on if it be thy will,” has no faith behind it, and Scripture does not tell us to
pray that way. Yes, in Acts 18:21, Romans 1:10 and Hebrews 6:3, the New Testament writers do use the term “God willing,” but it is used as a grammatical term (participle) to emphasize the condition under which they expect to achieve the stated objective.
How to Start Praying With Scripture
To understand your relationship with God and your position as His child, and to learn all that He has for you as His child, it is so important to read and study the Word of God (the Bible), and not just blow through a chapter a day to check it off our to-do lists. We need to read the Word carefully and prayerfully, making time to study it, chewing on it so to speak, thinking about it, and asking the Lord to give us revelation on what we are reading.
Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the entire renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove for yourselves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect in His sight for you.”
Ephesians 4:23 say, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”
We need to renew our minds to the Word of God. The process of meditation will help you to renew your mind but I am not referring to Eastern Meditation practices where you are frequently taught to empty your mind. I am referring to a process of emptying your mind of fear and negative thoughts, and replacing them with God’s positive and strengthening
thoughts. Our God is a positive God, and He advises us to dwell on good thoughts – see here:
Philippians 4:8 says, “For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”
For example, suppose you’re having difficulty with someone who is behaving like an enemy toward you. You go to the Scriptures and do a study on enemies. In Matthew 5:44-45, we find Jesus telling us, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, to show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven.” Obviously you cannot do this on your own; you must ask the Lord to help you to love and treat your enemies this way. Look up Scriptures on loving your enemies, loving others, the love of God and the love of Christ. Meditate on them and soak them in, and this
will help you to love the way that God wants you to love others.
For another example, if you are someone who struggles with fear and worry, go to the
Bible and look up Scriptures on fear and worry. There are hundreds of them. Don’t focus on the fear; don’t meditate on it and don’t constantly talk about the fact that you are in fear because you are only digging yourself in deeper. Rather, you find in the Word the Scripture 2 Timothy 1:7 which says, “for the Lord has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” The Amplified Bible (one of my favorites) spells out the meaning of the ancient Greek in the text and presents, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but He has given us a
spirit of power and of love and of a calm and well-balanced mind, and discipline and self-control.” Additionally, 1 John 4:4 says, “Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have already defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.”
So you ignore your feelings and meditate on those verses. Talk to yourself: “God says He has not given me a spirit of fear. Fear is not of God. I am God’s child therefore I do not need to be in fear because God is with me and He will take care of me. God HAS given me a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. Because greater is HE that is within me than he that is in the world, I have power, I have love and I have a sound mind.” Then you pray: ‘Lord, I know a spirit of fear is not from You. But I thank You that You have
given me a spirit of power, love and a sound mind! Thank you Lord!”
As another example, if you are going through a difficult time or trial, don’t meditate on the thoughts of how bad everything is, and you feel like you’re never coming out and everything’s going down the tubes! No! Stop! Again, by constantly thinking that way, you are digging yourself into a deeper hole. God PROMISES to deliver you. Yes, He did say that we would have trouble in this world but He also said that He would deliver you. In fact, Jesus said that He had already taken care of it for you. We are told to be of good cheer, not BECAUSE we have trouble, BUT BECAUSE He is our deliverer! Look at these verses:
John 16:33: Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of power to harm (destroy) you and have conquered it for you."
Psalm 34:19: “Many evils confront the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
So again, if you are going through a trial, don’t focus on the problem and the fear of the situation but say, “I may be going through a trial(s) right now but the Lord will deliver me out of them all.” Pray: “Thank You, Lord, that You are delivering me from this problem. I trust in You.”
Now for those would like to know how to find Scriptures and study the Word of God more in-depth, here are some widely recommended references for a start (but they are not the only ones out there):
- Your own Bible (obviously!) OR online Bibles at www.biblegateway.com
- the use of Bible software – eSword at http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html
is a wonderful and FREE Bible study software that you can download and install. (eSword contains many of the below reference books)
- Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong
- Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament by Joseph Thayer
- Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon By: Francis Brown, C. Briggs, &
- Smith’s Bible Dictionary by William Smith
We will continue more on this in the next blog post!