Let’s briefly review where we are from the previous blogs on prayer. So far we talked about knowing your righteousness in Christ because of His sacrifice, and therefore having confidence in approaching God in prayer. We also touched on beginning to seek and know God’s will for various situations in your life, having confidence that you could pray according to His will (in His Word), renewing your mind to His Word, and we looked at how to start praying with Scripture.
Today I want to talk about some additional elements to consider around prayer.
Assuming you have prayed for guidance and revelation about something, and you’ve looked in the Word of God for Scriptures that relate to your need or situation, some other ways to discern God’s will and guidance in a situation is by peace in your heart and through godly counselors. You can also learn to hear God’s voice directly in your own spirit (more on this in another blog).
The Bible says in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts, deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state to which as members of Christ’s one body you were also called to live. And be thankful (appreciative), giving praise to God always."
So the inner peace that you experience when you are in communion with the Lord – or the lack of peace – can also help guide you in praying according to God's will. If you are praying earnestly about something, particularly about making a major decision, and you believe you should go a certain way, and you feel a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7), then it is most likely safe to proceed. Alternatively, if you find you don’t have peace about something (or you feel a strong lack of peace) exercise caution and continue to seek the Lord as well as any trusted, godly advisors – which leads us to the next point. Any time you have hesitation, seek the Lord until you have peace and have resolved the hesitation.
In conjunction with peace in your spirit, God can also reveal His will for us through godly counselors whose wisdom and walk with the Lord you can trust. BE CAREFUL. Don’t just pick anybody out of a crowd or merely because of their position at church. Try to find someone you know well enough (or someone you know well enough that knows them well) and that has godly fruit to show for it before you go to them for wisdom about a situation, and even then, pray for God’s guidance before you pour out your soul to them. And yes, sometimes God will ring a resounding “Yes!” or “No!” in your spirit with regard to going to certain people or making certain decisions.
For example, when I was seeking a new church after I moved some years ago, I must have visited about 20 churches! (Now it didn’t need to be that long but I was not yet versed in recognizing the Lord’s voice in my spirit.) While I enjoyed my visits, I was never sure and at a few of them, I just felt like I had a sense of unrest. I remember when I walked into the church I attend now, as I walked through the entrance doors, it was like I heard a voice inside me saying, “This is it. This is the church for you,” and I had the greatest peace come over me. I just knew and then as I listened to the pastor’s first few sermons that sealed it for me.
Another example is the time years ago when I was looking to buy a car and someone I knew who owned an automotive business offered me one of his used vehicles, assuring me of its great condition. I did NOT have peace about the vehicle BUT I kept thinking I know this man, he’s a good mechanic (as far as I know), and he would not do anything wrong to me. I bought the vehicle, and had nothing but problems from day 1 until a year later when it died. If I had listened to the Holy Spirit’s warning in my spirit, I could have avoided the trouble and expense that it cost me.
So be sure to pursue God and His Word closely, meditate on His Word, and get to recognize His voice. Keep in mind that however God reveals His will to you, it must always agree with His Word, the Bible, as 2 Timothy 2:13 says, “He remains true - faithful to His Word and His righteous character, for He cannot deny Himself.”
Once you believe you have discerned God's will for your situation, stay in it and abide in the Lord Jesus, who said, “If you live in Me (abide vitally united to Me) and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7). If you are abiding in Jesus, and His Words are abiding in you – in other words, His Words are taking up residence in you (through reading and meditation) - then they will transform you into His likeness and His way of thinking. If His Words are abiding in you and, like seeds, are taking root in your heart, then you will not at the same time pray for something evil, therefore you can “ask whatever you will.” Likewise, if His Word is abiding in you, you cannot keep holding on to unbelief, resentment, bitterness or unforgiveness; as you regularly fill your mind, your heart and your mouth (speaking) with His Word, His Word will cleanse you of any negative thoughts and emotions. Be patient with yourself even as God is patient with you; some things will change quickly, and other things may take time.
Believe What He Says
We’ve learned that positions in prayer, structure in prayer, and the length of time in prayer or even how hard you are praying do not make a difference in receiving your answer. FAITH is what causes you to receive from God. When you pray in faith, you have confidence not only in God’s ability, but in His willingness, to use His power to answer your prayer. The fact is if you trust Him, you will believe what He says.
"But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must necessarily believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him out.” Hebrews 11:6
"If you want Me to protect you, learn to believe what I say.” Isaiah 7:9 (early NLT)
“Blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.” Jeremiah 17:7
"Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]!” Psalm 84:12
As you commit your requests to Him, trust and believe that He is working in your situation to the fullness of His power and wisdom. Don't underestimate God's ability to make a way for you just because it doesn’t seem possible to you. With our limited understanding and abilities, we often forget His unlimited wisdom and power. Ask with faith, and be like Abraham when you pray.
The Bible says of Abraham, "With respect to the promise of God, he (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform." (Romans 4:20-21)
Pray in Jesus’ Name
Jesus told us to pray in (and according to) His name (John 14: 13-15). What is the significance of that? John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Jesus Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.”
Jesus was present at the very beginning. Jesus is the Creator, Architect, and Sustainer of all that is, and in Philippians 2:9, the Bible says that He was given the Name above all other names (anything that can be named). His Name is powerful. When we pray in Jesus’ Name, we are representing to the Father all that Jesus is and all that He did on our behalf through the Atonement. Yet praying in Jesus’ Name is not a mere formula we use. The important question is not whether or not you add “in Jesus’ Name” to the end of your prayers; the important question is: are you abiding in Jesus and in His Name? In Proverbs 18:10, the Bible says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous (upright and in right standing with God) run into it and is safe, high above evil and strong.”
Do you understand the authority Jesus has given us in His name, and are you walking in it?
When God created man, He gave man authority to have dominion over everything on earth. (Genesis 1:26) but when man sinned, he gave this authority to Satan. Even Satan acknowledged this in Luke 4:5-7. Read it here: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+4%3A5-7&version=AMP.
When man surrendered his authority to Satan, Satan brought in diseases, poverty, strife, bitterness, pain, loss and death. God could not immediately destroy Satan because He is a judicial God, and man had voluntarily given away his authority to Satan. So it had to be a man who would legally take it back. God accomplished this through Jesus who was both man and God.
In Luke 10:19, Jesus said, “Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and physical and mental strength and ability over all the power that the enemy possesses; and nothing shall in any way harm you.” In Mark 3:14-16, it says, “And He appointed twelve to continue to be with Him, and that He might send them out to preach as apostles or special messengers, And to have authority and power to heal the sick and to drive out demons.” In these verses and others, the Lord speaks of the authority He has given – initially to His apostles but also to us as His believers.
By His death on the cross, Jesus righteously restored everything that man had lost. Before Jesus returned to heaven, in Matthew 28:18-19, He said, “All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. [You] go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Abiding in Jesus, praying in Jesus’ Name, and walking in His authority all imply relationship with Him. Adding “in Jesus’ Name” is not a magic formula. It should indicate that we understand that we are in relationship with Him, we abide in Him, and it is a reminder that everything we lift up in prayer to God is through the lens of presenting all that Jesus is and all that He did for our sakes, on our behalf. When we realize the relationship we have through Jesus, and we come to understand the authority – His authority – that He has granted us, we will pray with more confidence.
For example, in everyday life, if we see a traffic jam and (assuming you’re not a policeman) I tell you to go out there and direct traffic, you would likely say to me, “I can’t do that. I’m not a policeman. I don’t have authority.” You would most likely not have confidence to go out there and take charge of the situation.
Now suppose someone in higher authority sends you a letter telling you that from now on you have the legal authority to direct traffic and break up the traffic jams. But you set the letter aside to read later and don’t see the contents. Then you find yourself standing on a street corner, looking at a traffic jam, and feeling there is nothing you can do about it. You have been given the authority but you don’t know it yet. So you do nothing. Yet when you do read the letter and learn of the authority that has been granted to you, you can go out there with confidence to do the job that you need to do.
It is the same with us as children of God. If we don’t read and study to understand all that Jesus died to provide us, Satan will take advantage of us. He counts on us NOT knowing. Yet as we apply ourselves to God’s Word, and learn and understand, and then apply what we learn to our lives and the people and situations around us, we will see the circumstances begin to turn and bow to the authority of Jesus. But we have a responsibility to learn and to appropriate what God has made available to us, and then wield it in this world to do the will of the Father – to set people free, and to lead them to the One who exemplifies freedom. So when you pray in the Name of Jesus, when you use His Name in your prayers, understand the authority and the power of that Name that He has given to you.
We can pray with confidence because He has made us righteous. We can pray with confidence over the situations in our lives because we pray in His Name with His authority, and according to the Word that covers those situations.
Believe and Take
Jesus also promises in His words, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you RECEIVE them, and you will have them." (Mark 11:24).
That word RECEIVE is an action word that actually means to “to take.” It does NOT mean that you sit passively by waiting and hoping for God’s answer to drop into your lap. You must “take” it in your spirit, in your mind, in your heart. You stand on God’s Word and BELIEVE WITH EXPECTANCY. You have a positive expectation.
No obstacle is so great that it can withstand His power. In Mark 11:23, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him.”
However you will not believe with expectancy if you have not looked within God’s Word to understand what He says you may believe for. So begin on a regular basis to seek out God’s Word for His perspective and His promises on the situations you are facing, and then apply that Word to your prayers for your needs and the needs of others.
There are tremendous promises in God's Word; most people do not know of them or understand them, and I say this because for most of my life, I did not. While it is true that not everything is covered SPECIFICALLY in Scripture, you can learn to a great extent about SPECIFIC things that the Lord has promised you through the Atonement of Jesus including forgiveness, deliverance, healing, provision and protection.
Yet even NON-SPECIFIC things – in other words, things that are not spelled out in Scripture – may still be covered under God’s Word. For instance, God's Word does not tell us to trust Him specifically for the acquisition of a car. Yet, if you really need a car - as I did when I moved to the country - we may trust Him for it as He has said that He supplies all of our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians
Hang in There
Finally, be persistent in prayer. Don’t give up because you’ve prayed for 2 days or 2 months or even 2 years and you feel nothing has happened. Don’t assume that God has rejected your request. Everything starts in the spiritual realm before it manifests in the physical realm.
The Book of Daniel, Chapter 10, gives us some insight behind the veil of the angelic and demonic struggles that take place. Here we see that the “Prince of Persia” is a demonic force preventing a message from arriving to Daniel, who has been praying for 21 days.
Daniel 10:11-13 says, “And the angel said to me, O Daniel, you greatly beloved man, understand the words that I speak to you and stand upright, for to you I am now sent. And while he was saying this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind and heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come as a consequence of and in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief of the celestial princes (of God’s angelic army), came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia.”
So when Daniel prayed, God had sent the answer on its way but the angelic messenger was delayed. However, the answer DID COME to Daniel. Our answers also, though sometimes delayed, WILL COME.
In Luke 11:9-10, Jesus is also telling us to persevere in our prayers, saying, “So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.” (The Greek language here indicates a continuous action - that prayer should be an ongoing habit – and not that we give up at the first delay.)
Colossians 4:2-6 says, “Be earnest and UNWEARIED and STEADFAST in your prayer life, being both alert and intent in your praying with thanksgiving.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Be unceasing in prayer, praying PERSEVERINGLY.”
Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice and exult in hope; be STEADFAST and PATIENT in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.”
Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all manner of prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and PERSEVERANCE, interceding in behalf of all the saints.”
Lamentations 3:25 assures us, “The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and EXPECTANTLY for Him, to those who seek Him (inquire of and for Him, and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God’s Word).”
I will tie together all of these prayer points in the next posting in this series on Prayer.