“The internet is out again,” I heard from the bedroom, as I lay trying to take a Saturday afternoon nap. I know that I needed to fix it otherwise the household stress level would go way up. We have become a society more emotionally reliant on connection to the phone and internet than is good for us. When I leave my phone at home, I notice that I miss it way more than I should. What about you? I wonder if we feel the same about missing prayer.
How often do we feel that we are stuck with two bars on our conference call to heaven? Frequently trying to hear God’s answer, but giving up because there is a weak connection in the sky. Not sure if you can hear Him, and not sure what to pray? Well, to boost my confidence that that the Lord is working through my prayers, I often have to remind myself what the bible tells us about prayer.
The Lord Will Hear Us
God hears all our prayers. But many times it is hard to understand what He does with them. Does He say yes, no, or wait? The Apostle John provides some insight into this in his first letter to the church.
1 John 5:14-15 “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
This does not mean that everything we ask for is granted, but it does mean that our prayers are to be aligned to His will. The Apostle Paul demonstrates this attitude when praying to get rid of an unpleasant thorn in his flesh. The Church fathers did not identify the exact nature of this thorn, but we do know that Paul really did not want it. The thorn remained on purpose and provided Paul a frank reminder of his human weakness and reliance on the Lord.
2nd Corinthians 12:7-9 “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Our prayers are not be be spent on selfish gain or even worthy pursuits that are outside His will for us, rather on His select purpose for us, our families, and those we encounter. When I was younger, I often prayed to get rid of things that I later found out helped make me a better person. I also prayed for relationships, jobs, and desires that God never intended to last in my life. How about you?
Be bold. God is a big God. He wants us to be persistent in our prayers. The Lord wants us to to ask for things we need for ourselves and our families. As you notice from the story below you, He does not care if it is an inconvenient time – just ask!
Luke 11:5-8 “Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
7 “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”
When I was younger, I prayed often boldly about my future. I am talking big dream prayers about the quality of my marriage, faithfulness, and life as a missionary. Things that I knew that I could not accomplish on my own. I have never regretted these bold prayers, and I have had them answered in ways only He could provide the result. What I do regret are many of my non-prayer times when I had a limited view of God’s work in my life. Only asking him to fix things after I messed something up trying to do it on my own. Leaving prayer out of the equation, I just sent my life down detours of days, weeks, or months away from God’s better path. Watching out for areas of possible detours has been a hard lesson learned. God wants us to call out to Him, avoid pitfalls and detours. We are to be bold in our requests to keep us on His better path for our lives.
The Good Gift Giver
We know that we never desire to give the wrong thing to our kids or our loved ones. Despite our best efforts we still make errors. Unlike us, The Lord does not make mistakes in giving gifts. He always gives the right gifts to those who ask at the right time. To provide yourself reassurance, think of all the times He has provided something in the past that has proven to be of great benefit.
Luke 11:11-13 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
The Spirit Intercedes for Us
If we do not know what to ask or how to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. If we are confused about a situation, and do know what to ask, the Spirit searches our heart and speaks on our behalf. He has only the will of God in mind. We are the safest in His will.
Romans 8:26-27 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
The connection between us and God is not only strengthen by us, but by the Spirit. He works tirelessly on our behalf to make sure that we are more like Him. The Lord wants us to relish our time of prayer. If we miss a day, God wants us to miss it as much as we do our TV, phone, and computer. I understand the pull of them. Personal electronics make us feel connected to this world and the people in it; however, prayer makes us feel connected to the giver of life. The great I AM, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Is that not more valuable? He who loves us despite our failings. He made us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and wants to be intimately involved in our lives. As our Heavenly Father, He has gifts to give us, if we just ask boldly – let us get started!
- How have your prayers in the past been answered by the Lord?
- How is your connectivity to God? Time for a reboot? Ask yourself how you can reconnect with God?
- Think about how you can be bold in your prayers?
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2016 (Ro 8:26–27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995 (1 Jn 5:14–15). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Lk 11:5–13), (2 Co 12:7–9). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.