I am getting ready to teach on prayer once again and I am excited to share these ideas with you here in this post. If you have not been following this theme, I have linked the previous lessons below.
- Effective Prayer Lesson 1
- Effective Prayer Lesson 2 part 1
- Effective Prayer Lesson 2 part 2
- Effective Prayer: Allegiance, Submission, and Gratitude
Prayer is about a relationship with God. He communicates with us through His Word, we communicate with Him through prayer. This is how a relationship works. Both communicate with each other. Both listen to each other. There is an idea of friendship here. God wants a personal relationship with man. Man can have a personal relationship with God.
In this relationship, we are to approach God as children, the way a child approaches his father. Children have needs and when they do have needs, they usually run to their fathers, the provider, who is able to meet their needs. We are to ask, for our own needs and for the needs of others. In this article, I would like to examine how we are to pray (ask) and what asking has to do with the will of God.
I. How to pray
In Matthew 6:11, part of the Lord’s Model Prayer is that we are to ask God each day for our daily bread. What is implied here is that we ask for ourselves and for others. You cannot have God answer your prayers if you do not ask. In Luke 11:5-10, Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray. The teaching that He gives is that they are to be persistent in their prayers. In other words, ask, ask, ask!!! But, before we get out our laundry list, let’s see what we are to ask for from God. In I John 5:14-15, we are taught to pray with confidence, knowing that if we pray according to the will of God, He hears us and will answer us. The question that arises is, what is God’s will? We will address this in the next paragraph. In Philippians 4:6, the Apostle Paul teaches us to pray, to ask, and to be grateful with God’s answer to your question, whether it is YES, NO, or WAIT. Be grateful that God hears you and that He answers, no matter what the answer is. The Apostle Paul uses his own examples in II Corinthians 12:7-9, when he says that he asked God and God’s answer was not Yes, was not No, it was not even wait. God’s answer was that His grace is all that Paul needs. Paul was satisfied to be used by God and get to experience His grace.
The next thing that we need to do before praying is to examine our motives and our relationships with others. In James 4:1-4, James reminds the believers to examine their motives for praying and asking. Those who were praying with wrong motives were also in quarrels, conflicts, and fights. The impure motives were driven by their own lusts, they were envious, trying to have one foot in the world and one foot with God. Peter deals with the same subject but makes it more intimate, moving the scope from the church to the home. Men who do not get along with their wives need not pray because their prayers to not cross the ceiling barrier. God does not want to hear from you until you get your relationship with your wife back on track.
Now, the question is, what is the will of God if we are to pray according to His will? Let’s find out from God Himself.
II. God’s will
There are many, many passages in the Bible that tell us what the will of God is. We like to claim that God’s will is vague and very difficult to distinguish or discern. This is not true. God lays His will out plainly for us in His Word. I want to examine a few of these passages. In John 15:7, we discover that God wants us to abide in His Word and allow His Word to abide in us. Later on, in chapter 15, Jesus reveals that His will for us is to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. In Romans 12:1-2, the Apostle Paul explains what God’s will is for each and every one of us. We are to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices, ready to serve the Lord by serving the people around us. We are not to be conformed to the way the world thinks, we are to be transformed by having our minds renewed by the Word of God.
Are you connected to the source, God’s Word so that He can work in you and through you, turning you into an efficient disciple making machine, who makes disciples who make disciple? Do you have disciples? Have you seen second, third, even fourth generation disciples coming from your obedience to God and His hand working in you and through you? This IS God’s will for your life. Is your mind being renewed by the Word of God on a daily basis? How much time do you spend each day in God’s Word, diligently learning what God wants and how He wants to do it in you and through you?
In Micah 6:8, God reveals His desires for all people, and specifically His people. When we are connected to the source and God is working in us, the results will be manifested in:
- Doing justice
- Loving kindness
- Walking humbly before God
Are these characteristics present in your life? Are you teaching these principles to others? Do these characteristics appear in the lives of your disciples? And their disciples?
Our final example of God’s will for all people is found in Psalm 119:1-8. The psalmist David, a wise man who walked with God, shared these truths for us in his psalm. We have much to learn from this and again, a clear outline of what God’s will is was set forth by David here.
- Walk in the Law of the Lord (1)
- Observe the Word of God (2)
- Seek the Lord with all of your heart
- Do no unrighteousness (3)
- Walk in the ways of God
- Keep the precepts of the Lord (4)
- Keep the statutes of God (5)
- Look upon the commandments of God (6)
- Give thanks/Be grateful (7)
- Learn the righteous judgments of God
- Keep the statutes of the Lord (8)
Are these characteristics a part of your life? Are you teaching this to others? Are your disciples teaching this to their disciples? Do your prayers revolve around asking God to fulfill His will in your life and in the lives of others? Are you praying for opportunities to make disciples? Are you praying for your disciples to make more disciples? These prayers are according to the will of God and will be answered with a resounding YES! Are you praying with pure motives? Are you grateful for the opportunity to ask God, have Him hear you, and answer you? Do you realize what a privilege this is for followers of Jesus Christ? May the Lord help us live out His will every moment of every day for His honor and His glory!