Figuring out what or how to pray seems to be common topic among believers.
Some people will say that their prayer is not being heard because there is no immediate response. Others may pray for somebody who is suffering but despite their repeated petition, still nothing seems to happen. Prayer then becomes a hard work, an aimless effort and therefore a burden rather than a chamber for our souls to rest in the Lord. Our busy life then takes over and we become too pre-occupied to even pray.
From selfishness to glorifying God
There may be many reasons for these prayer struggles, but one prominent one comes down to our selfish nature and that is looking to God as another means of gaining our own desires. We can sometimes do this automatically. When we pray in this way, we expect answers, sometimes quick or done in our way. When answers do not come, we can become disappointed and then for some even offended deeply that God does not answer.
To pray is to let Jesus come into our hearts and give Him the room to work in us. God does not need our prayers to motivate Him, but rather God wants to use our prayers to do His work in and through us. Jesus is the one who moves us to pray and it is up to us to respond with an open heart to allow Him in to do His work (Matt 7:7-8). Prayer is the breath of the soul, the organ by which we receive Christ into our restless and withered hearts. Through our prayers, God will use our brokenness to reveal His glory to not only ourselves but to others in the world.
Expressing our helplessness is sometimes all we can do
In times when we are unsure what to pray for, or when the burden seems so great, we can express our helplessness to Christ and in faith expect that He will come through. We give our helplessness to God so that we can bask in the sunshine of God’s grace as He evades our lives with his love and glory.
Crying out is the most powerful plea which rises to the tender father-heart of God who strips every ounce of self-conceit and self-sufficiency from our inner being. Like a baby who draws near to their mom at birth, taking our helplessness to God forms a special bond between us and our spiritual Father. Helplessness, then, is the special ingredient to open the door wide to give God full access to all our needs.
Asking in accordance with God’s will
The following verses give us clues of how we can ask in accordance with God’s will.
- Matthew 7:7-11: “Ask, and it shall be given to you…”
- John 15:7-8: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you will bear much fruit…”
- Philippians 4:6: “do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God.”
- James 4:2-3: “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
James 4:2 typifies what it means about praying in accordance with God’s will. When we come to the Lord with our petitions, we need to ensure that our selfish motives are stripped away and recognize that God is the better shepherd to answer all our needs. For example, in John 11:17-57 we read about Lazarus who becomes ill. Lazarus’ sister Martha, whom Jesus loved, petitioned to the Lord: “if you had been here, my brother would have not died.” Martha convinced herself that the Lord, the great healer, and physician in the Universe, could have acted in accordance with what she felt would be best and that is to have Jesus heal Lazarus to prevent him dying in the first place. However, take a closer look at what Jesus said next: “for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe … to see the glory of God.” Jesus could have healed Lazarus but instead, He did much better by raising Lazarus from the dead to show the world that he can resurrect and give life.
In much the same way, we need to have faith that God will answer your prayer but on His terms. All we need to do is cast our doubt, fear and helplessness on the Lord and allow Him to work it out for His glory. Even the small things can count. God cares for you and remember that God can still be gloried answering your smaller prayer requests. I sometimes think that when we pray, we should consider adding to the end of our prayer, “if it will glorify Your name.” Again, Jesus loves you and He is waiting for you to cast your helplessness upon Him so that He can go and fix it according to His will. If we prayed in this way, in accordance with His will, all our petitions in some way, shape or form will come with an answer.
Forms of Prayer
Prayer can take on different forms. The more that prayer becomes the authentic, free and natural expression of our helpless cries out to the Lord for His glory, the more real these forms become. There are five forms of prayer: supplication, the prayer of thanksgiving, praise, conversation and praying without words.
The success of prayer does not depend upon the assurance of people praying, in boldness or how well they speak but rather upon how open our hearts are to Jesus. Jesus will come into our heart when we are helpless and in faith know that He will use us to work His will. God has voluntarily made Himself dependent on our prayers and us to glorify His name (Matt 9:37-38). Prayer is the deciding factor in the life of all who surrender themselves to God to be used by Him. God’s supernatural influence upon a believer’s personal life results in an accession of eternal power, however frail or weak, which manifests itself in varies ways. To become skilled in prayer, you must give the Spirit an opportunity to be renewed in Christ every day. Let the Spirit teach you to be solicitous for the Father’s will. May the Lord bind you to His everlasting love and you be called to pray unceasingly and endlessly from now and until His glory is revealed.
What is prayer like for you? What kind of prayers is most appealing?