When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer” as a model. Within these potent words are many “principles of prayer” that we want to look at in the series “PRAYING GOD’S WAY”. In addition, many instructions concerning prayer are found throughout scripture and these will help us get a handle on how to pray effectively and Biblically.
We won’t approach these in any particular order (my apologies to all you “I. A. 1. a.” folks), other than perhaps to address first some of the problematic issues with prayer that either I’ve personally experienced or that have surfaced in talking with others about prayer.
One of the comments I hear most often about prayer is: “well, I prayed about it, but nothing happened”. We are such a results-oriented culture . . . and we don’t just want results, we want them fast! So I usually ask “how long have you been praying about this?” Puzzled, they often look at me and say “well, at least a couple of weeks!” That’s when I turn to Matthew 7:7, which in the Amplified Bible reads:
7 “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.
Prayer is a process. It’s a relationship with almighty God. If the answer hasn’t come yet, believe me – God knows that! He even understands your impatience. But we don’t give up until the answer comes; until we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has moved in our situation and — this is important — whether or NOT we got the answer we were looking for!
For further encouragement on persistence in prayer, we can turn to Luke 18 and the parable of the persistent widow:
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Of particular interest to our discussion is verse 7 where we see that “crying out to Him day and night” is a pattern for getting results. Can you honestly say that you’ve cried out to God day and night on a regular basis about your request?
And getting back to the Lord ’s Prayer, which may be found in Matthew 6: 9-13, I want to focus on verse 11:
11 Give us today our daily bread.
A while back, I heard Pastor Robert Morris (Gateway Church and The Blessed Life) do a wonderful teaching on this prayer, and concerning this verse he explained that even though God was supplying bread every day (hence the descriptor “daily”), He still wanted us to ask today – THIS day – for it! There is something about the daily request and recognition of where our “bread” comes from that forges in us an awareness of how good God is, and how EVER-PRESENT He is in our lives!
So . . . if you’ve recently given up on a request you’ve put before God, I urge you to get back in there and begin praying consistently and persistently. Don’t give up! Keep on asking, seeking and knocking!
In future parts of this series on “PRAYING GOD’S WAY”, we’ll cover additional scriptures that provide strategies for an effective prayer life. Meanwhile . . . just keep praying!
Joyfully serving Him,
Director of Music and Ministries