Praying Effectively Through God’s Word
Prayer is communication with God. When we pray, we talk to God and God talks to us through his word. It is therefore true that our prayers often feel “flat” if we don’t incorporate God’s word into it.
God’s word is packed full of promises, and one of the best ways to infuse life into our prayers is by infusing God’s promises into our prayers. If God’s word abide in us, we do not lack what to pray, (John 15:7). Jesus said ” if God’s word abide in you, you can ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Indeed, what Jesus is saying is that when we pray in accordance to his words, promises, or commands; whatever we ask will be done for us. When our prayers are lined up with God promises, incredible things happen!
Sometime it appears that our prayers are not answered. This could be very frustrating and may cause us to doubt God. If Jesus said in Matthew 7: 7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto (KJV): how come then that when we asked we do not received? The simple answer is that we do not asked in accordance to God will – which is His word. Now let us examine the issue as presented in James 4: 2-3 – “You want what you don’t have, so you kill to get it. You long for what others have, and can’t afford it; so you start a fight to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole aim is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure – (TLB).
The passage above presents a fundamental truth about prayer, our motives and reasons why we do not receive answers to our prayers. When we pray, we are dealing with the all-knowing God. Indeed, God knows our needs and wants and can differentiate the two. God will definitely give us what we need, which is our daily bread (Matthew 6: 11), and not necessarily what we want because our wants always contradict his will for us. Our wants according to the passage is to satisfy our lusts and pleasure. Some of us schemed and killed others to get what we want. James queried “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it because there is a whole army of evil desires within you? – James 4: 1, (TLB).
There is so much fighting for God’s given resources everywhere, particularly in Nigeria. The fighting is obvious among spouses, siblings, family members, communities, tribes, nations and so on. In recent time the fighting has taken very dangerous dimension in our country Nigeria. Youths have taken up arms and fought dangerously for resources control. Some have destroyed national assets and infrastructures in a bid to get their desired resources. Children killed their parent for material possession and vice-versa. Workers have turned their places of work into theatres of war because of position and money. The much orchestrated endemic corruption is because of evil desires. When people in position of authority and leadership loot the nation wealth, they are not to meet their needs, but to satisfy their pleasure. As was recently analyzed, one will need to spent N100,000 daily for 5 years doing nothing, to finish looted 1 billion Naira. Looters therefore developed several strategies to perfect their evil plan and some even prayed for success and bribed their way through. Along the way they maim, destroy and kill every opposition and eliminate every obstacle. The fighting and killing often take different forms.
Some actually killed with physical weapon while great number of others killed with their mouth – the tongue, which James earlier in Chapter 3 verse 6 described as fire, full of wickedness and deadly poison which, can turn the whole lives into a blazing flame of destruction and disaster (TLB). The 10th Commandment in Exodus 20: 17 forbid covetousness. When we measure our standard with others as presented in the passage, and want to be where they are without commensurate work and input into our lives, we are simply coveting. Then we turned our covetousness into prayer and tried to force God to rubber-stamp and approve such wanton desires and wants for us as prayers. When that does not happen, in our minds, God is not faithful and sure he is not a prayer answering God.
The second issue concerning our prayer is God’s will. If we pray according to God’s will – his promises in his word, we are sure to get answers. But more often than not, we are unable or sometime refused to pray in accordance to God’s will. Sometimes we do not understand God’s will for our lives (Micah 4: 12). We first of all must accept that his thoughts for us are good not evil (Jeremiah 29: 11). If we come to this understanding, our prayers should always end like that of Jesus in Luke 22 verse 42; and Matthew 26 verse 39 “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt, (KJV). While we can be confident that God’s will for us is to be whole people—body, soul and spirit—we should not be arrogant in assuming we know what God’s total will is in particular situations, hence the need to pray like Jesus.
God’s will is very paramount in our prayer lives. Remember he warns in Isaiah 55:8 “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (NIV). Recent event in my family confirmed this. One of our dearly beloved brother was involved in an accident, was unconscious, and hospitalized for days. The entire family and the Church prayed for his recovery, but he eventually died. Our desire and prayers were that he should live but God willed otherwise. Sometimes our faith clashes with God’s will. Paul explained in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8 how his thorn in the flesh was not healed—something we certainly can’t attribute to the apostle’s lack of faith. In Romans chapter 1, verse 10, Paul acknowledged the success of some of his missionary activities to God’s will when he had prayed and trusted God. He further stated clearly that even when the spirit intercedes for us, it is in accordance to God’s will (Romans 8: 27). We must therefore accept the principles of relying on God’s perfect will for our lives in all circumstances and learn to give him thanks (1 Thessalonians 5: 18) in our prayers.
Last, we must humble ourselves in prayer. In James chapter 4, verse 6, it is stated that God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. We need the grace of God to know how to pray. When we kneel to pray, we should be conscious of who we are – dust (Psalm 103: 14) and grass (Psalm 72: 16; 102: 11 & 103: 15). We must also be conscious that we are dealing with a supreme being – the creator of heaven and earth, hence we must be humbled in our presentation, no matter how emotional we may seem to be. We must refuse the temptation of prescribing what we want from God and how he should do it. Yes, you may express your desire according to God’s promises, but do not forget that God made the promises and also know the right circumstance and timing for its fulfillment.
Obviously, James warning against pride applies to all of us in whatever we do, including when we pray. We humbly seek God’s will, we confidently ask that God’s will be done, but we leave it to God to do his will as he pleases, and when he pleases. In this context, we should ask for the grace to pray and allow God to answer how he deem it fit for our situation and at the right time, no matter what it is. Therefore, we need to understand that when we pray, we are talking to God, who knows who we are, what we want and the purpose/ motive of our prayer. Second, we cannot force God to answer our prayers the way we want it. In this regard, our prayers must be in accordance to his will. Finally, we must humble ourselves in prayer and reverence God who is all-sufficiency in all our needs.
Please pray this simple prayer: God, I thank you for giving me the rare opportunity to speak with you in prayers despite who you are. Give me the grace to know how to pray to receive answers so that my joy may be full (John 16: 24) and to humble myself to your will in prayers, in Jesus name – amen.
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