Once we understand that talking with God is like talking to a person who is with us always, and that Scripture (especially the Psalms) can be a helpful guide in learning what to pray and how to pray, all of mystery disappears from praying according the will of God.
Scriptures on Prayer
Several passages in Scripture have caused lots of problems over the years regarding prayer. Here are some of the more prominent:
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7)
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)
Some have developed entire ministries around this idea that if you want something, all you have to do is ask God for it, and ask with enough faith, He will give it to you whatever you ask.
What is often neglected in these ministries is that the emphasis in the context of these Scriptures is not on the kind of faith or the amount of faith, but on abiding with Christ and asking according to the will of God.
Abide with Christ
What does it mean to abide with Christ? It means to remain, to dwell, to stay with. Abiding with Christ, or remaining with Him, is a prominent theme in John 14-17, and the first letter of John, and in both contexts it seems that to abide with Christ simply means to always be aware of His presence. To be in constant communication with Him. To understand that He is always with you, and you are always with Him.
To abide with Christ means to talk with Him and go through life with Him as you would someone who is always by your side.
As we develop this constant awareness and the constant communication that Goes with it, and as we learn to pray the Scriptures, we will soon find that our prayer life changes, what we pray for changes, and how we pray changes.
We will soon be praying for things that are only found in Scripture, which of course are all according to the will of God, and those things which we pray for which are not found in Scripture, our prayers for them will simply be part of a long-running conversation with God where He challenges some of our motives and requests and helps us focus on what we really need from His perspective, and what would be best for His purposes and mission in the world.
Praying According to the Will of God
As we pray Scripture, and as we pray conversationally with God, we can know that He is informing and guiding and refining our prayer requests so that we are praying according to His will.
We pray according to the will of God as we gain awareness of the presence of God.
This is important because according to the passages above, when we pray according to His will, we know that He hears us, and we know that we have what we asked of Him. When we pray according to His will, we are guaranteed that our prayers get answered.
Do you want to pray like never before?
Do you what to talk to God like you talk to a friend? Do you want to see more answers to prayer?
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So, is that Ferrari I ordered on backlog? Cause I asked for that like 3 months ago and I didn’t even get a purchase order number yet. Talk about slow service. Who do I call to file a complaint?
Jeremy Myers says
Was it a red Ferrari? I saw it on the divine loading dock yesterday.
Clive Clifton says
Thanks Kirk, I love it when Christians can laugh at themselves, because we all say some really silly prayers at times. To be serious I loved what you wrote Jeremy about praying in the Will of God, after all if we say the Lords prayer we do say Thy will be done not My will be done.
I’m reading a book by Simon Guillebaud who has spent a fair chunk of his life (maybe Simon does not see it as his life at all) in Burundi. One story in his book entitled More Than Conquerors, tells the story of a woman who died after having a premature baby that was so weak would not last without assistance. They only had an old leaking hot water bottle and knew the child would not survive the day. A young girl prayed “dear lord please send a hot water bottle today. Tomorrow will be to late as the baby will be dead. And dear lord please send a Doll for her sister so she wont feel so lonely. Parcel delivery in that remote area was rare, but that afternoon a large one arrived. Yes there was a hot water bottle inside. The little girl immediately rummaged through the contents and said “if God sent that he must have sent a Doll as well” and He had. That parcel was sent 5 months ago by a group of ladies.
God surely is the Alpha the Omega, His ability to travel along the time line from our beginnings to our end in time never ceases to amaze me. I have understood and believed that God is always working and watching His children, and like that little girl gives us words of prophecy to speak into being. He has prepared so much for us, all of it good.
Prayer, as I have said previously, is our constant communication with God, unless we pray we will never see what He is doing in ours and other peoples lives. The more we pray the more we will hear his voice and act on it. Pray with belief that he does answer all our prayers, some exactly as we have asked others in the most weird way. I do believe what He said “ask, seek, knock”. If we stop praying because we don’t see the answers then nothing will happen and we wont hear His voice. That will lead to a total breakdown in communications and inevitably our spiritual death.
Don’t you just love Him working through His people so that His Kingdom will come on earth from Heaven.
Jeremy Myers says
Thanks for mentioning the Ask, Seek, Knock passage. It reminded me of something I wanted to write in this series on prayer. I’ll put it up Thursday or Friday.
These verses sound great until we’re sitting with our friends at the bedside of their dying family member. Everyone follows Jesus. They have asked. They have believed that they asked in accordance with Scripture. And still the person dies. Try to explain to that family that they were not praying according to God’s will. I think a much better response to the family is that there are some things we will never understand this side of heaven.
We pray for a job. We get it. We assume we prayed according to God’s will. Later we discover that the job is a really terrible one. People tell us that we got it because no one else wanted it. We are forced to leave the job, and then ask God how it could have been His will for us to get that job.
We pray for a job. Someone less qualified gets it (we later learn she got it because the boss though she was attractive). Things at our present job are horrible, causing problems in our marriage and family. We ask God how it could have been His will for us not to get that job.
The principle sound simple, but applying it to life frequently is not simple.
Jeremy Myers says
Right. These are the prayers that make the verses on prayer sound empty and hollow.
I will try to clarify in the next few posts what I think Jesus meant when He said these things.
teach me how to apply the word of God in a present situation and get an answer.also if it is communication there will be need for me to hear what God is also saying to me in return. i need to understand how to hear the voice of God when he speaks back to me.
i hv understood how to make scriptures into my whole prayer