It seems that everywhere I turn I keep hearing more and more about the importance and power of prayer.
Monday afternoon I caught part of Charles Stanley’s message on prayer on the radio. He was talking about how the verse “Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you” refers to persistent prayer – continually bringing your petitions before God.
Tuesday afternoon, on the exact same radio station, I heard the exact same message AGAIN! (Do you think God’s trying to affirm and tell me something?)
Something that really spoke to me is the challenge he gave to name SPECIFIC prayers – to stop being vague and get specific with God.
I can truly see how beneficial and impactful this would be – for example, praying specifically for someone “Lord, break them and bring them humbly before you to a place of surrender and salvation!” as opposed to “Lord, save them”. But always keeping in mind “Your will be done.” If we are following hard after God and right in our relationship and fellowship with him, then I believe that piece will be an automatic desire of our hearts.
God does not hear the prayers of sinners – those who willfully reject his Son, Jesus Christ, and refuse to surrender their lives to him. But how much more does he hear and love to answer the prayers of the righteous ones who seek his face day after day, faithfully bringing before him their petitions!
We should not pray demanding God should answer. But rather we should pray KNOWING IN FAITH that he WILL answer.
We should not pray once and not bring it up again, thinking “He’s heard me, I don’t want to bother him with it again, he knows it already” (and I am one who has been guilty of that!).
We should not pray quickly and swiftly through a “hit list” of requests. We should come before our God in humility, contemplation and…. in awe and wonder of WHO GOD IS and just what he is capable of.
Charles Spurgeon said “when the heart is in a quiet condition, and full of joy in the Lord, then also will it be sure to draw nigh unto the Lord in worship. Holy joy and prayer act and react upon each other.”
We can expect that when we bring our requests before God in prayer that we will be greatly affected by the results, either directly by God using us in the person’s life, or specifically just by his answer to the prayer. If God is silent, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t giving an answer, but rather that he is at work already – we need to be careful not to pray, and then try to manipulate the circumstances. Instead, we should pray and wait for him to show us how he wants us to be involved, if he wants us to be involved at all.
“Prayer lays hold of God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot
David’s prayer about building the temple was answered, although not in the way that he had prayed. His prayer was very specific, and while he did not actually build the temple, the prayer was answered through his son, Solomon. In 1 Chronicles 6, Solomon dedicates the temple to the Lord. In verses 7-9 he acknowledges that while it was in the will and desire of his father to build the temple, the Lord had other plans. But nevertheless, David’s prayer was answered. The Lord spoke to David, and it was fulfilled.
My challenge to you now is to get specific with God in your prayers. And not only just in making your requests known to God – also in your confession of sin and repentance before Him. He knows everything that goes on in our lives and in our hearts; he knows our inmost thoughts and desires; but he wants to hear them from us. So make a list, get specific in what you’re praying for. Get into God’s word, obey his commands, follow hard after him. Keep that list going, and as the answers come, strike them through, but keep the list as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in answering prayer.