There are many reasons to pray and we are to pray without ceasing, but in some situations we pray for things that God has already answered. Probably the most prayed-for thing that we seek with the wrong intentions is God’s will. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek His will, just that sometimes we already know it and pray anyway, hoping God will change His mind or even His character.
The best place to find God’s will for us is in the Bible. There are many things for which we seek answers that have already been answered in God’s Word. Before praying for God’s will concerning the relationship you’re about to enter with a married person, consider that He has already spoken on this matter (Exodus 20:14). The same can be said of many decisions we face.
That all being said, if the will of God really is in question and isn’t quite clear, of course prayer should be our first action. It’s never a bad thing to talk to the Lord before making a decision. Just make sure you’re not asking Him to bend to your will rather than truly seeking His.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
The fact is that prayer is so powerful that it has been exploited and misused by those who have no intentions of serving God. Those who seek after their own selfish desires on this earth have used the very gift God gave us to connect with Him and perverted it, made it into some genie-in-a-bottle formula for getting things. God did not intend prayer to be a vending machine.
Yes, Jesus clearly said that whatever we ask for in His name shall be ours, but we must remember that He said this to His disciples. Jesus made this statement with the understanding that those who heard it had left everything behind to follow Him. They had given up more comfortable lives to serve the Son of God. That doesn’t mean the promise isn’t ours to claim as well, it simply means that there are stipulations attached.
Those who follow Christ and call themselves disciples seek to bring Him honor and glory and in doing so pray for His will. If we are seeking Christ, the desires of our heart will not be selfish and our prayers will reflect the character of God. If we’re walking with the Lord, our desires will be in line with His desires.
Psalm 66:20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
We’ve often heard testimonies given of miracles that have taken place in the lives of those who tell them. On many of those occasions, the recipient of the miracle gives credit to “the power of prayer”. The question is: Is this putting us in the place of God? Are we, if only in a veiled way, taking the credit for the miracle because we prayed for it?
Just to be clear, prayer is in fact quite powerful for those who believe (James 5:16). There are many instances throughout the Bible in which we are called to pray, with faith. The issue is not the effectiveness of praying, rather it’s about who gets the credit after the prayer has been answered.
We must recognize that when a prayer is answered it is because God chose to respond with favor. The sovereign Lord is the one who decides what is right for us. It’s not the act of prayer itself that has granted us what we desire. It’s not we who have manifested this miracle. The real power is God’s.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
There’s never a bad time to give thanks to God. In America we set aside a specific day to celebrate what God has done, calling it Thanksgiving, but if it’s the only day of the year that we’re grateful to our Lord, then we’re suffering from a lack of humility.
Whether we’re in good times of prosperity or bad times of suffering and need, we can be thankful because God is good. If we’re lacking something right now it’s not because God is unaware of our need; it’s rather because He has a purpose and we get to be a part of it. He will provide as only He can and we should thank Him everyday for doing so.
The difference between thanksgiving and praise is the purpose behind it. Thanks is given for what God has done, but praise is given for who He is, even when we don’t feel He’s done anything lately. Praise isn’t a response to God’s provision, but a celebration of all that He is and all that we know He can do. Thanksgiving and praise go hand-in-hand and they ought to be on our lips constantly, whether we’re currently receiving blessings or not.
Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
How should we give thanks to a God that gives us far more than we can imagine to ask for? How can we ever give Him thanks for all He’s done and all He is? Well, we never can. But the point isn’t to make things up to God with our gratitude. The point is that we should be grateful for everything and at all times.
We give thanks by praising Him. Just telling Him, literally, thank you for what you’ve given me, for what you’ve done, and for who you are. Express in words your thankfulness.
We give thanks by responding. God has done so much for us all, we can show Him we’re thankful by carrying out what He’s called us to do. We can show Him we’re grateful for what we have by sharing it with others, by taking care of what we’ve been given, and by being content.
We give thanks by trusting. When we’re in hard times and it seems as though God has forgotten about us, we can be thankful to Him for what He’s done in the past by trusting Him with the present. Sometimes just praying, knowing that God has provided in the past, and believing that He can do it again, is a great way to thank Him.
1 Chronicles 29:12-13 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
Not only should we give thanks to God for who He is, but we should be ever so grateful for all that He’s done. He’s able to do far more than we can even imagine, and He even sometimes responds to prayer better than we thought He would. Not only is He good, but He provides.
All of the good we have in our lives is from the Lord. We owe Him our thanks because nothing we have here is our own. It’s all His and He allows us to be temporary caregivers to His things. He provides our physical needs, but think of all the other wonderful blessings He gives that have nothing to do with “things” at all. The intangible blessings are usually the most satisfying.
Imagine, the Lord of all things created, in heaven and on earth, giving up His Son for the sake of mankind, that we might be reconciled to Him. Even if He never gave us another single thing in this life, that’s a sufficient reason to give praise and thanks for the rest of eternity. We give thanks because of who His is, and because of what He’s done.
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Joshua prayed with confidence because he knew that God would hear his prayers. God had told him earlier that He was on Joshua’s side. The apostle John also knew the value of approaching God in prayer with confidence.
If we know that He hears us, we know He’ll grant us all that we ask accordingly with His will. To pray according to His will though, we must be daily in His Word, seeking Him. When we’re in close communion with our heavenly Father, we’ll know what we can ask for and expect to be heard. With that, we can ask with confidence.
Knowing that our Father loves us and cares for us makes a world of difference as we approach Him. Thankful hearts, knowing that He hears us, make it all the more likely that we’ll ask according to His will.
———- What are you asking God for right now?
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
No matter where you find yourself, you’re not too far away for God to find you. No matter what your circumstances, He can walk you through. He is good, and you can trust Him in good times and bad times.
As followers of Christ, we would benefit from following the example of Paul, learning how to be content in all situations. A heart that’s truly fixed on God will not let events determine faith. Focus on the nature of God and know that no matter what, no matter how good or how bad, you can trust Him.
You can do all things through Him who strengthens you. Pray in all things and rely on Him to provide. He is more than able to be your everything.
———- Where are you trying to find your strength? Is it in God or in the things of this world that don’t live up to their promises?
Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Central to Paul’s thoughts on prayer given to the Philippians is the aspect of thanksgiving and praise. Want to be free from your burdens? Rejoice in the Lord! Are you bringing your requests to God? Do it while giving thanks for what He’s already done!
Pray knowing that God hears the cries of His people. Bring all things to Him, cast them all before Him. Know that God is faithful and just. Trust, knowing what He has already been faithful in, that He will continue to provide your every need and hear the desires of your heart. Give Him thanks!
Echo the thoughts of Paul: Rejoice in the Lord always! This attitude in prayer will lead to peace, no matter what burdens you carry. The Lord is good and He will lighten your load.
———- What’s your biggest worry? Cast it before God and have the faith to let it go.
Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
This life on earth is like a breath. Before we can know what happened, it’s come to an end. No matter how much effort we put into gaining things for ourselves – possessions, wealth, prestige, pleasure – we leave everything behind in the end. As the saying goes, “You can’t take it with you.”
As followers of Christ, we should be seeking to prioritize our time in this short existence to use our time in the way God wants us to. Our prayer should mimic the Psalm, asking God to teach us to number our days, that we may know Him more fully and bring about His will. Our desire should be for a heart of wisdom.
Two practical applications for learning to number your days: seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and store up God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11). Make the most of what God’s given you.
———- What changes can you make to the way you use your time in order to make the most of it?