John 17:23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Intercessory prayer can be one of the most important acts in the life of a Christ follower. Praying for others is a selfless act of service and one of the greatest things one can do for another person. Even Jesus Himself prayed for others while living here on this earth. Destined to die for the sins of mankind, the Son of God paused in His last few hours on earth and prayed for us.
In John chapter 17, Jesus first prays for His disciples. He asks His Father that the disciples would be sanctified and protected. After this, He prays for all believers who are yet to come. He prayed for our unity, that we would be one. And then, just a short time later, He willingly gave His life on the cross so that we could live. Jesus did not pray that prayer in vain any more than He died in vain. It’s His heart’s desire that we would be united.
Part of that unity includes praying for each other and strengthening each other as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). When we take on each others’ burdens, we act in a Christ-like manner, loving our neighbors even as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). When we put aside praying for our own desires and needs and pray for those of our family, friends, and even enemies (Matthew 5:44), we truly live out our faith in practice. Take time each day to pray for others.
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 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 4:6 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?
Proverbs 8:34 Blessed is the one who listens to me,
watching daily at my gates,
waiting beside my doors.
In the world of Christianity, we’ve come to refer to prayer time spent with God as “quiet time,” but in my life there’s very little time that could be qualified as “quiet.” With three little kids running around, it’s not easy to etch out time for a daily devotional time. Waking up earlier is not always an option, because certain kids in my home (who shall remain unnamed) wake up at incredibly early hours. So am I doing this quiet time thing all wrong? Am I less of a Christian if I don’t follow the many people who get up SO early and spend that time dedicated to the Lord?
The thing is, when we boil down time with God to a few minutes first thing in the morning, we do two things: 1) we cause people who don’t do well at that to feel very guilty or like a failure, and 2) we make prayer to our Father into something that can just be checked off of a list. Time with God is so much more than something to get us going in the morning, though it’s a great way to start the day. It’s an ongoing conversation throughout the day with Him.
Reality check: All that said, if we don’t take some time every day to intentionally meet with God, it may never happen at any other time during the day. If you’re like me, that may not mean you do “quiet time” when you first wake up. I’m willing to be that many of you, like me, don’t function at all until the first cup of coffee has been consumed. I spend time with God after I’m capable of processing what I’m reading from His Word and able to communicate coherently in prayer. Maybe that’s not the way everyone does it, but the important thing is that I spend time with my Lord every day.
He’s always got something to say to me, and I’ve always got something to say to Him. It’s time well spent. Better than anything else I could be doing, as a mater of fact. If you don’t take specific time to meet with God daily, will you give it a try? Start today.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. – Jonathan Edwards
Are you like me? Do you ever realize that you’re going to God when things are tough but not spending much time with Him when things are going well? I’m not proud of those times, but I also know I’m not alone in doing that.
If I’m completely honest, a lot of times in my life have been that way. Hard times have a way of bringing us to our knees like nothing else. When there’s nothing else and no one else to turn to, we always know we have Jesus as a backup. But He’s so much more than that.
Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The love God has shown me and you through Jesus should make us bow down on our knees often, praising Him and giving Him thanks for everything He’s done. If He dwells in our hearts, we should all the more approach Him in love, not just when we need something. Will you resolve with me to spend more time in worship and stop waiting until things are bad to reach out to the Lord?