Have you ever lifted up a prayer, then suddenly things worked out and you in essence say internally: “never mind God, I got it taken care of.” Is this the way we pray? That is, do we only pray if we’re in need but when the need is over, we cease praying? Or else we don’t give the Lord any credit? We humans are pretty good at using God like He is a spare tire or an EMT, or some kind of magic genie. I think we’ve all done this with God.
How about when you’ve been praying a lot about something and you feel as if you’re not getting an answer and you think: “Enough of this.” And you feel like saying, “Hey up there, can you hear me?” No response so you think, “Hey, God, if you can really hear me, tell me what you want me to do.” What if right then a voice from above thundered, “I WANT YOU TO HELP THE NEEDY AND GIVE YOUR LIFE FOR THE CAUSE OF PEACE!” That might not be what you want to hear and you then say, “Actually, God, I was just checking to see if you were there.” Then what if you heard a disappointing voice from above say, “THAT’S ALRIGHT; I WAS ONLY CHECKING TO SEE IF YOU WERE THERE.”
Are we here? Are we the kind of praying people that we should be? Is God asking, “Are you there?” Is God saying to you right now, “why don’t I hear from you more often and not just when you need something?” Peter and John were in jail then look what happened in Acts 4:23-24, “On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God….”
In the face of opposition and threats, the early Christians didn’t stop praying, they stepped up their praying! They joined together in praying even more! Here’s a parallel: “When business is good, you ought to advertise; when it’s bad, you’ve got to.” When life is good we should pray, but when life is bad, we HAVE TO PRAY! We have nowhere else to go! We of all people should be committed to a life of prayer in good times and bad.
We need to think about three areas where we should be committed to prayer.
1- Committed to praise
2- Committed to intercession
3- Committed to seeking
1. COMMITTED TO PRAISE
We are quick to justifiably praise good people for doing good things. Protectors in the Vegas shooting. Military people who do good things to protect our country. The list can go on and on. We humans are quick to honor other humans, but what about the One to whom we owe everything? What about our creator? Our sustainer? Our Savior?
Yes we should praise people who give, who risk their life or even those who do simple things like bring a box of Mac and Cheese for the food bank but where does our gifts, our skills, our things come from? Our Creator. We wouldn’t be anything without Him nor would we really have anything without Him and His blessings. He alone deserves the accolades, the praise, the honor, the thanks!
Yet here is the issue and all too often the reality, we often do more asking than giving. Again consider Acts 4:23-24 “On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.”
There’s no doubt the early Christians were committed to prayer. It wasn’t a part of their lives, it was their life! When those early Christians raised their voices together in prayer they praised the Lord for who He was and what He was. They prayed, “You made the heaven and earth….” They remind us that EVERYTHING comes from God. Heb. 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.”
We need to be more committed to praising the Lord than we have in the past. Instead of “give me” prayers, it should be “thank you” prayers. “Thank you, Father, for being our God and Father. Thank you for Jesus, the Holy Spirit, your Word, your church, your people. Thank you for life, breath and everything else. Thank you for my warm house, comfortable bed and a nights sleep, good food. Thank you for my family, etc.”
Every morning when you rise, you should begin by saying, “Thank you, Lord.” “Thank you for being compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love, and for not treating me as my sins deserve… I praise you!” Our days would go a lot better if we would praise more and ask less!
2. COMMITTED TO INTERCESSION
We have a bulletin full of prayer requests. If you believe in prayer have you offered up prayers for them? We are supposed to intercede for others for whatever needs they might truly have. Ephesians. 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” We need to be talking to God on behalf of others, with all kinds of prayers and requests. Some of those prayers might include, “Father, keep them from temptation or the evil one.
I Thessalonians 3:5 “For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.” The apostle Paul was deeply concerned about the faith of his brothers and sisters. He feared the evil one might have tempted them and gained some control over their lives. You can just bet that he constantly prayed for their protection.
For example, do you parents and grandparents not pray for your children to be protected in this world? If you truly believe in prayer, it will make a difference. The devil gets too much credit sometimes but he is alive and well on planet earth and he is a bully, out to destroy, we must pray for one another. We must support one another in prayer! We must help one another in prayer! We must intercede for one another or stand up for one another against the bully, Satan!
We must imitate Jesus who intercedes for us.
Remember, not only does Jesus save us, He also lives for our good! He hasn’t stopped working on our behalf. He stands before the Father, interceding for us. How so? I can only guess. It might be something like this: “Father, my child Jeff has blown it today. He’s been in a grouchy mood all day long. He hasn’t prayed much. He’s gotten angry at people, even though they didn’t know it. I’ll give him some credit. He didn’t blow his cool with some people. In general, however, he’s not been the kind of Christian he should be. Please have mercy on him, because He does belong to me. Please be patient with him and give him grace to overcome.”
How does that sound? It could be that way. And I do believe that Jesus even intercedes for us when we think bad and do worse than what I just talked about. We must intercede just as Jesus intercedes for us.
3. COMMITTED TO SEEKING
Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Get it? Believe it? Ask, seek, knock. We are to continually seek the Lord in life and seek His will for our lives. Why? He knows best. He does best. He blesses best. Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Ever have a child make this kind of deal with you? I told dad I wanted a horse. He clearly said no because he had shoveled a bunch of horse manure in his life and he wasn’t doing it again. I said I would. He didn’t believe me due to the fact I wasn’t taking care of my 4-H pig manure, but I told him if you buy me a horse, “I’ll change!” Does this sound like some of the prayers that we might offer to God. Dad saw my immaturity.
Sometimes are prayers are just as childish. “God, if you do this, I’ll do this…” And whether we realize it or not, we try to manipulate God into giving us whatever it is we want. It didn’t work with my dad and it won’t work for our parent, our Heavenly Father. He can easily see right through us and through our motives.
James 4:2-3 “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
We may want “a horse” because it’s fun and satisfies our desire for our pleasure but God knows that it may not be good for us so He doesn’t give in to our pleading and begging. There should be no doubt that we should seek the Lord’s will for our lives. When we do what pleases Him life is always better for us.
How do we discern His will for our lives? Two basic ways: Scripture and prayer. If it’s against scripture, it’s not His will. Some things are rather plain to us because God has written them down for us in His Word. Of course, this assumes that we are reading His Word in order to discern His will for our lives. Next, we must pray and ask for God’s will to be shown to us, for Him to guide us, etc. And wait for Him to intervene and make known His will.
Pray – Ask, receive, knock, plus Jesus’ intercession and you got power. Can you think of a time when that formula caused things? I was unemployed, before Bonnie’s time, due to a staff reduction at a job I liked. For three months, no job with a 5 yo and newborn. Things were tight and no I had not yet surrendered to Jesus but I was praying, and Jesus was too. 3 job offers in one day. Before Jesus I was divorced for two years and I knew single life would soon kill me. I prayed for a wife, I like being married. After those two years a lady literally walked into my life out of nowhere and we’ve been married 27 years.
Pray – ask, receive knock plus Jesus’ intercession. 13 years ago, no job again. Lord, give me a fulltime church. I was told I would probably plant a church in Ferdinand through the Huntingburg UMC. It fell through. Lord, I need some help! 8 months later it happened. I have a lot more examples of this but it’s true. If you ask, seek, knock, and have Jesus on your side, it may take a while but it actually happens just like the Bible says! If you really think about it I am guessing you have your own examples.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” When we continue to pray, seek and knock, God will answer. He will open some doors and close others. This is how we discern His will for our lives. WE COMMIT OURSELVES TO PRAYER.
Relationship therapist Dr. Laura Berman of Chicago’s Berman Center said, “Couples come into my office and say their relationship is failing, and I ask them, ’When is the last time you kissed, really kissed?’” Couples, is your marital relationship lukewarm or failing? If so, perhaps you need to do some more kissing.
Is your relationship to the Lord not what it should be? Then perhaps you need to do some spiritual kissing…by that, I mean, you need to be more committed to Him in prayer. You need to spend time loving the Lord in prayer and then no telling what will happen in your life.
Intimacy with the Lord can make a difference in your life! And much of this intimacy comes in prayer.