Many followers of this website ask me to pray for them. Especially since the stresses and struggles of sheltering-in-place during this virus pandemic. I welcome this opportunity, take it seriously, and immediately follow through. It's easy to make such a promise, but there's a lot more to it when I try to be faithful.
We sometimes make prayer too complicated. It is a joyful privilege and exchange between a loving Creator and His human creations. The Scriptures demonstrate many different ways of praying and communicating with God. It is both a delight and a sacred obligation to me when I say that I will pray for you. We are encouraged to “bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” That's what I want to do out of love for the Lord and love for you.
It takes a lifetime of experience in our relationship with God to understand something about His ways of dealing with us. I have discovered through the years that when I pray, I don’t have to do a lot of talking to the Lord or explaining, informing, pleading, or even suggesting to God how He should answer my prayers. I don’t presume to always know the will of God either for myself or for others who have asked for my prayers.
I simply acknowledge God’s real, loving, and intimate presence and wait before Him in silence to adore Him, focus on Him, and keep the ears of my heart open to listen how He would want me to pray. God doesn't speak to me in an audible voice; the Holy Spirit impresses my mind for whom I should pray and how.
The entire Trinity is active in our prayers: God the Father hears and answers our prayers. Jesus the Son is the one Mediator, the continual Intercessor in Heaven on our behalf. He paid the ultimate price on the Cross for our sins so we could boldly approach God in His Name. And when we “…don’t know how to pray as we should…” (Romans 8:26-28) the Holy Spirit with groaning, apparently without the need for words, “edits” our prayers and delivers them to God in accord with His will. That insures their answer.
This is how it seems to me that prayer works: When I simply mention your name or your need aloud, or mentally, or in my spirit, or even with a groan, the Holy Spirit runs front to bring that request to Father God in the Name of Jesus. Then, since the Holy Spirit already knows the will of God, I don't have to know when or where or how God will answer. I ask for His will to be done in that situation and thank Him in advance for His answer on your behalf that is sure to come.
It was enough for Mary, the mother of Jesus, to inform Him that a need came up during the wedding at Cana. She merely stated, “They have no wine.” She didn’t tell Him what to do about it, how, or when.
When Jesus' close friends, the sisters at Bethany, sent a message to Jesus about their brother who was ill, they didn’t go into detail about how serious the illness was or request or demand a specific action from Him. Jesus, as the Son of God, already knew all about it. They just stated the fact: “He whom YOU love is sick.” Notice that they didn’t say “HE [Lazarus] who loves You is sick,” or “WE love You, so You should hurry and help us.” They focused on JESUS' love for Lazarus.
Therefore, when I bring your need to God in prayer, I'm doing so because of Jesus’ love for you. I don’t try to arm wrestle the Son of God into answering the prayer my way—or your preferred way. As I pray for you I ask for God’s perfect will to be done in your life.
Since I’m not the one responsible to answer your prayers, when I pray, I don't feel overwhelmed, weak, or helpless.. When I pray in the spirit, the answer is out of my hands from the git-go. It's so restful to know that God will take over and answer perfectly.
I have a lot of prayer partners/helpers available; I believe that we have assistance in prayer from what the Scriptures call the "cloud of witnesses" who are cheering us on and praying for us in Heaven—the saints through the ages and our friends and family who died with faith in God. That gives power to my prayers for you.
Of course, it's a good thing to join in prayer with fellow Christians so that both our faith and our prayers are strengthened. But it doesn't necessarily take a lot of people praying together with some kind of “class action intercession” to convince God to answer our prayers. He is not reluctant to give good things to His dear children! How long our prayers are, how eloquent, how many times we repeat our prayer, how emotional we are when we pray is not the criterion for receiving an answer.
He is neither deaf nor powerless nor does He need to be begged or pleaded with in order to be good to us. "God's ear is not heavy that He cannot hear, nor His hand shortened that it cannot save...." To have someone agree in prayer with us is good. (James 5:16) God hears a solitary prayer by ourselves. Even if no one else knows about our need or no one is praying for us, Jesus Himself " ever lives to make intercession for us" because He loves us.
Here's more good news—we can be certain that God ALWAYS answers prayer! (1 John 5:14,15) But not necessarily in the same way every time. How about when God says a loving, but simple NO? It may be because He knows that what we are asking wouldn't ultimately be good for us. To receive a NO to our prayers is disappointing, but we may not know all of the consequences or realize that we may be asking selfishly. Since we don't know the Big Picture, we may actually be asking for the wrong thing. Sometimes God answers NO because He really wants to substitute something much better.
Sometimes His answer is a conditional YES but God asks us to WAIT until His perfect time. The right circumstances may not be in place yet. He may need to get all the ducks in a row. Or He may need to work on our own hearts first.
Sometimes He answers with an immediate, unconditional YES! It is as if God smiles and says, "I thought you would never ask!" and His generous, abundant, positive answer to our prayer arrives "heaped up, pressed down, shaken together, and running over." All the above are answers to prayer. Jesus invites us to ASK but then to leave the answer up to Him.
I count it an honor to hold by prayer one corner of the stretcher on which the four friends brought their needy friend to Jesus—even if they had to break through the roof to do so.
What a privilege to pray for your needs, personal concerns, struggles, fears and afflictions as I come to know about them in various ways! What an opportunity to cooperate with God to help bring about “His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven” in the lives of my dear friends and family!
The Rest of The Way
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