Prayer Teaching Series: In My Name
Why do we need to pray if God knows what we are going to say already? How can one prayer make any difference? Does prayer really change what happens? God loves me and understands me, so how will praying make our relationship any better?
Prayer is vital and God invites us to talk to him through prayer. Through this Series, In My Name, I will be sharing my thoughts and biblical teaching on these questions and more.
We all know what it feels like to miss a loved one. The ache for their presence, recollecting the sound of their voice and the yearning for a familiar embrace or comfort from them.
Recently, I've become aware of a deeper yearning to meet with God. I enter into His throne room and find I'm wishing I'd got there sooner, feeling that I've missed the sweetness of being in His presence.To commune with the Almighty Creator King is something that we are invited to do, as often as we choose, at any time of day or night. Of course, He is present with us all of the time. I refer to the intimate times when we acknowledge His Majesty and allow ourselves to be struck by His awe.
So what is being offered to us by our Heavenly Father?
When we pray we speak directly to him. We are invited to approach Him, Hebrews 4:16, and know that we will not be condemned because our sins have already been paid for, if we have asked for forgiveness.
Our Lord Jesus is sat at God's right hand, interceding on our behalf, Romans 8:4, and Hebrews 7:25. It is into this throne room that we can come and enjoy the presence of God our Father, without fear and without condemnation.
He is waiting to hear us and waiting to include us in His work. What an amazing honour!
While Jesus is seated in heaven as our High Priest, the Holy Spirit is here with us. He is looking for somewhere to dwell. To invite the Holy Spirit to live within us means we must present ourselves to Him.
First, we must give Him clean living space. Like sweeping away the dust and dirt before a guest arrives, we must be cleansed and renewed. Like an honoured guest we must give Him our time and listen to Him.
The noise and distractions of the day often block out the quiet voice of God. Sometimes, it is in the still darkness of the middle of the night that God leads us to pray. This has been my experience. Being moved to pray and pour out spirit-led, heartfelt prayers that drain my body but send my spirit soaring, is an amazing blessing. It is then that we can respond to the prompt that He gives.
He is waiting to involve us in His plan. Our prayers can change situations James 5:14-16. It is almost too good to be true. But, why is it easy to believe that bad things can happen when we are neglectful and not believe that when we seek God, He can and will do amazing wonders.
How should we pray? Where do we start?
The Lord gave us a model prayer in Matthew 6. When we start by addressing God and Father and giving Him our adoration the rest flows. The Lords prayer exemplifies us to recognise God's position, His Kingdom and His Will.
From that standpoint we are then in the right mindset to seek forgiveness of sins and ask for our needs, "our daily bread".
To pray is like coming out of the smog to breathe clean air. It is a nourishment that can satisfy like a sumptuous meal. The resonance of the Holy Spirit within us prompting our prayers to God the Father gives us confidence to move closer to the throne and enjoy a deeper communion.
If we are to feel 'at home' in prayer, we need to feel comfortable and familiar with praying, the same way we find the familiarity of our homes a comfort and a security.
To approach the throne of God is awesome and at the same time He tells us to call Him 'Abba'. This is to call him 'Daddy'. It is not disrespectful but, an indication that when forgiven through the death of Jesus, we become brothers and sisters of Jesus Hebrews 2:11 and children of God.
We are in the privileged position to be co-workers with Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:9.
So let us follow His instructions! We should give thanks to God when we pray, 1Thessalonians 5:18.
It is amazing how being thankful can lift ones demeanour. Taking time to ponder the people, situations, provisions we have, is a fruitful exercise. It is natural to then thank the giver of all things, for all we have. But, it says in those verses "in all circumstances".
Always Be Grateful
Does this mean even when we struggle to find anything good to be grateful for? I am certain it does. I have been blessed by giving thanks for the situation that I find myself in at tough times in my life. Even though it may not be of my choosing and causes me to be less than happy, I've thanked God that He knows my circumstances and He is in control.
Allowing Him to teach me, help me learn, grow and develop in these situations has often been the time of greatest blessing.
In James 5:16 we are encouraged to pray for one another. This one is particularly important to me, if indeed one can prioritise. How good it is when not only can we agree to support one another by praying but, as a person comes to mind at any time of the day or night to lift them up to God and seek His provision for them.
1 Timothy 2:1 tells us to pray for all people and in Matthew 5:44 even our enemies. Yes, even praying for our enemies! Once again this can be a blessing to us, and may help to let go of negative thoughts or ideas about revenge. Give it to God and let Him deal with the enemy. See Romans 12:19.
We are required to use discipline in our approach to prayer. It is not only good to set aside a regular time each day to spend in prayer but, to put prayer as the priority. Beginning each day with prayer gives the right priority. It is the most important activity that I do each day and therefore seems sensible to start with it.
Why leave praying until the day is already done?
Spend time enjoying the mercies that are "new every morning". Thanking Him for everything we have and seeking His leading for what lays ahead in the day, to give over to Him all that is troubling us and allow Him to lead us. From this starting point everything that we encounter has already been submitted to God.
Being at home with prayer, for me means to live it, dwell in that relationship, not just be a visitor. Through prayer we can be equipped to face all that we have to.
The Armour Of God
In Ephesians 6: 10-18, we are instructed to put on the armour of God. That armour clothes us completely. Each part of the armour fulfils a vital role but, I particularly like the shoes to be worn in "readiness".
For me this is shows that we should be ready and correctly shod for the terrain into which we will be going.
How wonderful that God equips when He sends. Where is He asking us to walk?
At the end of these verses it tells us to pray "at all times", Romans 6:18, "in the Spirit with supplication", and to keep alert. We are to appeal and petition our Father as the Spirit prompts us.
This encourages me. We are being told to keep on praying, persist, be alert and listen to the Holy Spirit.
The other parts of the armour are equally important. Imagine the belt of Truth around your waist all day long. The devil is called the father of lies. We are blessed to know the truth, John 8:32.
Let's walk through each day letting truthfulness be our guide.
In war, it is often said that truth is the first casualty. We wear the armour of God as we go in to battle. It is a great exercise to mentally put on each piece of armour, acknowledging the purpose of each part and reminding ourselves that is there to protect.
In the same way, we need daily sustenance, our spirit needs to be fed. This could sound a bit cliched but, when we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell and make His home in us, He satisfies us completely.
In Romans 8:11, we are told that it is the Holy Spirit within us that gives life. We know that the life we have will extend beyond our mortal existence that we have now.
It is the Holy Spirit which guides our praying, Romans 8:26. When we pray, we are to pray in the name of Jesus. Jesus taught in John 14:13, 14 to ask "in My name".
Again in John 16:24, He tells us to ask in His name. There is power in the name of Jesus and as we read in James 2:19 even the demons shudder at His name.
We have been given that precious name of Jesus to use in prayer according to His will. Let's make use of it!
I give thanks that God teaches us how to pray, how to join with Him and fulfil His purposes by being a praying people.
It's Time To Pray
Listen to His call and His direction. Make time to listen and listen with an open heart and a willing mind. He gently leads and guides, equipping us and preparing us for works of service.
He calls us His children and invites us, to call him Father. What a wonderful place to be at home in!