Monday, June 17, 2013

Our Powerful Prayers

Would you be excited if I told you that there were prayers you could pray and be 100% guaranteed that God would say yes?  

Would you be less excited if I told you the lottery is 100% not on the list?

Last week we talked about Solomon, Jehoshaphat, and Nehemiah all of whom prayed with power for God's aid.  Solomon prayed that God would uphold the line of David (as he promised).  Jehoshaphat prayed that God would hear his prayer from in front of his sanctuary (as he promised) and rescue them.  Nehemiah prayed that God would rescue, regather and restore the people to their land (as he promised).  All of these prayers were heard and answered.  Why?  Because they were prayed inside the will of God.

When you think of "the will of God" do you feel confused?  People do sometimes.  They imagine that if they are spiritual enough they can discern whether God wants them to have the red Camaro or the yellow one.  While I do believe that God has a specific plan in our lives sometimes, that's really not what I'm talking about here.  I'm talking about the obvious revealed will of God.  We can know a lot about what God wants; his promises and desires are spelled out in the Bible.

You know what else is in the Bible?  The guarantee that if we pray according to the will of God he will grant our request.  1 John 5:14-15 puts it this way: "This is the confidence which we have before 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 which we have asked from Him."  

So how do we do that?  We begin like our Savior by declaring that we want His will and not our own (Matthew 26:39).

Second we pray to him what we know he has already promised.  Just like Solomon, Jehoshaphat and Nehemiah, we remind God of his promises and his faithfulness and John assures us, we can be totally confident that he is faithful and will fulfill them!

When I explained all this to my daughter.  She started working on a list of God's promises that we could pray.  Here's the short version. 

  • Victory: 1 John 5:3-5, 1 Corinthians 15:57
  • Forgiveness: 1 John 1:9 
  • Peace: John 14:27, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Philippians 4:6-7
  • Temptation: 1 Corinthians 10:13. The next time you are tempted, call on God in his faithfulness to help you bear the temptation because you KNOW he said we would NOT be tempted beyond what we could deal with.
  • The Lost: Jesus came to save the lost and dying world (Luke 19:10, John 3:17).  God wants every lost person to repent.  He is unwilling for any to perish.  Any. (Sadly people sometimes thwart the fulfillment of God's will.)  When I pray for the lost I am 100% confident that their father and shepherd wants them to repent much more than me!  
I loved her list.  I loved the excitement in her Evening Prayerseyes as whole new vistas of prayer opened up in front of her. Remembering Melissa's post about encouraging the spiritual disciplines in our kids, I didn't stop there. I wanted to be practical and age appropriate in my teaching so I led her through the example below. 

Promise: God will give the Holy Spirit to his children if they ask.

Scripture: "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:11-13, also see Ephesians 3:14-21, and 1 John 5:14-15)


Dear Father,
Just like a father on earth you don't play tricks on us.  You wouldn't give us things that harm us when we ask for good things. We want to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we might be strengthened in our inner man. We know you are faithful.  You keep your promises.  So we trust you to fill us today, and tomorrow and from now on if we ask you in confidence!

So are you ready to start praying?  The Bible is full of promises.  They may not be the promises we want; I've still not got a transporter from Star Trek despite the fact that every year while on the airplane to America I pray for one. Nevertheless there are precious promises.  We are forgiven by our confession in prayer; filled by the Spirit by our prayerful request; and when we pray for the lost we are confident we are asking only what God himself wants more than anything! 
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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