Posted by: Jeff Warren | October 14, 2011

Revolutionary Prayer

An elderly Jewish man had been praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem for Arabs and Jews to stop their fighting. Someone asked him, “How long have you been praying?” “50 years” “How do you feel, praying for that long and the fighting continues?” “Like I’m talking to a brick wall.”

Have you ever felt like that guy? Let’s all just get real honest- we’ve all struggled with prayer. We’ve all felt guilty for not praying enough, we’ve all doubted the reality of prayer and we’ve all wondered if God really answers prayer. We’ve all walked through seasons of prayerlessness and the truth be known many of us pray very little.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus teaches us that the main reason for unanswered prayer is prayerlessness.

In his classic work, With Christ in the School of Prayer, Andrew Murray writes, “Moses gave neither command nor regulation with regard to prayer: even the prophets say little directly of the duty of prayer. It is Christ who teaches us to pray.”

What is prayer? Prayer is communication and communion with God. Again, only in Christ do you find a relationship, a friendship, communion with God.

Why pray? The purpose of prayer is to develop my relationship and intimacy with Christ and align my life up to His will.
I’ve thought about my relationship with Stacy (think about anyone you love)- my relationship with her has very little to do with asking her to do things for me. It’s really all about expressing my love for her, just being with her, getting to know her, and asking, “How can I love you more?” This is the kind of intimacy our Lord Jesus seeks with us:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

Why don’t we pray? The main reason we do not pray is our own self-sufficiency. We think we do not need our Lord’s help.

Common Misconceptions of Prayer:

1. Prayer doesn’t work.
That’s another way of saying that God doesn’t answer my prayers. What happens is some of us have prayed and we think God hasn’t answered our prayers so we assume that He must not answer anyone’s prayers. We hear testimony of answered prayers and we think, “That didn’t happen. That was just a coincidence.” Well, for those who have discovered the adventure of prayer, we know that it’s sure interesting how many coincidences start happening when we pray.
“I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 17:6 It’s been said, “When we work, WE work, when we pray, GOD works.”

2. Prayer is breaking down the reluctance of God.
Prayer is not getting beyond God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

3. Prayer is not necessary. Again, prayer is the essence of the Christian life because the Christian life is all about a passionate pursuit of intimacy of relationship with Christ. It’s the ONE thing you’ve been called and the ONE thing you must devote your attention to.

4. Prayer is about asking God for what I want.
Johnny had been misbehaving and was sent to his room. After a while he emerged and informed his mother that he had thought it over and then said a prayer. “Fine,” said the pleased mother. “If you ask God to help you not misbehave, He will help you.” “Oh, I didn’t ask Him to help me not misbehave,” said Johnny. “I asked Him to help you to able to put up with me.” We need to move from selfish prayers. We struggle with our needs vs. our wants.

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3

5. Prayer must be eloquent.
The most common prayer in the Bible is the simple prayer. A quick study of the prayers in the Bible reveals raw, heartfelt, and desperate prayers are the most common.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Matthew 6:7
One night Will’s parents overheard this prayer. “Now I lay me down to rest, and hope to pass tomorrow’s test, if I should die before I wake, that’s one less test I have to take.” Raw, heartfelt, honest prayer is the prayer of a child of God. All of these misconceptions are hindrances to prayer but:

6. The most common hindrance to unanswered prayer: Prayerlessness.
“…you do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2
When we pray, according to His will, His character, His “name”, God answers our prayers- 100% of the time.

“I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:23-24

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Responses

  1. “Prayer is not getting beyond God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of His highest willingness.”

    Amen. And again….amen! Our perspective of Jesus’ parable regarding the unjust judge often gives us the mistaken impression that prayer is our way of nagging God until He finally gives up and does what we ask Him to do just so we will leave Him alone. Oh, that we would latch onto the reality that our High Priest is ever living to intercede for us and that the Holy Spirit prays through us! We have the great favor of coming boldly before His throne to present our case before a judge who 1) asked us to come to Him in the first place and 2) is predisposed to rule in our favor. Most often our issue is simply learning to align with Him!


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