Article: Prayer: Experiencing Intimacy with God that brings results! Jacob Varghese
Are you waiting for blessings from God for a long time? Pray, prayer with patience leads us to victory. God hears prayer. He also answers prayer. Isaiah 65:24 says “Before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.” Yes, before we call, God will answer. The greatest blessing one can have is to get an answer from God. But it is not easy to get an answer from God. May be sometimes answer to our prayer come years after we pray. When the answer come nobody can stop the plan of God for us. The only thing we need to do is obeying His voice when He answers. Then the power of Christ will flow into our life. God’s word is life giving. God’s word comforts us like nobody else does. So many times, in life when we feel rejected, when we feel helpless and hopeless. God’s word is the only thing that can lift us up above our fears, above our circumstances, our problems, our anxieties. God’s word gives us strength, gives us life and it fills our hearts with hope. One of the greatest benefits of our salvation has to be that of hearing God speak to us personally. There can be no intimate relationship with our heavenly Father without it. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” It’s in stillness, not busyness, that we tune our spiritual ears to hear the voice of God. The Lord always speaks to us in that “STILL, small voice” but often it’s drowned out amid all the turmoil of our daily lives. I am convinced that our gracious heavenly Father speaks to every one of His children constantly, giving us all the information and guidance. There is not a problem with His transmitter; it is our receiver that needs help. If you are not getting the results you know the Lord wants you to have, maybe it is time to consider a better way to pray.
We all know Prayer is important. We all know that prayer is a tool that God has given to each believer. What is prayer? Why do we pray? Prayer is a means of interacting with God, most frequently through a spontaneous, individual, unorganized form of petitioning and/or thanking God. Prayer is a devout petition to God – a spiritual communion with God in adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. We turn to prayer because it is the most personal way to experience God, to encounter Him and to grow in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 6:18 says “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 Lord’s people.” According to the book of Ephesians, God’s desire is for us to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”. Nearly everyone reaches a moment, when the only thing he or she can think or left with is to pray. Tragedy, uncertainty, unrest, fear, insecurity, sickness and trouble can bring even the most self-assured individuals to their knees. But why is it that the urge to pray only seems to come when the going gets tough? When life is going well and everything seems to be right on track, we think ourselves to be fully capable of handling it all. Many people only recognize their need for God when things begin to fall apart. People are most motivated to pray when they need something from God. But what does the Bible say is the reason God wants us to pray? Jesus provides clear instructions when it comes to prayer. In what is perhaps His most well-known public address, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares with His followers what has become known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” His example models prayers of praise, submission to the will of God, reliance upon Him for daily sustenance and requests for forgiveness and deliverance. Jesus’ prayer focuses more on honoring God than listing needs to be met. Interestingly, shortly after this instruction on how to pray, Jesus reminds his followers in Matthew 6:8 that “the Father knows what you need before you ask Him”. This raises a fairly obvious question: if God already knows what we need, why bother asking? But Prayer is not a transfer of information; rather it is an act of humility. According to Scripture, God is all knowing and completely wise which means He understands everything about a situation and sees the best path through it (Psalm 147:5). While our days are filled with expectations and demands, God is waiting for the moment when we say, “I don’t know, but I know who does.” Ultimately, Jesus demonstrates through His own life that prayer provides an avenue to the Father. Throughout the New Testament, we are told that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). He was actively carving out time alone to meet with the Father in prayer. The act of prayer leads to the peace, patience and perseverance we all so desperately need. Proverbs 15:8 says “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” We know that prayer is powerful but at the same time we also need to learn how we can pray in order to get results we just don’t want to merely pray a custom or a tradition. We should not be satisfied with praying traditional prayers just without really feeling or without earnestly seeking the Lord. But we must learn to pray so that our prayer moves God’s heart. Matthew 21:22 says “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” So, if you believe, all what we need to do is just start praying. When you pray you call upon the almighty God who is all powerful, all knowing, who can do anything and everything for you in any circumstances. Prayer is powerful because we contact heaven’s throne directly when ever we pray. The one who is praying or submitting the petition may be weak but the one on whom we are calling up on is a powerful God. We don’t need to be qualified to pray, we don’t need any qualification, we don’t need any worth in order to pray. All we need to do is just believe and start praying because God accepts you and God answers your prayer. God is looking for people will look to Him or call upon Him or turn to Him in their difficulties and their problems.
The reason Christians pray today is for the same reasons why people prayed in the Bible: to speak to God and ask for healing, forgiveness, and direction. Praying is how Christians grow in a deeper relationship with Christ and know the direction in which He wants our life to go. Jeremiah 33:3 says “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” We can see so many examples of prayer in the scripture. Abraham’s Prayer for Sodom & Gomorrah in Genesis 18:16-33, Jacob’s Prayer for Deliverance in Genesis 32: 9-12 and 24-32. Moses’ Prayer for Mercy in Exodus 32:9-14, Hannah’s Prayer for a Son in 1 Samuel 1: 9-28, Jonah’s Prayer for Salvation found in Jonah 2 and so on. In all these prayers we see them praying with faith. What does it mean to pray with faith? Faith prays with assurance, and faith prays with submission. These two kinds of prayers are given to us for different situations. It is important that we know how to use them and that we learn to distinguish between them. Matthew 21:22 says “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” James 5:15 &16 say “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Faith prays with assurance when God has made the outcome known. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. (James 5:17) James gives us an example of this from the story of Elijah. You can read the story in 1 Kings 17-18. He must have been sure that what he prayed would happen, because 1 Kings tells us Elijah went into the court of the tyrant, King Ahab, and said, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). You have to be pretty sure of the answer to your prayer to speak like that to the king. Elijah knew that what he prayed would happen. The story of Elijah is an illustration: Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. (James 5:14-15) I want you to notice few things here. The initiative here is with the sick person, not the elders. The sick person is not required to call for the elders. He or she is permitted to do so. God may use this occasion to give to one of the elders, or to the person who is sick, an assurance of the outcome, so that they are able to pray in the same way as Elijah did. It seems to me that a person should consider calling for the elders if and when they sense that it may be the purpose of God to intervene in their life with a gift of healing.
Faith prays with submission when God has kept the outcome hidden. This is how faith prays in all the situations where you simply do not know what the outcome will be. You apply for a job, but there is no special promise of Scripture that you will get it, and you may have no special prompting of the Spirit about it. The outcome has not been made known. So here faith prays with submission. The extraordinary thing is that this kind of prayer is equally effective. It is not that these two kinds of prayer are greater and lesser. It is certainly not that one involves faith and the other does not. These two kinds of prayer are given to us for different situations. We can find many examples of this second kind of praying. See the prayer of the man with leprosy. In Mark 1:40 we see a man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” From the man’s prayer it is clear that he knows Christ can heal him: “You can make me clean.” There is no doubt there. What he does not know is if it is Christ’s purpose to make him clean: “If you are willing…” He does not know what the outcome will be. To ask with assurance would be presumption. So, he asks with submission, and in this way he honors Christ. Pray with Submission in What God Has Kept Hidden. We need to cultivate humility in our praying. You may ask, and you may plead, but always remember you are asking, not commanding: James 4:13-15 say “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” Pray with Assurance for What God Has Revealed. We need to cultivate boldness in our praying. God may make his purpose known either through a promise of Scripture or through a prompting of the Spirit. When God has spoken a clear promise that is for all people, you do not need to say, “If it be your will.” You can pray with great assurance. The Scripture is full of such promises. The Bible is like a field of buried treasure, and prayer digs up the promises of God. When you come to ask for the strength, power, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, you do not need to say, “Father, give me your Holy Spirit, if it be your will.” He has already told you what his will is. The promises of God open the door to a faith that prays with great assurance and boldness: “Let us…come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
In conclusion let me tell you, we need our prayers to be with tears. Sometimes when we pray, it’s hard not to wonder what other people are thinking about our prayer. Did I say the right words? Did they notice that I had trouble finding that perfect phrase? Did they think it was too long? Or did I just embarrass myself? All in all, praying in public is a lot of pressure. There are just so many ways you can goof up a prayer—and then what would people think? That is why Matthew 6:5-8 say “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”