Prayer is one of the most valuable tools in the Christian’s war chest. Through prayer we can praise God, seek His help and know that He hears us, and ask blessings and help for others. The Bible is filled with verses about prayer, it’s uses, and instruction on how prayer can be most effective.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” No matter how small or trivial someone may feel a request is, it is always better to seek the will of our Father rather than to follow our own will. It is so much better for us when we humble ourselves and wait for His response to our prayers, rather than to get impatient and go out own our own. When we wait upon the Lord, we can be at peace knowing that we have placed such decisions in His hands, and He will always do what is best for us. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
When we call out to God, we can be assured that He hears us and will answer. In Jeremiah 29:12-13 we read, “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” And Psalm 145:18-19 tell us, “The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them.” Even before God sent His Son to pay our sin debt, He heard the prayers of those who loved Him, and He listened and saved them. His promise is just as certain today as it was in Old Testament days.
In 1 Peter 3:12 we are reminded, “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” If you have any doubt that God hears your prayers, search yourself for anything that may come between you and God. Forgiveness is abundant, and when you know that nothing stands between you and your Father, you can be assured He will hear and answer. In Mark 11:25 we are told, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive your trespasses.” And in James 5:16, we read, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Sometimes, the only thing standing between us and an answered prayer is ourselves, either through disobedience to or doubt in His Word.
1 John 5:14-15 tells us, “And this is the confidence we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” In James chapter one, the subject is wisdom, but the scripture is clear in verses 6 and 7 when we are instructed, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” It is not so much what we are asking for that is important, if it is in God’s will, but the confidence that we place in God and His promises that make the difference. We don’t have to doubt His desire to help us and provide for our every need. His Word assures us that He loves us and wants to give us good things. In Luke 11: 9-13 (NKJV), Jesus says, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 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!” When we stand upon God’s promises in our prayers, He is faithful to honor His Word. We need only believe and ask in faith.
Many times, the problem is not that our prayers are not answered, but that we don’t get the answer in the time we think it should come. But we are told, in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We may become impatient and choose to go forward on our own, but there is a lot of truth in the saying, “God is never late: He is always right on time.” We are reminded in Romans 12:12 to be, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer”. It is not easy for us to wait upon God when we are in the deepest of trials and tribulations, but it is always best for us when we do. Psalm 27:14 reminds us to, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
Prayer is not just for our own needs and desires, however. Prayer is a way to praise God for all that He has blessed us with in the past and all that He is doing in our lives now, as well as praising Him with the knowledge that He will continue to love us and provide all our needs in the future. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-16, we are reminded, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” And Colossians 4:2 tells us, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving”. We read in Psalm 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” And we are told in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Always take time to thank God for what He has done in your life. And praise Him knowing that what you have asked for in faith, He will provide, even though you may still be waiting on the results.
Let us not forget that prayer is also about asking God for things on behalf of others. Rather that be for their health, salvation, or a variety of other needs, God hears the cries of His children, and will honor our requests when we come before Him in confidence. In Luke 6:27-28, Jesus says, “But I say unto you which hear, ‘Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.’” In Matthew 5:43-44, the same message from our Savior is recorded saying, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you’”. Remember, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person is very beneficial (James 5:16, quoted above), so pray for those who treat you poorly rather than treating them the same way. It is likely that most of us were prayed for before we turned to Christ, so there is no reason to doubt that our prayers for others will have the same effect. Our Father is still in the salvation business, as Acts 2:21 tells, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
When times are difficult and you see no way out; when you are feeling blessed beyond measure; when others need to be lifted in prayer; no matter the circumstance, call upon God. He hears; He answers. Praise Him for His love, mercy, and grace, and for the salvation made available through the shed blood of His precious Son Jesus Christ. And remember what we are told in Hebrews 4:14-16, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Grace and blessings on your path,