Reading the conversations between God and Abraham, Moses, Jonah, and Gideon really stuck with me. It showed me the varying interactions men have with God. It showed the many reactions the Lord had with people. It spoke to me that there can be fear, desperation, doubt, anger, and bargaining in those conversations. What was even more fascinating about these conversations were the actions that resulted from them.
Prayer is a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship, according to Oxford Language through Google. When you request something, you are asking for something. Abraham was asking God for mercy on Sodom, where his nephew lived. Moses was asking for mercy for Israel, because they had sinned against God, which warranted severe punishment. Jonah was asking God to take his life. Gideon asked God for clarity on whether or not God would allow him victory over the Midianites. My question to you is: what have you been asking of God lately?
When Abraham prayed to God for Sodom, it saved his nephew. When Moses prayed to God for his nation, they were saved. When Jonah prayed to die, because he was angry, God told him what he needed to hear to keep on living. When Gideon prayed to God, he became the leader he needed to be to bring peace to his nation. When you talk to God, how big is your expectation?
Through these simple moments, no longer than five minutes, men have saved nations, families, livelihoods, and relationships. People have been spared because someone bothered to humble themselves, bow, and beg God for help. I still have not seen the edge of the covering of grace my mother prayed over me. I ask you again: what have you been asking of God lately?
If you do not know what to ask of God, look to Jesus for a shining example. Jesus taught us how to pray when He prayed the Lord’s prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Notice the key ingredients in that prayer. “Our Father in heaven.” Remind yourself who God is. Let God know that you recognize His sovereignty. Acknowledge His might, His wisdom, His presence, and His love for you. Whenever I talk to God, I remind myself that it is His will that I should be seeking. Hallowed (Holy) is His name, His kingdom come, and His will be done where I am. When you start any prayer, talk about the roles you are both playing and respect them in the conversation and in your requests. You are asking Him for help. He is not asking you.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” If you are praying from your position (servant), you are asking. You have no right to demand. What is your “daily bread”? Is it food? Is it work? Is it love, family, protection, safety, finances, shelter, or peace? The things you need daily are vast and vary. We all need a daily dose of confidence. Pray for it.
Ask God for daily doses of everything. “God, I need a little bit of joy today.” “Lord, I need some strength right now.” “Father, I need some sleep!” “Jesus, I need some of You in this moment.” Don’t limit yourself in your prayers. He is God and creator of all living things. He can give you whatever He wants. Just remember, what He wants is what you should be praying for, and there are many things God wants for you. Educate yourself to understand the depth of His wishes for you.
“Forgive us our debts.” Repentance is a practice best repeated. We make mistakes. Acknowledge that you know you’ve made a mistake, and acknowledge you need forgiveness. If you feel you’ve done no wrong, you are pulling from the wrong feelings, and it’s hard to listen to someone who can’t even be truthful with themselves. It’s not about feeling as if you’ve done wrong. You can do wrong and feel right about it all day. Does God consider what you’ve done wrong? Are you willing to invite Him to respond to that question? “God, have I done wrong, and who have I wronged?” You may not like the answer, but you need that answer.
“As we also have forgiven our debtors.” Tell God how you will respond to His mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Don’t just ask for the sake of asking. Don’t ask just to say you asked Him at one point. What will you do in response? God gives you that husband, how will you respond as a wife? God gives you that child, how will you respond as a father? You want the job? How will you serve? You want the dream? How will you be a blessing? Prayer isn’t just a conversation, it is a commitment to living out the results of that conversation.
“Rescue us from the evil one.” I cannot stress that you need to pray against the enemy. If you do not know your enemy, read a Bible, and understand who God is, and all who oppose His will. I dare you to pray, “Show me my enemies, Lord.” You may find the enemy to be a spouse. Your enemy could be a boss, it could be a mentor, it could be a child, a friend, someone you’ve grown fond of, or your enemy could be yourself. Ask God to reveal it. You may not like the answer, but you need that answer.
Prayer isn’t just about talking or getting answers or things. Prayer is also about listening. There’s only so many words you can use to express your desires, and an even less understanding of what you should pray about. Life gets complicated. Oftentimes, you will find yourself in a position where you don’t know how to pray.
Should you ask God for a divorce, knowing He hates it, but also knowing He hates that you are being abused? Should you pray for healing, when the sick are tired of living? Should you pray for justice according to your standards, your family’s standards, the government’s standards, or God’s standard? Life, for us, isn’t so clear cut. In those times listen, and let the Lord pray on your behalf.
Just as the Lord prays on your behalf, you too should pray on others’ behalves. Where they don’t have the words or the perspective, perhaps you do. James 5:16 states, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” If your prayer for another can potentially save them from pain, suffering, misery, misdirection, or damnation, who are you to keep your mouth shut? Let us not forget that the Bible tells us constantly to pray consistently.
“I’ll be praying for you,” cannot become just a saying. If you’ve ever said you’d pray for someone and didn’t, repent. I, too, am guilty of this, and I apologize to the Lord even now. You might be the only person petitioning God for another person. Not everyone was praying for Lot in Sodom. I bet some people were even praying for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah! Yet, Abraham, solely, petitioned God for Lot’s sake.
The same is with you. Out of all the people they could ask for prayer from, they chose you. That is an honor that should not be dismissed. God might have moved them just enough to reach out to you. Don’t waste that opportunity. You may think it’s pointless, but it isn’t. I encourage you to record what you’re praying for.
Prayer has become so important in my life because I am seeing my prayers answered. I made two checklists. One list is the prayers I pray for myself, and the other list is the exponentially longer list of things I’m praying for others. I’ve checked several items off the list that were from last year.
From a friend getting a new job to another friend finding the strength to continue living without a loved one, my prayers have been answered for them. From getting a place of my own to getting a job I wanted, my prayers have been answered. This has established a track record that shows me it’s not pointless. Some of the things I’ve prayed for aligned with God’s will and success happened. Atmosphere shifted, hearts changed, minds changed, and answers came. You ever want to know if God is listening, make a list of your prayers.
When praying your prayers, remember two things: patience and persistence. Some prayers I’ve been praying for over a decade. Many other prayers have been answered in my waiting, but those remain unchecked from the list. Does that mean I give up on them? Certainly not. My prayers are in the will of God reflected in His words through the prophets. They will be answered.
It gets very easy to become discouraged when prayers take months and years to answer. You will be tempted to stop praying, and no one will blame you, but if I may encourage you, don’t give up. You never know when that answer will come. The very first time you prayed it, an answer was on the way. You do not serve an incapable God. You have to wait for that answer. Keep tweaking your prayers so that they align with God’s will fully and are answered. Keep praying.
Oftentimes, I am told that my prayers are great prayers. It is not something that came to me with ease. I had to study the interactions of God and His people, which were luckily recorded in the Bible. When I learned about the various ways I could approach God, my approach to Him became more relaxed and transparent. As I relaxed, God began to hint at other things I could be praying for. As my list of concerns grew, so did my prayers for them. He taught me how to care about everything going on for everyone, and how to leave no room for the enemy to enter.
God is more important and more powerful than the president, king, queen, or rulers of your nation. However, God is also more relatable than your leaders. He understands everyone doesn’t know how to speak, what to speak, why to speak, or when to speak. He works with you, and guides you on how to talk to Him.
Do not let your prayers go unspoken and unanswered. It is said that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. The same principle applies to your conversations with God. Why not ask? Why not find out if He’ll do it for you? You have sick friends. Should you wait? You have hurting friends. Can you afford to be silent? You have those struggling with weights heavier than their confessions will ever say. Are you really going to stay quiet and risk them falling under? Just as you shouldn’t just watch a person drown or bleed to death, neither should you see someone suffering with emotional, mental, and spiritual bondage and not pray.
If there is any reason I can get you to pray, let it be for those around you. They need your prayers and you need to see your prayers answered. Some of these prayers are a matter of life and death. People have come back from death and addiction because of prayer. People have stopped suicide attempts because of prayer. People need to see and know you care. Don’t just pray for them in secret, but pray with them.
Of all the people who count on your prayers, you know who wants them the most? God. He wants to hear your voice. He wants to see that you’ll trust Him. He wants to give you the desires of your heart. He wants that relationship. It’s beyond time you gave Him that opportunity. It’s beyond time you covered your people and yourself in prayer.
In all sincerity,
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