Friday, April 20, 2012

A Key to Faith in Your Prayers

Are there challenges beyond your own strength and abilities looming in the not so far future? Overwhelmed!?!?!
Maybe you’ve felt that before. Have you taken inventory of the types of prayers you offer during those pressure packed segments of life’s journey?
Sometimes, to my shame, I have thought, “Maybe if I prayed a little more earnestly or just one more time or stepped out and did a good deed, it might change something. Then, just maybe, God would honor this prayer.”
When I think about some of my paranoid ramblings during life’s seasons of desperation for God’s intervention, a Scripture comes to mind. Jesus gave these instructions just before He presented His disciples with the model to pray, what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer”.
Matthew 6: 6-  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.  7  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  8  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Even though I don’t stutter when I pray (the original meaning for babbling), my prayers are repetitive (probably fall into the ‘many words’ category), and God hears the same thing again, and again, and…. That’s not all bad -- especially when you take the story from Luke 18 into consideration. There was a persistent widow who kept badgering a judge about receiving justice.  Consider this: if an unjust judge finally gave in to her pleas, how much more will God, our loving Father, work in circumstances to bring about justice for us. What is problematic is when petitions from my heart are offered without closure. What do I mean by that? Here’s a verse to illustrate:
Philippians- 4: 6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Thanksgiving will help spur your faith amidst agonizing, heartfelt cries that each of us feels when waiting on answers and offering our persistent prayers. It’s mentioned, but almost in passing right in the middle of a command, not to be anxious. Offer the prayers ‘with thanksgiving’ (v. 6).
“How do I thank God when I’m going through harsh circumstances in my life that are clearly out of my control?” you may ask. I think you mix the thanks ingredient into prayers by reminding Him and yourself of promises in the Bible that counsel you with the truth that He will never leave you, that He will not sleep on the job, that He will guard and keep you, that He will direct your steps as you live in submission to His plan for your life, and that He works in your circumstances to bring about His glory and your good. Rest in confidence that He said that He wants to bring you hope and a bright future. When you choose to put those kinds of statements in your prayers, the petitions and requests that you bring to Him are surrendering to HIS good purposes in your life. Choosing to trust that HE truly gives a rip about your heartfelt desires and trusting His heart are central to the thanksgiving. So, choose that posture.
It encourages me to remember that “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8)  If we truly believe that,  we can move on with expressing faith in our GOOD God. Thanks mixed with your deepest expressed longings is key to prayers full of faith.

"Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it." A. W. Tozer in Signposts

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