New Year’s Resolution #2: Be more prayerful about life..
Read Phil 4:4-7, James 4:1-4, Hebrew 4:14-16.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer …let your requests be made know to God.”
Of all the religious activities we do, prayer is often the most frequent but the least understood. We approach prayer like Aladdin viewed the Genie. For Aladdin, the Genie was there to grant his wishes and solve all his problems. In the same way, we view prayer as the means of enticing God to do what we desire.
Of all the demonstrations of God’s grace in our salvation and daily life, perhaps there is none greater than the invitation to pray. Not just that God allows us the privilege to pray, but he commands us to pray and to come with boldness into his presence. For the Old Testament saints, the idea of seeking a personal audience with God was unthinkable. God could only be approached through the priests and then with much caution and preparation. All this changed when Christ became the final substitutionary sacrifice. Through his death, we now gained complete and continual access to God. The word that the writer uses in Hebrews 4:16 refers to the attitude of being willing to do that which involves rise or danger like a fireman who boldly rushes into a burning house to save a family. So, we are invited to be bold in our approach with God because Christ has removed the risk of judgment.
Not only are we to pray with boldness, but we are also to pray about everything. God invites us to share with him every issue in life, especially those issues causing us anxiety and concern. Not only can we pray with confidence, but we can pray with thanksgiving because we are assured of his response. The result is that we can have peace, knowing that he will act on our behalf and provide the answer we are desperately seeking.
But this brings us to the heart of prayer. The reason we do not see answers to prayer is not only because we do not pray, but also because we ask with the wrong motives and attitude. When we pray, we often do so with the desire for God to conform his actions to our will. We pray to obtain God’s approval and blessings for the plans we make. But this fails to understand the purpose of prayer. We are to pray, not to bend God’s will to our desires, but to adjust our desires and will to his. Christ, in teaching us to pray, begins with the request that “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). When we face issues in life, instead of asking God to do what we desire, our request should be that his will would be accomplished in and through us in the midst of the circumstances we face. Effective prayer begins with a prayer of submission rather than a request for our desires and wishes to be met. This is the type of prayer that Paul is referring to when he states that we are to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
This year make it your goal to be more prayerful in all your activities, not just asking God to do what you desire, but asking God to fulfill his desire in you. As you encounter difficulties and challenges, instead of just asking God to eliminate the trials you face (which is certainly an appropriate request), also ask that God will enable you to accomplish his will in the midst of these circumstances. Then your prayer will be powerful, for that is the prayer God delights to answer. Then you can rest in peace, knowing that his will is always perfect and good.