When You Pray

What is prayer? Most people would agree it’s how we communicate with God. And not just that, it’s our direct, all-access connection with the One who formed us in the womb.

God commands us to pray, but we don’t dictate the outcome of our fleshly desires. We expect microwave-minute results, when His perfect timing often falls outside our preferred window. Prayer breaks all earthly barriers to reach heavenly heights; it makes no human sense, but it delivers continuous spiritual understanding. My solutions will always be deficient to God’s wisdom. All we have to do is ask for it (James 1:5), but…God isn’t a genie granting every wish. While He doesn’t withhold any good thing from His children, He does protect us by withholding things that would harm us.

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them about prayer; not because it’s complicated but because they were unsure of its true purpose. In Matthew 6:5-7, notice Jesus says “When you pray”, not “If”:

“When you pray…don’t be like the hypocrites…”  The religious leaders made a spectacle of themselves, thinking they were spiritual giants, when they were really pitiful minions. Prayer should lead us straight to the divine heart of God and away from the deceitful heart of man. Anytime our efforts focus on personal gain instead of God’s glory we waste our time and privilege.

“When you pray…go into your room…”  Those in Christian circles know this as “quiet time.” What does it mean to spend time alone with God? There isn’t anyone on the planet who doesn’t need rest. One-on-one time with Jesus is a place of total surrender. It’s a private time for us to come undone in His holy presence, finding strength, wisdom and peace to serve Him in public.

“When you pray…don’t keep on babbling…”  Many words in prayer don’t equal priority in God’s response. Nothing we say will convince the Lord of anything. He knows what we need before we ask. Our asking is to learn dependence and humility much more than receiving answers. Repetition without sincerity only brings frustration; but sincerity with expectation brings delight.

Everyone can pray. Nothing keeps God from hearing our prayers. Sin hinders His blessings but never hinders His faithfulness. A prideful, unforgiving heart creates a barrier to answered prayer. There’s no way to spell PRIDE without “I” in the middle. Prayer and pride can never hold hands. One magnifies God while the other magnifies self. But, prayer and faith form an eternal embrace that brings pleasure to the Father.

If you struggle with prayer, consider how Jesus constantly intercedes for you. Reflect on your experiences of God’s hand in your life. Now…begin to see prayer as a personal meeting with Jesus, because that’s what you’re doing. And make that meeting the priority of your day, because that’s what it is. When you pray…may your focus be solely on the Savior and you’ll discover that all the solutions will fall into place.

(Kelly Russell)
Scripture references from NIV unless otherwise noted.

Based on Two Keys of Successful Prayer on May 20th, 2017 - Watch Sermon


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