“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” – Mark 11:24-26.
Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.” – Mark 12:38-40.
He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. – Mark 14:35-36, 39.
Everybody is extremely aware of the Lord’s prayer as found in the Gospel of Matthew, but I want to depart just a little bit from that and hit on a few points to consider when praying to the Father, in Jesus’ name.
First and foremost, we don’t just follow the instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples on prayer, but we also follow His example. Now I certainly don’t mean by repeating what He prayed, word for word, but rather by using His prayers as a template, a pattern in how we SHOULD be communing with the Father. Remember this and so many people forget, prayer IS communion with the Father. It is making our requests known, but also listening for “that still small voice” that is ready also to answer us and commune with us.
Too many in our day and age have gotten so messed up with traditions of man, that they have truly forgotten the very purpose of prayer! You develop relationships with your friends and family by communicating with them. It’s no different with our Heavenly Father. The WHOLE purpose in salvation and redemption is to have an intimate relationship with God Almighty AS our Heavenly Father! That is the purpose and reason He created us to begin with; to have a people He could love who would in turn love Him as Father.
This whole scenario of finding a quiet spot or closet and folding your hands and kneeling, etc., etc., is nothing more than a FORM of religion that we have adopted. It is meant to soothe your conscience into believing your are doing something truly spiritual. The sad truth is, we have seen by the given Scriptures above that the Pharisees where VERY religious, but hypocritical and not in the least spiritual!
Now before I get tons of comments or emails stating I’m wrong concerning quiet time, etc., there IS a time and place for that. But with your family and friends, conversations that build relationships are also very spontaneous. Now in the case of our Heavenly Father, we KNOW that the Spirit of Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit resides within us and co-habits with our spirits. That is what being reborn spiritually is all about. Our spirits have been reawakened and made alive to Christ when we accepted Him as Lord of Lords!
What this means is since the Lord leads from within us with His Spirit, and He and the Father are One, the Father is closer than a thought to us. We can commune with Him in the middle of our work day, or driving to or from work, shopping at the store, etc. It is only a matter of practice by doing what the Apostle Paul wrote under inspiration of the Holy Spirit and it is something thought familiar to really consider wholly:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:6-9.
The Lord is already aware of our heart and our thoughts. When we CHOOSE to meditate and think on Him, He is right there as close as close can be, but it is our relationship with Him that benefits and becomes more intimate.
Today, after fifty plus years of being surrendered to the Lord, despite the ups and downs and learning to relate to Him, I cannot even begin to imagine my life without Him in my thoughts, whether during times of joy, times of sorrow or even times of anxiety wondering about what MIGHT happen. I have become so accustomed to communing with Him at a moments notice I would truly mourn and grieve if I lost that ability. By no means am I the only one either. I’m not “tooting my own horn” as it were. Anyone who has surrendered to the Lord for any amount of their lives know the lifestyle change I’m talking about. For those that haven’t experienced it, it goes back to that old cliché “practice makes perfect.” It takes a conscious effort of choice to focus your thoughts at a moment’s notice on the Lord but oh so worth the effort!
There are times and definitely circumstances for public prayer and I have always loved leading others in prayer, but it is not for the opportunity of standing in front of others to “placate” your ego. Prayer is a powerful tool AND weapon, when spoken or thought of in faith. When it is sincere and fervent, the Lord Who sees ALL in secret, takes in to account the motive AND the message behind that prayer. Prayer such as this, changes lives, changes circumstances and removes obstacles to the believer. When you pray and seek, I mean truly seek in the depths of your heart, the Lord’s will, there is more power than many truly recognize or consider.
It all goes back to what Jesus has said about His Father and how He cares so deeply for His creation. As a Father, He is going to give His children the best and not withhold anything of value that He deems prudent for their lives. It may not always be what we desire, unless we are truly desiring the Lord’s will, no matter the outcome. That again, takes faith and experience to realize the fulness of trusting wholly in God’s will in any situation.
We also need to understand what prayers the Father has. It is NOT that He doesn’t or can’t hear any prayer, but what I mean by this is for instance, when praying for the lost or someone trapped in a lifestyle of sinful behavior, it does no good to pray for God to bless them. God abhors and detests sin and can no more enable sinful behavior than if He could sin Himself! The only prayer in a circumstance like that is for that person’s soul and their salvation. God will intercede and do all within His power to ALLOW them a clear chance to CHOOSE to accept Him or reject His gift of salvation offered to all mankind.
This is different than in the case of someone who knows the Lord and has been tempted and fallen into that temptation. God has so many things at His disposal that He can use to urge that wayward child back into the fold. Sometimes He uses strict discipline and sometimes He uses blessings. He knows their hearts and knows what will bring them back into the Father’s fold. This is another important reason why we should pray for others in these situations, but not to limit God in our requests, but rather, state the request and then sincerely ask AND mean for Him to accomplish His will and plan for that individual.
Again, even though God knows what is best for an individual we are praying for, the very act of prayer doesn’t just demonstrate our love for others, but it also demonstrates our love, adoration and respect, our awe or “fear of the Lord” as it were concerning our relationship with Him. Sometimes the term “prayer” is more of a hindrance because of all the traditional connotations that go along with the term, when in actuality it is really the relationship and the ability to commune or communicate with the Father on an intimate basis. When God, the Father is truly ALL in our lives and not just a part, we will most assuredly want to spend time communing with Him and remember, that communion can be our thoughts directed towards Him. He reads our hearts and knows our thoughts. The relationship like so many other spiritual attributes is the action on our part He desires!
So in closing, just remember that our Heavenly Father desires the relationship with us that He created us for. He already knows our motives and thoughts so there is no room for being hypocritical or “religious” in our attempts to commune with Him. Sincerity of the heart, as Samuel wrote about David (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22), God is looking for those who are a people after His own heart, a people who understand and truly know that they can turn to God in ANY and EVERY situation that we go through. He is close enough and more than willing enough to hear us AND answer us! That, my brothers and sisters, is the kind of God we serve!