By Ian Pretorius, district pastor and Prayernet co-ordinator, coffee connoisseur, family man, outdoor enthusiast, technology geek …
You know the feeling when you’re praying and you think to yourself, ‘O man, I really hope the Lord hears my prayer!’ It’s as if our hearts and minds are so focused on the situation that it becomes more like desperately begging the Lord than praying faith-filled prayers.
Questions in the back of our minds keep nagging us, ‘Is there a right or wrong way to pray? Other than making sure that we pray in accordance to God’s will, is there a formula here?’
Let me share some of the things that helped me as I wrestled with these questions. My first thought when I read the quote Believe in what you pray for, was that it’s obvious. But the Lord has been bringing me back to this phrase again and again. I found myself praying, ‘Lord, I trust You …’ and then, not long after that, I would confess doubt over the situation in a conversation. Each time the Holy Spirit would prompt me: ‘Did you believe what you prayed?’
To believe what you pray for is to have faith. But what is faith?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the key words in this verse as follows:
- Substance – the quality of being meaningful, useful or important.
- Hope – to cherish a desire with anticipation.
- Evidence – something which shows that something else exists or is true.
Faith gives meaning to what we desire with anticipation; the truth of things we don’t see yet.
Romans 10:17 (NKJV) says, ‘So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ In Isaiah 55:11 we are guaranteed that the Word of God does not return to Him empty. As we speak His Word over a specific situation, it builds our faith about the outcome. You might not believe it when you start confessing, but as you continue in it, faith will grow.
Another question: On what do we base our faith? The answer actually lies not in what but who. Genesis 15:6 (NIV) says, ‘Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.’ Abraham’s faith was not in the promise, but in the One who made the promise. Our faith in what we pray for is based on the character of the One we pray to. The One who is called the Word (John 1:1) and who makes the Word true is the foundation of our faith.
What we believe about the Lord will influence our faith, and how we pray indicates what we truly believe about the One we pray to.
How then should we pray?
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Matthew 6:7-8 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
- In every situation – while you’re in the situation, feel it. Be honest about your emotions.
- By prayer and petition:
* Prayer is described as conversation. This means you speak, but you also listen – give the Lord a chance to speak.
* Petition is an earnest request. Don’t pray it if you don’t mean it.
- With thanksgiving – we usually only give thanks once we receive something, but in prayer we do so in faith. Lord, thank you that I can know that You’ve heard me!
- Present your requests to God:
* Even though the Lord knows what we need, He still wants us to bring our requests before Him.
* I’ve often found that only once I pray about something do I really understand the influence it has on me.
- And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and mind – you might not understand yet, or feel and see any change, but somehow you have peace. It’s a promise!
- In Christ Jesus – ask everything in His Name.
We must believe in what we pray for, even if the answer is different to what we wanted.
In the movie God’s Not Dead a preacher tells a young man who is challenged to defend God’s existence, ‘It’s not easy, but it’s simple.’ In the same way it’s not always easy to believe in what we pray for, but how that faith works is simple.
Share this Post