I’ve been spending considerable time lately regarding intentional prayer. Yes, I pray regularly, both alone and with others. I would venture to say that I may even pray a little more than average compared to the typical believer. Even so, my prayer life is not what it could be. I don’t believe I am as effective as I could be.
Stop right there.
“As effective as I could be.” Does that trouble you as much as it does me? Something about that implies if I do this or that I could get God to respond better to what I want. The key is not to simply be selfish but rather generous, the way God is generous. After all, he did say this, didn’t he?
Matthew 7:11 if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
The ESV uses an exclamation point for emphasis. I’ll take that at face value and say this is very significant because it is not used very often. So, it’s not whether or not God responds but whether we are asking for “good things” or not. Right?
Here’s what I’m getting at. We see incredible promises made by God that are there simply for the taking, right? Yes, in this we “ask” but really are we not “taking” advantage of an offer that God extends to us? Yes, it is. It seems to me that we would be wise to discover what God means by “good things” and pursue them. My guess is God has much more in mind than simply providing food and clothing.
Let’s look at another verse, this time in John. Incidentally, if you are looking for any of the prayer promises, there are several in Chapter Fifteen. Check it out.
John 15: 7-8 if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Time out. See that? We see a reason God responds to our prayer, actually two reasons. Don’t miss this because it will come in later. Could it be that we are to ask, not out of selfish desire, but for God’s purposes? Could it be that we see two big ones here? 1) to glorify Himself, and 2) prove that we follow Jesus. Do you see that? That seems like a conditional test to me.
Now, one question leads to another when examining this; and as we start digging into scripture for answers, we start to discover a whole bunch of promises that are all interrelated. In fact, as I have found, and am discovering more and more, the will of God is plain within the pages of the bible. It will take some digging. You may spend an entire day combing through your bible, taking notes, and looking things up on the internet. That’s what I did yesterday. I had time to do that because I have made time to observe Sabbath rest. And….I was rewarded handsomely! (I would recommend spending a Sabbath rest digging to see what scripture has to say about Sabbath rest!)
All this is very significant to me because I have one particular desire that is very important. I have been frustrated because I believe it concerns spiritual warfare with someone I love. I feel hopeless as I watch the situation deteriorate. I’m sure you can relate. However, as I dig into all this stuff in scripture, I am greatly encouraged because I am beginning to see a substantial, legitimate basis for my hope. It’s almost as if I am presenting evidence in what God said in other situations to support what I desire. In my mind, it’s developing into a case that leaves God no reason to deny my request.
Have you ever had a child present something that you wanted to, but couldn’t, refuse because they had done their homework? I had that happen with a daughter. She wanted to go on a travel-abroad program in college. Basically, it was an expensive, two-week vacation to a place I only wish I could go to. It would have been very easy to say no. She knew that. So, she did her homework. She found out that if she went on this one trip plus took one online, inexpensive class through a community college (that she would pay for), she could graduate a semester early, thereby saving me more than half the cost of that tuition. I couldn’t say no, and I was happy to do it.
That’s what I am doing now. Like my daughter, I am preparing my case. I want this thing to be thought out from any angle. Through this, I have bumped into scripture that has made me take an alternate route, like my daughter did when she found she had to take a class (and sweetened the pot by paying for it herself!). As it turns out, this alternate route was beneficial because it brought me into areas of scripture that were stunningly beautiful, like “having” to take a side-trip through the Smoky Mountains!
I’ll keep you updated on all this. For the time being, I can tell you I have great hope when I thought there was none. In fact, even though I have not presented my case to God, I can see that he is already working on things. It’s seems that he is encouraging me in the direction I am going. It’s all very exciting!
Father, thank you so much for scripture. In these pages you have written, we find everything we need in life. It’s not “as if” you are speaking to us; it’s that you ARE speaking to us – directly and plainly! How cool is that! Amen!
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers