"When You Pray"

Prayer is an important part of a Christian’s life.  Prayer is something we are taught to continuously engage in (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Romans 12:12; Acts 2:42).  Sometimes people lose heart when it comes to praying because it appears to them prayer does not accomplish much yet the Bible reminds us persistent prayer from righteous individuals accomplishes much (Luke 18:1-8; James 5:16).  Jesus will provide His disciples guidance on how to pray on multiple occasions.  We might think about the model prayer Jesus gives to His disciples and the instructions which follow it (Luke 11:1-13).  As I recently have been reading through the book of Mark, a section on prayer caught my attention from Mark 11:22-26.  Here Jesus gives the following instructions, “Have faith in God.  For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  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” (NKJV).  Two things need to be true of us when we pray according to these verses: 1. We must have faith in God.  2. We must be forgiving of others.  Let’s think about these two points as they relate to our prayers.

When we ask God for something in prayer, we are expected to ask in faith without doubting if we are going to receive our request.  James 1:5-8 encourages the person who lacks wisdom to ask God for such.  When we ask God for wisdom, we need to believe He will give it to us.  The person who doubts will not receive what he is asking for.  Sometimes verses which speak about us asking in faith and receiving are taken out of context.  There are those who want to teach if you believe something will happen and pray for it such will always happen the way we want it to.  However, we need to remember selfish prayers are not going to be granted by God (James 4:3) and prayers not according to God’s will are not granted either (1 John 5:14-15).  We can have faith God will certainly do for us those things He reveals in His word He will do and so such would be good things to ask God to accomplish.  We can also pray with the attitude of wanting God’s will to be accomplished whether it coincides with our desires at the moment or not (Matthew 26:39).  Doubt will hinder the effectiveness of our prayers and so let’s make sure we are not praying from a position of doubt but from a position of faith.  One may be tempted to think they want to ask for something which would be a righteous request but question whether God is actually able to do anything about the request.  If we are tempted to doubt God’s ability to accomplish our requests, let’s remember we are praying to One, “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV).

When we ask God for something in prayer especially the forgiveness of our sins, it is important we are not unwilling to forgive others of their sins against us.  Scripture repeatedly warns us that an unwillingness to forgive others of their sins will result in us not being forgiven of our sins by God (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35).  Beyond just being forgiving of others, sin between someone and ourselves has the ability to hinder our prayers.  1 Peter 3:7 says, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (NKJV).  A failure to treat one’s wife as she should be treated can hinder our prayers.  Let’s think seriously about how we relate to one another since such can hinder our prayers to God!  Another passage along this line is 1 Timothy 2:8.  There we are told, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (NKJV).  Wrath and doubting are two things which can make our prayers unacceptable to God.

When we pray, let’s make sure we are praying in faith with no doubting and let’s make sure we are forgiving others instead of holding onto anger in our hearts toward another.  Both of these things according to Jesus are important if our prayers are going to be effective toward God.