Recently I was invited to join a group of ladies gathering to pray for a young woman facing serious health issues. This group of about 20 ladies was given the privilege of praying for the specific needs she had entrusted to us. What an honor, and what a reminder of the special gift God has given us in allowing us to join together in prayer. So many precious truths about Him are revealed as we pray.
In the example we call “the Lord’s prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13), Jesus gave us a model of how to pray for specific needs. He instructed us to ask our Father to “give us this day our daily bread.” The wonderful truth underlying this request is that the more we pray specifically, the more we see and remember his answers–and each time that happens, our faith grows.
It was truly awe-inspiring sitting in the living room that day, sharing in such a holy time with a group of ladies who are dear friends and who love the Lord. Each prayed specifically for the young woman, beautifully petitioning the Lord for His mercy and care toward her and her family. As I observed this, I was reminded of so many verses on prayer. One of my favorites is when Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18: 19-20). All of us knew this promise and were aware that Jesus was among us and that we could trust God to answer our prayers. We also knew how much God loves us and that He hears us even before we pray. As it says in Isaiah 65:24, “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
As I considered the joy and privilege of prayer, I marveled at the opportunity God has given us to go to Him and lay our needs before Him so freely. We’re not just allowed to pray, we are actually encouraged, even urged to pray so many times in God’s Word! Several questions come to mind, though, as we consider this gift of prayer. Let’s ponder a few.
What are our expectations when we pray?
In Jeremiah 32:17 we hear Jeremiah addressing Almighty God, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” This is a great verse to memorize. Almighty God, the One True God, Creator of heaven and earth, can and will answer your prayer. Another beautiful scripture, Psalm 91: 14-15, tells us, “’Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.’” As you pray, remember and be thankful for all He has done for you in the past; pray in the certainty of how much God loves you and how faithful He is. David reminds us, “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night” (Psalm 92:1-2). And finally, know that He is able to answer your prayers even better than you can imagine or plan, because He is Almighty God. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). God’s very character and sure promises tell us that we can come to Him with every expectation of seeing His goodness, His power, and His faithfulness in a new way.
Why pray for someone you do not know?
When I was invited to pray by my dear friend, I did not actually know the young woman for whom we prayed, but I did know that this was an opportunity to intervene for one of the Lord’s people, just as God has instructed us. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:10-11,18). Like me, you may also be asked to pray for someone you don’t know. Our encouragement is readily seen in Jesus’s command: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John15:12). We don’t have to know someone to show Christ’s love for them, and I can’t think of a better way to show your love for another person than to pray for them, to be there for them in their time of need.
Why does God want us to pray?
God does not want us to be anxious or worried but full of peace and thanksgiving. As we pray, knowing that He is omnipresent, omniscient, cares for us, and will come again soon gives us peace beyond understanding. He wants us to focus on Him and His love, not on our problems. Prayer redirects our thinking to our faith in the Lord instead of our circumstances. Paul instructs us with these encouraging words, “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).
Remember always: Jesus is our advocate. He is fully aware of all the trials and tribulations of this earth. Go to Him in prayer, put all your anxieties and fears at the feet of our Lord. He will keep you in perfect peace that is beyond understanding (Isaiah 26:3). Tony Evans says, “If you are anxious and out of control you have forgotten who is in control.” Remember, “since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4: 14-16). Let these encouraging words from a pastor with long experience in prayer fill your heart, “Prayer wings its way from our lips and hearts through the heavens to the very Throne Room of God Himself. Prayer is a commanded activity. God tells us to pray, and He promises to answer” (Robert Morgan, The Jordan River Rules, p. 106). Experience for yourself the joy and privilege of prayer.
In conclusion, let me leave you with the clear and simple (but powerful) instructions of the apostle Paul: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18). Won’t you take a few minutes right now and meet the Lord in prayer?