“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
Prayer is not a mysterious practice reserved for the religiously devout. Prayer is listening and talking to God; prayer is relationship; prayer is worship. Prayer is a privilege, and we are invited to freely pray from the heart, spontaneously, and in our own words. Throughout the Bible, people prayed bowing (Exodus 4:31), some prayed on their knees (1 Kings 8:54) and on their faces (2 Chronicles 20:18; Matthew 26:39), while others prayed standing (1 Kings 8:22). I truly believe that God is more interested in prostrated hearts than with how we position our bodies.
God wants to hear our requests. God wants his children full of joy and gratitude. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). We have no need to chatter on and on and on and on and on and on. By no means am I suggesting that we inhibit the Holy Spirit, but I do think we need to resist the impulses of the flesh demanding human methodologies. “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). God wants us to be faithful; he wants us to believe. “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6), but our motives must be aligned with God’s will; we should seek his will, even for what we ought to pray. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). When our motives are aligned with his, we can approach God with confidence and even expectancy. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14). We should expect to receive his great kindness and mercy. “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 4:16). Let us come to the Lord in submission and obedience casting aside our own agendas no matter how well intentioned.
I’m grateful for God’s unfathomable grace; his generosity and kindness, because in so many respects, I find that I often fall short, including, in prayer. But does God abandon me? Does God leave me to my own devices? Does God refuse to hear me until I reach some point of acceptability? Not at all! The Holy Spirit is hard at work interceding on my behalf in Christ Jesus. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). God is always rushing to the aid of his people; we are never on our own. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). We do not have because we do not ask God (James 4:2).
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