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The Prayer That God Answers

 
Posted by Elaine June 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM AEST

Many people pray only when they are facing a crisis. Yet the Gospel tells us that Jesus habitually rose early in the morning to meet with the Father. If the Son of the living God gave priority to that time, how much more should we? Prayer and intimate communion with God were Jesus’ spiritual food.
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Prayer is our spiritual food, too. If we’re spiritually fed, then we’re spiritually alive. Unfortunately, many of us were taught bad habits and wrong ideas about prayer. The purpose of prayer in the Christian faith is to surrender in obedience before the God who sees our hearts. To pray rightly is to pray for God to manifest His glory and power in our lives.

God is the focus of prayer—because through prayer, God reveals His goodness and power. Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13).
Prayer is for God’s glory—not just for our needs. However, when God meets our needs, He is glorified.

There are some who see prayer simply as lining up with what God has already foreordained, and there is nothing we can do other than conform to His will. On the other hand, there are those who think that prayer is asking God to do what He would not and could not do without our requests. Both are wrong, and both are right.

The Scripture teaches both views—and we are under obligation before God to hold both views in tension. The Bible teaches that God is, without a doubt, sovereign. The Bible also teaches that God, within His sovereignty, responds to His people when they pray with a right focus. To try to put God in a theological box by saying, “This, and only this, is the way God works” is wrong.

There are people who are terrified of asking God for anything. This is not consistent with His will. On the other hand, there are some who treat God like a bellhop who moves only at their command. Both are extreme, and both are wrong.

When children are young—and even sometimes when they are older—they ask for all kinds of things. Do we give them everything they want? Of course we don’t. We give them what we believe is best for them. If we, as fallen men and women, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more does our heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him? (see Matthew 7:11)

How, then, should we pray? God in His magnificence knew that there would be many times when we didn’t have the wisdom to pray as we should, so He commissioned the Holy Spirit to intercede for us.

In Romans 8:26, Paul wrote, “We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (NASB). And that is why in Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus gave his disciples a succinct, meticulous, and comprehensive outline of what true prayer should be like—and it is called The Lord’s Prayer.

In Matthew 6:9, Jesus said, “Pray . . . in this way” (NASB), meaning “along these lines” or “in such a pattern.” Still, we must remember that in Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus warned His followers not to pray like the Pharisees, using meaningless, repetitious prayer. To be clear, He is not replacing one meaningless, repetitious prayer with another. Instead, Jesus is giving them—and us—a model.

Jesus wants us to learn to follow the Lord’s prayer as a pattern of praise, adoration, and petition. It is a guide for our prayer life—not a substitute for it. When we understand this guide and use it, we will experience power in prayer like we’ve never experienced before.
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Read Matthew 6:9-13. Write your own prayer to the Lord using The Lord’s Prayer as a guide. Note specific areas in your prayer life in which you struggle and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in these areas.

From Leading the Way with Dr Michael Youssef