Sunday, May 15, 2016

What Should You Pray for?

She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. Luke 2:37

How do you decide what to pray for?  Here’s a quick way to decide what to pray for- “Is there anything that you can do better without God’s help?” For me the answer is no, so I pray about everything.  

I have been thinking about prayer as I have been wrapping a chapter from my soon to be released Bible Study Embracing Change- Learning to Trust God from the Women of the Bible about Anna, a homeless woman who was in the Temple when baby Jesus was brought in to be dedicated to God.[1]  Anna was a prayer warrior because she knew the power of prayer came from God’s resources and abilities. In spite of her physical poverty, she had spiritual riches that she could bless others with. Prayer and fasting opened Anna’s eyes, ears and heart to see God’s work in the midst of hopeless circumstances. Prayer and fasting allowed her to trust that God would take care of her. It redirected her attention from the poverty and desolate situation that she was in and allowed her to see and hear God more clearly as a prophetess. It opened her eyes to see that the baby Jesus was the Messiah, the redeemer of Israel, a privilege given only to one other woman, Mary.

Prayer is simply asking God to intervene in a situation. He can heal us, save us, bless us, prosper us and expand his kingdom.  Prayer has immense power because God has immense resources.  God knows the future, He knows other people’s hearts and intentions, He has unlimited resources and nothing is too hard for Him. Nothing is impossible with God.

I recently read a quote from Clayton King, author and evangelist that summarized why we pray, "When we pray, we are admitting we need God. We are confessing that control is an illusion. We are establishing intimacy with God through prayer. We are establishing intimacy with God through prayer.  We are interceding for those we love. May God remind us how much we desperately need him, as individuals and as a nation. May we call out to Him in humility and utter dependence, knowing God alone can save and sustain us."

To pray, simply means to ask God for something.   That seems pretty easy but I have found I can quickly fall into a “gimme, gimme” trap where my prayers are just a list of wants and needs.   When my prayers are focused on my desires, they feel pretty shallow and petty.  Many years ago I learned a help for acronym for making sure my prayers have a proper balance.  It used the word Pray as the outline.

P is for Praise- Praise and exalt God for His character, His resources, His miracles, His power, His majesty, His holiness, His love.  Praising God gets your focus off your limitations and the situation.  Jesus did this when he prayed – Our Father in heaven, hallowed is your name.[2]
R is for Repent- We have to repent of our sins, our imperfections, our unforgiveness, and our unrighteousness just as the priest had to make an offering for his sins before interceding for the people. We need to ask God to forgive our sins and trespasses as we forgive others.[3]
A is for Ask- This is really the heart of praying.  Asking means that we need God to intervene in a situation.  We need his help.  It requires humbling ourselves to His power and sovereignty. Jesus modeled the need for daily asking for God’s help when he prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread” and “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”[4]
Y is for Yield- Yielding your request to God puts the responsibility for that situation where it belongs –on God.  You can pray as Jesus prayed, “Not my will but your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Prayer has immense power but with power comes responsibility.  Prayer is a weapon and asking for God’s will to be done in the situation points the weapon in the direction that God wants it to go.
Prayer provides that connection and the power for spiritual breakthroughs.   “Prayer is our way of communicating with God. God deeply wants to have a relationship with each of us. Prayer builds our relationship and is a means of directly contacting God, our Creator, Healer, True Love and Best Friend- any time we want. Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship. Through prayer we can share our heart’s desires, concerns and interests to our Heavenly Father, God.[5]

Anna's life shows the power of prayer. I have seen impossible situations changed through prayer.  Would you try the prayer acronym above? Let me know how has prayer made a difference in your life.  Thanks    

[1] Luke 2:36-38
[2] Matthew 6:9
[3] Matthew 6:12
[4] Matthew 6:11,13
[5] Noyes, Penny, Responding to God. Open Door Publishing Hendersonville, NC 2009 pg. 95

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