Notes on Prayer

I'll be the first to admit that prayer is a great mystery and that there's much about it that I still do not understand, even after so many years in the pulpit.

My questions have at times been the same as yours:

  • If God already knows my request before I utter it, why pray?
  • If God has a settled will on the matter, why bother?
  • And do I browbeat Him and cajole long enough to wear God down and bend Him to my point of view? Does my prayer change God's mind?

I know the answers. We pray because God invites us to. Yes, He has a will, and we do not "talk Him into" something that He knows would not be best for us. He is much wiser than that, and His love for us is so deep. Still, there are answers and blessings He wants to give us-- but will not release to us until we ask.

"You have not, because you ask not", says James 4:2.

Prayer does not change God—it changes us as we spend time in His presence and have our will shaped by His.

I know the answers yet, still, in moments of desperation or confusion I cry out for God to give me what I think I need in that particular situation. And He understands that. One old preacher used to say: "Prayer is asking"—and it is just as simple as that.

"Call unto me, and I will answer you, and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

Here is the biblical truth that best informs my faith and my practice of prayer, day in and day out.

“For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things." (Romans 11:36)

God reveals His will (through scripture, impressions from the Holy Spirit, and circumstances), I pray that will back to Him, and He answers with what He wanted to do for me all along.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him." (1 John 5:14,15)

I can pray anything--and, yes, He wants me to ask just as a child would approach his earthly father. But the longer I am in God's presence the more confident I can be that I know what He wants for me. And if I am praying for that, for the outcome He has always desired for my situation—the answer is sure!

A parent sent me a brief video clip yesterday of his 5 year old son who had volunteered to pray the blessing over breakfast before watching our service online (click to view). Unprompted, he thanked God for the food, for the service they were about to watch together, and...then for something else, too. Needless to say, this made my day, my week, and my year so far in 2021. Young Hudson will learn more about the intricacies of prayer as he grows up in that home and in our church—but he's already got the essence of it.

I sent him this verse and promise from God:

 "Before they call I will answer;
 while they are still speaking, I will hear."
--Isaiah 65:24




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