Believers know that it is important to seek God in prayer but because so many don’t pray regularly, the subject of prayer often produces only guilt. Prayer is too often approached as a Christian “to do” list just added to everything else required to be a “good” Christian. Prayer that is based in either human performance or spiritual accomplishment is not pleasing to God. When human effort is removed, the Holy Spirit is unleashed by faith and prayer will no longer feel like an obligation.
There has been no other verse in the Bible that God has used more to help my prayer life than this verse:
The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. Romans 8:26-27
The Christian life is a life of dependence on God and this includes prayer. Because God is Spirit, He asks us to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. We are to worship by the Spirit of God and put no confidence in the flesh. The next time you pray, ask the Holy Spirit to pray through you and allow Him to direct your prayer. When you rely on the Holy Spirit, you will pray according to God’s will. There is no pleading with God or wondering if your prayer is effective when the Holy Spirit connects you to God by faith.
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
Asking the Holy Spirit to lead you in prayer will keep you from making prayer a formula. Prayer may include the following: praise, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (requests). When you rely on the Holy Spirit to direct your prayer, He may change the order up or even leave one of these out. While praising God, He may highlight a burden you are carrying so you suddenly have perspective and begin to pray about that. At other times, you become aware that your attitudes and words do not reflect Christ so you will confess your sins to God. You will then want to thank Him for His forgiveness and that He has overcome sin.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Ephesians 6:18
Instead of telling others what bothers you, bring all of your concerns to God first and by faith expect Him to answer. Tell God specifically what you need so you will know when He answers you. Pray often for the spiritual well-being of fellow believers.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:7-8
Do not repeat words or requests as though God does not exist or He cannot hear. God cannot be manipulated to get what you want. God desires a sincere relationship with you that is based in truth.
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Matthew 15:8-9
God desires that your faith leads to a personal, dynamic relationship with Him that makes prayer a delight!
Prayer Is a Relationship
Come near to God and He will come near to you. James 4:8
A relationship with God is not unlike our human relationships so it is helpful to see prayer in this light. Remember when you spent time getting to know someone and then over time you fell in love with him/her? Was your relationship drudgery or exciting and joyful? Did you have to be coaxed to spend time with the one you love? This is the kind of love relationship God wants with you.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
God’s love for you will never fail.
The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
Jesus willingly died for your sins to connect you to God. When you learn that God loved you first when you did not love Him back, your heart will begin to beat a little faster. When you realize that you don’t have to be perfect or clean yourself up before you come to God in prayer, you will relax and enjoy what Christ has accomplished. When you know that His arms are always open wide to receive you into His Presence, you will come to Him more often.
Love for God is the foundation of your relationship with Him.
Jesus taught: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38
Expect Obstacles to Prayer
The Bible teaches that the flesh is by nature opposed to the Spirit and the things of God so expect spiritual opposition in setting aside time to pray and to be in God’s Word. Satan is the enemy of God and He will do everything he can to keep you too busy to pray because he knows that prayer unleashes the power of Almighty God. When you live independently from God, your focus will be yourself and your prayers will become shopping lists.
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:2-3
Do you avoid prayer because you have a guilty conscience? If you are living in disobedience to God, your prayer life will indeed suffer. True confession involves a commitment not to continue in sin.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Ask God to help you commit to a time to pray and study His Word daily. The Book of Psalms is a handbook for the praise and worship of God.
Seek God in Prayer
When you pray, believe that God exists and that He will respond when you seek Him in prayer.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
One of the key ways Jesus demonstrated His humble reliance on His Father was to pray. Very early in Jesus’ ministry, His disciples recognized that prayer was the source of Jesus’ spiritual power so they asked Him to teach them to pray.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1
The disciples were admitting something that few admit: We are prone to independence so prayer does not come naturally! The disciples reveal that we too must depend on The Lord to lead us in prayer. Ask God to help you to pray.
Jesus said to them, “when you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
Many pray to Jesus, but Jesus Himself reveals that God the Father is to be the focus of our prayer. He is “Abba Father” to those born again by the Spirit of God. God’s name is hallowed because He is holy. Does your daily life honor your heavenly Father in all that you do?
Whatever is concerning you today, remember that God is good and He is the Sovereign ruler over heaven and earth. Our lives are being moved by God Himself toward the Day when Jesus will return to earth to establish God’s kingdom. “Your will be done” is where we struggle. Ask for God’s help to surrender your will to do His will.
“Give us each day our daily bread.” Luke 11:3
Prayer shows our dependence on God to provide for our daily needs. Jesus is the source of our spiritual life and God’s Word is our bread. We bow to give thanks and acknowledge that God sustains both our physical and spiritual life.
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” Luke 11:4
The forgiveness of God for all of our sins is the cornerstone of our salvation in Christ so how can we refuse to forgive the sins of others? Forgiveness comes from God so ask Him to enable you to forgive others.
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:13
Temptation leads to sin when we act on it. Only God can deliver us from sin and the evil one.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen.
The Power of Prayer
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5:17-18
If you neglect prayer, there will be no spiritual power in your life. You can accomplish more than you could ask or think when you commit to prayer.
Jesus said: I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:12-14
Sometimes people get discouraged in prayer because they don’t get the answers they want. Have the same attitude that Jesus had when He prayed to the Father, not My will but your will be done. By faith, trust God’s plans when they are not yours.
God Answers Prayer
Jesus said: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10
Prayer is a gift that God has given to you so pray with expectant faith! When you keep a journal of your prayer requests and see how He answers, your faith will be strengthened to pray more consistently. If you are presently in God’s waiting room, ask Him to strengthen your faith.
Let us 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
Father God, I praise you for your mighty power. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who strengthens my faith and enables me to pray according to your will. Overcome the weakness of my flesh by your supernatural power and make prayer the desire of my heart. Help me to commit to a time and place to pray daily. Father God, in your Holy Presence I am aware of my need for your forgiveness of my sins. I confess them now and thank you for your forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Empower me to live what I know and to walk by the Spirit daily so my life is pleasing to you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Know that the Lord has set apart His faithful servant for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him. Psalm 4:3
Expect God to Speak to You from His Word and Transform your life!
Personal Bible study for “Seek God in Prayer”
Week 1: 2 Kings 6:15-17; Psalms 4:1-3, 6-8; 5:1-3; 6:4, 9; 9:1-2; 18:1-2, 6, 16-19; 34:4-9, 17-19; 36:5-9; 62:5-8, 63:1-8; 86:6-7; 142:1-2
Week 2: Daniel 2:17-23; 6:3-28; 9:20-23; 10:12-14; Matthew 4:4, 10; 5:43-48; 6:5-15; 9:37-38; 15:8-9; 21:18-22; 26:36-46; Mark 1:35; Luke 11:1, 5-13; 18:1-8; John 4:23-26; 14:12-14; 17; Acts 2:42; 4:23-31
Week 3: Romans 8:5, 9, 14-16, 26-27; 12:1-2, 11-12; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 3:14-21; 6:10-12, 18; Philippians 3:3; 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Week 4: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:23–26; 11:1, 6; 13:15-16, 20-21; James 4:2-3, 8; 5:13-18; 1 Peter 3:12; 5:7; Jude 20-21; 1 John 5:14-15; Revelation 4:8-11; 5:8