Prayer That is Pleasing to God
God is a God of relationships. He created us to worship Him and have fellowship with Him. Christians are His sons and daughters. Prayer is a vital key to having an intimate relationship with God and fulfilling the destiny that He has for you.
How do we approach God?
We all tend to bring our lists of wants and needs to God, but the Bible instructs us that we are to approach God FIRST with thanksgiving and praise:
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” (Psalm 100:4)
How would you feel if your children or friends only visited when they wanted something? We shouldn’t treat God that way either! Spend some time praising God for who He is and thanking Him for all the things that He has already done for you. This is pleasing to God. Don’t go to God empty-handed. Take your gifts of praise and thanks. Try thanking God for 10 things before you get out of bed in the morning. We should constantly thank and praise God throughout the day, not just on Sundays and before eating a meal.
|GO DEEPER Keep a prayer journal and record all of the answered prayers. Reflect back over all the things God has done. This is a powerful tool when faith is wavering. Keep a prayer list of people & situations you want to keep before God in prayer. Develop a habit of having quality time with God every day. Make God your 1st priority. Spend time worshiping, praying and studying His word. He will speak to you through His word “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). When you spend time in the word, you are spending time with Jesus. And finally, LISTEN. Don’t do all of the talking. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)|
Prayer should be a priority
Prayer should not be a “last resort” when you are desperate or in trouble. You should cultivate a daily, powerful prayer life with God. Prayer is a great privilege. God actually uses your prayers to work in your life and the lives of others. Don’t underestimate how powerfully God will use your prayers. “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
We are forewarned in the Bible not to expect God to move in our lives without prayer: “You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)
Jesus spent a great amount of time in prayer and went off by himself. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where He prayed.” (Mark 1:35).
If Jesus placed a priority on prayer, shouldn’t we? If we truly love God with all of our heart, all of our mind and all of our strength (Luke 10:27), then He should be our number one priority!
|GO DEEPER Would you be willing to sacrifice some time to go deeper? How much time do you spend watching t.v. per day? Would you give God 1 hour a day (to start) to study His word and pray? “…God is a rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). If you want to know God more intimately, invest quality time with Him. He will reward you in many ways!|
HOW ARE WE TO PRAY?
Pray in Faith
“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). Jesus said “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24). This is a key scripture. Notice that you believe WHEN YOU PRAY, not when you see the results. You believe that you receive the answer when you pray. This is also called “walking by faith and not by sight.” If you have to see the results of your prayer before you believe, it is not faith. It doesn’t require any faith to believe once you have seen the results. Remember, it is faith that pleases God.
|GO DEEPER Andrew Murray in “A 12 Month Guide to Better Prayer” (see Library page for more info) said the following as he reflected on Mark 11:24: “What a promise! So large, so divine, that our little hearts cannot take it in, and in every possible way we seek to limit it to what we think is safe or probable, instead of allowing it, in its quickening power and energy, just as He gave it, to enter in and to enlarge our hearts to the measure of what His love and power are really ready to do for us…. where there is true faith, it is impossible for the answer not to come. If we only see to it that we do the one thing that He asks of us as we pray: ‘Believe that you receive,’ He will see to it that He does the thing He has promised: ‘You will have them.'”|
Pray in the Name of Jesus
We are always to pray in the name of Jesus. It is Jesus who gives you the right to approach God. Jesus said “I tell you the truth, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. Until now, you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:23-34). We can approach God through prayer, not because of our own merits, but because of what Jesus has done on our behalf. It is the blood of Jesus that has cleansed us from all unrighteousness and gives us entrance to the Father.
|GO DEEPER Jesus has many names for Himself in the Bible (the Way, the Truth, the Shepard, etc.). Do a study on His names. Meditate on what each title means to you personally. Sit quietly and softly speak His name several times. Be still before Him.|
Ask God to Forgive You
Ask God to forgive you of your sins. It is important to ask for forgiveness and to repent of your sins (turn from your sins). God wants to forgive you and Jesus paid the price 2000 years ago! Do not let your sins cause you to pull away from God. You are no surprise to God! He knew before you were born each sin you would commit ~ and He has already paid the price for them. Satan will try to condemn you to try to separate you from God. The Holy Spirit will convict you or convince you of your sin so that you can turn toward God.
|GO DEEPER Sit quietly and ask God to show you any sins for which you have not repented. This will include not making God your first priority, neglecting things you should have done, being selfish, prideful, not giving to others, holding unforgiveness or resentment toward anyone, not valuing the Word of God and holding it in the highest esteem, thinking more highly of yourself than you ought, not conducting your business affairs with the utmost integrity, laziness, putting your interests above the interests of others, being critical of others, gossiping, over-indulgence (this could be in areas of spending, hobbies, drinking, food, watching inappropriate t.v., etc.) and not treating your body as the holy temple of God’s Spirit. To go deeper, be prepared to repent of any items that God brings to your mind.|
You Must Forgive Others
Make sure that you don’t have any unforgiveness in your heart. The Bible says when we are praying, if we have any unforgiveness toward another, we are to take care of that first and then come to God with our prayers. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your sins.” (Mark 11:25). We are to forgive others freely, just as the Lord has forgiven us freely (Luke 11:4). We are also to seek forgiveness if we have offended someone: “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24). We are to do what we can to live in peace with one another. That includes asking others for forgiveness.
|GO DEEPER Go to a quiet place to be alone with God and ask Him to show you any offense, unforgiveness or resentment that you have toward anyone, going back to your childhood. Be prepared to sit for a while! This could be a bit painful. We’ve all been hurt. As He brings each person to mind, forgive each one as God has forgiven you. Remember, you are not giving approval to their actions, but rather you are forgiving them for hurting you as the Lord has forgiven you. There are a number of scriptures that warn that unforgiveness is a prayer-blocker – Mark 11:25 for example. Some people have been hurt so tragically and deeply (child molestation for example), you may not yet be able to genuinely forgive. Ask God to help you. Ask Him to heal you so that you can forgive and move on. Keep in mind that as long as you hold unforgiveness, you are allowing that person to continue to hurt you. It’s time to let it go.|
Approach God With Confidence
God has invited us to come boldly into His throne room. He welcomes us as a father welcomes his child. We are to approach the throne of God with confidence because Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has given us right standing with the Father. “Let us then approach the 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). We should be praying with great anticipation, knowing that God welcomes us and has invited us to come to Him with our requests.
|GO DEEPER When you pray, visualize God sitting on His throne with Jesus sitting at His right hand to intercede for you. Picture yourself wrapped in a long, white robe ~ the robe of righteousness (right-standing before God) that Jesus bought for you. Thank God that “you have invited me to come boldly before your throne of grace.” Begin to call God “Abba Father,” which means our heavenly “daddy.” This is a name that Jesus used. Consider that God loves you more than any earthly parent has ever loved their child and is waiting to spend time with you. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.'” (Romans 8:15)|
Pray According to God’s Will
How do you know if your request is according to God’s will? There are 2 primary ways to tell. The first is to make sure that your request lines up with God’s word. Find scriptures to support the request you are making. You can also use a concordance or Bible promises book to help you locate scriptures. “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). The second way to tell is to be guided by the Holy Spirit (refer to the lesson on the Holy Spirit on the Studies page). He will provide a “check” in your spirit if you are outside the will of God. It’s important to cultivate a deep prayer life so that you are sensitive to the Spirit’s leading.
The Power of Two Praying Together
We see lots of examples of “corporate” prayer in the Bible, when a number of people came together in agreement to praise and pray to God. There is power in coming together in agreement. An angel freed Peter from prison when “the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” (Acts 12:5). When the church at Antioch was worshiping God and fasting, the Holy Spirit spoke to them about the work Paul and Barnabus were to do (Acts 13:2). God hears and answers prayers that we ask individually, but scripture is clear that there is something powerful when 2 or more come together in agreement ~ Jesus said “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20).
|GO DEEPER Many people are uncomfortable praying out loud with other people at first. That’s completely natural, but don’t let fear rob you of a unique opportunity that Jesus gives to His followers. Reach out to a fellow Christian to be a prayer partner. Read together the scriptures where the Lord responds to 2 or more praying together. Keep a prayer journal of answered prayers (to give God praise and glory) and things for which you still need to stand together. Take God at His Word!|
We see the discipline of fasting in both the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, everyone was to fast on the Day of Atonement, but we see other times during mourning, political distress or repentance. Moses fasted 40 days when he was in the presence of God, receiving the law. In the New Testament, Jesus fasted 40 days while He was being tempted in the desert. John the Baptist led his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18). Saul (later called Paul) fasted after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:9). The church in Antioch fasted (Acts 13:2). Paul and Barnabus prayed and fasted before selecting elders in the churches (Acts 14:23). Cornelius had a vision while he was fasting (Acts 10:3,30).
Fasting is not a way of twisting God’s arm for a breakthrough, but rather it is an opportunity to lay down something that has a very strong hold on most of us (food) and to humble ourselves and seek God in a more worshipful way. Fasting can help us “be still and know that I am God” by cutting away some of the outside distractions. It is a way of worshiping God by saying “I put you first and will lay down my personal comfort to seek your face”.
|GO DEEPER Pray and ask God to lead you when a fast might be appropriate. Don’t let fear stop you. The Bible records many breakthroughs that came at the end of a fast.|
Remember, always approach God first with thanksgiving and praise. Present your requests to Him, confident that when you ask according to His will, He hears you. Begin thanking and praising Him for the answer. Stand in faith, believing God has already answered your prayer. Be sure to refer to the pages for Mountain-Moving Prayers and Reasons Why We Don’t Receive Answers to Prayer.
Please feel free to email us if you would like prayer or have questions.