God’s reward when I pray – He will listen

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I have learned that fear and worry will not change my circumstances, only God can do that. His promise for me is that He will walk with me, comfort and listen to me when I pray. I make the decision to allow Him to take care of me.

Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. – Deuteronomy 31:6  GNT

I am encouraged to pray – ask God – to take my fears and worries and He replaces them with His power and courage.

It is so good to receive these kinds of encouragement and promises from the light of God’s Word.

Your word is a lamp to guide me
    and a light for my path.
I will keep my solemn promise
    to obey your just instructions.
My sufferings, Lord, are terrible indeed;
    keep me alive, as you have promised.
Accept my prayer of thanks, O Lord,
    and teach me your commands.
I am always ready to risk my life;
    I[a] have not forgotten your law.
The wicked lay a trap for me,
    but I have not disobeyed your commands.
Your commandments are my eternal possession;
    they are the joy of my heart.
I have decided to obey your laws
    until the day I die. – Psalm 119:105-112  GNT

Even though I go in and out of thoughts that go from worry to courageous, my desire is faithful – to become more holy and my prayers become daily because of my need for grace.

I do not ask why I need to pray – I simply pray because God answers me and when I call, He responds.

 When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.

“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.” – Isaiah 58:9-12  GNT

Francis of Assisi prayed it this way –

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Jesus taught all those who follow Him about prayer and it has been a constant guide and counsel.

But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

“When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven:
    May your holy name be honored;
may your Kingdom come;
    may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need.[a]
Forgive us the wrongs we have done,
    as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.
Do not bring us to hard testing,
    but keep us safe from the Evil One.’[b]

 

“If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done. – Mathew 6:6-15  GNT

The first idea seems to be that prayer needs to happen in private. Nothing messes up prayer more than when it is used to show off and impress others – to be self conscience and other conscious. My prayer time every morning needs to be in a place where I am alone. It is also about praying about God. Without this we can abuse prayer. Prayer here also defines what I believe is God’s love language – time. So He starts off with the expectation that we will be praying, not “if” we pray. It is a time that I spend with my “Father.” There is a “reward” for making this happen. It is not only a place of adventure but of treasure – it includes His presence, it includes receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, and I am sure there are heavenly rewards as well. But I also think that the greatest reward of all – is that He will listen.

The second idea is to pray simply. There really is no formula even though many have taken the Lord’s prayer as such. Getting the words right does not impress God regardless if we think they do. If I go there, I fail to understand that God simply wants to know the desires of my heart. The goal of prayer is really not about telling God something He does not know or to convince Him to hear – it is simply a time of fellowship with God who already knows and cares. Prayer flows from God’s Word. It is in the Word of God that He responds. What’s the use of praying if there is no room for God to respond? It is about avoiding the temptation to pray thoughtless and heartless prayers and it is more about praying with the proper knowledge of who God is and His character.

The third idea might sound contradictory to the second ( me suggesting there is no formula) and while the second idea is still true the third idea is that there is definitely some structure in our prayers that will build on. That is what the model of the Lord’s Prayer is all about – not a formula but a structure.  It is also about praying about people. God cares about my regular, everyday life. My needs, my sins, my relationships, and my protection. I bring all of my life and put it under the authority and lordship of God.

Agian, not to be contradictory to my first idea (prayer is private), praying is meant to happen, at some point during the day (definitely, not in the morning), with others. So pray in secret, but also pray with others. There are a lot of corporate words used in this prayer.

The final and fourth idea is not in the Lord’s Prayer, but is found right after Jesus presents its structure. He wants me to tie my prayers to how I should live.

This idea is based not on my ability to put a prayer structure together but on the idea that I have concern for my own personal relationships because God cares about relationships. Prayer, in other words, needs to spill into my life and change it.

It is a perfect prayer and it only takes twenty seconds to pray. It is so simple that a child can understand it. Jesus makes it available and attainable for all.

“But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. … The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game. … I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” – C.S. Lewis

Those who know God pray for things to happen

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I love the spiritual expression where God continues to love those who know Him and He gives favour and does good things towards those who are in right standing with Him. It is here in this thought that I should know of my need to pray that I can stay in this part of my relationship with Him.

Continue to love those who know you and to do good to those who are righteous. – Psalm 36:10 GNT

Even though I have experienced His love and grace, I need a continuing flow and I need to ask Him for it.

In trouble, I make a decision. Do I let the accuser set the agenda or am I intentional about allowing the Holy Spirit to become involved in the process. It is a decision that requires deliberate, careful, thoughtful, and spiritual insight and action. Especially because I am prone to operate out of my humanity and most unspiritual nature. It is why the world is filled with broken relationships, unhealed hurts and prolonged divisions. Paul tries to tell Philemon that there is a different way, that we can approach God first through prayer, before we accuse and speed up the level of conflict.

Brother Philemon, every time I pray, I mention you and give thanks to my God.  For I hear of your love for all of God’s people and the faith you have in the Lord Jesus.  My prayer is that our fellowship with you as believers will bring about a deeper understanding of every blessing which we have in our life in union with Christ.  Your love, dear brother, has brought me great joy and much encouragement! You have cheered the hearts of all of God’s people. – Philemon 4-7 GNT

 What a great example of starting a prayer with thankfulness. Even though there is conflict, and let’s face it, most of his letters were sent to churches where there was conflict, he takes time to thank God for them and their church family. Paul approach to conflict was not to be the accuser but the one who prayed.

In fact, I believe that it is evidence of Paul’s spiritual practices – to pray for others. Paul knew that prayer mattered especially when it came to conflict.

His prayer also give a secret to how hearts are changed – “our fellowship with you as believers will bring about a deeper understanding.” Special things happen among the relationships of believers. Things that were thought to be impossible, are now possible. So Paul prays that God would set the right conditions so that something new and transformative would take place between the two in conflict. Paul recognizes, by prayer, that God is the only one who can make this reconciliation possible. So I have learned that when I pray for those I am in conflict with, I do not only thank God for them, I ask Him to make the conditions right – God working on mine and their soul, so that our faith can see the powerful effect of God in our lives.