Most of us come to the Lord in prayer to ask for something we desire (carnally): a better job, the healing of our pain or any number of things we might want. It’s not wrong to ask the Lord for these things, but first we should seek to align our desires to His will. In Psalm 37:4 David said, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we abide in the Lord, the desires of the heart cease to be merely natural (carnal) desires when the heart delights above all else in the Lord. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, we begin to desire God-centered desires, Christ-exalting desires and God-glorifying desires.
When we pray for His will and His glory, then what requests we bring to Him in prayer can be made confidently. This is the promise Jesus made, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:7-8) Prayer is not for gratifying our natural desires. It is for gratifying our desires when those desires have been so purified and saturated with God that they coincide with His plans. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14)
In James 4:3 it says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Prayer is not for gratifying natural desires; it is for fruit-bearing. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:16)
Through prayer and by meditating on Scripture, we commune with the Lord; we spend time with Him and get to KNOW Him – we abide in Him. If we want to have power and effect in praying, we must devote ourselves to getting our desires into alignment with the fruit that God means to produce through us. The key to praying with power is to become the kind of persons who do not use God for our ends, but are utterly devoted to being used to His ends; we can “participate in His divine nature”. Since it is the abiding Word of Jesus that puts us in tune with the fruit-bearing purposes of God to glorify Himself, it stands to reason that the more we are saturated by His words, the more our prayers will be answered.
- NIV Study Bible and prayer
- Ask Whatever You Wish by John Piper