In our Bible study group, we just completed a study on The Daniel Prayer. The question posed at the beginning of the book asked, “Why do our prayers often lack power, passion and persuasion?” During this study, I became committed to prayer in a way I haven’t been before. Not “bless me Father” prayers, but prayers in which I learned to be specific, to search His Word for His promises to pray back to Him, and to listen for His response. Last week I posted how I begin my day in prayer thanking Him for His blessings and seeking Him (see Pray, Praise And Know That He Is God).
What I have learned the most through this study is that prayer is the time in which I seek the Lord with my whole heart. I ask Him to teach me His way that I may rely on His faithfulness, and to give me an undivided heart so that I may fear His name (Psalm 86:11). It’s the time that I ask Him what is within me of which I need to repent, and what He needs to change within me. “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers His righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)
Whether or not we actually get on our knees, we must be humble when we approach the Lord because “our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5). Prayer is where we talk with the Lord, but also where we learn to hear His voice and listen to what He wants us to do. And we want to hear from the Lord because we are seeking to have our lives aligned with His purposes. The Lord said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face [will], and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chron 7:14) He wants a relationship with us, and He wants to bless us, but He requires us to humble ourselves before Him, pray to Him, seek His will and turn from our sin to Him.
In prayer, we talk to the Creator God who has plans for us. We’ve all heard that the Lord has plans for us to give us a hope and a future. We may have even prayed asking Him for Him to prosper us for that hope and future He promises. But if we don’t read that verse in context, we miss how we are to receive that. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declared the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart.’” (Jer. 29:11-13)
First and foremost, we are to seek Him–to become intimately aware of His presence, to seek His ways with our whole hearts. Prayer isn’t about asking for (fill in the blank); the purpose of prayer is to seek the Lord, His will, and ask Him to change us so that what we pray for aligns with what He wants to give us in order that we are blessed with every blessing to use for His kingdom. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.” (Eph 1:3-4) Only the Lord can make us a new creation and to be holy, but we have to be willing to submit to Him and to put our old selves away, because He does have plans for us: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)
We all have had people in our lives who only call us when they need something, and may never even ask us about us. Those relationships aren’t really satisfying, are they? Why would we believe that God will be satisfied if we only reach out when we get ourselves in a bind? “What I want from you is your true thanks; I want your promises fulfilled. I want you to trust me in your times of trouble, so I can rescue you and you can give me glory.” (Ps. 50:14-15 TLB)
He does want us to come to Him in our storms and to trust in Him, but more than that, He wants to to know Him. Jehoshaphat shared great wisdom with King Ahab, “First seek the counsel of the Lord” (2 Chron. 18:4). Before we even take steps, we should ask the Lord to direct our steps: “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Ps. 119:105). And then we need to read and meditate on His Word, and hide it in our hearts so that we might not sin against Him (Ps. 119:11), for “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10)
The Lord has done quite a work in me during the last year, and I have submitted to the work of the Holy Spirit. I had to come to an understanding that continuing with my ways continued to give me the same results. I wanted/want to be different, I want to find joy in the Lord. Since I accepted Jesus as a child as my Lord and Savior, I had lost my way, and the Lord reminded me of how I should live: “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)
If the words of the song “I Want to be Different” resonate with you, the only way to be different is to become less and let Him become more. “I don’t wanna spend my life stuck in a pattern. And I don’t wanna gain this world but lose what matters. And so I’m giving up, everything because I wanna be different, I wanna be changed. ‘Til all of me is gone, And all that remains is a fire so bright the whole world can see that there’s something different. So come and be different in me.”
And then when trouble comes (and it will), it will feel natural to go directly to the Father. And when we receive an answer from Him through His Word, His still small voice or through another person, we must act upon His direction, as that is true faith! “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17)
When we seek the Lord in prayer and in meditating upon His Word, He will change us because that’s His will. It won’t be an easy journey, but with each step you will learn to trust Him more and more because He is faithful. Do you want to be different? Then humble yourself before Him and submit to His direction because “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).