Recently I read an article by an individual who is an adversary to the Christian faith. The article was about prayer. He very effectively discredited our act of prayer and the line of reasoning we use when we don’t see results. Of course, we commonly say when in these no-results situations, “Well maybe He said no, or possibly later.” That sounds good and is very possibly true, but could the savage who prays to the wooden god he has carved, not use the same line of reasoning when his prayers go unanswered? Think about it.
One of this persons problems was His misunderstanding of the true nature of Christian prayers. His misunderstanding paralleled the teaching of many misinformed Christian teachers. Like many of these teachers, he seemed to think that all Christians see God as a genie in the bottle, that can be used to secure whatever we want. This is so far from the truth. Christian prayers are prayers guided by our understanding of His will not our wants. Although this world is antagonistic to His will, we thru prayer find the strength and guidance to implement His will in this world. We are to pray, “not my will, but Your will be done.” And we can know His will.
We can have whatever we ask in His name. We can have whatever we believe Him for. These thoughts are scriptural, but are often misunderstood. What do they really mean? “In His name”, means in the authority given us in that name. He has provided many things for us, and given us the authority to use His name to access these things. We can know what these things are by knowing the scriptures. These things are not worldly pleasures or our carnal desires. Also “whatever we believe Him for”, means hearing Him and believing Him and expecting accordingly. You can’t believe Him until He speaks, therefore you can’t pray in faith until you have heard Him speak concerning your request. “Believing God for something” does not mean expecting Him to do whatever you ask, but expecting Him to do what He has said He will do.
Knowing what He has given us the authority to receive through prayer, will help us pray much more effective prayers. And being able to truly hear Him, through the scriptures or by His Spirit, will help us pray much more effective prayers. Effective prayers are prayers that avail us of all that we need, physically or spiritually, to bring about his will in a situation.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him,
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 the petitions that we have asked of Him.
1 John 5:14