As Christians we all pray. It is something that we get very used to, though at times we struggle to even get on our knees.
One day as I was praying, I noticed I was praying in a thoughtless manner, just letting my prayer drift along with the thoughts that came to my mind. II thought it would be helpful for me to develop some sort of guidelines that I can review every time I pray so that I may pray with purpose rather than continuing in my drifting prayer.
These are just four out of my personal prayer guidelines I have written down on my prayer booklet to remind myself every time I pray.
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
We are sometimes too obsessed over our own life that we only seek our own selfish desires rather than praying for His kingdom and His righteousness.
Jesus started the Lord’s prayer with “Hollowed be thy name”. Yes, we can freely, without any fear, ask our heavenly Father the desires of our heart honestly.
However, we ought to remember God’s promise that when we focus upon His kingdom and His righteousness, the Father who knows all our needs will take care of the little things.
I remind myself of this promise every time before I pray, so that I can rest in his promise and not worry about all these little things, but simply let tomorrow worry on its own and have my full focus on God’s will.
Do not doubt when you pray.
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James chapter 1, verses 6-8)
I noticed that a lot of the times when I bring a petition before God, I am seeking half-heartedly. In other words, as I am praying, I don’t really have the fullest expectation that whatever I am praying about will actually be answered and become a reality in this world.
The bible warns such people like myself – ‘If you are going to pray like that, might as well not pray! As those prayers with doubt will not get answered’.
If we do have doubts or are praying only half-expectantly, it is important to bring our doubts honestly before God first and then ask Him to replace our doubts with overflowing confidence in the power of prayer.
Never give up on prayer. God always answers, sometimes it’s just delayed.
Initiating a petition is super easy, persevering in it is extremely difficult. We often grow weary after some time and give up on most of our petitions.
I remember George Muller’s story. He was praying for his dear friend’s salvation for 36 years. His friend believed soon after Mr Muller’s death. Even though Mr Muller never got to witness his prayer being answered in his flesh, I am sure he would have seen it in heaven.
George Muller said that all prayers are answered: the answers are Yes, No, or Wait. Sometimes prayers are delayed as it may not be the right timing, but our job is not to quit therefore and come back to it later, but rather continuously pray unceasingly.
I always let George Muller’s story be a helpful reminder to never erase a petition from my prayer booklet, and continue to pray with full hopes that God will one day answer my prayers.
When he does answer one day, and even if the answer is a big fat NO, still I will praise the Lord and thank him for answering my prayer and simply trust in the fact that He knows what is best.
Prayer causes things to happen. It won’t happen unless I actually pray.
“You do not have because you do not ask.” (James chapter 4, verse 2)
I am a staunch Calvinist, and therefore this is a very healthy reminder to my Calvinistic soul.
God has not simply ordained the ends but has also ordained the means. Therefore, if I don’t participate and actually pray, the end would not be accomplished. Yes, God has ordained things to happen before the creation of this world, but it will only happen through our prayers.
Since this is such a complex theological topic, I have included a short 3-minute YouTube clip by John Piper to help explain this theological dilemma for those who are interested.
If you have Calvinistic conviction like myself, I strongly encourage you to invest the 3 minutes, as it will be a healthy reminder for us to never abuse the glorious doctrine of predestination to excuse ourselves from fervent prayers.
Richard Kwon is from Auckland, a regular lay person who just loves he Lord.