Foundations of the Faith: Why We Can Trust God When We Pray

The third in a series of articles explaining basic truths of the Christian faith.

Foundations of the Faith: Why We Can Trust God When We Pray

The third in a series of articles explaining basic truths of the Christian faith.

Many of us tend to begin our prayers by telling God what we would like Him to do and how we want Him to accomplish it. I’d like you to consider a different approach: Accept the fact that God is God. He knows the details. He understands what’s at stake.

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

A good way to pray is to simply say to the Lord, “I want to follow Your will in this circumstance—in my health, in my family, in my business, in my discouragement. I need You. I’m lifting my hand to ask for Your help.” You don’t have to pray with a special tone of voice. Don’t worry about sounding sophisticated or pastoral—just be who you are and talk to the Lord about your concerns and the challenges facing the people around you.

When you are willing to be someone who humbly prays, God will respond. He will bring people across your path who need prayer. He will make you aware of places in your own life where prayer will change the outcomes. Come quickly and often to the Lord in prayer. When He’s looking for someone to stand in the gap (see Ezekiel 22:30), take the time and effort to pray for whomever and whatever He has placed on your heart.

You see, there is a workman-like quality to prayer. A good worker shows up, completes their assignments, and attends to their responsibilities. Though the larger outcomes of their efforts may be beyond them, they realize their part is critical to the end result. Similarly, with prayer, you have to show up, engage, participate and be willing to make it a consistent part of your life, even though you understand the results are beyond your efforts. 

I’m telling you this because when you see someone who seems to consistently experience God’s presence in their prayer life, that doesn’t mean they have some unique spiritual gift. What you can know is that person has invested time and effort in knowing God and in praying—they’ve approached prayer like a good workman. 

Remember that when you and I pray, we don’t pray to some nameless, unknown God. We’re praying to the God of our Bible. His Son, Jesus, said if we believe in Him, we have permission to pray in His Name. So, ending a prayer with the phrase, “in Jesus’ Name” is not just a mindless recitation of a formula. When we approach our Heavenly Father, we are approaching Him in the authority of His sinless, obedient Son. On my best day, I can’t fix a gnat’s wing. But when I ask God to intervene in Jesus’ Name—praying according to His will—that brings into play the full power of His authority.

It’s also important to recognize that prayer is a general term that represents many different types of prayers—just as the word tool can mean a hammer, a screwdriver or a wrench. There are prayers of forgiveness, prayers of repentance, healing prayers, prayers for deliverance, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of provision, prayers of blessing and more.  

When Jesus’ disciples asked for instruction regarding prayer, Jesus gave them the Lord’s Prayer—a template, not just for a single prayer, but for many categories of prayers. The prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” is an expression of worship. Prayer starts with us worshipping God. 

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is a prayer asking for God’s presence and authority to be known on the earth. And when you pray for this, don’t just sit back and act like your job is done. In His strength, go and be an expression of what you know God wants done on the earth. 

“Give us today our daily bread” is a prayer for God’s provision. Jesus told us to pray that we would have what we need today—not next year, not in our retirement. It can be difficult to learn to be content, which is why this should be a part of our daily prayers.

The next prayer is, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Jesus expands on this in verses 14 and 15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Our decisions—including whether to forgive someone or not—have enormous spiritual implications, either for the good or the bad. You’ve been given spiritual authority, and your choices are an expression of that. The good news is we can ask for God’s help. We see this petition in the next line of the Lord’s prayer: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” 

When it comes to prayer, my greatest recommendation is to become an obedient learner. Our God is infinite. Even if we spent every minute of our days seeking to know Him better, we would just be scratching the surface of understanding. Instead of waiting until you feel like you know everything about prayer, just begin to pray. Then, get ready to see what the Lord will do.  ©2024 Allen Jackson

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.

Allen Jackson is senior pastor of World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is the author of more than a dozen books, and his ministry also reaches people through television, radio and the internet. 

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