Desiring God in Prayer

Bev Moore April 19, 2013

This is Session 2 from The Desire of a Woman's Heart (2013 Spring Retreat).

I.  The definition of Prayer

Prayer is talking to God, coming before Him recognizing who He is and our need for Him.  It is an admission that He is God and we are not. It is recognizing that He alone is the One who knows us and can help us.  It is humbling ourselves before God Almighty to seek His face, to exalt and adore Him, to allow Him to conform our wills to His, and to lay our burdens upon Him.

Prayer is not rubbing a magic lamp in order to get our every wish.  Tacking on at the end “In Jesus’ Name” doesn’t obligate God to give us everything we ask for.  But as our Heavenly Father, He does obligate Himself to give us everything we need to glorify and honor Him as He conforms us to the likeness of His Son.

II. The Importance of Prayer

Jesus said in John 8:29

29 “The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him."

If Jesus lived to please His Father, should our goal be anything less? 

2 Corinthians 5:9 So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

Have you ever thought about why this should be our goal?

5:15 And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

We want to live lives that are pleasing to God because of what He has done through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus His Son in order to bring us into a relationship with Himself.

Why does God command us to pray?  Relationships are two way—we come humbly before Him to seek Him, and to pour out our hearts to Him because we need Him and we need His help.  Spending time in prayer is vital to deepening our relationship with Him.   

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 

Philippians4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

What are the commands in these verses?  What are the promises?

We are not coming before Him on our own merit, but on the merit and worthiness of Jesus Christ. 

13 I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of Him.  1 John 5:13-15

When we pray, our prayers must line up with God’s will and what will bring glory to Him.  Just because we think that our prayer is according to His will, does not mean we can expect God to act according to what we think is best or right.   He alone knows what is best for us, and what will bring glory to Him is what is best for us. If what we ask for is not according to His will, we shouldn’t want it anyway.

III. The Hindrances to Prayer

I call these the “Dreaded Ds”

Discouragement—we get discouraged when so many things come at us.  We can feel overwhelmed.

Disappointment—we get disappointed when we don’t see the answers to our prayers we were expecting or hoping for.

Disillusioned—we get disillusioned when we see others doing well while our lives seem so hard.  We compare ourselves to others.  We also wonder why God makes our lives so difficult.  Is this really what we signed up for when we became Christians?

Defeated—we feel defeated because it seems like all we hear is how awful things are in the world.  Hopelessness can creep in when we don’t see change happening.  It seems the harder we pray, the less answers we receive.

Downcast—we feel downcast or deeply saddened when the problems we are facing seem so much bigger than God.

Doubt—we doubt God’s ability to do something and we doubt His willingness to help us.  We’re pretty sure He’ll help others, but probably not us.  We doubt God can really bring anything good out of a situation.  We also doubt whether or not God is really in control of all the chaos going on around us.  We doubt God’s faithfulness and goodness.

Drudgery—when our prayer life lacks vibrancy and prayer seems so dry and lifeless, it becomes drudgery, like a huge weight we are dragging around (and we’re not very good at it.)

Distracted—so many distractions!  Relationships, work, kids, housework, groceries, bills, holidays, activities, just life!

Discipline—we know prayer is to be part of our lives, so we discipline ourselves to do it, yet it feels like one more thing to check off our to-do list.

IV. Jesus’ example of prayer

Possible applications from Matthew 6:5-13:

1.  Pray in a quiet place (fewer distractions).

2.  Humble myself before Him (I personally kneel because it helps me to focus on what I am doing).

3.  Remember Who He is:  my loving and caring heavenly Father.

4.  I start my time hallowing Him. To hallow God is to set Him apart from everything common.  It’s to reverence, honor, and adore Him.  For me this means remembering and saying the Names He has revealed to me in Scripture:  King of kings, Lord of lords, the Great I Am, Lord God Almighty, the Holy One of Israel, Redeemer, Master, Creator, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Bread of Life, Living Water, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God, the Bright and Morning Star.  As I focus on His Names this helps me focus on His character.

5.  Focus on His Kingdom, not my own.  This is not about me.

6.  I ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the sins I need to confess.  I have to confess when I am living for my will to be done rather than living to do His will.

7.  I thank God for His character qualities like His faithfulness, His mercy, His goodness, His love, His grace, His power and might, His wisdom, His sovereignty.  And I thank Him for His blessings in my life.  He has rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son He loves.  He loves me because of who He is. 

8.  I bring my petitions before Him asking for His help, with an open hand because His will is best.  There are certain requests I pray for daily.  Designating certain requests for certain days is helpful.  Writing down what I would like to pray for is best for me.

9.  When I pray I try to pray according to Scripture, focusing on the eternal rather than just the temporal.  Health and safety are important, but growing in the grace and knowledge of God is focusing on His kingdom and eternity.  I’m not afraid to ask big things of a big God.  And James tells us we have not because we ask not, so I’m going to ask (hopefully) with the right motives (James 4: 2-3).  I also want to pray with faith, because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  Just to clarify, this is not “Name it and claim it” praying.  This is believing that God hears me and will answer my prayers according to His good will.  I also want to be like the persistent widow and not give up (Luke 18:1-8).

10.  I pray for protection against temptation and the evil one.  I can rest assured that God will never put me in a situation that my only recourse is to sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).  He will always provide the grace and help I need to face any trial He permits in my life that He wants to use to purify my heart and faith.  My prayer is to be faithful to seek and depend on Him and to grow in Him.

ACTS

A:  Adoration:   Adoring and worshiping God for who He is and what He has done. 

C:  Confession.  Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the sin that needs to be confessed to the Lord and seek His forgiveness. 

T:  Thanksgiving.  Spend time thanking God for His mercy, grace, love, and provisions.

S:  Supplication.  After time is spent time worshiping, praising and thanking the God of heaven and earth, come before His throne with boldness and confidence, giving God the problem, not the solution.  Use Scripture to direct your petitions.


Homework

 

1.  Read Psalm 145 and write down all the attributes of God that you can adore and praise Him for.

 

 

 

 

2.  Read Psalm 103 and write down all the things you can thank God for.

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart for any sin you need to confess.  See Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 66:16-20.

 

4.  Read the following passages and write down what the apostle Paul was prayed for.

Ephesians 1:15-23

 

 

 

Philippians 1:9-11

 

 

 

Colossians 1:9-13

 

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

 

 

 

How do his prayers compare with what you typically pray for?

 

 

5.  God desires a relationship with us because He is relational.  We are relational beings because we have been made in His image.  How can you develop/build/strengthen your relationship with Him?  What are one or two things you would like to change/incorporate in your prayer life from what you’ve learned?

Bev Moore

Beverly serves as a Biblical Counselor for the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.