In Luke, the disciples are recorded to have asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). I have heard it said that prayer is simply speaking with God and I agree with this statement – I have said it myself. Yet, there are certain principles that when understood, elevate our prayer lives to the next level of impact and enjoyment. Yes, prayer is speaking with God. However, it is also working with God. Through prayer, we work with Him to bring about His will on earth and war with Him against the powers of darkness. I frequently explain that witnessing to the lost and laying hands on the sick involves a partnership with God. If we speak to people about Jesus and minister to them in the name of Jesus, God does the saving or healing work. In short, we bring the voice and touch and He brings the power punch! Similarly, prayer is also partnering with God. Just as the Father needs our words of witness to save a soul, so He needs our prayers to manifest His Kingdom on earth.
Speaking about prayer, Jesus assured His disciples: “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). If this is the case, why can He not simply supply what is needed without us asking? God has no desire for us to be His pets, puppets or playthings. He desires cooperation, partnership, sonship and friendship. A father and son work together. Best friends labour side-by-side. Business partners toil concurrently. Teammates exert themselves shoulder-to-shoulder. This is the kind of co-labouring that exists between God and believer. And so, immediately after Jesus explained that His Father does indeed know what is needed, He urged His disciples to pray. The manner of prayer? “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (see Matthew 6:7-10). That particular statement, “Your will be done” is pivotal. Somehow, our praying His will results in His will being done. Our job is to pray His will and then cooperate with Him in whatever ways are necessary. His job is to do His will. If we do not do our part, He cannot do His part. This is essential to understand. We are in partnership with Him. We pray. He acts. His children praying His will results in His will being done. The Almighty God needs our prayers! This is one of the ways in which He involves His children in bringing about His will in a broken and hurting world. What a simple yet extraordinary truth.
The Apostle John emphasised this connection between praying the will of God and God acting on these prayers in his first epistle: “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 5:14-15). But, in order to pray His will, we need to know His will. How do we know His will? The answer is remarkably simple. His word is His will and His will is His word! We are to seek Scripture for direction regarding the matter about which we need to pray. The Bible is filled with an abundance of precious promises, including those of healing, deliverance, provision, wisdom, guidance, favour, protection and comfort. Does God want someone to be sick? No! He promises healing. Does God want His children to suffer lack? No! He promises provision. Does God condone foolishness and confusion? No! He promises wisdom and direction. We are to find verses that relate to the situation at hand. What then? Do we say, “Father, you promise healing in your word, please heal my friend!” There is nothing wrong with such a prayer. Pray it with all your heart. Yet, let me show you another way that I – and many, many others – have found to be highly effective. It is a prayer-method that will permeate your heart with a power-packed faith infusion and cause every little demon knee to tremble! This method involves taking those verses you have found and turning them into actual prayers. In essence, the word of God becomes your prayer. You pray His word and His will, wholly and completely. Let me give you an example. A dear friend – let us call her, Hadassah – is ill. I find a passage of Scripture in which a promise of healing is declared. Take Psalm 103, for example. Psalm 103:1-5 declares: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” How do I pray this passage for Hadassah? My prayer would sound something like this:
Dearest Father, I pray in the name of Jesus for Hadassah. I thank you that you are the God who heals all her diseases. You are the God who redeems her life from destruction. You are the God who crowns her with lovingkindess and tender mercies. You are the God who renews her youth. Please, Father, come to Hadassah’s aid! Heal, redeem, renew and crown her, Almighty God, as you have promised to do in your word! Amen and amen.
Do you see how I am praying the word of God? Do you see how the verses become prayers? This is a highly impactful prayer pattern. Seek the Lord and seek His word. Find verses that relate to the situation about which you want to pray. Does a loved one need healing? Search out verses on healing. Does your business need miraculous provision? Search out verses on provision. Does your family need protection? Search out protection passages. You will find that certain Scriptures will touch your heart more than others, the Holy Spirit setting them ablaze. Then, take these heart-rending portions and pray them with fervour and intensity. You are praying the word of God and the will of God. Pray, pray and pray until the breakthrough comes!
Please watch out for the next part in the TEACH US TO PRAY series, coming soon.
I would like to express my gratitude to Rev. Suzette Hattingh of Voice in the City Ministries. Much of what I know about prayer, I learned from her. She is a mighty intercessor and evangelist whose teachings on intercession are among the best I have ever heard or read. I would highly recommend her material (www.voiceinthecity.org)