Throughout my life, I’ve owned several small companies and worked for large corporations – sadly, I’ve never owned a large corporation. 😉 One thing that was consistent within all these businesses was this: Always ask for the order. When you are doing a sales call, this idiom means enjoying your conversation with your existing client or a prospective client, but before the conversation wraps us, always ask for an order for whatever you are selling. Make the sale.
I’ve noticed that there are a lot of Christians that pray ambiguous prayers. By ambiguous, I mean prayers that are “unclear or inexact.” Yes, God indeed knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), and His will is unchanging, but He has made it abundantly clear that we are not to just toss a prayer to Him with little or no expectation as to His response. Consider for a moment the parable Jesus taught us about prayer.
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”Luke 18:1-8 NLT
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
Clear, Consistent, and Correct
Jesus told us to persist in prayer. We must make our request clear, consistent, and correct! How can we know when God answers our prayers if we never made an explicit request to Him?
We see in Christ’s parable of the unjust judge that Jesus expects us to pray with consistency. The widow didn’t change her request every time she came to the judge (waffle). No, it was the same request. Our prayer requests should be consistent. We are warned in James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
We are to pray correctly. Jesus warned us directly not to prattle on in our prayers. Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:7) And, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3)
Jesus mediates, and the Holy Spirit intercedes
We are to come before the Father, through Jesus, our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5-6), with clear, consistent prayers that align with the will of God. You may ask, “How can I pray within God’s will?” Well, we need to understand that, as Christians, the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayers.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27
So, when we pray, we typically should “ask for the order,” for Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) However, there are times when we just need to pour our hearts out to God. That’s a good thing. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. We can continually pray, even when we run out of words or don’t know what to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
That’s the 411 on prayer. Let’s pause for a moment and consider how loving God is to us. He is so interested in us that He wants us to continually stay connected to Him through prayer!
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