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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why how we pray matters.

I've had a great response to my last post, where I shared with you about how you can and should pray boldly and confidently for your marriage. (There were, of course, a few detractors who seemed to lump what I wrote into the "name-it, claim-it" or "positive confession" crowd, which is not at all what I was trying to convey.)

It's clear to me that  Bible instructs us  to pray from a place of faith and confidence in God's nature (His goodness, faithfulness and love, to name a few). Go back and read that post if you haven't yet. It's good stuff!

But that's not all! There's tons more instruction in the Word on how to approach prayer.

Pray Fearlessly

When we are really concerned about something, It's easy to pray from a place of fear and dread. "God, please don't let X happen." I've prayed plenty of those prayers.

But Philippians 4:6 tells us to pray differently.  "Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God." (AMP).

Verse 7 goes on to add "Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (NLT)

Want peace? Give thanks to God. Out loud. Often. It works!

I just discovered a recording artist named Tim Timmons. I just love the heart behind his songs. And as a songwriter I marvel at the way his songs are so well crafted. His song, "Cast Your Cares" is incredible and has some very powerful lyrics that speak directly to what I'm trying to convey. So I'll shut up and let him do it. 

Cast Your Cares by Tim Timmons (partial lyrics)

In the middle of the night I'll pray with confidence
In the middle of the fight you're greater still
In the middle of the fire your love is holding me
You are, you are my song
You're my hope when hope is gone.

and the chorus:

I will cast my cares on you the Almighty
I will cast my cares on you cuz you're good
I will cast my cares on you cuz you love me, you love me
Because you love me still

Please watch the full video of this song, where Tim relays the story of his battle with incurable cancer. It gives his song tremendous validity and veracity. So powerful!

Watch Tim Timmons  "Cast My Cares"  on Youtube

Pray Continually, Watchfully and Thankfully

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (Col 4:2 NIV) or in the Amplified, "Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving." (Col 4:2 AMP)

See the next section for more on being unwearied in prayer.

Being watchful in prayer means fixing your eyes on what the Father is doing. That's what Jesus did. He described himself as only doing what he saw the Father doing. It also means fixing your eyes on who God is, not on your circumstances.

Pray with thanksgiving, thankful in the knowledge that Jesus died to give you access to the Father and all that he has. Be thankful that God is good and gracious and faithful. Prayers of petition that are seasoned with thanksgiving are a sweet incense before the Lord. A thankful heart is a peaceful heart.

(See my other posts on being watchful and thankful in your marriage.)

Pray and Don't Give Up

In Luke 18 Jesus tell the parable of the persistent widow, who pesters the judge for justice until he finally grants it to her petition.  It's one of the few places the Bible explicitly states why Jesus told a story. It was told to the disciples "so that they would pray and not give up."

Then there is the parable of the persistent neighbor, which comes right after the Lord's prayer (Luke 11:1-13). After Jesus describes a man banging a door down to get what he wants, he says these famous words, "So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."

I don't really get it totally, but persistence seems to matter to God. Don't give up if a prayer or two doesn't seem to give you the result you are after. Press in. Persist. God likes it.

Truthfully, I can't say I fully understand why how we pray matters. He knows our hearts, he knows our needs, yet the Bible is full of instruction on how we should pray. It's not that there's a magic formula or that God is trying to get us to jump through some tiny hoop before he answers.

No, I'm convinced that how we pray mostly matters for us. It for the shaping of our hearts and the molding of our faith.

What do you think? Why is the Bible so full of instruction on how we should pray? How has prayer affected your marriage? We'd all love to hear, so leave a comment.

I can't resist. Here's one more Tim Timmons song called "Christ in Me." It also goes right along with this post.

Christ in Me by Tim Timmons (partial lyrics)

The same great light that broke the dark
The same great peace that calmed the seas
The same great love that gives us breath
The same great power that conquered death
Hallelujah is flowing through me

What if I believed in your power and I really lived it?
What if I believed: Christ in me?
What if I believed it?

Watch Tim Timmons "Christ In Me" on Youtube

Need a boost in your prayer life? I highly recommend you download the sermon notes from our Pastor Gred Haswell's teaching on prayer.

photo credit: tmcphotos /


Beth Templeton said...

Really encouraging Scott. Thank you! And I loved the songs too.

Anonymous said...

wow, I never got that you were pushing "name-it-claim-it" at all. Which I don't believe in either. However, just imagine if it WAS true:

"God I claim that I will always assume the best of my brothers and sisters" BOOM DONE!

"God I claim that I will always be forgiving" BOOM DONE!

"God I claim that I will always endure in love" BOOM DONE!

Wouldn't our marriages be in much better shape if we name-it-and-claim-it this way!?

I know it sounds like I'm being cheeky, but I'm being totally serious. So often I hear prayer to change our circumstances rather than ourselves.

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