How should I pray?
Dear BPCWAians, We saw last week why God answers our prayers – “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). When we pray for things that will glorify God, He will answer. And we rejoice in answered prayers not because we obtained what we hoped for ourselves or even for others, but because God was exalted through it. So how do we pray such prayers in whatever we bring before God, both in our personal prayer and at church prayer meetings?
How should I pray then? (1) The glory of God must be a foremost conscious thought behind whatsoever you ask for in prayer. Having understood that God answers prayers to achieve His end purpose for His glory, then you must pray according to that. We typically pray for our health, family, jobs, school work, daily needs, church, and friends. For each item we pray about, we should remind ourselves with this question – “Am I praying for my selfish desires or truly for the glory of God?” For example, with that in mind, a prayer for recovery from sickness would be, “Lord heal me so that I can serve you better, but if being sick will show others it is your grace alone that enables me during my sickness, then let it be so”. It will no longer be “Lord heal me so that I can enjoy my holiday, play games, and not feel so uncomfortable”. Or in another situation, our prayer may be “Lord please provide me a job so that I can give to your work. But if being jobless will show others how you continue to provide for our needs, then teach me to trust you”, instead of “Lord give me a job so that I can live more comfortably”. Or “Lord help my child in her studies so that she will have more time to study your Word and serve you” instead of “Lord help my child to do well in his exams so he will get a good job and have a good career ahead of him”. Or “Lord, I embrace either singlehood or married life. Whichever state helps me serve you better before I meet you face to face, I gladly accept” instead of “Lord, find me a spouse because others are getting married and I feel lonely and embarrassed”. Or “Lord please keep BPCWA strong and sound spiritually to feed us so that we can obey You rightly and live lives that will glorify you as individuals and families at all cost” instead of “Lord, protect BPCWA so that we have a happy church with many people and look better than other churches”. I hope you get the idea by now. Well, we may not pray those wrong words, but if we are honest, we may have them in our heart.
(2) Consider carefully what we are asking. God wants us to pray for everything in life, not just the “big” things. This is because it teaches and reminds us that we should depend upon His help for all things. But it does not mean we should just shoot our mouths off for anything that comes to mind. Because prayer is to ask for God to be glorified in the answers, then some things are not to be prayed for. Things that are against His known will ought not to be prayed for. It is adding sin to sin. Imagine asking God to help you to sin. Remember that God is not our “Aladdin’s lamp” and our “genie” who is bound to do our bidding. For example, we should not pray for sinful jobs, unequal yoke in relationships, God’s blessing upon disobedient churches, or even help for someone who is living in sin. When we pray for those in a sinful job, we pray that God will do what it takes to stop the person from continuing, not for protecting him. Check yourselves carefully when you are praying for anything. Some things may not be sinful in and of itself, but because it is drawing you or your child or your family further away from God, you should pray that God will remove it instead.
(3) Let God decide what glorifies Him. When you pray for anything, do not pray with preconceived ideas of what you think will bring glory to God. You must remember that God decides what answers will bring glory to Him. Be ready to accept whatever outcomes He chooses as answers. He knows best what glorifies Him. No one should demand that God answer according to his idea of what is best. If we do that, we are often praying for our own glory.
That God has answered many of our prayers at the church prayer meeting is an encouragement to come and pray and know the joy of being part of His work. Prayer is in a sense serving God together. We have seen God answer prayers in various things. The very nights we were praying for Rev Paul’s father (which God answered), God also heard the prayers for BPCWA those same nights. So though we do not see the physical answers for BPCWA, yet we are assured that He has heard and has answered too. Let us continue to pray, and to pray for the right reason – His glory alone. When we do so, we know He will answer.
Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.
Yours in our Lord’s service