I have always talked to God. However only recently have I realized these biblical truths concerning prayer.
None of the biblical examples of powerful prayer suggested that God ignored someone’s free will.
Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:3, 15-17 NIV)
- Moses didn’t say, “Change the people, God.” He prayed, “Please God, don’t leave us.”
In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. (Isaiah 38:1-5 NIV)
- Hezekiah prayed that God would change His plan and extend his life.
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5:17-18 NIV)
- Elijah prayed for specific weather so that the people would recognize Jehovah as the only true God. He wasn’t concerned about his convenience.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)
- God didn’t say, “Pray that the wicked heathen would repent.” He said, “You need to repent, then I will forgive you.”
Often people who are angry with God pray, “God change them.”
There are no examples of anyone praying a specific series of words that caused the healing of numerous people.
Can you imagine the problems if we thought that if we said specific words in a specific way that God would be obligated to follow our request? That is not to imply we are not to ask for God to heal those suffering from physical, spiritual, emotional, or relational illness.
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. (James 5:13-14 NIV)
With God it is not the words we say, it is the belief we have that contains the power. Our salvation comes through faith, through our belief, not through repeating some prayer.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9 NIV emphasis is mine)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9 NIV emphasis is mine)
So even the sinner’s prayer people often repeat for salvation must focus on the heart instead of sentences. This change in belief will lead to prioritizing God.
Yes. pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Yes. make your requests of God (Philippians 4:6).
Yes. cast your cares upon Jesus (1 Peter 5:7).
But do not expect God to overrule someone’s free will, instead expect your heart to be changed and God to bless you because of it.
Can you give an example of people becoming superstitious about prayer?