December 15, 2017
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Seeking a Prayer Strategy
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives. – James 4:2,3

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They recognized the power and authority with which He prayed and wished to pray like that. What He taught them was not an incantation, not a formula, and not a procedure. He taught them how to have a prayer strategy. It was a three year lesson that culminated with the promise “My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name.”

A prayer strategy includes our motive, our attitude and our specific request. When we ask “in His name” our prayers are powerful. They lead to transformation in us and in others. They please God and they move heaven.

Thy Will Be Done

We recognize the phrase “Thy will be done” as part of the prayer Jesus taught His disciples (Matthew 6:9-13). It is our verbal reminder that God does what is right and good, and that He has a plan and purpose. As we pray, we want to be in agreement with that plan and so we want to conform our will to match His. The first way we do that is by complying with His revealed will: the things He has said about Himself in the Bible. The more we study the Bible the better we get at developing a prayer strategy. We can pray boldly in agreement with His revealed will.

“Thy will be done” is also an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God. He has the power and authority to do what He pleases, and no amount of pressure or coercion on our part can force Him into doing anything against His will. This is a foundational truth, and one not to be overlooked. For this reason some will tack on a conditional clause to their prayer: “if it is Your will.” We cheat ourselves if we regularly end the conversation that way. Imagine how stunted your relationship with your spouse would be if every conversation ended in “do whatever you want to do”. Worse yet: “Here’s my opinion, but I know you’re going to do whatever you want anyway.” Instead, we should press in to answer the question: “Is it Your will?” Knowing the answer deepens our relationship with Him.

Knowing God’s Character

We can learn about God’s character beyond what we discover in His revealed will. When we watch and learn, there are patterns that emerge. We see how God deals with us, and how He deals with circumstances. The bottom line is that God is love. The way He chooses to demonstrate that love can change. Our prayer strategy may be as unique as our relationship with Him, and as unique as any given situation. This keeps the relationship fresh.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” – John 17:25-26

Jesus demonstrates the ideal prayer strategy in His High Priestly prayer (John 17). He prays to the Father boldly and intimately with the confidence of knowing the Father’s will. Our goal is to have the same level of intimacy by knowing God’s character.

Even when we are certain about God’s will, there is room for exception in how He works out the details. Remember the example of the Hebrews and the fiery furnace: their prayer strategy was to ask for deliverance by the hand of God, knowing that He loved them. They said: “The God we serve is able to save us … and He will rescue us from your hand. But even if He does not …” They knew and trusted His character in the matter, and were confident that He would do the right thing. He saved them miraculously (Daniel 3).

Aligning My Will to His

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of him. – 1 John 5:14-15

The great thing about seeking a prayer strategy is that it helps us become more and more like God. The work we do changes us and our character conforms to His. When we ask anything according to His will, we have what we ask of Him. The more we ask and receive, the greater our confidence becomes.

There are times when a discrepancy exists between our will and God’s will. You may feel like you are arguing or wrestling with Him, trying to get your way. Whenever this happens, we must give way by surrendering our rights. A great example is the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane where He prays: “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39). When we do like Jesus, our yielding puts us in agreement with Him. We may still be wrestling to find a prayer strategy, but we are wrestling with God, not against Him. We surrender the part of us that opposes God.

Boldly Before the Throne

“You do not have because you do not ask.”

God is pleased to have us come before the throne of grace to make our requests known. We discover more about Him as we establish our prayer strategy. Each opportunity conforms us, either by confirming our redeemed parts or pointing out our opposing parts. Our fully tested prayer strategy gives us confidence that we are asking “in His name”. The promise is for complete joy.

“Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” – John 16:24

 
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