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What do I expect when I pray?

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Tonight we prayed to God, our Father, around many themes:
- God would increase our knowledge: knowledge of the Hope we have in Him, the inheritance that awaits us, and of His Power, the basis of our Hope.
• That God would increase our knowledge of the inheritance that awaits
• That God would increase our knowledge of His power, the basis of our
hope
1 Song (Jackson Cowley)
Scripture reading: (Josh Roth)
- God would strengthen our Knowledge, through this knowledge Christ would dwell in our hearts
- Thanked God for each other and that we all would be found blameless before God
• That our knowledge of His love would strengthen us
1 Song (Jackson Cowley)
Prayer based on , (Jerry Flatt or Charlie King) Thanked God for each other and that we all would be found blameless before God
- Prayed that God would count us worthy and our lives would be to his glory.
• Prayer that God’s people would be found blameless in Him.
1 Song (Jackson Cowley)
Scripture reading: (Blake Elmore)
Prayer based on (Scott Tellinghuisen) Prayed that God would count us worthy and our lives would be to his glory.
• Prayer that God would count us worthy of His calling.
• Prayer that our lives would be to His glory.
Now, let’s think for a few minutes on: What do we expect from these prayers? Do you confidently look for God to answer them? My observation is that people in general, give little thought to praying with the expectation that God will actively respond to the petitions offered.
Have you ever given serious thought as to what you expect from your Prayers? Do you confidently look for God to answer them? My observation is that people give little thought to praying with the expectation that God will actively respond to the petitions offered. Recently I was asked, “What do you get from studying the prayer life of Jesus?” It set me to thinking, not only about what I look for in a study of prayer in His life, but what I anticipate in response to my own prayers.
There are a few examples in God’s word of those who prayed, and their expectations from those prayers, that we can learn from:
If we look at Jesus and His prayer life, we can see a few things:
Jesus was constantly going to a quiet place and praying to God. It is very evident that he prayed constantly and fervently about everything, seeking guidance in all that he did.
Jesus sets the ultimate example of humility in prayer when he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but Yours be done”
It is clear that Jesus wholeheartedly expected his prayers to be answered, there was no doubt. Ultimately, through those prayers we see Jesus enduring through all trials and temptations, conquering death on the cross.
First, we see Jesus. In the prayer-life of Jesus,
Next, we can look at Paul.
Paul has many of his prayers recorded.
- Jesus had an intimate and close relationship between Him and the Father, a complete and full trust in the Father as the great and eternal God who was guiding and directing the Lord in His teaching and work.
On multiple occasions asks for prayers for him and his companions:
- Through Jesus’ example, I see an assurance for every disciple; there is no reason why I should not look for the same divine answer to prayer if I approach God in the same spirit and desire for the same ends—guidance, strength, power, and victory to overcome.
- Jesus’ prayer life reveals a sense of total submission to the Father’s will; it was always “thy will,” not “my will.” We see Him finding the strength and power to overcome all opposition—Satanic and human; He never lost a skirmish.
- He constantly sought guidance and direction from his Father, which was granted to Him through their continued communion and fellowship. Prayer played a major role in maintaining this fellowship and providing power to accomplish the purpose for which he came into the world.
- Through Jesus, we see a complete and final victory over Satan and the great enemy death. There is no way to separate Jesus’ accomplishments from His prayers, which were such a prominent part of His life.
- Through Jesus’ example, I see an assurance for every disciple; there is no reason why I should not look for the same divine answer to prayer if I approach God in the same spirit and desire for the same ends—guidance, strength, power, and victory to overcome.
Paul. In one of his earliest letters, Paul urged the saints at Thessalonica to pray for him and his fellow workers, (NASB95) 1 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.” In two of his late letters, both written from Rome, Paul urged the Christians at Ephesus to pray for all the saints, (NASB95) 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” To the brethren at Colossae he wrote, asking them to pray (NASB95) 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.” Evidently Paul believed that God would hear and respond to such prayers, else he would not have requested them to pray for him as he did.
19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;
1 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;
From the beginning of his ministry Paul faced many trials in his work and great opposition to his preaching; he expected no less when he would go to Jerusalem with the contribution to the saints. Wherefore, he urged the brethren at Rome, saying, (NASB95) 30 Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; 32 so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.” He asked a smiliar favor of those in Thessalonica, saying, (NASB95) 1 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.” Did the apostle expect answers to these prayers, or was there some other reasons why he made these requests?
2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul was not asking for their prayers so there would be no trials, but that through the trials he would be delivered to continue his work. In his last letter to Timothy, which is probably the last that he wrote, he clearly indicates that these prayers were answered. After enumerating a number of things he had suffered and persecutions he had endured, he said, (NASB95) 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!” . And of the first trial in Rome, he says, (NASB95) 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Under similar circumstances should we not ask brethren to pray for us and expect God to hear and answer the prayers as He did then? Jesus asked the thought-provoking question in connection with a parable on prayer: (NASB95) 8 “... However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
30 Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,
2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith.
17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.
11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!
As we pointed out in an earlier chapter, God does not always grant the thing requested; but when He does not, He provides the grace to meet and overcome the problem. Paul prayed that the thorn in his flesh (whatever it may have been) be removed; but God had some greater lesson to teach, and He said “no” to Paul, adding, (NASB95) 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” ...” So from him I learn that when I ask God to remove the “thorn” and He says “no,” I can expect the mercy and grace to bear it ( (NASB95) 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ).
8 “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
31 that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints;
When I Pray. Added to the examples above, the prayer of Jabez ( (NASB95) 9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.” 10 Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.), the only place in the Bible where he is mentioned, affords an illustration of what I may expect in response to prayer. After wading through the desert of dry names in , one feels that he has come to a refreshing oasis when he reaches the story of Jabez. It is written, (NASB95) 9 “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.” We do not know positively what the name Jabez meant; Young says, “height” (Young’s Concordance); whereas, Strong says, “it is from an unused root probably meaning to grieve; [be] sorrowful” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). If Strong is correct, then we have one whose name indicates an individual who rose above the sorrow that he cuased his mother at birth to become more honorable than his brothers. And though he was so honorable and found favor with God, yet the Lord summed up his life’s history in one verse: (NASB95) 10 “Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.”
18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” ...”
32 so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.
9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain.”
Jabez’ prayer for God’s blessing indeed suggests both the fervency and urgency of the prayer as well as the desire for that which is real—the true blessings of God. “And enlarge my border,” probably meant the expansion of his territorial boundaries; but since God granted the request, it must have been for an unselfish end. However, seeing that border is used figuratively of Edom, whom men would call, “the border of wickedness” (), and the mountains of God’s land, “his holy border” (, margin; also Delitzsch), one might speak of enlarging the border of his influence or his service. “and that Your hand might be with me,” would be a prayer for the abiding presence, support and guiding hand of God in his life. “and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” Although harm has many applications in Scripture, the probably meaning is moral or spiritual harm—the harm of forgetting God or of violating His divine law. If Jehovah would keep him from such, he would escape the sorrow and grief that comes from doing evil. This prayer for deliverance from evil foreshadows the Savior’s teaching studied above ( (NASB95) 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’)
10 Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.
If Jabez prayed unselfishly when he requested that his borders be enlarged that he might use this added blessing to the glory of God, the prayer would not be inconsistent with our privilege today. We must pray for the material necessities of life ( (NASB95) 11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.) and even beyond, that we might have the means to help others, for this is our responsibility ( (NASB95) 7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9 as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.) “And God granted him that which he requested,” indicates the righteous spirit and purpose of the prayer. The point of considering this prayer and its result is easily seen. Since Jabez prayed and God granted him his request, I should expect God to answer my prayer as He did Jabez’s if I pray similarly in the spirit of our study thus far. I believe he will.
7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9 as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
In a final summary, let us review what I should expect in response to my prayers. First, I must pray within the boundary of God’s will, consistent with His total teaching on the subject. Second, it should be in the name of Christ, in all that this means, in regard to my relationship to God in Him and His relationship to God on my behalf. Third, all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings, should look to the glory of God and His eternal purpose as the ultimate end. Prayers with a purely selfish end, vain repetitions, and thoughtless rote expressions, will never find a favorable response in the mind of God. So, when I talk to or with God, let me realize the intimacy of this personal prayer; let me ask only for those things which are vital, needful, and glorifying to Him and believe that He will hear and grant that which is best. If I cannot or will not do this, it is best that I remain silent until I can.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
9 as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.
11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.
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