David L. Goetsch
Prayer: Your Personal Connection to God (1 Peter 3:12)
Is prayer a normal part of your life? Do you pray regularly and often or just when you are experiencing adversity? As a Christian, prayer should be as much a part of your life as eating and breathing. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 we are told to pray unceasingly and give thanks in all situations because that is the will of God. In 1 Peter 3:12 we are assured that God’s ears are open to those who pray.
Prayer is your personal connection to God. God talks to us through His Word and we talk to Him through prayer. Both of these conversations are essential elements of the Christian walk. We pray to thank God for the manifest blessings in our lives and to ask for His intercession when we are struggling. Most importantly, we pray that He will help us become more like Christ as we grow in our Christian walk. In this blog, I offer a few suggestions that might help you improve your prayer life. If your prayer life is already in order, these suggestions might help you assist others with their prayer life.
My first suggestion is that you say the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) regularly. Christ gave this prayer to His disciples to teach them how to pray. It can serve the same purpose for anyone who might be unsure of how to proceed with establishing a consistent prayer life. The Lord’s prayer ensures that you acknowledge the sovereignty and provision of God, asks the Lord to forgive your sins, reminds you to forgive those who mistreat you, petitions the Lord for help in resisting temptation, and asks God to protect you from Satan. In other words, this prayer covers all the bases and should, therefore, be a prominent part of your prayer life.
In addition to making the Lord’s prayer the cornerstone of your prayer life, it is important to comply with the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 to give thanks in all situations. This means we are to thank God in good times and bad. Even in the worst of times, there are things in your life for which you can be thankful. It also means we are to pray not just for people who treat us well but also for those who don’t. As difficult as this sounds, we are to pray even for those who persecute us.
When struggling with adversity, there is nothing wrong with asking God to lighten your burden, but a better prayer is to ask Him to strengthen your resolve and ability to persevere. Ask Him to walk you through the storms of life rather than asking Him to spare you from them. God uses adversity to bring you closer to Him. God is not impressed by self-serving or selfish prayers. It is better to ask God to provide what you need rather than what you want. When you do this, remember that He knows what you need better than you do.
Don’t view your prayers as one-way conversations with God. In addition to lifting your petitions up to God, listen for His response. God always answers your prayers, but you have to listen carefully, openly, and honestly to hear the answer. Sometimes God’s response to your prayers is “no.” Again, this is because He knows best what you need and that is what He will provide. When the answer to a prayer is not what you wanted, expected, or hoped for, ask God to help you understand the message He is sending to you. It can sometimes take years to realize how God answered a given prayer and to appreciate His answer.
Finally, no matter what you pray for, remember to say four important words before the Amen. The words in question come from the Lord’s Prayer: “…thy will be done.” As Christ was enduring a brutal, agonizing, slow death on the Cross, He petitioned God saying: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours, be done.” With these Words, Christ demonstrated how we should end all of our prayers: “…not my will but yours, be done.”
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com