Recognising answered prayer
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.”
Matthew 6:6 (ESV)
In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught his disciples to pray (Matthew 6:6-13). It has often been referred to as ‘The Model Prayer’. Jesus wanted them to develop this important spiritual discipline, knowing that he would not always be with them physically. He did, however, promise that he would always be with them through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17).
The definition of prayer in the Oxford English Dictionary (sixth edition) reads, ‘A solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or object of worship.’ For the Christian, prayer is addressed exclusively to the God of the Bible and all creation, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Being consistent in daily prayer is not always an easy discipline. Being human, we cannot see God visibly as he is composed of spirit, and it is easy to let our minds wander from our prayers because of poor concentration or tiredness. On some rare occasions in years past I confess I drifted off to sleep whilst praying on my knees! Afterwards I apologised to God for my unintentional – though embarrassing – weakness of the flesh. Even Jesus’ disciples fell asleep on the evening prior to his death by crucifixion, when they should have been awake and praying fervently for their Lord and Master.
Prayer is a vital part of our relationship with God. He loves to hear from us and never tires of listening to our praise, problems and requests. At times, though, we might feel discouraged when it seems like God is not answering the way we would like. The truth is that God does hear our every word (Isaiah 59:1), and he knows what’s best for us in every circumstance. Here’s an anonymous poem on prayer that I think is worth considering, entitled, Everything I Needed.1
I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me brawn and brains to work.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for patience and God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favours and God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted, I received everything I needed.
My prayers have all been answered.
What an enormous privilege it is to come to our Father in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to share our joys, praise and prayer requests for others, as well as self!
God is never too busy to hear our prayers and he will always answer them, according to his love and wisdom, with our best interests at heart.
Thank you, heavenly Father for the wonderful gift of prayer, which is so vital to our building a relationship with you. Help us learn how best to pray and to seek your will at all times. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Study by John Magowan
About the writer:
John Magowan is a member of Lisburn Grace Communion International, Northern Ireland, where he serves on the Pastoral Council.
Lisburn Grace Communion
Ballymacbrennan School House
129A Saintfield Road
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