I am currently in the middle of a teaching series about prayer on Sunday mornings at Grace Place. The Spirit has been rocking my spiritual world with some insights that have opened up whole new areas of supernatural territory. Most people think they know what prayer is, but our limited knowledge does not even come close to scratching the surface on what prayer is really all about.
At a very basic, but profound level: Prayer is communion with God and is as much for our benefit as His. One of the big problems in most of our praying is that we tend to focus on what we’ve done for God, instead of what He has done for us. We just don’t get that God has already done it! That’s right God knows your needs and has already taken care of it. God is not surprised or caught off guard by anything. And since God has always known about our need, it just makes sense that He would meet it, before we ever had it, because He is God and that is how God works.
We read in Luke 11:1-13 “It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 3 ‘Give us each day our daily bread. 4 ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’” 5 Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”
For years, I heard these verses taught and even taught them myself in a very wrong way. I taught from the perspective that Jesus was telling us to keep going to God and to not stop praying until we got our response, but there was something about that philosophy that never quiet measured up to Who I believe God to be.
These verses have been taught all wrong. Jesus is making a contrast, not a comparison in this story. When we teach these scriptures, we often teach from the comparison side of the equation, which is totally messed up, because it is does not take into account the character of God in all of His awesomeness. When we view it as a contrast, then we realize that this is not instruction about how to do it, but how not to do it. Our very wrong view has actually limited the effectiveness and power of our praying.
In this story, Jesus is saying: If people will treat you better than this, then what about God? If man will give in and give you what you need, then how about a loving God, Who has already given you the greatest gift of all? Our problem, is that we often have more faith in people than we do in God and the proof is in our actions and reactions to the challenges of life. It really is an insult for us to think of God in such a limited way!
Faith is not about moving God, it’s about moving you and me! God has done his part! God wants to bless and do miracles in and through our lives, because He loves us. Some people think that God is mad at us because of our sin, but I want to share some good news with you: God’s not ticked off and the reason that He is not ticked off, is because His Son paid the price when he came and died on the cross in our place. When God looks at us, He does not see sin, He sees the righteousness of His son – Jesus.
We often mistakenly think that our praying is about moving God to where we need Him. We don’t need God to move, we need to move! You don’t move the blessing to where you are, you move yourself to where the blessing is, because God has placed the blessing exactly where it needs to be and it is in the perfect place because it has been placed there by our perfect Creator.
There Is A New And Better Way! In our Bibles we find the Old Covenant in the Old testament and The New Covenant, which came through Jesus in the New Testament. The Old Covenant principles can be found in Genesis 18:22-33 where it says: “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 23 Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” 26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” 27 And Abraham replied, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 He spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose forty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it on account of the forty.” 30 Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” 31 And he said, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the twenty.” 32 Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.” 33 As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed, and Abraham returned to his place.”
In this passage, we find that God was angry and he judged sin! Abraham was acting as a mediator and was very much needed in that role, because this was before Jesus and the New Covenant! You will see that God wanted to show mercy, but was unable to, because of the sinfulness of man and man’s inability to do anything about his sinfulness.
But in 1 Timothy 2:1-8, we find information about a New Covenant, when it tells us: “1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.”
The reality has and always will be that sin has to be judged! But the good news for you and me is that Jesus bore our sins and they have been judged! (All of them – past, present and future!) God has made the provision, but we have to believe! The good news is that God has forgiven you, but you have to accept it! Sin does not send you to Hell, it’s our unwillingness to accept His gift of forgiveness that sends us to Hell!
Jesus is our mediator, who has made the way, where there was no way. The question that we need to ask and answer is this: “What have you done with Jesus?”