The Prayer God Always Answers

So often we pray wrong.

There’s a right way and wrong way to do it.  But this has nothing to do with saying religious words in just the right way, or with how much emotion is put into them.  It has to do with motive…what’s in the heart of the pray-er.  You know what I mean?  God sees through all the fancy & emotional words we might say, and looks into the heart.

On the one hand you may have someone who seems to be very comfortable in prayer, and who likes to pray out loud in public settings with words that sound knowledgeable and holy, but who’s heart is actually very far from God’s.  And on the other hand a person who stammers & struggles to express the things within but who’s heart is intimately lined-up with the purposes and character of the Spirit within.

Which one does God hear? Well, He hears both of course.
Which one does He appreciate and respond to?

Scripture teaches us about the nature of prayer and the ONE we pray to (or, with), so we don’t need to come up with our own self-centered definitions and impose them upon a Lord we don’t understand.  The mistake we often make is that we tend to view the Lord from our own limited perspective, and we tend to interact with Him accordingly.

“God please do this for me…”
“God this is what You need to do about….”
“God please give success to ….”

These are not good examples of prayer’s purpose…although they certainly exemplify the pattern of many of our prayers.  The purpose of prayer is to weave our hearts/desires/circumstances/choices…. to the Lord’s.  Prayer isn’t about getting God to do what we want done, but getting ourselves lined-up with what He wants done.  This is the definition of “praying according to God’s will.”  Indeed there are many scriptures that speak about asking God for things/people/circumstances, but the common denominator is HIS WILL not mine or yours….HIS evaluation of the interworking of circumstances from His time-less perspective.

The English word “prayer” comes from the Biblical Greek word “proseúxomai” – prós, meaning “towards, exchange” and euxomai, meaning “to wish, pray” – literally, to exchange wishes; to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He imparts faith.

“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

“You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?” (James 4:2-4)

“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)

“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:11-13)

“Always be joyful. NEVER STOP PRAYING. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

So, perhaps our role in prayer is not to inform God of what we want….but to remain close to Him so that we know what HE WANTS and WHAT HE IS DOING…and then align our lives and priorities around Him in a lifestyle of prayer. The peace & joy that we seek will follow.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)


Pray Easy

I’ve read a few books about prayer over the years, and my favorite quote is from a Bill Hybels book back in the 80’s or 90’s called “Too Busy Not To Pray.”  He says:

“Don’t pray hard.  Pray easy.

Prayer doesn’t do it.  God does it.” 

I was reminded of this as I was reading & praying through Jesus’ teaching about prayer in His ‘Sermon on the Mount’…Let’s pray like this:

“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the religious buildings where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! Pray like this:

“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.




Onion-Skin Theology

I wasn’t always a professional spiritual guy.  I spent my first 4-years of college studying architecture and working part-time as an engineering draftsman.  I was pretty good at it, but came to understand that it wasn’t my calling…and subsequently went (kicking & screaming) into ministry…which is another story.

While I was studying Ephesians chapter 2 the other day, I did some study about the Greek word translated into English as “heavenly-realms.”  It’s the word “epouranios”, which is from “epi”-on, upon, against, fits, on the basis of….and “ouranos”-heaven.

I had the epiphany that the Kingdom of God is like when I was designing something and would use “onion-skin” to help with the design process.   We would make a base drawing, then use onion-skin – a very thin and transparent layer of vellum – to superimpose design options on top of the drawing to see how they would look.  For example, if I was designing a house floor plan, I could use onion-skins to explore various layout options for interior walls or exterior landscaping.  It has occurred to me that this is what it must be like for the Kingdom of God among us.  Although we cannot “see” the Kingdom, its realities are all-pervading and ever-present…like an imperceptible layer of higher-reality that superimposes and interacts with our daily lives, pasts, and futures.  This is an incredibly accurate analogy for how scripture views the “heavenly-realms.”  It’s not “over there” or “later”…it’s right now, among us.  It’s not limited to space & time like we are, it’s an additional layer superimposed upon space & time, interacting with it…us….me….you.

Kind of like when Jesus would say things like “he who has eyes to see, let him see.”  ….or in Luke 17:20-21 when He said, “Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.’”

So, the question is, which reality is more real?…and how do we live into that one?