Sometimes my prayers come and go like variable breezes in spring. One day I’m praying faithfully, the next I just can’t make it happen. Why?
Well, here’s one thing I’m learning – reading about prayer keeps me interested and motivated. Especially reading prayers in the Bible. So, here are 7 great Bible prayers I’ve enjoyed reading and meditating:
- Abraham’s Prayer For Sodom – Genesis 18:20-33. This one is almost funny. Abraham hears God say He plans to destroy Sodom because of its intense wickedness, so he begins to tirelessly negotiate with God. Abraham won’t give up. It’s amazing that God sits still for this mortal to question Him about the planned judgment. Note how God takes man into His counsel and then makes a decision.
- Moses’ Prayer For Israel’s Survival – Exodus 32:7-14. After the famous golden calf incident, God had planned to destroy Israel and start over with Moses as the ‘new Abraham’. But Moses isn’t buying it. He intercedes fearlessly on behalf of his people, giving God reason after reason why He can’t destroy the covenant nation He created. This one will motivate you to stiffen your prayer muscles.
- Moses’ Prayer For God’s Presence – Exodus 33:12 – 34:9. When Moses learned that God had decided not to go with Israel into the Promised Land (33:3), it so shocked him that he set out to change God’s mind. His touching prayers end in an amazing glimpse of God’s stunning glory.
- Hannah’s Prayer For A Child – 1 Samuel 1:1-20. In a day when women found most of their identity in childbearing, Hannah desperately longed for a baby. She wanted to give her husband a child, but she also wanted to influence her nation’s history through her offspring. Watch how her intense pleading with God reached a breakthrough when she took her own selfishness out of the equation.
- King Jehoshaphat’s Prayer In A Crisis – 2 Chronicles 20:1-23. Faced with an invasion by a giant army of three partnering nations, Jehoshaphat immediately called a solemn assembly and the whole nation of Judah went into intense prayer and fasting. Receiving a prophetic message in their assembly, the king and his people marched out to the battle – with an amazing surprise ending.
- Jesus’ Prayer For His Disciples – John 17:1-26. Reading and meditating on this prayer is a life-long exercise. It is a simple prayer, but it’s as deep as you want to go. Jesus’ intercession for His disciples the night before His crucifixion reveals His Divine love for them… and for us. This is your chance to hear Jesus Himself pray aloud.
- The Church’s Prayer For Boldness – Acts 4:23-31. Do you know any churches that need a little boldness? The ancient church, hunted down and persecuted by the authorities, came together and prayed with an intensity seldom seen. What they asked for is amazing… and so is the answer they received.
These prayers stir me up. And I think they’ll do the same for you.
Do you have other great prayers from the Bible that stir your prayer life?
This is it. The most common question I get when teaching a prayer seminar.
“Why didn’t my prayer get answered?” Or “I prayed and prayed about ____________but it’s like God never even heard me”.
Why does that happen? Well, I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but here are some I’ve discovered in the Bible…
- Unforgiveness. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” -Jesus (Mark 11:24-25 NIV).
- Sin that’s cherished. “If I had cherished sin in my heart the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.” -Psalm 66:18-19 NIV
- Disrespect in the home. “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.“ -1 Peter 3:7 NIV
- Evil motives. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” -James 4:3 NIV
- Lack of faith. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” -Jesus (Mark 11:24 NIV). Also – “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” -Jesus (Matthew 21:22 NIV)
- Hypocrisy. ““Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other (the self-righteous Pharisee), went home justified before God.” -Jesus (Luke 18:13-14 NIV)
- Quitting too soon. “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (See Luke 18:1-8 NIV). Also – “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” -Colossians 4:2 NIV
No – you don’t have to be perfect to get amazing answers to prayer… but you do have to be consistent. Since all our prayers come from inside the human spirit, and are filtered through our heart’s condition, prayers arrive at God’s throne with the imprint of our own discipleship.
Seven reasons prayers get rejected. I’m sure there are many more. Can you think of any?
I hear it a lot. “I can be a good Christian without going to church.” Or, “I’m a very spiritual person, I just don’t go to church.” Or, “The church is full of judgmental phonies, and I’m a much better person that most of those who go to church.”
But let’s look at the other side. What are some authentic reasons to be involved in church?
- Jesus was. “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” (Luke 4:16 NIV)
- Jesus gave his life to birth the church, the ‘assembly’. “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.'” (Matthew 16:16-18 NIV)
- Jesus was intimately involved with serving his disciples – the ‘church’. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end… The evening meal was in progress…he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.“ (John 13:1-5 NIV)
- Jesus commanded that his disciples love the church as much as he does. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)
- Jesus said the world will believe on him if his disciples are a team, involved in each others lives. “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23 NIV)
So, do you think Jesus requires his disciples to be involved in church?
It’s common to hear people dispute the claim that God answers prayer. Usually it’s because some important prayer didn’t get answered, or because they can’t understand why God won’t immediately remove evil from the world.
So – instead of actually praying, we often debate about whether or not God answers prayer. However, if one believes the Bible to be the authentic voice of God then what his book says about prayer should be the final authority on the issue.
Here are a dozen Scriptures (there are many more) where the Bible proves that God answers prayer:
- “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.“–Jeremiah 33:3
- “He will call to me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.”–Psalm 91:15
- “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.”–Psalm 34:17.
- “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”–Psalm 50:15.
- “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” – I John 5:14.
- “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”–John 15:7
- “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.“–Mark 11:24
- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you“–Matthew 7: 7
- “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.“–John 14:14
- “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him..”–I John 3:21-22
- “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”–Matt. 21:22
- “For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”–Luke 11:1
(All citations are from the NIV)
So -why not pray ‘as if’ He will answer?
Do you have a favorite Scripture on the subject?