Posted by: mikenicholsblog | November 24, 2014

in His name, I pray

Prayer is a fundamental part of the Christian life and is a prominent word in the Christian vocabulary. Everyone prays and at some point even quotes the Lord’s Prayer. But with many, prayer is underused, misunderstood and often only important when our lives hit crisis mode. In fact, a friend and I once had a discussion about, “why pray if He already knows everything?” There are also those times when we pray intently, really believing God is going to answer with an affirmative to our well thought-out, important request — and then He doesn’t! We would all be well served to strive to have the heart and confidence Jesus had in John 17 as He marched purposefully to the cross.

While walking around my basement early one morning last week, I found myself dismayed at my prayer life. While looking at a prayer circle that was important to me at this time last year, I realized my prayer focus had gotten a bit off track. I could make excuses like, “He already knows, so why pray,” but the real issue is that I chose to get off track. As I looked at the prayer circle, the marking was dim, and stuff was pushed on to the circle. It was a visual reminder to me of my personal distractedness. I know He answers prayer, so I get very frustrated when I lose focus or tend to direct God toward what I want!

I remember praying for our daughter once about something specific. I wanted God to give us the answer we wanted. I even enlisted friends to pray. She had traveled across the country for a great opportunity and then got very sick. She was not even able to attend the function. It would be easy to question the Lord about not coming through for us, but He did come through in His way. God’s purposes are good, and sometimes He uses affliction for our good. You have probably had similar experiences.

It’s imperative for us to have a strong sense of God’s control in our lives, because when prayer requests aren’t answered our way, the “why even pray?” thoughts can emerge.

Recently, our Journey on Word readings focused on Jesus’ words about prayer. A confident prayer promise is found in John 14:13-14. When I see His words, why would I ever consider using the “why even pray” excuses?

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Is Jesus giving us carte blanche in our prayer lives? No, but He is giving His credibility in going to the Father. Praying in His Name means that we are praying as Jesus would pray, and praying for what would be in line with the Father’s will. There will be times when He answers as we are hoping, and we consider those God-moments. God-moments also come when He answers differently than our personal desires. The key to effective prayer is in His Name.

God’s design for our prayer life is not that we just petition. Our prayer life should be much deeper than that. Larry Crabb, in his book, The PAPA Prayer, gives what I feel to be the missing link in our struggle with prayer. He says, “The chief purpose of prayer is to get to know God, to deepen our relationship with Him, to nourish the life of God He’s already placed within us, and to do it all to satisfy His desire for relationship with us.” Relationships take time, and Christ followers struggle with giving God what He deserves. It’s no wonder that prayer is underused and misunderstood. I would encourage you to take John 17 as a model of prayer, and look at the depth of relationship between the Son and the Father.

So where is your prayer life?  Have you subtly drifted to “why even pray” mode? Today you can pray as Jesus would, in His Name. You can also determine that prayer can be a special relationship between you and the Father. Give Him the time He deserves! Remember, His purposes are good, He wants to bless you and He wants you to pray. He knows how to answer, and He knows best.


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