After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10
I have a list of people who need to be saved and some who I believe are saved but have backslidden into the depths of sin. I pray for these for a number of years almost every day and I must confess that there have been times when I have asked the Lord why it is that I have prayed so long for these without seeing any real changes taking place in their lives.
I have struggled within myself wondering if I am praying sincerely for these individuals. I am certain that my prayers are not “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7) and I do not think that I am attempting to change the will of God (Matthew 6:8). I certainly want my will to be in conformity with His will. As I read His Word, I know that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4).
Part of the problem that we all face, whether we admit it or not, is that we all have certain routine prayers in our mind that tend to come out all of the time. One of the secrets of successful praying is to get rid of these. So often, when I begin to pray, I have found myself starting out this way. This is especially true when praying before we begin to eat our meals, whether we are at home or eating out. Can the routine prayers actually be sincere? That is something to think about!
Some have said that Jesus taught us to pray a routine prayer in what we refer to as the “Lord’s Prayer.” No – Jesus did not say, “pray these words.” He said that we are to pray “after this manner,” and that is a huge difference.
In relationship to accomplishing much through prayer, it is important to understand the purpose of prayer.
- To glorify God’s name – Hallowed be Thy name.
- To advance His kingdom and to accomplish His will on earth – Thy will be done in earth.
In the prayer that really is the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus prayed, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do (John 17:4). If we are to be like Christ (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 2:5), then we must glorify God the Father while we are here on earth.
Do your prayers glorify God? Sometimes when we pray, we think that there is power in our prayers. No, the power is with the God to Whom we pray. In fact, when we approach the throne of grace, even though we are invited to do so with boldness (Hebrews 4:16), we should also do so with a sense of helplessness recognizing that we are unable to do what only He can do. Therefore, our prayer should begin with praise and thanksgiving that our God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us (Ephesians 3:20).
So for starters – how serious are you about praying for lost individuals? Secondly, do you honestly pray for God’s will or your will? Thirdly, if God answers your prayer the way you want Him to do so, who will get the glory?
Tomorrow, we will note several specifics in praying for the lost.
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George Stiekes held successful pastorates in churches in Michigan and Washington among other places. He currently resides in North Carolina and blogs at Reverent Reflections. We recommend his ministry and republish his material by permission.