Written By: Sue Holcombe
I am so very honored to be asked to write an article on prayer. This is not something I ever thought the Lord would have me do...But God! I am very passionate about prayer, and ever since I began this journey to write about it, the Lord has been showing me so much about prayer from His word – I have been amazed.
What first came to my mind is the scripture I Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
At first, that seems a bit overwhelming, but it really is not. Prayer is all about communicating with our heavenly Father. What a privilege we have that he wants to hear from us all the time. The phrase “without ceasing” stops many in their tracks. Most of us think literally, I cannot pray 24/7. That is not the true meaning. We need to understand the full context. Paul first talks about rejoicing always, to have his joy in you. When we are filled with his joy and peace, it comes with great ease to pray, or have conversation with our Lord. I know for me it flows more naturally to be in communion with the father when I rejoice and give thanks for all that he has done. As I understand it, without ceasing, is keeping that constant connection with God. As each of us go about our full lives it is easy to think I haven’t even prayed today. This is so much more. You just have this ongoing conversation with your Abba father... Just you and him!
Now it is important to remember to listen. As believers that is a huge part that we miss. Communication is a two-way street. We share our heart with God and he always listens. We need to learn to be still and listen for him to speak. The last part of the scripture speaks of being thankful in all circumstances. For this is the will of God. I know we all long to be in his will. The word spells it out very clearly to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and to be thankful in everything. Now if only we could live that way, but we can. Do you know why? Because we are filled with his Holy Spirit! He is the one who guides, teaches and reveals the hidden things in our hearts.
The word also speaks about prayer in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything”. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. The scripture says it. Simply pray about everything. That means all things that are important to you are important to God. There have been many times in my own life that this became so obvious. One amazing story and answer to my prayers is my love story to my husband Larry. I had been praying to God for quite a few years to meet a godly man that he would have for me to marry. My prayers were personal, very specific and fervent at times. There were seasons of doubt that this may not happen to me. But God! He knew all along. I just had to learn to trust Him and His timing and to let go of what I thought I needed. His ways are really so much better than our ways. He brought Larry into my life at just the right time. We both prayed very much and had accountability and knew this was God’s plan. My husband will tell you, I still get very teared up when I talk about what God did in this season of my life, how he answered so many prayers and still does. Unbeknownst to me my own mother had been praying for the very same thing – and recognizes that God moved on both of our behalves.
I admire people who have such open intimate conversations with the Lord. It’s deeper than conversations with your best friend because God knows us so much better. There’s nothing we can’t share or pour out to him. He knows us and loves us so much. We have to remember there’s absolutely nothing that is going to surprise him or catch him off guard. If you have a worry or doubt, talking to God can relieve that concern. God always brings comfort in prayer time with Him.
I also love the scripture Jeremiah 33:3, “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets. You do not know about things to come”. This is very powerful. This scripture is telling us to ask him. Well, here is that conversation/communication reminder again. The scripture goes deeper. He says ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets. He wants to reveal hidden truths to us. We must be willing to listen and seek him with a pure heart. For most of us, it is very hard to comprehend that God is that available to us, but He is.
Prayer is... So many things. I’m quoting my pastor who said prayer is the essential activity of waiting for God, acknowledging our helplessness and his power. Calling upon him for help, seeking his counsel. He was speaking of it like being in a waiting room of a hospital. We are all in that waiting room at some time in our lives. Waiting on God to answer our prayers or to speak to us about our prayer concern. I really like where he said acknowledging our own helplessness and seeing God’s power. So often when we pray it is as a last resort. He does not want prayer to be our last resort but our first response. He wants to hear our joys, sorrows and our worries. There is also growth in the waiting time. I am quoting a good friend who wrote “One prayer may catapult you on a lifelong journey – No wonder it may take a lifetime to receive the answer to that prayer as we walk it out by faith in life”. The answer will come because God is Faithful! I have been much more intentional about listening for him to speak. I was at work the other day thinking over a matter, wondering if the timing would work out so I wouldn’t have to leave work. Just like that I heard His still voice say, “Why don’t you give that worry to me? You can see how I will work it out”. So I did. I prayed my concern to God and let it go and it all worked out perfectly. Such a humbling lesson. He wants everything, even those little concerns we don’t think about.
There are many times when we do not know how to pray. His word guides and directs us. In Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we are to pray for, but the Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groanings .” I will say I have experienced this many times. I will pray in my own prayer language and receive peace, knowing the Holy Spirit is interceding on my behalf in that very moment. In Jude 1:20 it reads “But you, beloved, are building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Spirit.” It is a very powerful weapon against the enemy. The enemy cannot understand what is meant for God. In Ephesians 6:18 it says “To pray at all times in the Spirit with prayer and supplication. To the end stay alert, be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” This is so important. God is admonishing us to stay alert at all times and to be diligent to pray for believers everywhere – this is important for our church, community, family and especially our children.
As I am writing this I am praying for more wisdom – He spoke to me saying my Word is truth – it will speak on its own! I know we want God to give each of us more revelation of Himself. This happens when we pray in the Spirit. As we are built up spiritually, faith increases and there is such peace in knowing you are praying God’s perfect will. In I Corinthians 14:2 it says, “For one who speaks in a tongue, speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, because he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” In writing this I want to be sure you have understanding and clarity. God’s word speaks of having a private prayer language or speaking in tongues. It is not meant to be foreign or unknown to believers. We are all filled with His Holy Spirit and can ask for a heavenly prayer language. God withholds nothing from his children. He wants us to know He hears us and knows our very heart.
Just remember, God is always listening. We just have to open our hearts to him and have faith that he hears our prayers.
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