Attitudes to have when we pray



Listen to God

Ecclesiastes 5:1­3 (NIV) Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.

It is important to be silent even during prayer so that God can speak to us. For example, there may be times when we ask for God’s will for our lives or when we ask God to point out our sins. God cannot answer if we give don’t give Him time to speak.

Put God first even in our prayers

…hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

For many of us, prayer time is primarily focusing on our own needs. Jesus tells us that the Father knows our needs already. Preoccupation with our needs reveal a lack of trust in God as provider. In the Lord’s Prayer, notice that attention is on us only after we have given God due attention. Therefore, our priority in prayer is important. Not until we have worshipped God should we throw out our string of request.

Ask God to give us His best and let His will be done, not ours

Mt 7:9­11 9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (NIV)

God gives good gifts to His children. In other words, if what we request is bad for us, God will not give it to us. Like when he withheld something from Paul because doing that will benefit him.

2 Cor 12:7-9 (NIV) To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Therefore, a more matured prayer would be to ask for a specific request but also ask Him to with-hold it from us if He doesn’t think it will benefit us.

Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Because God is able to do even more than what we can request, it is a good idea to always ask God to give us that something better even though it may not be exactly what we requested for.

Be able to accept God’s reply whatever it may be

Mt 7:9­11 9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (NIV)

Just as a father will not give harmful things to his son, God will not give us our request if He knows that it is not good for us.

Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

God may not give us exactly what we ask for because He has something better in store.

Pray with action

Ex 14:15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. (NIV)

Neh 4:9 But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (NIV)

Expect great and impossible things

Jas 5:17­18 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (NIV)

Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (NIV)

Ask the Holy Spirit to help us to pray

Rom 8:26­27 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (NIV)

Listen to God even when we pray

Ecclesiastes 5:1­3 (NIV) Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.

But why do we sometimes not get what we pray for?

God promises to answer our prayers

Matthew 7:7­8 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 18:19­20 (NIV) “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

But why do we sometimes not get what we pray for?

Sin

Psalms 66:18 (NIV) If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;

God’s testing

Job 30:20 (NIV) “I cry out to you, O God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.

God kept silent not because of Job’s sin but because God wanted to test Job.

Not answering the request is better for us

2 Cor 12:7-9 (NIV) To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Not according to His will.

1 Jn 5:14­15 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us– whatever we ask– we know that we have what we asked of him. (NIV)

We ask with wrong motives

James 4:3 (NIV) When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

The demons obstruct our prayers

Daniel 10:2­13 (NIV) At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over. 4 On the twenty­fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. 6 His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. 7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; the men with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground. 10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty­one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.

God grants us more than we ask of Him

2 Chronicles 1:10­12 (NIV) Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

What to pray for?

Salvation of our loved ones

Ezekiel 22:29­30 (NIV) The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice. 30 “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.

God wants to forgive but only if someone intercedes

Praise God during prayer

Psalms 145:3­5 (NIV) Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. 4 One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. 5 They will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

Pray for God’s forgiveness

Psalms 51:2­3 (NIV) Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Pray for our needs

Mat 6:11 Give us today our daily bread.

Pray about those things that worry us

Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Pray for strength to overcome temptation

Matthew 6:13 (NIV) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

Give thanks during prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV) give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Pray for wisdom to know God’s will

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Asking God for signs

Genesis 24:14 (KJV) And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master.

Judges 6:17, 37­40 (NIV) 17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me….37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew­­a bowlful of water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Although God may at times be gracious and speak to us in the manner that we specified, this is hardly appropriate. God should not be told what to do. We may ask God to show us his will but He should be free to choose how He wants to reveal his will to us.

Matthew 12:39 (NIV) He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Matthew 4:7 (NIV) Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

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