Pray with Confidence
Prayer is a great adventure. Through prayer our weakness is exchanged for God’s power. Think of it – when we pray we are having a conversation with God Himself – the LORD Almighty – Creator of heaven and earth. 1 Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. KJV Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. KJV We have much reason to get excited about prayer! God’s Word tells us in James 5:16 …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. KJV
We hear a lot about the need for change these days. Prayer is the Christian’s instrument for change in the home, change in the church, change in the workplace, and change in our world. 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
We need to recognize that prayer is an ongoing spiritual battle. The Apostle Paul said of his friend Epaphras in Col. 4:12 … He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Paul said of his own prayer conflict in Col. 2:1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. For the Christian, that prayer struggle comes in many forms. Going back to the concept that prayer is conversation with God Almighty, I must ask myself, why am I so often casual with my prayers? Why am I so easily distracted when I am speaking with the Son of the Living God? We do well to remember exactly who we are talking to. A modern day chorus comes to my mind that should always be our attitude in prayer – I stand I stand in awe of You. Holy God to whom all praise is due I stand in awe of you.
It is easy to become discouraged during this time of the year if for no other reason than the dreariness of the weather. Let’s make this month an exciting month when we are reminded how to pray with power to our Awesome God! If we are to pray with power, we must be confident in our prayers. A prayer of David is a wonderful place to turn for David was certainly a man who prayed with confidence. And when we read David’s words, notice how David talks to God – he talks to Him like He knows Him! God was no stranger to David. Since David made the blessed decision to put his prayer in writing, we can have the privilege of "listening" as David words his prayer. He was confident of God’s character.
Read Psalm 86:1-5 A prayer of David. Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. 3Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. 4Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 5You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
David was in trouble again. Know the feeling? I think we all do! David was a child of God and his prayer words reflect his confidence in God’s character although we know that at times it took him awhile to turn to prayer and repentance just like it does for us. In the New Testament, we read in James 4:2 … You do not have, because you do not ask God. We waste a lot of time trying to solve our problems when we can go directly and boldly to the throne of grace. We can be confident that our Father does not give out stones and snakes in place of bread and fish. Jesus said in Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? KJV David Jeremiah comments regarding this verse: "Who would reach down, hand his boy a rock from the ground and say, Here, son, sink your teeth into this?" And about the second image Jesus uses, Jeremiah says, "Commercial fishermen in ancient Palestine used nets, and as the nets were drawn together often the men would find water snakes mixed in with each catch of fish. Jesus probably had this in mind when He asked what kind of father would hand his son a snake when he asked for a fish. You just can’t picture it. Dad, can I have a fish from your catch? Sure, son, enjoy this lovely serpent here. …This illustration is carefully designed to illustrate that God longs to answer our prayers." That’s God’s character and God does not change. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
David used three basic names for God in this prayer. David began his prayer by addressing the lord. When you see the small cap word lord in most Bible translations it represents what was originally written in Hebrew as YHWH. In today’s language we spell this word with vowels – Yahweh or Jehovah. However, David also uses the word Lord at least seven times in this prayer. Lord is it the translation of the Hebrew Adonai. He also uses the word God – which is our translation of the Hebrew word Elohim. What is God to you? Master, Savior, Jesus? There’s something about that name!
When we pray we should remain reverent. Today, we have sentence prayers, silent prayers, conversational prayers and dial a prayer and nothing is wrong with any of these prayers. However, we must always remember God’s holiness and the sanctity of His presence. We must never be flippant or unmindful of the one we are talking to. Richard DeHaan says: We must give Him honor. To lack reverence is to soil the red carpet of God’s gracious invitation to pray. And when we do pray we can be confident in God’s response because God’s character is unchanging.
Read Psalm 86:6-10 Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. 7In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. 8Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. 9All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. 10For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
It is this, who can pray and expect a response from God? Some people say that prayer is an avenue to God that is open to all people whether they are saved or unsaved, wicked or righteous. Others believe that God hears only the prayers of believers in Jesus. I suppose that in some ways both answers are right. I believe that only those who know the Lord through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ and who are walking in fellowship with Him can have the confidence that their prayers will be received and answered. 1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Peter tells us that God hears the prayers of the righteous but he also says that the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
Because God is God, He sees, hears, and knows everything and He may choose to answer anyone’s prayer but only believers have the assurance that when we come to the Heavenly Father He will answer our prayers with loving and special consideration.
There is one prayer that everyone can be confident that the Lord will answer. Romans 10:13 for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." So, if you do not already possess a personal relationship with God, you can! John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. God always responds to the cries of sinners and we can be confident in that!
It is appropriate to remind you that all prayers are not answered with a yes. The prayers which Jesus answers with a "yes" are certainly memorable prayers. One such memorable answer of yes to a prayer was in the Old Testament when the prophet Elijah prayed for fire to come down from heaven and consume the altar and God sent down fire from heaven in a mighty way. However, there is also recorded in the Old Testament life of the same man a "no" answer to a prayer. When Queen Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah, the prophet cried out for the Lord to let him die. But, this prayer was not the Lord’s will for Elijah. Instead God miraculously spared Elijah’s life at that time and eventually took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind chariot of fire. If the Lord had taken Elijah’s life as he requested on that day that he was so depressed – Elijah would have missed that eventual chariot of fire ride into heaven! These two examples of yes and no answers in the life of the same man are wonderful guides in helping us to remember to be confident in God’s ways!
Read Psalm 86:11-13 Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. 12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. 13For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
David prayed something similar in Psalm 27:11 Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Teach me your way – isn’t that the prayer all of us need to keep repeating throughout our days– Teach me your way, O Lord. Is your heart divided? So many times a divided heart is why we can’t focus well enough to pray.
Notice that David prays to have fear of the Lord. Why should we fear the Lord? Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
No one likes to be around someone who complains all of the time – we can be sure God does not either! He loves it when praise inhabits the prayers of His people. I have a suspicion that may be one of the reasons that God considered David to be a man after God’s own heart! David’s heart was always swift to praise his Maker.
David had hope of a future resurrection just like we do today. David’s comment regarding being delivered from the grave is echoed by the sons of Korah in Psalm 49:15 But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Asaph expressed the same hope in Psalm 73:23-24 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Pray with power when I personally voice the words of Jesus to the Father as recorded in Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. The lord (Jehovah) God (Elohim) – my Lord (Adonai) hears even me and He will answer my prayer.