What Now?

americaprayWhat now? It seems like an eternity ago, but it’s only been a week. Many of us stayed up all night on November 8 to await the outcome of the presidential election. I couldn’t go to sleep. I sat glued to my television until after 4:00 in the morning. I’ve gone on the record a few months ago by saying that I didn’t like either option for a president (that is Republican or Democratic candidates), but voters obviously narrowed it down to two possibilities, so I had to choose between the two. My vote for president this year had more to do with policies and positions rather than personalities.

I do not believe God can bless a nation who passes laws contrary to His Word. God cannot honor a people who dishonor His people. By this, I mean that I want a president who is not a part of the movement to persecute Christians and to withdraw from Israel. I want a president who will help insure my religious freedoms and not force Christians to stand against government policy because it is contrary to God’s policy. I want a president who will appoint Supreme Court justices who will abide by the Constitution and not try to rewrite it. I believe that life starts at conception, and I want justices who will protect life from its inception. I have other political priorities and opinions, but these issues are close to my heart. Will Donald Trump bring all of these things to pass? I hope so, and will pray to that end.

So, what must we do now? We must do the same thing that I hope we’ve been doing our entire life: pray for our nation and pray for our leaders. First Timothy 2:1-2 states, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” It is our responsibility to pray for our leaders. The Scripture indicates that the consequence of the persistent prayers of the faithful people of God is that we will be able to lead tranquil and quiet lives. While many of us prayed fervently before the election, we must double our efforts now after the election. President Elect Trump and all of Congress are counting on us. The people of the United States are depending on us. James 5:16 states, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

The United States of America is the greatest nation on the earth, but our greatness is not just for our benefit. God has made us great so we can bless the world. He gave us light so we can shine it throughout the darkened recesses of our globe. I urge you to join with me as we pray for our political leaders and for our spiritual leaders. I also urge you to join in with me in recommitting yourself to shining your light into the darkness. We have much work to do for God’s glory.

 

Healing for America as we Seek God’s Face

prayer22 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will 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.”

Today is the day. So much will be determined about our future by the casting of ballots, and a lot hangs in the balance. At the same time, God is not limited by what happens today. Regardless of who becomes our next president or representative or senator, God is still on His throne. His plan will not be thwarted and His purpose will not go unfulfilled. We can find great comfort today in knowing that God’s will is not dependent upon our opinions and actions.

Regardless of today’s outcome, America is in dire need of renewal. Our renewal, however, does not need only to come in the form of new initiatives, new laws, and new Supreme Court justices. We have a much deeper need than that. We need spiritual renewal and revival. God says that He will heal our land if His people will humble themselves and pray. He also calls us to seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.

Seeking God’s face is a call to authenticity and transparency before a holy God Who already knows all things. Looking into the eyes of our Heavenly Father is an invitation for Him to look deep into our souls and see everything. Such divine scrutiny always leads to repentance in the lives of God’s children. We cannot maintain our heavenly gaze unless we’re willing to repent. We either seek God’s face and enjoy the refreshing grace of a merciful God, or we turn away and continue in our destructive patterns and rebellion.

Seeking God’s face also calls for a relationship. God never intended us to just obey Him. He also wants us to love Him. We can be rule followers and still be far from God. It’s like the strong-willed little boy who finally sat down after being told to do so by his mother one hundred times. He replied, “I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m still standing up on the inside.” God doesn’t just want outward conformity. He wants an inner relationship. God has many things He wants to do in your life, but He can only do them in the context of love.

Seeking God’s face also means gaining God’s approval. Imagine the nod of God’s eternal head as He watches the lives of His children. God says that he will bring healing to our land when His people live in such a way as to please the heart of our Heavenly Father. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the world and begin comparing ourselves to the wrong standard. My mother used to remind me that it didn’t matter what my friends did because they weren’t the standard. Our only standard is Jesus Christ and His Word. If you want God’s healing in our land, in your family, or in your life, seek God’s face by living in obedience to His will.

We want God to heal our land; therefore, it means that we must fall on our face in prayer and seek His face. We must humble ourselves and continue to pray as we repent of our sins and intercede for our land. If God’s people will do that, God will respond and heal our land. May we join our hearts together and plea for the soul of America.

Family Devotion by Amy Autry

Getting Started: Take a piece of paper. Have a member of the family rip the paper into smaller pieces. As a family work to put the paper back together. Like this piece of paper, it started out perfect. Our actions tore into tiny pieces. We can try to put it back together, but we cannot make it look like it did before. It is the same with sin. We cannot do it by ourselves. Only God can restore us after we have sinned.

Bible Time:

Read 1 John 1:5-10

When God created the world, he created us in His image and there was no sin. In verse 5, John tells his readers that “God is light and in Him there is no darkness.” We were created to have a perfect relationship with God where there was no sin. Sin is anything we think, say, or do that disobeys God. Soon after God created people, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.

Because of sin our relationship with God was broken. Verse 6 tells us that we cannot have fellowship with God if we continue to sin. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Sin separates us from God, but God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to take our punishment for disobeying God. God tells us that if we repent of our sin, our relationship with Him will be restored. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we ask God to be our Lord, it doesn’t mean that we will never mess up. God wants us to constantly confess, or repent of our sins and turn back to Him. Repent means that we are turning away from our sin and turning back to following God. God promises that when we repent, he will forgive our sins as if they never happened and our relationship with Him is restored.

Discussion Questions:

  • What is sin? (Anything we think, say or do that disobeys God)
  • Who has sinned? (Everyone)
  • What does God do when we confess our sin? (He forgives us and restores our relationship with Him.)

 

Spend some time praying and asking God to forgive any sin in your life. If your child is asking questions about salvation, spend time discussing what it means to follow Christ.

We’re Not “All That”

humbleThis election race has been grueling and has revealed flaws in America’s values. We have the two most unlikely and unliked candidates vying for the most powerful office in the world. Why is it that someone so unpopular with the American people will become our next president? Is it possible that the citizens of our great country no longer care about the things that matter? The last year has proven that lying and hypocrisy are no longer red flags as long as our favored candidate can put money in our pockets. It seems that character, or the lack of it, is no longer a factor in running for office.

This election process has not only revealed the flaws of our candidates, but it has also revealed the flaws of our people. We are a flawed people who sometime lack character. We also do not always act from a stellar moral center, and the arrogance of the candidates may be a reflection of the arrogance of the American people.

I shared a theme scripture with you yesterday that I plan to use today and again tomorrow. 2 Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people, who are called by my name, will 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.” This passage not only calls us to prayer, but it also presents three things we must do as we go before God. The first is that we must humble ourselves.

Pride is the one thing that will keep us from God. It is our arrogance that keeps us from repenting and crying out to God for help. God must be the sovereign of our hearts, but our pride causes us to remove God from the throne of our hearts and take that place ourselves. The prophet Isaiah (Isa 47:10) wrote inspired words 2700 years ago that sound as if he wrote them about America this morning: “You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” We forget the words of Proverbs 18:12: “Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”

We cannot experience repentance without humility. Through humility, we recognize our dependence upon God and our utter helplessness. Through humility we see that we are not “all that,” and we realize God’s sufficiency. The marvel of it all is that God, in His mercy and compassion, longs to meet the deepest needs in our lives. He is simply waiting for us to humble ourselves before Him and cry out to Him in prayer.

 

I’ve asked our Children’s Minister to write family devotions to go along with my blog each day.

Humble Yourselves Before God – Family Devotion by Amy Autry

Getting Started: Ask each member of the family to a draw picture of someone who is powerful. This may be a real person or a fictional character. What do they look like? What makes them powerful? How did they get their power?

Most of the time we think of powerful people as being the biggest, or strongest, or having the most accomplishments.

Bible Time:

Read 1 Kings 3:5-14

When Solomon became king, God appeared to him in a dream and asked, “What shall I give you?” (1 Kings 3:5). Solomon could have asked for anything? He could have asked to have the most money, or be the strongest person in the land. Instead, Solomon prayed that He would have a wise and understanding heart. Solomon was humble before God and understood that true power and wisdom only come from God. God was very pleased with Solomon’s request. In fact, God promised that if Solomon continued to obey His commandments he would have a long life.

Like Solomon, God wants us to be humble before Him. To humble ourselves before God means that we know that we are not perfect and we surrender to God’s wisdom and trust His purpose for our lives.

Read Psalm 25: 8-10

In verse 9, the bible tells us that God will teach the humble His way. God wants to teach us how to live and follow His plan for our lives. God promises that when we trust His ways and follow Him that he will show us exactly how to live.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What did Solomon ask God for? (A wise and understanding heart)
  2. What was God’s response to Solomon’s request? (God was pleased and gave Solomon more than he asked for)

How can we humble ourselves before God? (By trusting God and following Him)

If My People Will…Pray

pledge

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will 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.”

Solomon obeyed the Lord and built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of this great project, all of the people of Israel gathered to celebrate the completion of the temple and to dedicate it to the Lord. After the people left and Solomon was alone, the Lord appeared to him one night and told him that He heard Solomon’s prayer. The Lord then made an interesting statement, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people…”

Why would God shut up the heavens so it didn’t rain or send a plague on His people? It sounds to me like he was pointing to the reality of judgment upon Israel. God knew that even though they had just dedicated the temple, His people would waver and fall away from Him. Israel’s history and humanity’s disposition shows that as sure as night follows day, sin follows obedience. Israel lived out a cyclical pattern of obedience, submission, and pleasing God followed by a period of sin, rebellion, and dishonoring God. In response to this reality of human weakness, God made two promises. The first one is stated above: He will bring judgment upon humanity. The second one is contained in the next verse (2 Chronicles 7:14): “If my people, who are called by my name, will 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.”

This famous verse was part of a conversation God had with King Solomon in the middle of the night about Israel, but God included it in His Word for us. Israel is not the only people with a propensity to sin, and God’s promise still rings out true for us. If we will turn to God, God will heal our land.

Our nation is at a crossroad, and the people of God must fall on their faces before Almighty God and seek him as never before. The path we have taken for many years is a path leading us away from our Creator. The consequence of rebellion is judgment. If we do not repent and come back to God, His hand of protection will be lifted from our great country, and we will encounter His wrath.

We are in the final stages of electing a president for our nation. This election process has been shameful and embarrassing, but the differences between the candidates are stark. As Christians who have a voice in the electoral process and who are seeking the face of God, we must vote and we must ask God for mercy and healing as a nation. We should vote for the candidate who will best lead us to be a nation who honors the Lord. While economic prosperity is important and while military strength is essential, the Bible says that a nation is blessed “whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).

This next president will be selecting at least one new Supreme Court justice and will have considerable influence upon the future direction of our land. In the past, we have passed laws that stand in direct contrast to the clear teaching of the Word of God. Our next president will be making choices about future laws. Will we continue to move down a path away from God or will we come back toward being a people who submit to God’s sovereign rule? If we move away from God, we can expect “the heavens to be shut up and locusts to devour the land.” God’s judgment will come in a variety of ways, but it will come.

I’m writing to call us to pray. We must seek God’s face and intercede for our nation. We must turn from our sin and turn to God. I’m asking you to join me in these final three days of the election process in prayer, crying out to God for help and mercy. If you can fast, I encourage you to fast. Will you set apart a significant amount of time during the next three days to cry out to our Creator for His help and intervention. If we as a people will pray and seek the face of God and turn from our sin, then we will hear from heaven, and God will heal our land.

Family Devotion

Getting Started: As a family, name ways that we can talk with someone who is not in the same room as us. When we talk with people, we can get to know who they are and what is important to them. It is the same with God. God wants us to talk to Him, so we can know him better. What are some ways we can talk to God?

Bible Time:

God loves it when we talk to Him. Another name for talking to God is prayer. When we pray, we are talking and listening to God. We can talk to God anywhere about anything.

Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Jeremiah 29:11-13

After the temple had been built, God appeared to Solomon. God told Solomon that there would be hard times ahead for the nation of Israel. He promised that if the people prayed and followed God, He would hear them and heal their land. In the book of Jeremiah, God again promised that he had a plan for Israel and promised to hear their prayers. Just like God had a plan for Israel, God also has a plan for each of us and listens to us when we pray. We can talk to Him about anything!

Discussion:

  1. How can we talk to God?
  2. What are some things we can talk to God about?

Family Activity:

Stock a basket with index cards, markers, and stickers. Have children decorate the cards and write a prayer request on each card for our country and leaders. Place the basket on the dinner table. Each night at dinner have a child choose a card and pray for that request. Remind the kids how God promises to hear our prayers.

When Evil Prevails

terror

 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:10-13

 

We all stand in shock at the terrorist attacks in France yesterday. While acts of terrorism are becoming normal in our global culture, it still amazes me that people can go into a theater and start shooting innocent people in the name of their god. I could share my political opinions or even comment on what I think world leaders should do in response to this act of terror, but I prefer to address a deeper issue. We must realize that what we are watching is simply spiritual warfare. The god of this world is wreaking havoc on our world, and we are moving ever closer to the end of time that was prophesied throughout Scripture. Jesus said in Matthew 24 that perilous times would come before His return.

How do we respond to this? Our first obvious response is prayer for those who have been personally impacted by this devastation and for our leaders as they consider a proper response. Secondly, we should not be surprised. God told us in His word that calamity would come and evil would show its ugly head. We must remind ourselves that terrorists are not really our main enemy. Even ISIS is not our ultimate enemy. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood. The god of this world is our enemy. There is a spiritual battle that is being waged, and ISIS is but a pawn in the hands of the master deceiver.  There are certainly things that our national leaders must do to stop evil in its tracks, and it is my prayer that our president and other political leaders will have the substance needed to take bold stands against this global evil. However, we must see the bigger picture.

Real spiritual battle takes place in other ways. For starters, it begins on our knees. This terrorist attack should call believers to a time of great prayer. Ephesians 6:10 commands us to “be strong in the Lord.” I wrote about this passage in my book Immovable: Standing Firm in the Last Days, and I find that it has special relevance today.  Any preparation we take for spiritual conflict is built upon us yielding to the power and presence of Christ in us. Then the Ephesians 6 passage continues by telling us to take some steps in our preparation: put on the full armor of God. I urge you to consider the teaching of this passage in light of the spiritual conflict that is going on in our world. The Church of the Lord Jesus must prepare spiritually for what is going on around us. Do not be surprised by terror and persecution; be equipped. God is on His throne, and He will guide you to find strength and hope in the days to come. If you are strong in the Lord and equipped with His spiritual armor, you will be ready for whatever we will face in the days to come.

I have lowered the cost of the digital version of Immovable in hopes that it will be a guide and an encouragement for you during this time. Take steps toward preparing yourselves for the spiritual conflict that will only increase before the return of Christ. Study Ephesians 6:10-18 and Matthew 24 in light of what is going on in our world today. The Bible is clear that God will ultimately win this conflict, so we do not face these battles with hopelessness. We have great hope in Jesus Christ. Let’s pray as never before, prepare for what is to come, engage our enemy on spiritual grounds, and comfort those who hurt. Trust that our faithful God, our Leader in battle, will prevail in the days to come.

The Resurrection

tombWhat difference does the resurrection of Jesus Christ make in your life? What difference does it make in a family and in a country? Christ’s resurrection certainly gives us perspective and hope. It reminds us that we too can have victory over death and the grave through Jesus, and our only hope for eternity is found in faith and trust in Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Our hope finds new joy and anticipation as we too consider the empty tomb. Our Savior is not dead, but rather He is alive. This reality should change the way we live and respond to people and circumstances. It reminds us that we live for eternity and not just for time. It calls us to order our lives according to the teaching of God’s Word and show the world how the resurrection changes our character, our relationships, and how we treat those whom we do not even know. The resurrection creates a bond between believers throughout the world and helps us to better understand the broad concept of family. The Christian family is a global unit, and therefore when one Christian is hurting in Iraq, Christians across the world feel his sorrow. This means we cannot ignore the persecution of Christians regardless of where they live. We share a common faith with Christians everywhere, and therefore it is our responsibility to pray for our brothers and sisters and to do everything in our power to help relieve their struggles. This means writing to our political leaders to express our views and concerns, supporting relief organizations that are reaching out to the persecuted, and praying for Christians who are living daily under the threat of persecution.

I recently listened to David Cameron, the Prime Minister of Great Britain as he shared an Easter message. I encourage you to listen to it. He underscored the role of a Christian nation in reaching out to the down trodden, the persecuted, and the abused. It was refreshing to hear him refer to Great Britain as a Christian nation, and it made me long to see our own nation embrace our Christian heritage. We can expect increased persecution of Christians in the next years, and it is paramount that we pray for our brothers and sisters and support them in any way possible. As we mentally gather at the empty tomb to see that Jesus has indeed risen, we will look around and discover that we share this wonder and awe as well as responsibility with Christians everywhere. Regardless of denominational title or geographical location, we are family together because the tomb is empty. May the death and resurrection of Jesus continue to impact our choices and actions as we live in light of the resurrection of Jesus.

Prayer for our Leaders

nationThe wonderful church I pastor is having a prayer emphasis this week, and today we are being reminded to pray for our government leaders. I invite you to join in with us as we pray for our nation. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 states, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” In this call to prayer, the Apostle Paul begins by challenging believers to pray for all people, but especially for government leaders. Think for just a moment about Paul’s world. The government for which Paul was urging prayer was not a government filled with godly leaders. As a matter of fact, they were just the opposite. At that time, Nero was the emperor of Rome, and Nero was far from receptive to Christianity. History tells us that he persecuted Christians ruthlessly. He found great pleasure in torturing believers and trying to ridicule Christians publically.  Being a Christian in the Roman Empire at this time was not very well received, but in this context, Paul urged Christians to pray for government leaders and to even thank God for them. The underlying message is that whether we agree with political leaders or not, we are commanded to pray for them.

I would say that God lead Paul to cover nearly every aspect of prayer by using the words “entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings.” You can easily look at these four words and see them almost as synonyms, but that is not exactly accurate. While the Greek word for “prayer” simply means to talk to God and “petition” means to request something from God, I want to focus for a moment on the first word that is used: “entreaties.” This word means to plead or beg. It carries with it a sense of urgency and desperation. We live in desperate times, and in these times, we are commanded to plead with God on behalf of our leaders. The decisions political leaders make impacts our nation and the world. It is easy to be angry at a leader or disgusted, if we do not agree with them. One thing I have learned is that it is hard to passionately and consistently pray for someone with whom we are angry. Before we pray for our political leaders, we may first need to repent of our attitudes before God and surrender our minds and hearts to the reality that we are in a spiritual battle, and urgent prayer for our political leaders is a key weapon on this battle field. So, today I urge you to pray for our president, our congressmen and women (both nationally and in our state), and our local leaders. Pray for their salvation, if they are not Christians, and pray that they would lead our nation in a way the reflects the truth of God. Pray that God would help them to turn a deaf ear to those who would influence them to govern contrary to God’s truth. Ask God to help us as a nation to be a champion for human rights and that our national leaders would take a stand against the persecution of Christians around the world. Pray for a revival in Washington.

Communicating with God

communicationThere once was a time in my life when you wanted to communicate with someone, you could call them, and hope they were home. The invention of the answering machine was a marvel, and a caller could leave a message expecting a return phone call in a day or two. Even the pager was a great improvement, but the return phone call was still delayed at times. Today’s technology does open the door for instant access, but we all know that concept is not exactly accurate. The person you are calling may not be available, or his or her phone battery may have died. Voice mails can be left, but they may go unnoticed for a few days. I am so glad that in communicating with God, there is no delay. When we pray, we don’t have to leave a message and hope our Creator gets around to it in the next few days. Prayer is an instant line of communication with our Heavenly Father Who is waiting to hear from us. The prophet Jeremiah was reminded of God’s availability with this command from God found in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Do you see the command in this passage? God urges us, and commands us, to call out to Him through prayer. The promise of this passage is that He will answer and tell us things that we did not know. Our knowledge and understanding are limited but God’s is fathomless. Our perspective is fixed, but God’s is eternal. The SonRise Baptist Church family, of which I have the privilege of serving as pastor, is beginning a week of focused prayer. I invite anyone reading to join with us in calling out to God. Begin now making a list of things beyond your ability to either understand or resolve. Call to God. He will answer you and show you unimaginable things which you do not know.

Using Scripture in Prayer – Prayer Day 7

prayer5God tells us that His Word is useful. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states that “all scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” We have often thought of scripture being useful for teaching or correction, but how can scripture be used to equip us for the work of prayer? There are several ways.

Scripture reveals God to us

In order for our prayer life to be effective, we must have a growing relationship with God. As we consider the value of scripture in our prayer life, we must acknowledge its worth in helping us to get to know the Father. Through careful study of the scripture, we come to know His wonderful attributes which help us to know how to relate to Him. Also through this understanding, we know better how to praise Him. We can even use those very passages which teach us about God as the content of our prayer. This passage could easily find its way into our prayer of praise, “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth.”

Scripture contains prayers

Scripture is also valuable in our prayer life because he contains specific prayers to God that can become our own expressions. As we read the prayers of the saints of old, we not only see a model of communication with the Heavenly Father, but we can even say those very word back to God. An example of this would be where David confessed his sin to God in Psalm 51. As we deal with a particular sin in our life, we could use the very words of David to seek God’s grace and mercy through repentance. One could even use Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi as they intercede for their brothers and sisters (Philippians 1:9-11).

Scripture can stimulate

As we read the scripture, we are stimulated to think the thoughts of God. As we think these thoughts, we many times need to express ourselves to the Lord in response. One might could read Psalm 23 and then express himself to God by saying, “Lord, you are my Shepherd and I have no need. It is as if you make me to lie down in green pastures as you provide my daily provisions. You lead me beside the still waters as you bring refreshment to my soul and peace to my troubled mind.” This same passage could be used in intercession: “Lord, I pray that you would help ________ to come to understand what it means to relate to you as Shepherd. Help him to realize that as he submits to your leadership and guidance that he will have no need. I pray that you will allow him to see that apart from your provisions he will never lie down in green pastures or find the peace in his life of still waters.”

Regardless of the application, scripture is very useful in many areas of our life, including our prayer life. As you journey together with God through His Word, allow Him to stimulate you in discovering new ways to make His Word profitable in your life.

Confidence in Prayer – Day 6

prayer4Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have all your prayers answered? I know that God answers all of our prayers with either yes, no, or wait, but what if we knew how to pray in such a way that God’s answer was always yes? This is actually possible, and God tells us how to do it in 1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” Did you see the last phrase of this verse? It says, “we know that we have what we asked of him.” Prior to that it says, “whatever we ask.” God is clearly telling us that it is possible to pray in such a way that God always responds positively to what we ask for.

God actually sets the first part of this passage up by saying that we can pray with confidence knowing that God will answer. This sounds like New Testament praying. It is reminiscent of Jesus calling Lazarus from the grave or Peter saying to the lame man, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” How can you have that kind of confidence in your prayer life? I do not like putting prayer into a formula, because it is a relationship, but there is a formula suggested here in this verse. God says that we must first ask according to His will. The first step of effective praying is to determine the will of God about a matter. Our first prayer then should be to ask God how to pray about a certain issue and then go about seeking to determine His will regarding our request. This will lead us into searching the Scripture, seeking advice from godly friends, and spending time in quiet meditation and prayer. Once we have discerned God’s will about a matter, then we can pray about it and “know we have what we asked of Him.” Let’s not be so quick to read off our prayer list to God. It would do us well to apply God’s revealed truth, the Bible, to our prayer life before we ever ask of God. When we know the will of God, our confidence in prayer rises, and we will see God acting to accomplish His will on earth.