the prayer paradigm
W hat does prayer mean to you? Is it something you do when you’re in trouble and have run out of ideas to fix the problem? Do you pray when you want a new job, a new house, or a parking space closer to the mall? Many people seem to look at God as some kind of genie in the sky who is obligated to do for them or give to them whatever they say, so long as they start out with “Dear Heavenly Father” and end with “In Jesus’ name.”
Somehow along the way, we have forgotten that God is GOD. He’s the one in control, not us. He made us and He gets to call the shots. We ignore His will in our lives to our own peril. Instead of asking God what His will in a situation is, we tell Him what our will is and expect Him to line up with it.
But that’s not how prayer works.
We’re going to look at several verses in the Amplified Bible to see if what we’ve decided to apply actually is what was meant. As we read through these scriptures, remember that our Creator desires our fellowship. He never signed up to be Santa Claus.
2nd Corinthians 13:11 in the Amplified Bible brings out the truth that we must be walking closely in fellowship with God in order to enjoy the benefits that ensure peace, love, comfort, and like-mindedness.
The Hebrew word shalom really sums up the result of remaining in fellowship with God. It means peace, harmony, wholeness,
2nd Corinthians 13:11 says: “Finally, believers, rejoice! Be made complete [be what you should be], be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace [enjoy the spiritual well-being experienced by believers who walk closely with God]; and the God of love and peace [the source of lovingkindness] will be with you (AMP).”
completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. If you look carefully, you’ll discover that everything you pray for is found in one of those areas.
In this scripture, Paul is admonishing the community at Corinth because they were not behaving as believers should. He calls into question their very salvation if they refuse to obey, cautioning them that they need to examine their hearts to see if they are truly in the faith. That’s because those who are will do the will of the Father.
Jesus told the disciples that if they loved Him, they would obey Him. Just before that scripture, He told them that whatsoever they asked in His name He would do for them.
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name [as My representative], this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified and celebrated in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name [as My representative], I will do it. If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments. John 14:12-15 (AMP).”
When taken in context, this verse doesn’t mean what modern Christianity has led us to believe it does. It does not mean that Jesus will cater to our whims and selfish desires. Quite the contrary! Instead of Him doing our desires, what this text means is that we represent Him in our relationships and work. This scripture is about doing God’s will, not our own.
Now that in no way means that we should not bring our desires to God for His consideration. We are told to “delight yourselves in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).” So we need to look at what that scripture is telling us. Right off the bat, going to church on Sunday is not “delighting yourself in the LORD.” Understanding this scripture is paramount to knowing how to approach God.
Delighting yourself in the LORD means finding peace, fulfillment and contentment in God Himself.
When God is your delight, the desires of your heart begin to align with His desires.
Now let’s look at a companion verse in Matthew. (See sidebar).
Desiring gain in wealth or prestige will never satisfy you. Once walking along this pathway, you find that contentment is never fulfilled. You always want more. On the other hand, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).
“ But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” Matthew 6:33 (AMP)
“Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17
The world can never satisfy our deepest longings. But seeking God’s heart when you pray will be sure that your prayers are heard and answered. He always hears us when we pray, but like the good Father that He is, He doesn’t give to His children whatever they ask for. He always knows what’s best. Trust Him.