Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. . . . Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. ~John 16:23-24On Friday, God blessed me to pray for someone I love dearly. He gave me words to speak, words filled with life and the hope that is in Jesus, the very life and hope that is one of the gifts that come with the baptism of fire and the Holy Spirit. So beautiful. Later that day, as I pondered on prayer, I wondered about something I have wondered many times before: just how many times do I need to pray for something, before the prayer "works"? Before God hears and answers? Days? Weeks? Or several times a day for longer, if I want something really really really badly?
This is something I've wrestled with for a long time. I'm a pretty random person, easily distracted . . . but also deeply sincere. I always want to pray for others, but I felt a burden to pray repeatedly, over time, in order for it to be any good . . . and yet I knew myself, and would not offer to pray for people because I knew it would be a one-time thing, and I didn't want to let them down with my meager attempt to "pray for them", because I thought what I was able to do wouldn't work. I couldn't remember everyone that I wanted to pray for, and I couldn't spend hours each day making sure I prayed for all of them with the depth of fervor that I thought I had to offer as a sacrifice for the prayers to be heard and answered.
And Friday, as I pondered on this, really asking God just how many times I needed to pray before it "would work", I heard the answer so clearly:
"Once."And it wasn't just a "once, with all the energy of your soul" kind of once. It was a "Once, when I tell you to, and the way I give you to pray."
That answer has been such a relief, not just because it lifted a burden that I floundered under (feeling like my prayers were making a difference because I wasn't consistent for everyone I wanted to pray for), but because it built my faith up into something even stronger. I can trust my God to guide my prayers, and I can stand confident upon His rhema (spiritual word to me) and logos (written scripture) as I pray for things. Believers are commanded in scripture to heal the sick, to pray for one another, to bless, and so much more. God wills GOOD for His children. I have permission from the Godhead to pray for SO many wonderful things, in Jesus' name. He hears, and WILL answer. Without me doing time on my knees for the sake of pleasing Him enough to grant my petition. He wants me to pray--absolutely! And He also wants me to be up and about, blessing and loving and working and playing, and praying all the while.
I've been moved upon to pray for some things many times over the last couple of years, out of the love and desires of my heart that the Lord has planted there. And I'll keep on doing that. I'm just thankful that I don't have to pray for everything and everyone in that same way.
These passages now carry even more meaning:
"And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." ~Matt 21:22
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you." ~John 15:16
"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." ~John 15:7
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. ~Luke 11:9
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." ~ John 5:14Lord, I'm so glad you're not One who insists on exacting a price from Your own who petition You, before you grant their requests. When I pray in faith (in right alignment with Your word, Your character and Your will), I fully trust You will answer me with bread, not stones. With good things. You know how to give good things to those who ask. God, I declare Your name as the highest in the heavens, I declare Your holiness, Your love, Your perfect peace, and invite all who search to come and taste the fruit of the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, for You are He: the Living God. And I will praise You, pray to You, and rejoice in You always. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. ~Jeremiah 15:16