How confident are you when it comes to praying to the Lord? Do you know how to pray, what to pray for, and how prayer works? As a child of God, you should be very confident in your prayer life. So, if you’re not confident in your prayer life, but profess to be a child of God, we need to have a serious study session because it is time for you to grow confident in your prayer life.
The Importance of Prayer
Many people struggle to understand the importance of prayer, so, before we even jump into the meat of this study, let me explain why prayer is so important.
Prayer is a key indicator of one’s fellowship with the Lord. Our fellowship with God should consist of constant communication on our part. You see, when we are in constant communication with God, then our fellowship will be healthy which is certainly a great benefit to us. However, when we aren’t in constant communication with the Lord, then we end up suffering and hurting ourselves.
Afraid to Go to God?
There are a few common reasons I often hear as to why some are afraid to talk to God and choose not to pray. Some say they are afraid to pray because they believe they’ll “say the wrong thing” in their prayers. Then, there are many more that simply say prayer “doesn’t work”; they believe God doesn’t listen to them nor does God give them anything.
How many of you are not confident in your prayer life? How many of you may share these same reasons? In my key verse for this study, we see the writer of the book of Hebrews state that we should “come boldly” before the Lord.
Those who are bold are those who are fearless. So, someone may wonder, “should I not fear the Lord?” Another will probably say, “Pastor, you always talk about being a ‘God-fearing’ believer?” Let’s remove any confusion about being bold (fearless) going before the Lord.
When we take a look at Hebrews 4, the writer speaks of “rest”. We will see this “rest” mentioned in the very first verse where the writer writes,”since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it (Heb. 4:1).” Now, the “rest” being spoken of is the rest offered by God — “God’s rest”.
In this specific statement, this is a reference to the eternal rest promised by the Lord. When it comes to the eternal rest, notice that the writer stated, “let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.” So, fear is certainly being spoken of but it is the fear of potentially missing God’s eternal rest. God’s eternal rest is an eternal rest with Him in the heavenly kingdom that is being prepared for us (John 14:2-3).
Do you fear missing this eternal rest? I certainly hope so because this is the fear that makes up the fear of the God-fearing believer; we fear God’s punishment of sin. We know that God’s punishment of sin is Him casting away sin and the sinner from His presence for eternity with no show of mercy nor a later opportunity to earn forgiveness (Rev. 20:15).
So, because we fear God’s punishment of sin, sincere believers move in a manner to live in obedience to God’s will (His instructions). The writer of Hebrews also stated and urged believers with this in mind: “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (Heb. 4:11).” You and I, all people, should be living in a manner to enter God’s rest rather than be apart from Him.
The Hurdle of Trust
The only way that one can enter into God’s rest is through faith and fellowship in Christ. As I spoke of at the start, our fellowship with Christ is of the utmost importance. Fellowship with the Lord, we should understand, speaks to an intimate relationship between you and God.
God is faithful
So, on that note, along with communication, all healthy relationships require faith – trust – between both parties involved in said relationship, right? Of Himself, God has said that He is faithful. In Deuteronomy 7:9, it is proclaimed of God, “the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
To Moses, the Lord testified of Himself, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation (Ex. 34:6-7).”
God, we must understand, is faithful to Himself, first, before He is faithful to us. In His nature, God is love and His love is compassionate, merciful, and forgiving. In 1 John 1:9, the apostle wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God has proved His faithfulness to mankind repeatedly as scripture testifies of God’s faithfulness. God’s faithfulness was shown to Israel when He brought Israel out of the bondage of Egypt and delivered them to the Promised Land. God’s faithfulness was shown to both Jew and Gentile through the giving of His only begotten Son who has become our propitiation. God’s faithfulness is still shown to all of us today as He gives us chance after chance to live in repentance.
Erase doubt from heart
The question we must answer in return is whether or not we are faithful to Him? As the Lord trusts us, we must learn to truly trust Him rather than doubting and second guessing Him. Trusting God is, I believe, the major hurdle that so many of us have to jump over because we are often questioning and doubting Him.
The common issues as to one some are either afraid to pray or don’t pray at all boils down to trusting the Lord and understanding how prayer works. Let us understand that when we pray to the Lord, we must pray without doubting Him. As James concluded in his letter, “let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord (Jas. 1:6-7).”
God desires sincere supplication and requests to be made of Him, not hesitant and doubtful ones. I am not sure there is a better example in scripture than Matthew 17:14-21 as a show of what hesitance and doubt will do in comparison to what faith and trust in God can accomplish.
This passage of scripture comes at a time where Jesus, Peter, James, and John had separated themselves from the other disciples in a mountain for Jesus’ transfiguration. The remaining disciples were at the base of the mountain where a man had brought his epileptic son to them to be cured. Unfortunately, the disciples that had remained behind were unable to cure the man’s son (Matt. 17:16).
When Jesus, Peter, James, and John had returned out of the mountain, the man approached Jesus for His help. After hearing of the disciples failing to heal the man’s son, Jesus turned and said to the disciples, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you (Matt. 17:17)?” Jesus then rebuked the demon and the demon came out of the man’s son and the boy was cured (Matt. 17:18).
After this was done, the disciples asked Jesus, “why could we not cast [the demon] out (Matt. 17:19)?” Jesus responded that they could not do so because of their unbelief. Jesus stated, “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
You cannot doubt in your heart when you turn to the Lord to move on your behalf and believe He will move. I encourage people all the time that speak about asking God to “show them a sign” or “give them a feeling” to stop doing that! I do this for two reasons that you must be aware of.
Firstly, asking for God to “show you a sign” or “give you a feeling” speaks to unbelief in your prayer. Again, doubt and unbelief in your prayer life will not be rewarded by the Lord. Not only is this a sign of unbelief but the danger of doing this is that Satan loves showing signs and giving feelings; I want to back this statement up with sound doctrine.
In 2 Thessalonians 2, Paul writes about the period of Great Tribulation when the lawless one (the Antichrist) will be revealed. Specifically, in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Paul writes that the coming of the Antichrist is according to the “working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.”
Satan, we must all understand, is a deceiver and his deceptions certainly involve the “promise” given through “lying wonders and feelings.” Many have been led away from their blessing because they “got a feeling from God” except that feeling was given to them by the devil.
Be Comfortable Talking to God
Something I always teach when talking about praying to the Lord is trusting that God is moving on your behalf; rather than asking for signs, trust that God is attentive to your prayer. As the writer of the book of Hebrews stated, when we go before the Lord, we must be fearless and confident.
God knows you intimately
A few weeks ago, I preached the sermon – Sitting at the Table With Jesus – to speak to what it would be like to be in the same room with Christ and to have a conversation with Him. I illustrated this picture through the occasion where Jesus was in the home of the Pharisee, named Simon, to eat and had his feet washed by a woman of the city, a sinner (Luke 7:36-50).
A lot of times we make going to God more tense than what it should be. When Jesus was in the Pharisee’s home to eat and talk with the man, the custom of that day was not to sit in chairs at a table, but to be relaxed and reclined on couches. Going to have a conversation with Jesus should be relaxing rather than tense. As Jesus taught, when you pray, pray in your secret place as prayer, again, is part of your intimate fellowship with the Lord.
We often make praying to the Lord so tense because we’re ashamed of who we are because we believe our sins are so great and terrible. Yes, absolutely, our sins are great and terrible. However, God knows you intimately as there is no hiding anything from Him. The writer of Hebrews stated, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account (Heb. 4:13).”
We had a Sunday School lesson recently where David tried to hide and cover up his great sin while making matters worse until the Lord had to rebuke Him through Nathan, the prophet. The sinful woman had come to Jesus with tears in her eyes because she knew who she was, but she also knew what Jesus could do for her.
I am a big believer in all of us just going to God because He already knows us. David said it best when he said, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways (Ps. 139:1-3).”
Why be so tense when the one you are going to know so intimately? Yes, I certainly can understand being ashamed, but that shame should not keep us from going to God. In Hebrews 4:15, we read, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
What this means for all of us is that we have a High Priest, Jesus Christ, who understands our plight. Though Jesus did not give into temptation, He understands that we are tempted and will give in to the temptation of sin. Because of this, Jesus does not hold it over our head that we falter in error. As the writer stated, we should “hold fast (be faithful to) our confession.”
If we profess to be of faith in God, then let us trust the Lord. David, when he confessed his transgressions against God, had already received God’s mercy and could move towards forgiveness (2 Sam. 12:13). The sinful woman, through her actions of faith, had her sins forgiven (Luke 7:47-48).
At the throne of grace
In our prayer life, you must reach the place where you understand that God loves us and has no desire to punish (destroy) us (Ezek. 33:11). Let us pay close attention to the fact that the writer of Hebrews said in our key verse that the throne we go before is a “throne of grace (God’s unmerited love)” and not a throne of judgment. At the throne of grace, we have seen that there is compassion.
Let us understand that at the throne of grace, God has said there are no thoughts of evil towards us. At the throne of grace, there are thoughts of nothing but peace, a future, and a hope for all of us that go before the throne. Now, to be clear, there certainly will be correction when we go to the Lord in our prayer life but this to our benefit.
At the throne of grace, the writer stated in our key verse that we will not only obtain mercy but we will also find grace to help in time of need. When Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray, He made it clear that God already knows our need before we ask them (Matt. 6:8). Someone may wonder to themselves, if God already knows what we have need of, why do I need to pray? Prayer, we should understand, is a testimony of our fellowship – trust and dependence – on the Lord.
So, all in all, you should not be intimidated to pray to the Lord. You should be confident in your prayer life knowing that God knows all of your needs and knows you intimately. Prayer is for comfort and for uplifting which is why we should talk to God about everything; we should talk to God when we’re happy, sad, angry, frustrated, distressed, and depressed.
As Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everythingby prayerand supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).”