This may hit close to home for some people, but a serious question needs to be asked. Someone you are acquainted with talks to you about an issue they are experiencing, and at the end of the conversation you say, “I’ll be praying for you.” Question: will you really, or is that just something you say to end the conversation? (any emphasis throughout mine)
Some may have issues, and specifically ask for your prayers; and your answer is, “I will.” But do you really mean it, and will you actually pray for them?
Now for confession time. I can ask the above questions as I have been on both sides of that coin. Before “truly” asking Jesus to be my Savior over thirty years ago, I would say, “I’ll pray for you,” but five minutes later it would be off my mind; and that’s something I’m not proud of. It was a sign I was not in tune with the Lord’s will.
Since establishing a real relationship with Jesus, this is something I no longer take lightly. I have learned, and have experienced the real power of prayer on numerous occasions. The very first thing I learned is Our God is Real, and He is not Santa Claus. Nor is He an ancient, bearded old man sitting on a throne getting more senile as time passes. He is our “Triune” Heavenly Father; Lord God Jehovah; Our Creator; through His “Son” Jesus, He’s our Savior; and through the power of the Holy Spirit, He is our conscience and shield.
Our Father, Son and Holy Spirit has always existed, and will exist forever. This is a concept that is hard for us to wrap our fallible minds around, but we must have faith and believe it’s so. He is one person with three distinct entities that rule and reign in perfect harmony.
Our Lord and Savior gave us the right to go to the Father in prayer, and in numerous verses of the Bible, tells us to ask “in His Name” and we would receive. The sad part of this is when all the false prophets take these verses out of context and tell us God “owes” us for whatever reason. It’s “prosperity” preaching, not God’s word that’s being given out.
The “who owes who” part is explained in two words: Grace and Mercy. Jesus voluntarily came to this earth to pay a debt we owe, but could never pay. He willingly (John 10:18) went to a shameful death on a cross to pay what we could never afford. His pure, sinless and Holy blood was shed once for all time, and for any and all who would accept Him as Savior. The gift He gave is for us to be able to receive the free gift of Salvation through His precious sacrifice for us. This was pure Grace in that He paid our debt that He never owed. He is not just a good prophet, but is God (John 10:30), and our only way to the Father (John 14:6).
On the other hand, we owe a sin debt that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). Every person, all people with no exception whatsoever who have ever lived on earth, are alive now, or will ever live here, are sinners. (Romans 3:23) The wages for our sin is “death” (eternity in Hell). However, we have a free gift from God through His Son, Jesus, which is eternal life in Heaven (Romans 6:23). This is the pure Mercy the Father provides for us. It’s a way He has provided for us that keeps us from the punishment we do deserve, to receive something we do not deserve, or can ever earn. Our cost? Receive and accept this gift.
Some people are intimidated about going to the Lord in prayer, but need to read John 3:16-18, Romans 5:8, Acts 4:21, Romans 10:9-13 and others to see He loves us in a way that no earthly human could. James 4:2-3 tells why some prayers do not receive a favorable answer: “You desire and do not have; so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” People who are frustrated because they feel God does not answer their prayers need to take a real hard look at what they’re asking for, and how it’s being asked. God will not honor purely selfish prayers.
One good “prayer” to review is found in Daniel 9. He realized it was getting very close to the end of the 70-year Babylonian captivity period, so he “humbly” went before the Lord seeking forgiveness for himself and his people. Another is when Mary is told she would give birth to the Messiah, she gave a “song” of praise found in Luke 1:46-55, which is called the “Magnificat,” or a hymn of joy and thanksgiving.
Our Savior gave several different prayers to the Father, of which John 17 is a wonderful example for us. He prays for the welfare of His followers, and also shows He is in full submission to the Father’s will. In it, He also prays for everyone that will believe in Him from the Cross and throughout all the coming history (verses 20-26). Later, Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives just before His crucifixion. Luke 22:42 gives us both the human side of Jesus and His “submissive Son” side. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me (human). Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done” (submissive Son).
As a human, Jesus knew the pain and suffering He would endure, and had natural emotions about this. However, this did not compare with His ultimate grief of knowing when He “became” sin, that for the first time ever, He and the Father would be briefly separated. All the sin of the world that ever took place, or would take place to the end was laid on Him; and at that moment, the Father would have to turn away because He could tolerate no sin whatsoever. Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 all say Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” Anyone who has ever accepted Jesus as Savior had their sins washed away by His blood, and will not face separation and be forsaken by the Lord. Those who haven’t will have to answer for any and all sins they will ever commit, and will be separated forever.
Separation from God is what all will face for all eternity that refuse to accept His Son’s sacrifice, and the free gift of Salvation. For just a brief moment, our Savior saw what it would be like, and this was a main reason He agreed to allow Himself to be our “sin sacrifice.” God does not want anyone to fail, but for all to come to Him and repent of their sins (2 Peter 3:9). Does it not stand to reason, anyone who will not accept God’s Son does not deserve to spend eternity in Heaven?
Anyone who has accepted Jesus, and are truly born again, will feel a certain comfort in going to the Lord in prayer. We know that every request we make will receive an answer, even if that answer is “No.” God loves to provide for us when we are in His will. Praying such things as winning the lottery, or that someone we don’t care for will suffer are not in His will.
When we know someone is in need of help from the Father, it is totally proper to pray for them, and specifically ask for their relief. Then we give it to the Father to handle it in His way. We pray “In the Name of Jesus” because it’s only through Him that the Father can look past our sins, because we are a part of Jesus’ Flock. When we finally leave this earth, and are with Jesus, we will be pure and Holy and sinless just as Jesus is.
When we say we will pray for someone, that is a commitment which the Savior expects us to keep. We are to be sincere, and “talk” to the Lord as if He were right in front of us – because He is. Don’t just say words that are meaningless, and are not from our hearts. Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases (vain repetition) as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words.” The very next verse tells us the Father knows our needs before we even ask Him. Why pray then? Just as any parent loves for their children to respect them and ask for what they need, God loves for us to ask for and thank Him for our provisions. Please know, He will not fill all our “greed” requests, but our needs He will provide.
Just a personal note before closing; I have received emails where prayer has been requested. There have been many different situations, yet I assure everyone that I follow through with the Father and ask if it be His will, that He honors the requests. There has been no request I have ever received that I believed to be “unworthy” to talk to the Father about. In the end, I realize it’s totally in His will for whatever action He takes, but I have faith that He responds.
The main point is, if you say you’re going to offer prayers for someone, do so. Otherwise, you may just feel God’s discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11, Proverbs 3:12). I have seen some amazing results from sincere prayer.
If you haven’t allowed Jesus to be your Savior, now would be a great time to do so. He will turn no one away, but will not force anyone either. His return is very close, and all believers may be taken up to meet Him in the air very soon. Have your “passport” ready. Jesus already paid your ticket.