Personally, I believe that most people pray and whether it’s big long prayers filled with requests or a simple one filled with thanks, it’s a conversation between you and God and that’s the most important part of it all. However, while most people do pray, I don’t think most people understand the purpose of prayer as it’s not as simple as most would believe as the purpose of prayer is two-fold.
First, the purpose of our prayer is to increase our understanding of what God calls “good” and second, to cultivate a desire in us for what is good. Remember, just because we see something as good does not mean that it. Often times, our ways are not God’s ways but if we allow God to, He will establish our paths. Christ tells us in Matthew 7:8 that “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
While prayer has a twofold purpose, we must have a relationship with Christ before its effective. For those that have children or had children, when they asked you for something that was not good for them or potentially hurtful, you would not give it to them. Although they may be frustrated with you because they didn’t get what they wanted and everyone has been this one at one time or another, we eventually get over it but if they asked for something that you know will benefit them, chances are, they get it and this is how God works.
When we ask for something that is potentially hurtful to us, God will not give it to us. The things that are good for us, He has a way of giving it but we cannot limit God by putting Him in a box. One thing that we must remember is that while God does give great things, it’s not because of anything that we do but because God loves us and while God loves us, He has His own way of doing things.
Often, they will not make any sense to us but we must simply believe and trust in His ways as we may begin at one point then travel to another point and back to the first point only to travel back to another point. In other words, God does not work the way we expect and does not typically go from point A to point B to point C.
In John 14:14, Christ instructs us “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” Christ tells us to ask anything of Him but do so in His name but when we do so in His name, we are praying on the basis of His authority which involves the will of God. Therefore, what we ask must be according to God’s will which is where so many people get turned around and for a long time, I was among those facing the wrong direction.
Yes, there are many things that I have prayed for but did not get and they did not come to fruition because they were not according to God’s will. In no way were they beneficial to me and as I look at them now, I am able to see that these things were hurtful to me and if they had come to fruition, there is no telling what would have happened to me. 1 John 5:14 tells us “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” and when we are in the will of God, God begins to work.
An example of this comes from Jeremiah 29:11 which tells us that God makes good plans for us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, rto give you an expected end.” This is a verse that must be understood in context as it was written to exiles in Babylon and God was sending Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem. While this piece of scripture was not written for people living today, this verse is powerful in that it does express great sentiment.
Jeremiah’s letter explains how Jerusalem and the temple will be destroyed but they will return to the land in seventy years but also reassured them that God has not forsaken or forgotten about them. Jeremiah reassures them that they will be restored and that God has a purpose and plan for them and this is the reassurance that we should take away from this verse. Yes, God has plans for us and they are not to harm us but to prosper us and we must remain faithful in prayer.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”–John 14:14