Troublesome Topic: Admonitions about Prayer

It’s about Our Focus, Not the Words We Use

You may get the idea from the paragraphs above that I am saying you should stop using the phrase “In the name of Jesus, Amen.” I want to make clear that I am recommending a change in focus more than a change in words. It is okay to pray in the name of Jesus, and okay not to. It is praying according to the character and revealed will of God that matters. The words alone do not make it fulfill what Jesus was talking about. Praying according to His nature, His character, and His revealed will are what make it comply to what He meant.

What Has God Bound Himself To?

God is not obligated to answer requests for favors. If God does grant a request for a favor it is because He is good and He loves to bless our socks off when we least expect it. So here is the conclusion about requests for favors: If He grants our request for a favor it is because He loves us; if He does not grant our request for a favor it is because He loves us. He knows what is best for us and we should be glad that He does not answer every request we make and call prayer. If He did we would become spoiled brats!

But God has bound Himself to forgive sins, to receive our expressions of thanks, to accept our commitment of self, to hear our intercession for Him to draw others to Himself, and to answer the kind of prayer prayed for His glory and according to His known will, in faith and with perseverance. What does this mean? This means that God has bound Himself to include us in His great plan, to use us somehow in this cosmic battle against evil. He has made us participants, not spectators in this epic struggle. Amazing! He sees something in us worth taking that risk. We will not do our part perfectly, but He wants to include us anyway. This is mind-blowing stuff!


Expressions of gratitude are always welcomed by God. No father wants his kids to ask him for favors all the time, he wants to hear “thank you” as well.

Gratitude should be a prominent aspect of our prayer life. Rather than asking for so many favors, I am trying to focus on watching for unexpected blessings and being thankful. This takes me from, “Help, I’m in trouble,” to “You are a great and loving God. Thank you.”  Now, since I am not looking for things to ask favors for, and I am just looking for things to be thankful for, I am seeing more blessing from God than I ever have before. Asking for God to help things go well in specific ways caused me to look for God to answer in those specific ways, but I was missing other ways that God was working. Asking for favors was keeping the focus on me; watching for God’s blessing puts the focus on God, on His will, and on trusting that He knows best.

The key to joining in God’s great causes is to pray that God glorify Himself. Jesus, in the prayer recorded in John 17, prayed that God would glorify himself. In fact, that is one of the major themes of that prayer. We should likewise ask God to Glorify Himself in and through us.

Also, consider learning to pray Scripture. God likes to hear us repeat His words back to Him because it gives Him glory.

Regarding Time with God

“True prayer demands more of our life than most are willing to give. And therefore, few are those who ever taste of its power and delights. We must practice being still before our God and allow Him to speak. We must train our inner life to quiet itself and focus our attention heavenward.”

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“You will need to make time for your King, time to listen to Him, study Him, watch Him . . .  and fall in love with Him. Evaluate your sleep habits. Evaluate your leisure time. Evaluate your schedule.”

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The Scripture declares in Jer. 29:13 that you will find God and you will become well connected to Him when you seek Him with “all your heart.” Is five minutes a day “all your heart?”

Leonard Ravenhill expressed the same sentiment when he said, “We cannot have big results from our small praying. The law of prayer is the law of the harvest: sow sparingly in prayer, reap sparingly; sow bountifully in prayer, reap bountifully.”

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In my opinion the altar of incense was intended as a representation of us giving God all that we are, every aspect of our lives, however, it is more closely tied with prayer than any other single aspect of the Christian life. In Hebrews 9:3-4 we read, “Now behind the second veil was a habitation which is called ‘the holy of holies,’ containing the golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant.” In reality the altar of incense stood just outside the Most Holy Place. The author of Hebrews purposefully described the location of the altar of incense to be it in a more important place than it actually occupied in order to make a point about the importance of prayer. This “change” gave prayer even greater prominence. He was basically saying, “We cannot overemphasize the importance of prayer. Whatever your thoughts are about the importance of prayer, you should turn that up at least one notch.”

The next lesson is Consider Some Heroes of Prayer



Eric & Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer, p. 121.


Eric & Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer, pp. 121-122.


Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, p. 119.