Troublesome Topic: God-glorifying Prayer

The third element of “the big stuff” is prayer. Prayer is the only specific act of the believer mentioned in the book of Revelation!

Go to footnote number

Yet despite its importance, time in prayer is probably one of the greatest things lacking in modern-day Christianity in America. “At the judgment seat the most embarrassing thing the believer will face will be the smallness of his praying.”

Go to footnote number

If an American visits a mission field he will notice a different level of spirituality. That is because, while we know how to pay, they know how to pray! We are more willing to give God money than time. We are so busy we think we can only afford a few minutes to connect with God each day. Many believers who achieve their goal of a few minutes of prayer and Bible reading each day think they are strong Christians because they are faithful to do this. What does God think of the meager morsels of time we offer Him? It hurts His heart. What does Satan think of the same? He laughs!

Yet we have time for many other things. Even though we are busy we seldom miss a meal. That must be because food is very important to us. So what does that say about the things we squander our time doing? “A Christian, dreaming before his television night by night, has a dead brain and a bankrupt soul.”

Go to footnote number

Leonard Ravenhill wrote that in 1959! What would he say today of the time we squander on face book, video games, following our favorite teams through interminably long seasons, or many other time-wasters we get hooked on?

Prayer Always Works!

God always answers true prayer, and He always answers, “Yes.”

You may think that is a huge over-statement. Examples may already be coming to your mind of times when you prayed and God did not answer “Yes.” But hold on with me for the next few pages and allow me to explain.

There is much confusion about prayer, what it is, and how well it works. We want to believe there really is power in prayer, but our personal experience causes us to doubt. Eric and Leslie Ludy have this to say about how Americans feel about prayer: “Our beef with the powerlessness of prayer is actually a beef with the powerlessness of unbiblical prayer. Prayer, as built after the biblical pattern, works—it is that simple.”

Go to footnote number

True Prayer:

True prayer agrees with what God desires.

True prayer conforms to God’s will expressed in Scripture.

True prayer comes alongside God in what He is doing.

True prayer asks God to do what He has already committed Himself to do

True prayer seeks His glory. It is not about us.

Prayer must originate in the Father’s will, not our will or our desires. Jesus did only what His Father was doing; He spoke only what His Father was speaking:

John 5:19


Of himself the Son is able to do nothing except if he sees the Father doing that thing, for whatever things He does, these things the Son also does likewise.


In my own strength and of my own volition I, the Son of God, can do nothing; I am limited to doing what I see my Father already doing; whatever things He is doing, I do the same things.

John 5:20


For the Father loves

Go to footnote number

the Son, and shows him all things that he is doing; and He will show him greater works than these so that you may marvel.


For my Father loves me, His Son, and He lets me in on everything He is involved in including the whats and whys and hows; but that’s not all, He will do greater things than what He has been doing up till now, and He will bring me in on those too; He will do this so that you can be amazed at how God works.

We should apply this principle to our praying. We need to train ourselves to pray what God is desiring. “You ask and do not receive because you ask with evil intent, so that you can squander it on your pleasure” (James 4:3). That is exactly what we have done. We have made prayer about us! How childish! How selfish! Prayer is not about our desires; it is about coming into agreement with God’s desires. True prayer means to come alongside God in His great endeavors, to join God in what He is doing, to ask Him to be what we already know He is, and manifest that to us so we can see it and participate even more. True prayer asks Him to do what He has committed Himself to do, and do it in our time so we can give Him glory. Therefore we need to be careful to focus on praying what we know is His will. The verses from James quoted above start out by giving us the principle that prayer always works. He says, “You do not have because you do not ask [God].” Then he goes on to show that for prayer to work we must follow certain guidelines. We cannot pray selfishly and expect God to answer. That is not praying, that is manipulating.

The Meaning of the Hebrew and Greek Words for Pray

The primary word for “pray” in Hebrew means “to intervene, interpose, mediate or judge.” It seems to center around the idea of getting between two entities. God’s true followers use prayer to get between sinners and God in an attempt to draw the former to the latter. Notice that this is not about us, it is entirely about God and about others. Asking for what I want for myself does not fit the Hebrew word for prayer.

The concept of “crying out” to God is often expressed in the Old Testament. It is usually translated as it should be with the English words “cry out.” I will explain below why I feel that this is not true prayer, and why God often chose to answer these pleas as if they were. 

 The Greek word translated “pray” is made from two words; one is the preposition “toward;” the other is the verb “exchange.” Hence “prayer” means to “exchange toward.” That still does not help us very much until we unpack it even further. The concept is one of us drawing closer to God so that we can exchange our human desires for His divine will (but it was a little different than our word “exchange” because He does not take our will as His own). In that exchange we lose everything that wants to focus on our wants and even our needs. We come away with an all-encompassing desire to see God’s will realized and His name glorified. That is true prayer!

The next lesson is What Prayer Is and What it Isn’t



Perseverance and righteous living are also mentioned in Revelation, but they are general things, expressed in many different ways.


Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, p. 15.


Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, p. 148.


Eric & Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer,  pp. 173-174.


This word for “love” is a form of a Greek word which emphasizes the love involved in a close relationship, but is not the same as the sacrificial love of “agape.”