The night was long and darker than usual… the day had left me exhausted from the endless conflicts and decisions. I wanted to sleep, but my mind would not turn off… the fears and ‘what-ifs’ cycled through my every thought. I tried to pray, but I just felt overwhelmed and confused. Did God hear all the previous pleas? What difference does one more cry really make? How can I be sure my Heavenly Father will answer?
John tells us, “You can ask for anything in Jesus’ name, and He will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13). Now, most of us think that means we can ask for what will make us feel better or have more fun. But that is not it at all. Prayer isn’t just throwing something out there to end my pain or bring me pleasure and then hashtagging it #inJesusName. Prayer asks something “in His name” as one speaking as Jesus’ ambassador and from His standpoint. John explains further by pointing out, “Now this is the confidence we have in Jesus, that if we ask anything ‘according to His will,’ He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15) Did you see the critical phrase… ‘ask according to His will.’ That is what an ambassador does; they speak from their leader’s agenda, or what John refers to as ‘in fellowship’ or ‘one-minded’ with Christ (1 John 1:7). And we can see from the first reference that Jesus’ agenda is all about doing God’s will and glorifying His name.
So, my confidence when I pray should be grounded in understanding God’s word and listening to the Spirit’s leading. By these two components, my prayer is anchored in the promises of God and applied to my heart by the Spirit. This carries divinely given intuition and assurance that God has answered our prayers and granted our requests; what Paul calls “a peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7, John 14:27) A prayer of faith is not me trying to believe… but effortless confidence in what God has vowed. Elijah had this kind of confidence when he prayed for fire and rain. In I Kings 18:1, we are told, “the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’” Elijah was told to go, and he was given God’s promise of rain. So when he stood before Ahab, the prophets of Baal, and all of Israel and called down fire, His confidence, as an ambassador sent by God, was based on God’s Word. And when he said to his servant, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you,” he spoke with the conviction of one speaking for God Himself.
I don’t know what you are facing right now, but I do know that God will embolden your prayer as you pursue His agenda and not your own. You could be in the hospital, making arrangements for a funeral, or starting life anew right now. Still, you can be assured that God is orchestrating your circumstances. If you are willing to trust His word and go where the Spirit leads, your faith will grow stronger, you will be equipped for His essential tasks, and God will use you to bring hope and grace to someone who needs Jesus. God has brought you to a place that you would have never gotten to any other way, except by the unusual or dreadful circumstances that led you there. But we are assured by God’s promises that He will ‘never leave you or forsake you’ and ‘that nothing can ever separate you from His love.’ God is indeed working all things for ‘good for those who love Him.’ But we must remember that ‘good’ is what God determines and not what we desire. The ultimate ‘good’ is His getting us home to be in His presence for all eternity. And ‘those who love Him’ are His ambassadors who have given up their own desires and live one-minded with Jesus (Phil 2: 8; I John1:7). They are the ones with a front-row seat to the unfolding of God’s glory. They are the ones who long to participate in every battle God wages for someone’s soul.
Christ’s ambassadors are those who “have been crucified with Christ and no longer live for themselves, but humbly allow Christ to live in and through them. The life they now live in the body, they live by faith in the Son of God, who loves them and gave himself for them.” (Galatians 2:20) They pray a prayer of faith, believing like Elijah that the promised rain has already come, even without any confirming evidence.
That is the way I want to pray; I want to seek God till His burden is my burden and then press on in accordance with His direction, confident that ‘the good’ He has established will come about. Then, I want to pray until His name is praised and worshiped forever. I hope you will enjoy praying that way too!
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you to be reconciled to God on behalf of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 5:20)
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.
Think About This: “The heart of true prayer is vertical confession, not horizontal desire.” ―