2 Corinthians 1:20 – “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” NKJV
1 Timothy 1:18-20 – “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” NKJV
In my years of ministry, I have sometimes asked questions that I do not have the complete answer for and was chastened by an attorney for that. He said, “Roy, no good lawyer would ever ask a question, in court, which he did not know the answer.” He was telling me that I should never ask a question for which I had no definitive answer or one that I was still studying. My attitude is that if my question opens the further discussion, causes more prayer, and facilitates deeper study in the pursuit of godliness and the advancement of the kingdom, I believe it good.
I have asked, in preaching and teaching, “What is the purpose of prayer?” I’m not sure that anyone can exhaustively answer that and sometimes the attempts become exhausting, but if we are to “pray without ceasing”, as Paul instructs in 1 Thessalonians 5, there must be a benefit and reason for the practice. The oft quoted and much-needed passage in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a definitive call to prayer for nations and peoples and is a call to prayer with promise. So, my question is, “What is the purpose of prayer?” Maybe I should ask, “What happens when we pray?” Are we changing God’s mind in our prayer? Most would say, NO! Our Lord Jesus made a powerful statement and often troubling one when He responded to the disciples’ request to teach them to pray. He said, “…For your, Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Well, if He knows what I need then why am I praying? Why doesn’t He just take care of my needs without me having to pray? If prayer is not informative for Him or a tool to change His mind, what is the purpose?
Jesus was a man of prayer and in Luke 18 He began a parable about a widow’s persistence in petitioning a judge by saying, “…men ought always to pray and not lose heart.” In the case of the unjust judge, the persistence wearied him and he changed his mind or agreed to consider the case. God is not an unjust or uncaring judge, so what would prayer’s purpose be, for us, in this example? I believe that prayer’s greatest power is two-fold in human lives and human events.
PRAYER is a means of changing or transforming our hearts. That is where PRAYING THE PROMISES comes to the fore, in my mind. We are reminding ourselves of the Promises of God and as Paul instructed Timothy, as we pray the Prophecies and Promises we do warfare spiritually. We plant seeds of faith in the fertile ground of our hearts. If the Promises of God are all YES in Jesus that means, to me, if God promised it, His desire is to bring it to fruition in our lives. If they are AMEN, in Him, I believe that indicates our involvement in the process. Amen means “so be it”. It could be defined as “acknowledgment of a things truth and certainty.” A Promise, a Blessing or a Prophecy is not complete until it is received and in Prayer, we are saying AMEN to the Promises of God. In that process we are allowing the truth and reality of the Promise to stay in the forefront of our minds, dwell richly and deeply in our hearts, and as we pray the Promise that Truth transforms our hearts and causes us to gravitate toward the Heart and Purpose of God. It is a Seed of Faith which continual prayer waters allowing germination and ultimately the producing of the Fruit of Promise.
PRAYER is an act of submission on our part and an open invitation to God to come into our lives and do that which is needed to produce the Promise, Blessing or Prophecy in our lives. If God made a Promise there can be no doubt of His desire or willingness to bring it to pass in our lives and 1 John 5:14-15 reads, “Now this is the confidence we have in Him, 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.” THAT IS POWERFUL! Someone said there are 7,959 Promises in Scripture that God made directed toward man. If we were to pray one Promise each day it would take 22 years to pray them all. Caleb lived 40 years on one promise. He prayed the promise, proclaimed it, and lived his life reaching for it. How much more faith-filled and purpose driven would our lives be if we PRAYED THE PROMISES of God daily in our lives?
Prayer, therefore, has more to do with the human heart than the heart of God but the Bible is filled with directives, from God, for a man to pray. I would suggest that without prayer we will not move into or onto the Promised Land or the Promises of God for our lives. The Promises will largely remain, wishful thoughts and hopes but not visible realities and through Prayer, we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in keeping the Promises and Prophecies before us and as we gaze on them we are transformed by them. It is as we pray that our hearts are turned to the Purposes of God and the Transformation takes place, thus opening the door for the fulfillment.
I have not fully answered my original question but I hope that I have given you something that will encourage you to PRAY. Rather than attempting to convince God to change His mind let’s allow the Holy Spirit to change ours and realize that it is true, “the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.” If God promised it, He wants to bring it to pass in our lives.
God bless you as you embark on this day’s journey in Christ!