One day while my sister and I were talking about spiritual matters, she made the statement that it was necessary to pray hard for some of our concerns. I will have to give her credit that I never thought about praying being done in a manner that it should be hard. Those two little words have brought me to a better place in my devotional life. I always thought praying was just praying; saying certain words to God most of which were requests. Now I see that it is not the case. So, I offer to you the insight that the Holy Spirit has given me about praying.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, told us in his gospel letter (5:16) that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Be honest. Have you not just read these words and passed on to other thoughts? To help us understand what I believe James was saying, let us look at it backwards. It takes a righteous man to succeed in his prayer life. It takes a person who is very intent to avoid sin in his life. It takes a believer who purposes to do right in his life so that his prayers have value. That same righteous man will fervently pray. To him the opportunity to enter into the throne room of God has great meaning. When he presents a cause to Jesus, he will not say it in a glib manner. He will not pray as if his requests are a second thought to something else. This individual seeks God expecting results so that it is said about him that he is effectual. He is serious about a matter that he is discussing with God.
We all know that during our prayers it is easy to be distracted. The phone will ring. A child will interfere. I thought comes to mind about something that has not yet been done and needs to be done. It is so easy while talking to God and suddenly our mind slips to something else. It is useless to persecute oneself for these things happening when we are talking to the creator of the universe. The best thing to do is refocus. As soon as you realize your mind drifted to something else, bring your thoughts right back to the discussion you are having with Jesus.
If we are going to pray for results, we must be very serious. We must not take ourselves, the time we are spending in prayer, and certainly not God himself for granted. We must be as serious as if we just experienced an automobile accident. We must be as serious as if a loved one was very ill and we will be begging for their healing. We must be serious in our attitude as well as our behavior. If we are not serious when we pray, there is no sense in wasting our time praying. In fact, we might ask ourselves if we are not serious when we are praying, are we really praying.
Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is present while you are praying. Have an awareness that you are surrounded by holiness through God’s spirit. If you are praying hard, you are praying with the unction or emphasis awarded to us by the Holy Spirit. Know that your private prayers are private conversations with the person who died on the cross for your sin. There may be times you do not know how to put into specific terms the meaning of your concern. Keep praying anyway. This may be a good time to be still and listen for the value of God’s spirit near you.
Keep in mind that you have no authority over God. That is why you should pray humbly. That is why your prayers are subject to his will whether you want to accept the result not. Jesus said in his prayer the night he was arrested he wanted God’s will be done even if it went so far as the death of Christ. Praying is not inducting God into a wish list. We must pray in a tentative manner so that we are willing to accept what God decides to be an answer to our prayer even if it is opposite of what we are asking. Again, in James (4:13-15) we are reminded that our request and our own decisions are subject to God.
Pray with expectation. It is very easy to throw a request at God and expect him to sort out what you really mean. Pray in such a way that you really do want something to happen. Tell Jesus the details of your concern and enlist his aid. You are going before the King of Kings and asking him to alter a situation or maybe even history as it is unfolding. You are asking the Heavenly Father to make a change that you believe is for the better. You are asking to make this change because nobody else can make the difference.
It is important that we bear in mind God deserves appreciation and praise. If we think it is important say thank you to our fellow human being, then it most certainly is important to say thank you to God. If we take the Holy Scriptures literally, we must remember that all things revolve about him and that he should be glorified just because of who he is. We should not fall in the trap of thanking God just because your prayer was answered.
When you are praying two things are happening. As a human being you are venting to God. As a creation of God, you are appreciating all that he is whether or not we get what we want. We must not have occurred behavior that is similar to a spoiled brat. This attitude says I want, I want, I want, and, by the way, I am glad I got it. We must tenderly approach our Lord as a special opportunity to glorify him. Asking for things from God is responding to his invitation, but it must be coated in the knowledge that God is glorious and wonderful and beautiful.
We pray hard because we mean what we say and what we say is an opportunity to give God glory. Getting a result in our favor is secondary gain. Getting closer to God and enjoying fellowship is primary. Begin and end each prayer by recognizing the power and glory of God. Be grateful to be in his presence. Pray hard to pray rightly.