The Reality of Prayer
Text: 1 John 5:14-15
Rev. Garry E. McCaffery
As we continue our series on prayer, it is my hope that you are being blessed, encouraged, and motivated in your praying. The purpose and goal for this series is to have us think about the time we spend in prayer, seek ways to pray more often, work on praying with greater focus, and developing better prayer habits. As we spend more time in prayer we will find ourselves growing closer in our relationship with God.
This brings us back to something I stated in the beginning of this series. Prayer is to be a priority in our life on a daily basis, both personally and as the church, the body of Christ. Without prayer the church is powerless. Without prayer our faith is powerless. Without prayer our relationship with God is non-existent. This is why prayer is so important.
In order for us to have a dynamic relationship with God we need prayer. This is where the reality of prayer comes in. Here in 1 John 5:14-15, we find some words that encourage us and point us to the reality of prayer. “Now this is the confidence that 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.”
The confidence comes from the assurance of answered prayer. We have the assurance of answered prayer to encourage us to pray because prayer is vital to our relationship with God and our health and vitality as Christians. Our prayer life is all about our relationship with God. This is the reality of prayer. It is about relationship with God. This reality encompasses several things. Let’s take a look at what some of these things are.
First, prayer is a privilege. Think about that for a moment. Prayer is not a right so much as it is a privilege. Is there a difference between a “right” and a “privilege”? We hear all the time about a person’s rights. “I can do whatever I want. It’s my right!”
What is a privilege? A privilege is something that is granted to some and not to others. A right is something that is yours from the get-go, a privilege is something that is granted to you. Praying is a privilege because it is God who is calling us to prayer.
We don’t pray because of who we are. We don’t approach God because we are something special. We approach God for two reasons: one, we approach God because of who God is. Two, we approach God because God wants us to. God wants us to talk with
him. God wants us to ask Him to do things in our life, but we must understand that it is a privilege. We are privileged because the God of the universe loves us and desires us to approach him. He has given us a great relationship to Him through the saving work of His Son Jesus Christ.
The word “prayer” expresses the largest and most comprehensive approach to God. Prayer is communion and fellowship with God. And as Christians it is our privilege, but a privilege is of little value if we don’t USE IT! Jesus told a great story that is recorded in the gospel of Luke 12:16-21 that touches upon this issue.
16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The person in this story had great wealth. He had great privilege and could have blessed many with the privilege he had. Instead, he wanted to hold on to it and hoard it. His privilege was of little value because he did not USE IT, he only wanted to hold on to it.
The privilege we have in prayer is of little value if we only hold on to it as a religious concept and never use it to come before God to share in the fellowship and relationship he calls us to. Our privilege in prayer calls us to come before God in many ways. We
are called to pray prayers of supplication, an intense form of prayer seeking and pleading with God to meet a pressing need; prayers of intercession wherein we pray on behalf of other people; prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and celebration! In all of these cases we rightly use our privilege of prayer.
A second reality of prayer is: God desires to answer our prayers. Prayer is not just to train us and change us and develop us for better praying. Yes, that is part of it. But, even better than that, prayer is truly to have God answer us.
God has designed the universe in such a way that we do need to ask him for things. Things that He wants to give to us, but only if we ask. Because of this God has privileged us with the ability to pray, and he’s given us this privilege because he wants to answer us.
Think on these things for a moment: God wants to answer our prayers. God wants to be a part of our life, He wants us to be in his presence, he wants us to seek his face, he wants us to trust him for all things, and he wants to give us all things in accordance with his will. Why? Because He loves us! That is very important to remember! God loves us! Because God loves us, He is aware of our needs. God knows what we need before we ask, but he wants us to ask him in order to help us build an intimate connection with Him. When we ask God for something we are acknowledging our dependence upon Him and we are learning to trust in His grace.
A few weeks ago we read a passage in Luke’s gospel that addressed God’s willingness to answer our prayers. Remember? Luke 11:9-13. So Jesus said,
9 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for [a]bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
If we lack the Holy Spirit, all we have to do is ask and God will give it to us. If we lack wisdom, the book of James tells us to ask for it, and the Lord will give it. There are so many areas in life where we are empty, spiritually hungry, and all we need to do is go to God and we will receive what we need from him. If we have a need in anything, then all we need to do is go to God in prayer. To help us in our praying, we can go to God’s word, the Bible, and see what it says in regard to our situation, then ask God, in line with what the Bible says, as we pray for His will to be done.
Thirdly, in the reality of prayer, we must remember: God has everything to do with prayer. In other words, it’s all about God. This clears up the whole debate over who life is all about, because God is the only being in all of creation, in all the universe, that can proclaim, “It’s all about me!”
Life, spirituality, prayer, everything we know and do, is all about God. And God has included us in it, thereby making a relationship with us wherein we are drawn closer through prayer. Prayer is God’s business to which we, as human beings, have been privileged to be a part of. I find it interesting, when it comes to God’s work in the world, he does a great deal of it through our prayers. In many ways God works in accordance with how we pray and for what we pray. We’ve talked about this before and I’ve been thinking
about it. Why does God want us to pray about things before He acts? Is it that God isn’t really sure what needs to be done? I doubt that’s the case because God always knows what needs to be done. So, why does God wait for us pray? I think God waits for us to pray so WE can become aware of what needs to be done. God does his best work for the world through prayer because through prayer, we, His people, begin to get involved in this world in which we live. God does his best work for the world through prayer because we, His people, begin to become a part of the answer to prayer.
There are so many things going on in our world and so many things that concern us. These things encompass our life, our family, our person. We have so many fears and worries, and in all of these things, God is waiting for us to talk with him. God is waiting for us to seek His guidance because He is truly concerned about us. God desires for us to pray for the sake of a loving and growing relationship.
The reality of prayer is that our prayer life is all about our relationship with God. The reality of prayer encompasses, one: prayer is a privilege. Two: God desires to answer our prayers. Three: Prayer is all about God and is His way of developing a relationship with us. The full reality of prayer is that, through it, we are totally enveloped in a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. This is the best reality there could ever be. Amen.