Why Pray: The Joy of God's Love
The Joy of God’s Love
A year and a half ago, I was in a season of depression and difficulty. My heart was sore, bruised, lonely, and weary. As I drove down the road listening to one of my favorite Christian authors share her heart on a podcast, tears streamed down my face. The traffic light turned green and words tumbled out of my mouth.
“Father, this woman has mentored me through her books and podcast, but I would love to be her friend, encourage her in person, and be mentored by her. This seems like a ridiculous and impossible prayer, but I trust you with the desires of my heart. Here it is. Can you bring this woman into my life in real and tangible ways?”
A couple of months later this prayer became a reality. Through a wonderful and God-ordained path, I was able to talk with this beautiful woman of God on a video conference. Over the course of the following year, we prayed for one another and talked several more times.
God answered my prayer and delighted my heart with His love. He could have said, “No,” and I would not have doubted His love. Today, though as I sit with unanswered prayers, I remember this gift. It gives me the courage to continue to lean into His love, keep asking Him specifically for my desires and needs, and trust Him with the answers.
I didn’t always pray like this. Do you? Let’s dig in on how to pray specifically and learn the joy of walking in God’s love.
Is this Biblical? When someone begins to teach you about the Christian walk, this is always a great question to ask. Scripture offers us many examples of God’s people asking Him for very specific things. Sometimes the answer was “Yes!” At other times, the answer was delayed or denied. In every case, the person praying drew near to God and grew in knowledge and intimacy with Him.
Today, we can only look at a select few, but dig in! You will learn a lot and love the journey. Pick a couple of these stories and read the passage. Do you see the specific asking? Do you see God’s love in return?
- Abraham pleads for the lives of those in Sodom and Gomorrah: Genesis 18:16-33
- Gideon asks for a sign of confirmation: Judges 6
- Hannah prays for a child: I Samual 1: 9 – 28
- Daniel’s prayer for Israel: Daniel 9
- David has many very specific prayers in the Psalms. Here are two. A prayer of repentance in Psalm 51 and a prayer for help in Psalm 17.
- Paul asks God about the thorn in his life: 2 Corinthians 12: 1-9
- Paul prays for the church: Ephesians 1: 15-23
- Jesus prays for the disciples & the church: John 17
Specific Prayer: Honesty
How do we do this? First, be honest with God!
As your Heavenly Father, He already knows your needs and sees your desires. However, He loves when His children come to Him. Do not be afraid to voice your anger, fear, desire, hope, and confession before God.
As I prayed in the story above, I simply spoke my request to God. Nothing formal. No frills. Just a broken heart crying out to her Father with a hopeful request. At other times, I am on my knees in the privacy of my room pouring out my heart to God over pain or grief.
We are told in Hebrews 4: 12-16 that we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (ESV). This is a beautiful gift of freedom and relationship. Run to Him, friend!
Do you need another example of how this could look? See if this sounds familiar.
You are angry and hurt because someone dear to you has betrayed your trust. The hurt is immense, the relationship is broken, and in the heat of the moment, you responded with piercing words in return.
You could pray:
“Father, my heart is broken, but instead of being hurt, I am angry! I feel betrayed and in my flesh, desire to hurt them in return. At the same time, I want them out of my life and I want to fix this relationship. However, I know that you call me to forgiveness. Right now that seems impossible.
Comfort my heart where I am hurting and grieving. I know you grieve with me.
Father, I confess my own sin in speaking such harsh words to my friend. It was wrong and also grieved you. I am sorry. Thank you for your forgiveness. Give me the courage to confess this to my friend and seek restoration.
I do not know how to forgive them, help me forgive them as you have forgiven me. Show me how to move forward in this relationship. Do you want me to make the first move?
Guard my heart against bitterness or resentment over this injury. You are loving and good and full of mercy. Thank you for hearing the cries of my heart.”
Why Pray Specifically?
The goal of this type of asking is not that we receive exactly what we ask for in prayer. The promise is that as we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). We will grow in intimacy with Him and in knowledge and understanding of who God is!
Go back and reread the passages listed above. What did each of the people learn about God? How did their prayers affect their relationship with God? Did that relationship trickle outward and affect others?
Be specific, then wait and trust. In the end, what you will gain is a greater understanding of God’s love for you, even if the answer is not what you expect. Intimacy with Christ is far more priceless than anything we can ask or imagine. I’ve had lots of “no’s” but every “yes” is a sweet gift to be treasured.
Finally, remember that we can’t see the whole picture! While the answers may not come on our timeline, God is not confined by our time. What seems to be a “no” may be a “not yet.” Other times, God clearly does not give us our requests. This is love too. He knows what we need.
Would you like to talk about prayer? Do you have questions?
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