Pray in Obedience to God’s Will - Ron & Nathele Graham -
How many prayers have you prayed that have not been answered? The answer is simple: none. God hears each prayer and answers. We like it when God says yes to our prayer quickly. Oftentimes, though, it seems as if God doesn't hear our prayer and we feel as if we are praying to a great empty space. That's when we need to remember that God doesn't always answer quickly, nor does He always answer yes. We need to trust Him to know best. Scripture is filled with examples of men and women praying. Hannah was one who prayed earnestly, but it seemed to her as if her prayers went unheard. She wanted to bear a child, specifically a son, but over time it seemed as if her prayer was unanswered. Did God hear her prayer? Of course He did, but in God's wisdom the time wasn't right for her to bear a child. "And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore." 1 Samuel 1:10. Hannah could not see God's plan, only her own heartache. As time went on she did conceive and her son grew to be one of the great servants of God. He was Samuel and he served God well in the days of King Saul and King David. Hannah's prayer was earnest and fervent, but many Christians today casually pray for things without thinking of how our requests will glorify God. Do you throw out a quick name-it-and-claim-it prayer, then get mad at God if His will is different than your want? Hannah wanted a son and earnestly prayed that God would answer her prayer. When He did answer her prayer she was faithful and raised her son to know God and serve Him.
Our prayers are directed to God Almighty. That fact alone should humble the proudest heart. God cares enough about you to listen to your concerns, so your prayers need to be respectful. Jesus said "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name." Matthew 6:9. Do you mean it when you say "Hallowed be thy name"? Hallowed means holy. Bow humbly before Him and be respectful as you present your petition. He is God. Jesus told His disciples that when they prayed they weren't to make a big public display so other people would be impressed, nor were they to just say words over and over with no meaning. Many people today pray the Lord's Prayer, or a better name is the model prayer, and figure that's good enough. If the words are said but not meant then all the repetitions are a waste. "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." Revelation 4:8. The "four beasts" around His throne continually worship Him and declare His holiness. What a sight we shall see when we stand there...what worship we will hear. Will you want to join in the worship? Why not start now "Hallowed be thy name".
How many times do our prayers contain a list of "I want" rather than prayers for needs? We may want cake and ice cream, but we need daily bread. God knows our need, yet we are to pray for it. "Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11. God knows that we need food, shelter, and clothing, and He provides for us. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. Jesus had just talked about the fact that God knows our needs and will provide for us, our challenge is to seek his kingdom first, and let God take care of the details.
Our prayers also need to be for forgiveness. We all sin, but Christians need to be aware of our sins and ask God to forgive us. "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Matthew 6:12. It is impossible to live in this world and not stumble into sin, but we need to go to God and ask Him to forgive us. Notice in that verse there is a caveat "...as we forgive our debtors". It is incumbent upon each Christian to forgive. This verse is also found in the Gospel of Luke, but instead of "debts" and "debtors" the words are "sins" and "everyone that is indebted to us". It is a wonderful feeling to have our sins forgiven and our debt paid. "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." John 19:30. When Jesus said "it is finished" He meant He had paid our sin-debt. This debt is one that we have no ability to pay on our own. That gift has to be accepted in order to be forgiven of your sins, but it is available to everyone. Because He has forgiven then we need to forgive. It is a wonderful feeling to forgive.
Another important part of prayer is submission. We need to submit to God's will. We can ask Him for riches and healing, but we need to understand that He is God and He sees tomorrow as clearly as He sees yesterday. He knows what is best. If Adam had submitted to God's will and not eaten the forbidden fruit, then sin would not have entered into the world. God knew best. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10. People have a hard time submitting to God's will. We want it our way. We want salvation on our own terms; we don't want to live in obedience to the One who saved us. It is a good idea to start submitting to God's will now, because in God's kingdom His will is done. If you don't desire to do His will now, what makes you think you will be happy doing His will after you die? Of course, if you haven't accepted His free gift of salvation you will have forever to regret not accepting Christ's sacrificial payment for your debt.
In Heaven, God’s will is followed by all His angels, but on earth most people reject His will. Some Christian's believe we are currently living through our Lord Jesus’ earthly millennial Kingdom because Jesus our Messiah reigns in our hearts. To them His earthly reign is only symbolic. Well, that just doesn’t jive with His word. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6. This is an actual 1,000 year time period which will not only establish our Messiah as our ultimate perfect King, but we Christians will reign with Him. Do you see that happening now? I don't. I see a lot of Christians who love Jesus but are not submissive to Him. They may acknowledge Him, but He doesn't reign in their heart. One day His kingdom will be established on earth and those who long for His appearing will receive a special reward. Praying "Thy kingdom come...." means we are asking for His soon return and we look for His appearing “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8. If you love (long for) His appearing your crown of righteousness awaits you. If you long for His appearing, then you might want to submit to His will and start living for Him now.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but if my Lord Jesus were to return to remove His ekklēsia before you finish reading this commentary, that would certainly suit me. Is that a defeated attitude? Not at all. When He gave us the model for prayer He told us to pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done..." so there is nothing wrong about wanting Him to establish it on earth post-haste. Sometimes I wonder, out of all those who know that Jesus will soon remove His ekklēsia from this earth, how many actually long for it and pray that it will happen soon. We live in this world and there is a certain comfort we find here. That's only because it's familiar to us. Once we are free of our sin nature and under the absolute loving rule of our Lord, we won't miss this fallen world at all.
Many of us have prayer lists which we pray over, and there are many prayer warriors who are dedicated to praying continually (something we all should do), and of course there are many praying for Jesus’ soon return. When God’s Children speak with Him and even cry out to Him, letting Him know how troubled our hearts are as we anticipate the coming deluge of persecution, He hears our pleas and knows our troubles. Sure as God made little green apples, one of these days as we are praying “Thy Kingdom Come”, we will hear the trump call of God and the voice of the archangel and then we shall see Jesus as He takes us up to meet Him in the air. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be! At least for Christians it will be a joyous occasion.
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:13. Prayer is a powerful weapon. Today Christians deny demons exist and the supernatural evil around us is ignored. Jesus didn't laugh at demon possession. Jesus would recognize that the person had a demon and cast it out. He also taught His disciples how to cast out demons. One day some of the disciples had attempted to cast out a demon, but failed. Jesus told them "And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Mark 9:29. Demons don't possess everyone, but their evil presence can place temptations and stumbling blocks in everyone's path. Pray for protection. God protects us because He has supreme power and dominion over all things. Prayer will bring His power into our life and satanic temptation won't overpower us. His is the kingdom, the power and the glory.
The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that puts God’s interests first; it is His name, His Kingdom, and His will that are primary. It should be our pleasure, as well as responsibility, to let God know just how much we’d like to see His will done...we also must act on that and do our part by submitting to Him and doing His will. We must pray with a longing and we must believe what we are praying for...His will to be done in earth as it is in Heaven. We need to long for God’s Kingdom to soon be established here on earth and we need to long to see our King Jesus sitting on His earthly throne ruling and reigning on this planet. The sooner the better.
"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." Matthew 6:-13.
Remember to pray in obedience to God's will.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham
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All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham
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