Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Key Connection

Have you ever done something you regretted?  We all have.  But people of wisdom manage to make good decisions consistently.  They live without regrets because they choose the right path.  In our series, Decision-Making 101, we’ve talked about how seeking God’s Kingdom and Righteousness above everything else helps us become wise people.  We’ve also talked about how God speaks to us through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church. Last week, we saw how we can hear God’s voice through Scripture.  This Sunday, we'll look at how we hear God when we pray. 

In order to be able to hear God’s voice, most of us have to revise the way we think of prayer.  We tend to think it’s presenting petitions to God for Him to consider.  We’re informing Him of our needs, and if we do it often enough, long enough, and in the right way, we can talk Him into giving us what we want.  But that’s not what Scripture teaches.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:8, your Father knows the things you need before you ask Him.  Does that mean prayer doesn’t change anything?  No.  Jesus’ brother James said in James 4:2, You do not have because you do not ask.  The Bible has many stories of people crying out to God for healing, for victory over enemies, for answers to difficult questions, for wisdom to choose the right path, and God answers.  So what does this mean?  Henry Blackaby says “Prayer is not designed to change God; it’s designed to change us.”  We don’t pray to convince God to do our will; we pray to prepare us to do God’s will.  He tells the story of a time he bought his son a bicycle for his birthday, then hid it in the garage until the big day.  Then, he had to convince his son to ask for a bicycle.  Blackaby says that God has things stored up for us in His garage, so to speak.  The Holy Spirit’s job is to convince us to ask for the things He already wants to give us.  As Paul says in Romans 8:26-27, we don’t know what to pray for.  We ask for things we think are right, but the Holy Spirit knows better than we do.  This is also why Paul said in Ephesians 6:18, Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request.  When he says “pray at all times in the Spirit,” I believe he is saying, “Don’t just ask God for the stuff you want.  Try to find out through prayer what He wants to give you.”  How do we do that?  This Sunday, I'll offer two suggestions to use when you pray, to help you know God’s will.

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