Years ago I made a prayer list that included every person that I knew. I prayed through that list each week. Since then, we have moved more times than I can count and met many more people. I couldn’t keep up, but sometimes hear news about those on the list.
Yesterday, my sister-in-law told me about one man on my prayer list who was quite a “scoundrel.” He died about two weeks ago, but before that, he asked for another ‘scoundrel’ to come see him, a native American man who had become a Christian. This person led the dying man to the Lord.
I rejoiced at the news of his salvation, and also that God answered my prayers for him. I may never know about the others on that list, but knowing this one man met Jesus is one more encouragement to keep praying.
Jesus said much about prayer and His words are an encouragement also . . .
“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” (John 16:25–28)
Asking “in Jesus name” is about my identification with Jesus Christ. Because He chose me as His child, and because the Father placed me ‘in Him’ (something like putting a bookmark inside a book), He considers me with the same regard in prayer as His Son. Awesome.
Chambers adds that we don’t go to God to get answers but to express and experience “perfect and complete oneness with God.” The answers are not the focus; the relationship is. As Jesus says, on that day I can ask in His name, the day that I recognized and realized my oneness with Jesus. This becomes the explanation for why I pray.
Sometimes I am in that place. More often, I’m in the place of ‘needy’ or bringing others who are needy to God’s throne, interceding for them. Perhaps that is oneness with Jesus, but I’m not sensing it as much as I am sensing the needs.
Earlier this year, Chambers’ devotionals impressed on me that my prayer focus should not be on the needs here on earth, but on the power of God in heaven. That is, instead of saying, “Bill needs to be saved” I should say, “God, You know far more about Bill’s heart and needs than I do. Have Your way in his life.”
As I pray that way, my focus is then on God, on my relationship with Him, and on a recognition of His power rather than bringing a ‘gimme list’ where I tell God what to do. Such nerve!
If closeness to God depended on answers, I would withdraw from praying. Those answers are seldom what I expect and that gimme side of my requests means disappointment. However, if my attitude is ‘Thy will be done’ then I can accept ‘No’ or ‘Wait’ as easily as ‘It is done’ — which is praying more like Jesus prays.