The Bible tells us that the prayers of the righteous person are powerful and effective. So much so, that you can pray for someone and heal them (James 5:16). Prayer is important and vital in the life of a follower of Jesus. In fact, Jesus even took time to teach us how to pray:
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Jesus teaches us the appropriate way to enter the presence of God is through praise and thanksgiving. David understood this all too well as evidenced this psalm: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4
Entering the gates and courts of God with thanksgiving and praise is very easy when everything is going good for us. When we have food on our table, the bills are paid, we have money in our bank account, we are healthy, have a great job—you know, when we are having a:
My, oh, my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way
However, when our praise and thanksgiving are most powerful is when we come giving thanks to Him and praise Him through our pain and suffering. Many great men and women in in scripture pressed in towards God during the lowest, most stressful points in their lives. When they fully emptied themselves before the LORD, He showed up and transformed the environment around them and showed His signs and wonders.
In the next part of the prayer Jesus teaches us to declare God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. We need to begin to speak abundant life in the areas of this world that are dying. We need to speak healing, transformation, empowerment, and freedom. We bring light into the darkest parts of the earth. To do this we need to pray into things from heavens perspective not ours. This is why the LORD tells us that our ways our not His ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts. From heavens perspective we take on His ways and His thoughts and bring them here on earth.
We now move on to asking God for our daily needs. This last Sunday during our prayer time before service, God asked those in attendance to ask Him what we wanted to see happen in our lives and at Calvary. What proceeded was an incredibly powerful and intimate time of prayer. James teaches us that we do not have because we do not ask God. He goes on to say, when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 4:2-3). Luckily, Jesus already takes care of checking our hearts and motives by having us first come to the Father with praise and thanksgiving, making it all about Him and not us—the heart of worship—leading us to worship in spirit and in truth.
The next part of the prayer is one we often skip over and seldom fully understand. We ask for forgivingness as we forgive those who have hurt, offended, or wronged is any way. But it does not stop there, the Bible is very clear about what God does with our sins when ask for forgiveness:
10 Things God Does With Our Sin
1. He forgives our transgression (Ps. 32:1,5).
2. He covers our sin (Ps. 32:1; Rom. 4:7).
3. He does not charge us with iniquity (Ps. 32:2; Rom. 4:8).
4. He removes our sins from us (Ps. 103:12; John 1:29).
5. He washes away our guilt and cleanses us from our sin (Ps. 51:2; Isa. 1:18; 1 John 1:9).
6. He throws all our sins behind His back (Isa. 38:17).
7. He sweeps away our transgressions (Isa 43:25; 44:22).
8. He remembers our sins no more (Isa. 43:25; Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:12; 10:16-17).
9. He casts all our sins into the depths of the sea (Mic. 7:18-19).
10. He nailed our sin debt to the cross (Col. 2:14).
We are not just called to forgive, but to cover, not charge, remove, wash away, throw behind us, sweep away, forget, cast away to the furthest depths, and nail any bitterness or memory of the offense. Ready to get your mind blown? God chooses to do this for us. He chooses to never again remember our sins! Why? Because He is a loving and just God!
What does this mean for us? When we sin, confess and ask forgiveness He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purifies us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). So, what happens when you make the same mistake after we have confessed and ask for forgiveness? What we do is come to ask God to please forgive us from making that same mistake “again.” The only problem with this approach is that God has no previous record of you committing this sin. The enemy wants to guilt and shame you into believing that you are a repeat offender. That is not the way you Heavenly Father sees you.
In turn, we need to choose to let go and forgive those who have wronged us. Not just forgive, but we have to choose to forget that it ever happened. After all, the prayer that Jesus teaches is say, forgive us as we forgive others. Allow God to work His forgiveness through you so you can be purified of all unrighteousness. No more “remember in the fall of 1995 when you…” “I remember it was May 5th, 2006 when you…” “you always do this to me…” “the last time you did this…”. It is this kind of forgiveness that Jesus calls us to. Remember that He said that the world will know that we are His disciples by the way we love one another (John 13:35), and love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Lastly, we ask God for wisdom, instruction and direction. It is written that He will refresh our soul and guide us along the right paths for His name’s sake (Psalm 23:3). God will never set you up to fail or lead you down a path to destruction. He will direct your footsteps and will keep His word to never leave you nor abandon you. Take comfort in words declared by the Apostle Paul and declare them over your life:
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Lastly, I want to leave you with another tool to help you pray. Just remember A.C.T.S.
Adoration – “Praise be to God!” -Psalms 68:35
Tell God how much you appreciate Him. Express your love for Him. Praise His power and majesty. This is a great way to begin your prayer time. Sometimes I watch the sun rise, and praise God for the beauty of His creation. You should never run out of praise. “How awesome are your deeds!” -Psalms 66:3
Confession – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9
Tell Him where you have fallen short. Be specific. I thank Him for the forgiveness I have in Christ and ask for help and strength to turn away from future temptations.
Thanksgiving – Always “glorify him with thanksgiving” -Psalms 69:30
You have plenty of reasons to be thankful. Thank God for His love, His faithfulness, His patience and a million other things. Express gratitude for what He’s doing in your life. Thank Jesus for dying on the cross for you. Thank the Holy Spirit for indwelling you, and never leaving. Thank Him for being your conscience, your counselor and that “still small voice.”
Supplication – “Make your requests known to God.” -Philippians 4:6
Tell God what you want, no matter how small it seems to you. Do you really think any of your requests are big to God the Creator? You should have lots of intercessory prayer here.
Thank You for forgiving me of my sins and for forgetting them. Thank You for teaching me how to prayer and showing me how to approach the Father with a sincere heart and pure motives. Holy Spirit give me the strength and courage to step out in prayer and boldly go to my Father with adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. I ask that my prayer life increases so that I may know You more! AMEN!!!
Your servant in Christ,