Prayers that honour God
It is easy to only focus on what is seen in the physical realm, and forget that God is Spirit and is very much at work in the spiritual realm of our lives. When we pray, His Spirit responds to us. Such workings are invisible to our eyes. How we pray reflects the nature of our faith and knowledge of God, rather than the true nature of God.
John 4:24 ESV God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
When our knowledge of the Bible is limited, our Christian thinking and values will continue to be shaped by our upbringing and culture. Our views of God and our prayers are often subconsciously influenced by how we see some “worldly figures”.
1. God is not a superhero
Do we only pray when we need God?
When we pray to our Heavenly Father only when we are in trouble, we treat him like a superhero – someone who swoops in and saves us when we push the panic button, but with whom we don’t have a daily relationship. This superhero is impersonal, busy saving people and disappears immediately after each mission. God, on the other hand, says He not only wants to enter our personal lives (open the door) but to spend time communing (dine) with us.
Revelation 3:20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
2. God is not a temple idol
Do we only pray to ask God for blessings?
Many Asian people who are used to the idea of going to temples to pray for good fortune tend to follow similar patterns when they first become Christians. With that mindset, we will tend to ask God to honour and bless us, and forget to ask how we can honour Him and bless others.
3. God is not our butler
Do we tell God what we want Him to do for us, and how we’d like it done?
The unknown can be scary for some of us, and we prefer things to work out exactly how we’d like. When we pray with such anxiety in our hearts, we try to wrest control from God and instruct Him on the best way forward.
4. God is not a statue
Do we pray faithless prayers?
If we have ever been let down by people, we sometimes fear being let down by God. We pray without full assurance in our hearts that He will work the best things out for us in His perfect timing. We are unsure if God is willing or able to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews: 10:21-23 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
5. God is not a mute
Do we ever pause to listen to God when we pray?
We learn by observing others, and the prayers we observe often do not include moments for quiet meditation and listening to God. So we too end up talking non-stop, without pausing, forgetting that God has things that He wants to make known to us.
John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
6. God is not our work supervisor
Do we feel unworthy or unjustified to pray?
Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles is feeling as if we have to justify ourselves and our prayers. We pray like we are submitting an official request. We feel like we have to have “performed” well for our prayers to be welcomed. And that couldn’t be further from the truth!
So what are God honouring prayers?
We need to remember that God knows what we will pray even before we say anything, but still loves to hear us pray anyway. We won’t have the patience to listen to someone tell us something we already know, but God will listen nonetheless! This just shows how much God loves to hear from us.
Psalm 139:4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
1. Check our hearts
No one likes it when someone they love only intends to use, manipulate or dishonour them. Let’s not do the same to God! Let’s check our hearts and confess if there is any selfish intent in our prayers, knowing that when we pray selflessly to honour God first, He will answer our prayers. “Come clean” before God first, and don’t hold on to any sin.
John 14:13-14 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
2. Ask for guidance before praying
I encourage you to always pray before praying. What I mean is to ask the Holy Spirit to guide our prayers before we start praying. Our prayers will be much more powerful and effective when we rely on the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and guidance first, instead of our own human limitations.
Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
3. Be thankful
The Bible reminds us to thank God in all circumstances when we pray. Even if we don’t feel very thankful, there is always something to be grateful for; whether it is our health, the weather, a bus or train that arrives on time, an opportunity to make a new friend or simply the greatness of God’s love for us!
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
4. Ask for anything, don’t hold back
Don’t be shy to ask for anything that is aligned with His will for us. After all, our Heavenly Father delights in us, His children. To know what His will and plans for us are, we need to read and learn His Word.
1 John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
5. Ask God what He wants
Remember to allow God to respond to your prayer. God is a gentleman and not a brute. Train your heart and spiritual ears to be open to hearing His gentle whisper. This takes patience and perseverance, because we live in a hectic, noisy world but it is absolutely worth it.
1 Kings 19:11-12 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”…After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
6. Pray for others
This is part of learning to be less self-centred, as explained in the first point in this list. We all need the support and protection that comes from prayers by our Christian brothers and sisters for us, so remember to bless others when you pray. The Bible clearly says that we should always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
7. Praise Him
The book of Revelations states that God is being praised day in and day out. It is a privilege to start praising Him even before we go to heaven.
Revelation 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
8. Pray anytime, anywhere
Some people have a prayer bench, a prayer cross or a prayer room. There’s absolutely nothing stopping us from praying in our spirit anywhere, even in the shower, while we commute from one place to another, or during a meeting.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
9. Be prepared to be childlike
A young child’s mind is open to absorbing new information and being moulded by their parents’ teaching, untarnished by pre-set conditions. A child simply asks for things with innocence and is quite easily delighted. It is this attitude that God honours the most. Let’s practice being childlike in our prayers.
Matthew 18:3-4 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
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