When asked, most folks in the USA will say that they pray at least weekly (see “Who prays in a typical week?” statistics below). This is generally true whether or not they regularly attend a local church. People pray for a lot of reasons. Some pray because they don’t know what else to do. Some pray out of duty. Some pray because they were taught to do so as a child. Some pray because of a specific need or desire. Some pray for our political leaders, our soldiers, the poor, the helpless. Some pray because of sickness, financial problems, guilt, uneasiness. Some pray for healing, wisdom, guidance, help with raising their children, strength to face a difficulty. Some pray on behalf of others. Some pray out of a spirit of thankfulness for God’s blessings. Some pray to praise Almighty Jehovah God for who He is. Some pray for forgiveness. Some pray to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and become a Christian. Sadly, some even pray for revenge and other improper reasons.
The Barna Group, founded in 1984, is a “leading research organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture.” Barna has performed hundreds of surveys since their inception. A Barna survey completed prior to 2008 reports the following statistics:
Who prays in a typical week?
- 82% of adults
- 88% of women
- 75% of men
- 89% of teenagers
- 86% of those living in the South and Midwest
- 76% of those living in the West and Northeast
- 96% of born-again Christians
- 72% of people not describing themselves as born-again
Interesting statistics … at least to me. Perhaps the most revealing statistic is the last one in the list … nearly three-quarters of those who don’t describe themselves as “born-again” still pray at least weekly. Why are they praying? Does God hear and answer the prayer of both the saved (born-again) and unsaved? If He does, what prayers does He hear and which ones does He choose not to hear. How can we be confident that God will hear and answer our prayers? How does one Pray With Confidence?
Scripture: (NKJV unless otherwise noted)
Jeremiah 32:16-19 – 16 “Now when I had delivered the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord, saying: 17 ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. 18 You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them—the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts. 19 You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.”
Ephesians 2: 1-9 (NIV) – 1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 BUT because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
I started thinking about this topic after reading the April 27, 2012 devotional by Beverly Hill McKinney in Open Windows. It took a while to completely sink in and become personally relevant to me.
In Jeremiah chapter 32, Jeremiah was under “house arrest” by King Zedekiah of Judah because of his anger over Jeremiah’s prophesy that Zedekiah and the people of Judah would soon fall in battle to Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Babylon, and would be carried away into captivity. Judah had repeatedly disobeyed God’s laws and ignored God’s pleas for repentance. Judah’s cries for God’s protection had come too late and His judgement on them was already in motion.
Through a vision from God and with His leadership Jeremiah purchased a field in Anathoth, (Jeremiah’s home town) in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin. The original of the deed, properly executed and witnessed, was placed in a sealed jar that was given to Baruch, the son of Neriah, for safekeeping well into the future. The land purchase process signified “that though Jerusalem was (would be) besieged, and the whole country likely to be laid waste, yet the time would come, when houses, and fields, and vineyards, should be again possessed” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary).
McKinney’s Open Windows devotional relates that “… through this vision Jeremiah acknowledged God’s greatness and showed nothing is too hard for Him. Certainly, the Creator, who spoke the heavens and earth into existence, has the power to do anything.” This same God whom Jeremiah served is always there waiting on us to call on Him. ALL of our prayers offered to God are heard by Him. None are overlooked. This, in and of itself, is enough for me to pray more expectantly. Christians should Pray With Confidence recognizing that God has unlimited power to carry out His will in our lives when we let Him do so.
Ephesians 2:1-9 is a marvelously rich passage that is not usually associated with prayer. But I find one thought in particular extremely comforting in these verses. At the moment a seeker accepts Christ Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, Jesus enters and indwells the heart of the believer in the form of the Holy Spirit and never leaves. Previously and without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we were sinners without Jesus, “dead in your (our) transgressions and sins” (vs. 1) … following our fleshly thoughts and desires and “deserving of wrath” (vs. 3). “BUT because of His great love for us” (vs. 4) … God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (vs. 6).”
WOW!! Christians have God indwelling in us and we are also simultaneously seated in Christ Jesus at the Father God’s right hand. What a lofty position the Christian occupies in God’s kingdom!! Knowing this Christian, why would you pray so timidly? By the Grace of God the Christian has been pulled up from the miry, fleshly clay and seated with Jesus. That is a powerful, powerful message!
In Matthew 7:7 Jesus told us to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. So when offering your prayers to God, why would you do anything other than Pray With Confidence.
God indeed hears ALL of our prayers, both for the saved and unsaved (see Psalm 66:16-20). However, our “attitudes and actions can” easily sabotage our prayers. Sin, disobedience, hypocrisy, insincerity, wrong motives, lack of faith and even marital problems are among the saboteurs.
One of my dear brothers in Christ, Bernie Webb, is fighting Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Bernie and I worked together for almost fifteen years through the 1980’s and early 1990’s. He was (and still is) a tremendous asset for the information technology team that supports a major international corporation. Bernie shares his daily journey in his blog, Believing IN Christ Jesus through ALL things. Bernie is a prayer warrior and I know that he prays with confidence. I point you to one article in particular, “God is able to accomplish INFINITELY more than we ask.” Bernie shares his Christian faith and exposes his Godly courage and prayer life in this insightful article. I invite you to go to his site and read it.
In closing, one of my favorite praise choruses, Ah Lord God, speaks to the immeasurable power of God. Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing, nothing is too difficult for God. Click on the link, watch the video and sing along with the words.
Ah Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens
And the earth by Thy great power;
Ah Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens
And the earth by Thine outstretched arm.
Nothing is too difficult for Thee,
Nothing is too difficult for Thee;
O, great and mighty God,
Great in power and mighty in deed,
Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing,
Nothing is too difficult for Thee.
For those interested in additional reading on related topics please refer to:
- Is Anything Too Hard for God – jimdavenport.wordpress.com
- God is Able to Accomplish Infinitely More Than We Ask – Bernie Webb, my friend and brother in Christ as posted in Believing IN Christ Jesus Through ALL Things. Bernie is battling active stage four cancer.
- Pray with Confidence – Beverly Hill McKinney: Published 04/27/2012 in Open Windows, a Lifeway Publication.
- Does God Ever Refuse to Hear Our Prayers – Bible Gateway Blog, 05-22-2012.
- Access all of Jim Davenport’s Articles – then pick one you want to read.