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Iverna On Intercession
Why should I pray – Petition the Lord?
Part One – Posing the Question

     Let us, in our Christian, spiritual maturity, admit that there are many times when we question the “why” of prayer – of intercessory prayer. So, admittedly, we are not questioning our whole communication with God. We know we are to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Psa. 100). And our heart’s greatest desire is to worship Him and exalt His holy name. We do that in prayer. Here, we are wondering about bringing our petitions before God. Faced by the discouragement of apparently ineffective praying, or of seemingly unanswered prayer, let us be honest – why pray? Too often, we come away from our prayer times lacking the confidence that we have been heard, or that God will respond.

We can quote all of the pertinent verses. The following is a sampling:

  • 1 John 5:14, 15 – “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; And if we know that he heareth us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
  • Matt. 7:7, 8 – “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you; For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
  • John 14:13, 14 – “And whatever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
  • John 16:23, 24 – “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
  • James 1:6 – “But let him ask in faith nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a
    wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
  • Mark 11:24 – “Therefore, I say unto you, Whatever things ye desire, when ye pray,
    believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

     We believe, and have our faith-in-God intact. We know we can stand on the promises of God. We are expectant and not presumptuous. To the best of our understanding, we have been seeking God in an appropriate manner. But, if we are candid, we must admit to living day by day with unanswered prayers, in spite of all the scriptures that guarantee answers when we ask. So, we inquire, “What’s the point of praying?”

     Then, there is this other aspect. Doesn’t the Bible say that God knows what we need before we ask? Yes, it does in Matt. 6:8. And that it is His delight to give us what is in our hearts? So, why pray if He already knows our needs and/or desires?

     Perhaps this is His way: when I already know what the scripture says, He bends down His ear to see if I believe Him enough to ask!

     Listen to the word of hope and the thrill of the psalmist in Psalm 116. “I love the Lord because He hears and answers my prayers. Because He bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath” (NLT 116:1,2). What an incredible Truth!

     Oh, Beloved. We serve a great and awesome God! He does not toy with us. It is never His intent to dangle His promises before us only to dash our hopes. His Word is sure and true. (Psa. 19:7, 9; 119:160). He delights when His children come to Him, and it is His good pleasure to respond to us and answer our petitions (Psa. 147:11; Luke 12:32; Psa. 91:15; Isa. 65:24; Jer. 33:3; Ezek. 14:4; Psa. 99:6).

     So, why do we ever come away from a season of prayer feeling empty, or even wondering if we have actually touched the Throne of God? With all of these precious promises, what is going wrong?

     May I suggest that our greatest failure in this area of praying is not in the “how” – not in our methods of prayer; and not so much in the “what” – not the content of or motivations behind our petitions. The problem is in our focus. Prayer in the Bible is very simple. It is focused – like all the particles of a laser beam. When the elements come together, concentrated and focused on a single spot – oh, the power in that! And so, when our focus is pointed in the right direction, there is great power in our asking of God.

     In this series, “On Intercession,” together we will consider five things not to focus on in prayer (Part Two) for it is often of great benefit to look at and evaluate the negatives as well as the positives. In Part Three, we will turn our attention to three things to keep in focus as we come boldly to the Throne of Grace (Heb. 4:16). Then, we will conclude our discussion “On Intercession” by offering some ideas on Intercession itself and three different kinds of Intercession we can make (Part Four).