Recently in our life group we were discussing prayer, when one of our pastors spoke up. He said, “Agreement is the seat of power when it comes to prayer. There is power when we agree with each other in prayer, and even more so when we agree with God.” I’ve found that if you have a body of believers around you, it’s fairly easy to find someone to agree with you in prayer regarding something. I’m called fairly often with a request to pray for something. It’s my honor to agree with someone in prayer. So much so, that I stop what I’m doing and we pray right then.
The harder agreement to be in is the one with God’s will. I don’t always know that, so I end up praying my will and hope it aligns with His. I’ve learned to pray like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane where I let God know my request, but then say, “Not my will, but yours be done.” That’s a hard prayer to pray if we’re honest, especially when we are praying over a loved one who is fighting for life. Praying for God’s will isn’t about trying to change the will of God, but rather praying for me to accept what God wants to do and to be in agreement with it.
Something I’ve done in my prayer life to help me pray the will of God, is to give him a blank page. I pray, “God, whatever it is that you want to write into my life according to your will, I give you permission. Do what you want, when you want. You know the things I’m praying for. Help me to know the things you want to do in my life and through me. I make myself available to your will.” Be careful praying this prayer. If you mean it, this will unlock the power of agreement with God in your life and things will happen.
In Matthew 18:19, Jesus said, “Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (AMP). Because agreement is the seat of power in prayer, make sure you’re bringing someone else along to pray with you on the things that matter most to you. Beyond that, leave room in your prayers for God’s will to take place in your life. When our will conforms to His, it’s a powerful thing.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were pouring your heart out to someone and then noticed they weren’t listening? I’ve learned from experience that it’s pretty hurtful and rude. I’ve been accused of not listening on more than one occasion. I even went to a training once to teach me how to be an active listener. They taught me that I need to make eye contact, lean in to the conversation, nod my head and make some noises to suggest that I agree. It turns out that it takes a lot of work to listen.
What I’ve found out is that when people think you’re not listening to them, they quit telling you things. They quit having deep discussions, and sometimes they quit talking to you all together. Imagine if you had those feelings toward God. There are times where we are in a deep struggle, and we’re pouring out our heart to Him, but it feels like He’s not listening. Our prayers seem to fall flat and never get past the ceiling. It happens to all of us.
David was one who constantly cried out to God for help and told Him everything on his mind. In Psalm 116:2 he reminds us, “Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (NLT) He found out that God is an active listener who leans into our prayers to listen. He gives us His undivided attention when we cry out to Him. We no longer have to worry that He isn’t listening or doesn’t hear us.
When you pour out your heart to God, He’s actively listening to you. He doesn’t get distracted or zone out. Even if it doesn’t feel your prayers are going past the ceiling, God is there in the room with you. As the Psalmist wrote, He bends down to hear you. He leans into the space where you are so you can feel His presence and know He’s there hearing every word. Where man fails to pay attention, God never does. You can pray as long as you have breath knowing that God hears every word and intent of the heart.
I love how Luke 18 starts out. “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up” (NLT). Jesus knew that not only they would give up after praying for something for awhile, but so would we. He didn’t want us to stop asking just because it’s been a while. I wish I understood why some prayers are answered immediately, some take a while, and others are never answered. No matter what though, Jesus didn’t want us to give up.
He told the story of a widow who was suffering injustice from someone. She went to a judge who didn’t fear God or care about people. When she didn’t get her justice, she went back to court begging him fir it over and over. Finally, in verse 6 the judge says, “This woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!”
When our answers come slowly, we can take courage from this story. We can bombard Heaven with our requests until we drive God crazy. I heard the story recently where Leonard Ravenhill told a friend of mine, “God doesn’t answer prayers. He answers desperate prayers!” When we seek God desperately for an answer, the way this widow did, we can expect answers. And just as the woman believed that the judge would respond, we need to believe that God I’ll respond.
Jesus finishes this parable out just as strongly as He opens it. In verse 8 of The Message, Jesus asked, “But how much of that persistent faith will the Son of Man find on earth when He returns?” That’s our challenge. We live in a world where we can get same day deliveries on things we buy online, but God is looking for a persistent faith. He’s looking for people who will call to Him in prayer the way they would to Amazon if they didn’t deliver their package. He wants us to drive Him crazy.
When I was a pre-teen, I was pretty sure I had God figured out. I could tell you all the books of the Bible, quote entire chapters of it, and beat adults in Bible trivia. I was shocked when I went to a vacation Bible school at a friend’s church and the pastor stumped me. I’ll never forget that moment. He asked, “Can God change His mind?” I thought long and hard. I decided that since God is always right, He would have no need to change His mind. So I answered, “No!”
He directed me to Exodus 32:14. It says, “So the Lord changed his mind and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened” (GNT). I couldn’t argue. There it was in Scripture. My idea of God began to unravel and my face must have shown it. He butted into my thoughts, “Why do you think it’s important that God is able to change His mind?” I was lost. My mind was still reeling from defeat. He tossed me a life preserver and said, “If God can’t change His mind, why bother praying for God’s help?”
Suddenly, prayer took on a whole new meaning for me. I realized in that moment that the things I most fervently pray for are things I’m asking God to change His mind on. If Moses was able to pray to God and have Him change His mind, then my prayers could have the same effect. That new knowledge gave my faith a boost, changed how I saw God, and shaped my future prayers.
James 5:16 says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man available much” (NKJV). Part of that “availing much” is changing the mind of God. Our prayers have a more powerful effect than we can ever imagine. Never underestimate what your faith can accomplish. Jesus said, “All things are possible to Him that believes” (Mark 9:23). Whatever you’re praying for today, don’t give up. Don’t quit. Keep praying effectively and fervently.
As school starts back up, I’m reminded of my school days. The world was different, but the actions of people were the same. I remember being in classes where certain kids wouldn’t pay attention in class, they wouldn’t do their homework and were distractions to other students overall. When they would fail a test, they’d be the first ones hollering for extra credit. Do you think the teachers gave it to them? Of course not! They never paid attention to what the teacher was trying to teach. They were bound to fail the test.
It’s very similar to people who have gone to church their whole lives and have never paid attention. They go to church to be seen rather than to grow. They won’t help others in need or come to the aid of those less fortunate than they are. However, when they’re being tested, they’re the first ones hollering for God to help them. They rarely get a favorable answer from God. Proverbs 28:9 tells us why: God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to Him (MSG).
God does not want to just hear from you when you’re in an emergency. He doesn’t want you to ignore the things He tries to tell you through people. He’s a loving God who tries to speak to His children in order to guide them down paths that give them hope and a future. To those who listen, He hears their prayers. To those who don’t, He has no use for their emergency prayers. He didn’t sacrifice His son so we could use Him on,y when we need Him. He gave us His son because He loves us and wants a full time relationship with us. If you want your prayers heard, start listening to what God is saying to you or risk failing the test.
Garth Brooks sang a song called “Unanswered Prayers” in the 90’s. In it he tells the story of how he and his wife ran into his high school flame. He remembered how he had prayed every night that God would make her his. He promised he’d never ask God for anything again if He would just answer this one prayer. As they talked he realized they were very different people. When he walked away, he thanked God for his wife because God knew what He was doing after all. He then finishes the song with, “Some of God’s greatest gift are unanswered prayers.”
I don’t know about you, but I find myself asking God for a lot. I have a specific time of prayer dedicated to just asking God for things I need, my family needs or that my friends need. A lot of times they go unanswered, they are delayed or answered in a way that I wasn’t even praying for. I’ve had some of my most passionate prayers feel like they were falling on deaf ears. I’ve felt like my tears were for nothing. I’ve even been mad at God for not answering my prayers the way I thought they should have been answered. Thankfully, God is patient with me.
Have you ever read “If you give a mouse a cookie”? It’s a children’s book that says if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want a glass of milk. If you give him some milk, then he’ll want something else. If you give him that then he’ll want another thing. The book goes full circle to where if you give him this final thing, he’ll want a cookie. And if you give him a cookie, he’ll want some milk. I wonder if God looks at some of our prayers that way. We ask for something we don’t really need or is unhealthy for us and when we get it, He knows it will lead to needing other things that will create a cycle.
We don’t have the ability to see the cycle, but God does. He knows just what we need. James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. He wants to give us good things, but we don’t always ask for those things. James 4:3 says, “And when you ask you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.” When I think of the prayers that aren’t answered, I try to go back and look at my motives. I try to think of why I wanted that so badly. Then I look at what a God did instead and I see that all along, He knew what He was doing.
You may be struggling with unanswered prayers right now. I’m not saying your motives are wrong or that you’re asking for your own pleasure. I’m saying that you should trust God to answer them His way. Say what Jesus said on His prayer, “Not my will be done, but yours.” Give God the freedom to answer your prayers the way He sees fit. He’s going to do it His way anyway. Giving Him the freedom helps you to accept it and helps to give you perspective. Who knows? Garth may be right. Some of God’s greatest gifts just may be unanswered prayers.
I once heard the story of a town that was about to be flooded. There was a man in that town who prayed that God would save him from the flood. A little while later, the sheriff came and knocked on his door. He told him to evacuate before the flood came. The man replied, “God will save me.” Not long after that, the floods began to rise and water came into his house. He called on God again to save him. By now, he had gotten on his roof because the water was so high. A boat came by and offered to take him to safety, but he replied that God would save him.
The water rose so high that he was standing on the highest gable of his roof to keep from being swept away by the water. He cried out in desperation for God to save him. It wasn’t long before a helicopter flew overhead, saw him and lowered a man down in a basket. The man refused to get in the basket and told them that God would save him. After the helicopter left, the floods swept the man off his roof and he died. When he got to Heaven, he asked God why He didn’t save him. God replied, “I sent the sheriff, a boat and a helicopter. Why didn’t you accept my help?”
We often pass on God’s help because it’s doesn’t come in the packaging we want or expect. We think that God has to act supernaturally in order to truly help us. The fact is that God mainly uses other people to bring about His answers into our lives. He sends people to give us money in our desperation, but our pride won’t let us accept it. He has people offer vehicles, groceries, jobs and other things that we need, but we pass on them because we think God is going to open up the heavens, send a beam of light with harp playing angels to deliver what we need. We miss so many blessings because we refuse the answers God gives through others.
The next time you ask God for help, look around. He may be answering it in a way that you weren’t expecting. He could be using one person to get you to take a step of faith that will open the door for future blessings. I know I’ve seen God be a blessing to my family in desperate times. The answer didn’t always come from where I thought it would. In fact, it has never come from where I thought it would. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t God. It just means that God has a better plan than I do and I need to accept His help when and how He sends it.
I lift up your name. I praise you because you’re worthy. You are the omnipotent and I recognize that. Where I am weak, you are strong. When I can’t, you are able. When I am limited, you are unlimited. You own the cattle on a thousand hills as the Psalmist out it. You own everything we see. You created this universe and are beyond the vastness of it. You can create something out of nothing with just your voice. Your words are powerful. More powerful than anything any one of us could ever imagine.
Today, I ask you to speak into my family. I pray that you would speak protection over them. As each of us go different ways, you are the only one who has the ability to watch over us and to protect us. Guard our paths. Expose the enemy when he’s lying in wait to steal, kill and destroy those I love. Rebuke him and keep him away so that he cannot lay a finger on anyone in my household. You are the One who gives abundant life and I ask that you speak that life into my family.
Next I pray that you would order each of our steps. Your Word says that the steps of a righteous man are ordered by you, so I ask that you would shine your light on the paths that each of us are to take. If anyone of us stumbles, reach out your hand to catch us, pull us back up and set our feet back on your path. Keep us from wandering off the paths that you have chosen for us. We want to do your will and go where you tell us. Make your way clear to each member of my family so there’s no question where you want them to walk.
For the members of my family in relationships, I ask that you would strengthen them. Draw them closer together through their relationship with you. Help each one to be selfless in their responsibilities in that relationship. For those who are yet to be in a relationship, I ask that you would bring someone who is godly into their life to challenge them in their relationship with you in order to help them grow. Put that person you have for them in their path so they will see them and your hand in the situation. Remove all fear and doubt from their mind in order to help them trust your plan for them.
Above all, I ask that you would place on each of us a hunger for more of you. Give us an appetite, a craving for your Word. Cause us to never be satisfied with anything less than you. Help us to put away spiritual junk food and to focus on putting only healthy things in our minds and hearts. When we do, I know we will be a reflection of you in all we say and do. We want to be good examples of who you are to those we meet. We want to be able to speak life into others, to build them up and encourage them. Let our lives lead others straight to you. Help us to represent you faithfully as we become more like you every day.
I ask all these things in Jesus’ name.
I come to you today knowing that you are in control of my life, my country and my world. You are the God who spoke into darkness and created light. You spoke and the world took shape. In fact, the words you spoke back then are still creating today as the universe continues to expand and birth new galaxies. Your word is powerful beyond anything I can imagine. It creates rivers in the desert, life in dry bones and hope in impossible situations. I honor you for who you are and because you take an active interest in my life.
I confess I don’t have everything figured out. I try to create things using my own power and wisdom instead of relying on yours. I constantly make a mess of things and then ask you to come clean it up. I often act as though I’m independent as if I don’t need you. I think I’m helping you out when I don’t see how your plan can come to pass and I try to figure it out on my own. I know that the closer I get to you, the more dependent I should become, but my selfish nature wants to prove to you and others that I can do things on my own. Somehow I lose sight of my role in our relationship.
I thank you that you forgive me when I’m selfish and try to do your job. You are always right on time when you come in and pick up the pieces from the mess I’ve made. I’m in awe when I watch you put them back together again in a fashion that is more complete and greater than I could have ever imagined. Thank you that you don’t get tired of me making a mess so often. Thank you that no matter what I do, you still love me and call me your child. I’m honored that you do and I don’t want to take it lightly. You sacrificed everything to give me that honor and in return, I sacrifice myself daily for you.
I ask that you would help me to become more dependent on you each day. Teach me to trust in you and your plan. I don’t know why things happen the way they do, but I know you are in control. Give me peace when I look at everything around me and I can’t see the way from point A to point B. Help me to stay still when you ask me to. Give me courage to move and step out when there’s no dry land around. Teach me to be patient when I don’t understand why things happen. Remind me that you’ll show up in time like you always do so I won’t worry. I want to do my part and let you do your part.
Give me strength to face today and peace that you have tomorrow under control. Put people in my path who I can speak life into and who can in return encourage me. Help me to build relationships with people who will help me accomplish more for you than I ever dreamed. Stir up the gifts you’ve placed in me so that they are active and are ready to be used by you at a moment’s notice. You are my God and my king. I owe my life to you. Let me live that way today and show others who you are by my actions, by my faith and by my trust in you. I love you with all my heart.
In Jesus’ name I pray,