who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8, NKJV)
God’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous (1 Pet. 3:12). So, why didn’t the Father answer Christ’s prayers to escape the torturous death by crucifixion that was awaiting Him? In fact, the Father did answer them. Jesus prayed, “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will”, and God’s will was that He endure the cross (Matt. 26:39). He accepted this answer with complete obedience to the Father’s will. We tend to think that if our prayers are not answered in the way we prefer, then God has not answered our prayer at all. But, when we pray with a heart that defers to the will of God, every prayer is not only heard but also answered according to God’s good will. Let us follow the example of Jesus when we pray, and continue to obey the Father fully, whatever His answer is.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:4–6, NASB95)
Christians have the ability to live in joyful gladness under the most stressful situations. The character of gentle forbearance couples with remembering the Lord’s approaching judgment to form two reasons we live in joy instead of anxiety. The third strand of the three-fold cord of joy is prayer. The thankful requests of prayer strengthen our resolve to rejoice in the Lord because we know God hears and answers us. With a gentle spirit, generous prayers and respect for the Lord’s presence and power to judge, Christians refuse to abandon joy for anxiety, especially in the face of temporary trials. Though Paul was imprisoned in Rome for his faith, he set this example of always rejoicing in the Lord. Today, remember Christ rules from heaven and sees all things. Keep a gentle spirit toward others as you petition God with thanksgiving for His great and constant care. By doing so you can, and will, “rejoice in the Lord always”.
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:14-15)
Prayer is a great spiritual blessing given to Christians in Christ. Prayer is an action of bold, confident faith in our heavenly Father. He promises to give attention to prayers that are asked “according to His will” (v. 14). You see, prayer is not a selfish endeavor, it is the expression of faith in the Father’s will. This is all the more reason not to be “unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is”, so that we may pray in faith and not doubt (Eph. 5:17; Jas. 1:5). When a Christian prays like Jesus did in the garden (“your will be done”), his or her petition is answered in full measure by the Lord. Remember, prayer is about trusting that God knows better than we do what is best for us. So, whether His specific answer is “yes”, “no” or “not yet”, receive God’s answer with humble thanksgiving. He has heard you and answered you according to His will.
10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:10-12)
Good things do not result from doing what is evil. While this may seem too obvious to state, many go right on doing evil things, blindly believing it will result in good for them. We are under obligation to do good things, like restraining our tongue from speaking hurtful, destructive and deceitful words. Deliberately turn away from evil, and just as resolutely pursue peace. God listens to the prayers of such a person. But, He opposes the person who does evil and expects good to result.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)
There is power in prayer for the people of God. Sins are forgiven when they are confessed to one another and as prayers ascend to the throne of grace for divine mercy. The unrighteous have no assurance of effective prayer; it is the prayers of the righteous that are heard and answered by the Father. Prayer for someone today, and also seek the prayers of the righteous.
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Prayer is the purposeful expression of one’s mind to God. It was first on Jesus’ mind of a morning, and his example urges us to pray each morning as we rise to face the day. Prayer is deliberate, not haphazard. And so, Jesus gave sufficient time to pray. He did not rush through prayer, but lingered in it as he spoke to his Father. Jesus went to a solitary place to pray, teaching us to do our best to remove distractions when we pray. Before the duties of the busy day engulf you, remember to pray. Linger in prayer to the Father, and be strengthened for the day ahead.