Prayer – An Intimate Relationship
I grew up as a Christian, but I was not really a follower of Jesus. I believed that I would go to heaven when I died and I went to church every Sunday, but that was more or less all it meant to me to be a Christian. I didn’t really know God. Of course, I knew God like we know famous people like politicians and sport stars, but I didn’t know God personally. This all changed when I started to study the Bible seriously. First, I was scared because I realized that following Jesus was more than just believing that something is true, that Jesus is the Son of God and died for our sins. After I struggled with this for more than half a year, I gave myself over to God. I admitted that I couldn’t live for God in my own strength and I declared that I only wanted to follow Jesus the rest of my life. I turned away from my old life and started a relationship with God. This was the beginning of something amazing and it is still going on.
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” ~ John 17,3 ~
When I came across the above Bible verse, it touched me. I realized that eternal life didn’t start when I would go to heaven, but that it was something that started already during this life. This verse spoke even more to me when I realized that the original text in Genesis 4 literally states that “Adam knew Eve and she conceived a child.” This made me realize that a relationship with God is not something religious, but that it is really intimate. I grew up with people around me who prayed almost as if it was a kind of ritual which is part of Christian life. It was more something traditional, rather than something personal or alive and real. When I started to pray personally after I repented, I talked about personal things. I also realized that I could praise God with my own words. Most prayers I heard were about asking God for things. When I took time during prayer to praise and thank God for who he is and for what he was doing in my life, it made prayer a lot more intimate. I had to learn a lot, after I while a realized that God even spoke to me personally and not only through the Bible. While I prayed, God gave me thoughts in my mind through the Spirit. In this way God answered my prayers personally. During this period in which I grew in relationship with God, the Bible became more and more real to me.
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts. ~ Mark 2,8 ~
Prayer – Power and Authority
As I shared in the previous part, most prayers I heard when I grew up were full of requests to God. This was often done in a way that people asked God if he would please help. While I grew closer to God and understood the Bible better and better, I realized that this was not very Biblical and a downgrade of what God’s intention is for his children.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” ~ Mark 11,22-24 ~
This passage is really important. There are several things to say about this passage, but I want to focus on one thing here. Jesus did not teach his disciples to ask God if he wants to do something, it does not say that when you want to move a mountain that you should ask God if he wants to do it. Actually, this passage does not even state that we should ask God to move the mountain. It states that we should command things to move. This made a huge difference for me with respect to what I was used to. For example, instead of pleading God to heal someone, I realized that I could command the sickness to go. If I had learned this earlier and others with me, some wouldn’t have had to suffer diseases or even died like they did. However, since I knew the truth about this, I have seen healings in miraculous ways through commanding sickness and pain to go. You might wonder: how this is possible?
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. ~ John 1,12-13 ~
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. ~ Ephesians 1,18-21 ~
The above passages give a lot of clarity about this matter. First of all, those who are born again are a child of God. They have the right of being a child of God. This means for them that every sickness or unclean spirit has to obey what they command it to do in Jesus’ name. Besides, since they have received the Holy Spirit, they are filled with the power of God. The Spirit who lives in them, is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. In other words, this power can overcome death and every disease or pain is smaller than death. The following passages will clarify this even more.
But our citizenship is in heaven. ~ Philippians 3,20 ~
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 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. ~ Ephesians 2,6-7 ~
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. ~ Colossians 2,9-12 ~
According to the above passages I am a citizen of heaven. This is not from myself, but because I am in Christ because I am born again. Therefore I am filled with the fullness of the Deity. This is a really great gift from God for those who are his children. To make it more clear, let’s compare this to a police officer. An officer is not able to stop a car in his own strength. However, by law he is given authority to stop a car because he is an officer. Even more, when a driver does not obey his commands, he can use several things to make the car stop. This is comparable to the right and power the children of God receive. Everyone who has become God’s child, is a citizen of heaven. Therefore he has authority in Jesus’ name. Besides that, through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in him, people around him will be touched with the power of God. Where the Enemy only wants to destroy life, the Spirit of God in him will give life. When I understood this, I realized that believing in God is not just a way to go to heaven. I realized that faith is the means to carry out God’s will on earth. In this way I fulfill my responsibility as God’s child and expand the Kingdom of God on earth.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10,10 ~
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 6,9-10 ~
“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” ~ Luke 11,20 ~
Prayer – Requests and Thanksgiving
Because of the previous section you might think that you can have everything you want in Jesus’ name. However, there is a difference between carrying out God’s will in Jesus’ name and asking God for your needs. As a child of God, I can do God’s will and I know that it is God’s will to heal the sick and deliver people from demons for example. However, God is not a Santa Claus whom I can ask anything like a sport car and a lot of money just because I like it and want to be spoiled.
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” ~ James 4,2-6 ~
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. ~ 1 John 2,15-17 ~
The above passages make clear that it is not good to ask God for something just for your own pleasures. It states that when we love the world, we don’t love the Father. This means that we should not desire to be part of the world and long for success and wealth in this world. When I would do this, I am not living for the honor of God, but for myself and I would hurt God. I learned that God had a better plan for his children. The following passages inspired me to have a good attitude to God with respect to my needs.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5,16-18 ~
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4,4-7 ~
I was used to prayer in which people pleaded God to give them what they asked if it was his will. I didn’t know better, but actually it seemed quite desperate and hopeless. These passages above show that we should pray in thanksgiving. So, instead of doubting and worrying if God wants to help you, you can make your request with thanksgiving and rejoice that God wants to give you what you need. Both these passages above are also inspiring to pray more. It does not teach us to pray on certain days or at certain times, but in every situation and to pray continually. This is how intimate God wants us to be with him. He wants to help us every moment in every situation. This is amazing, because instead of being busy with all the things you long for and worry about, you can commit yourself to serving the Lord.
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~ Matthew 6,28-34 ~
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. ~ 1 John 5,14-15 ~
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. ~ John 15,16 ~
Prayer – Intercession and Ministry
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. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. ~ Ephesians 6,18-20 ~
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. ~ Colossians 2,2-4 ~
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. ~ 1 Timothy 2,1-6 ~
The above passages make it clear that we should not only pray for ourselves. When someone asks you to pray for healing, you shouldn’t (only) ask God for healing, but pray as described in section two about power and authority. We can carry out God’s will, even if that person is not there. However, this does not apply every time we pray for others. We should not try to use Jesus’ name and the authority given to us, to manipulate or control other people. This is not God’s will, it is actually a form of witchcraft and definitely not part of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, when we pray for others, we intercede on their behalf. This means that we ask God to work in their life, because we don’t have the authority or the wisdom to carry out God’s will in Jesus’ name. Sometimes this is comparable to making requests for ourselves. When someone asks for prayer, we can pray with that person in the same way as we should pray for our own needs as described in the third section. If it is according to God’s will of course. For example, Paul’s request for prayer to receive boldness to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in Colossians 2 and Ephesians 6 is definitely according to God’s will, because it is God’s will that everyone will be saved. We can pray for such a request in confidence and thankfulness, because we know that God will answer when we make such a request. But when we pray for someone to get to know God and become born again, this we do through intercession. We can in faith intercede on their behalf, because we know it is God’s will that everyone knows him, but we cannot decide for that person to get born again. Of course it is always good to thank God for the person you pray for.
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. ~ Ephesians 1,16 ~
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. ~ 2 Thessalonians 1,3 ~
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. ~ 2 Timothy 1,3 ~
Prayer for others is not what we should do occasionally, but what is an important way of serving others. We cannot show God’s goodness and power to all people every moment of the day, but we can pray for someone at any time. This is not an addition to our prayer time or an element of a worship service, but this is part of the life of loving God and loving others. Even when I write this, it is a wake up call to myself to remain more in prayer during the day and remember people in my prayers. I understand that you might think this is hard and maybe impossible. However, God has given us his Spirit to help us.
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. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. ~ Romans 8,26-27 ~
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. ~ 1 Corinthians 14,14-15 ~
It took me a while before I realized that the passage from Romans 8 is about prayer in tongues. When we don’t know what to pray for another person, the Holy Spirit can pray through us in words we do not understand ourselves. The Holy Spirit speaks through us in a heavenly language. This is a form of prayer in tongues. Prayer in tongues can also help us to be intimate with God when we run out of words to praise God. The Holy Spirit will help us praise God in a heavenly language. While we pray in tongues, we do not edify our mind, but build up our spirit. This is very powerful, because the Holy Spirit can help us overcome our circumstances. When we find it hard to pray because of what is going on in our life, through prayer in tongues the Holy Spirit can pray for us in and then our spirit will be strengthened. Personally, this helped me get through some hard periods in my life. After all, God wants to be intimate with us and promised to be with us. He wants us to love him and others. When we find this hard, he will help us through his Spirit and in other ways. If we want to take a special time to pray for others and to know God’s will better, we can decide to fast for a while. Fasting is not a ritual that make us earn God’s favor and get better prayer result. At least, fasting in itself does not make a difference. However, through fasting it is easier to focus on God, just as when you withdraw yourself in a silent room helps you to focus on God. Besides, when we focus more on God and what we want God to do, our faith that God will answer our prayer will increases. Then God will answer our prayer, because of our faith and not because of our fasting.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” ~ Matthew 17,19-20 ~
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. ~ Hebrews 4,16 ~
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28,20 ~
God bless you,
Founder of Experience Jesus