January 9 I Saturday
“Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!” —Psalm 66:20
It is true and Scripture tells us that God does reject our prayer. The Bible warns us that there are conditions we must meet if our prayer is going to be effective. We must, however, be careful of reducing prayer to simply some slick technique or some means of manipulating God, or worse, ganging up on God because we all tell Him to do something and He is going to have to do that. Real prayer comes out of a relationship with God.
Altogether, there are four barriers to effective praying. Firstly, our attitude to self can cause a barrier, in a sense that we pray with selfish motives to bring glory to ourselves. Secondly, our attitude toward sin may be wrong; if we cherish any sin in our heart, we need to surrender it at the cross and ask for forgiveness. Thirdly, our attitude to submit under the lordship of Christ is important. Fourthly, our attitude to our spouse, to other people, affects our prayer; when we keep our relationships right, we have a right relationship with God as a result. As the Holy Spirit brings cleansing into all these areas we have the assurance that “God has surely listened and has heard my prayer” (Psalm 66:19).
Interestingly, the Lord’s Prayer addresses all four of these barriers. As far as our attitude to self is concerned, the Lord’s Prayer is prayed in the first person plural: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13). Note that it does not say, “Give me today my daily bread” but “us”—in the plural. While we come to God with our needs, we are concerned about others too and not just ourselves.
Our attitude to sin is dealt with in the clauses “forgive us our debt” and “lead us not into temptation.” Then our attitude to submission is found in, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” as we submit to the will of God and contribute to the kingdom of God. Finally, our attitude to our spouses and other people is addressed in, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” where we deal with relationships that are difficult and bring them to God in prayer. May the Lord’s Prayer ever remind us of our heart attitude towards God when we pray.
Prayer: Lord Heavenly Father, may Your Spirit produce in us what is pleasing in Your sight so that Your Name will be praised among all the people. Thank You, Lord.