For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
There is a part of us that believes prayer really does change what is possible, that prayer is the pathway to God's power, that there is an absolutely, undeniable, unmistakable relationship between prayer and the release of God's power in our lives. But, we also recognize how easily we can become distracted, weary and discouraged when our prayers seem to go unanswered. Why do we find it difficult to pray and keep on praying about the urgent matters in our lives?
In part, the answer lies in an understanding of the prerequisites of prayer. In order for us to persevere in prayer there are certain prerequisite understandings and convictions that we must not only believe in our minds, we have to own them in our hearts. We must be convinced of God's identity, God's inclination and God's invitation.
The effectiveness of our prayers is rooted in the character of the One to whom we pray. The Bible affirms our God is faithful and good, loving and kind. The psalmist reminds us, The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made (Psalm 145:9). You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you. (Psalm 89:8) David write, He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge (Psalm 144:2). Through the prophet Jeremiah, God declares, I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth (Jeremiah 9:24). Seeing God for who He is, as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word, is an absolutely essential prerequisite of prayer.
Secondly, we must understand God's inclination toward us, that His desire is to pour out His favor and blessing into our lives. The psalmist writes, Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12) The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. (Psalm 29:11) Paul expresses praise to God, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8) That God is favorably inclined toward His people is a foundational truth as we approach Him in prayer.
Thirdly, we need to respond to His invitation to us. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8) David said, I call on you, my God, for you will answer me (Psalm 17:6). Jesus extends this invitation to His followers, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). Paul says to us, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6). God's invitation is to come to Him prayer and He promises to hear and respond.
So my friends at Valley, just pray!