Updated: May 11, 2020
God uses our prayers that are molded by the word of God (John 15:7) and are in accordance with His purposes for us to go and bear fruit in evangelism and missions. (John 15:16) True prayer is praying for God to be glorified. (John 14:13-14) To pray in Jesus’ name does not mean to just say the words “in Jesus name” at the end of our prayers. To pray in Jesus name, means to pray according to His character and attributes and purposes, for God’s glory, not for our selfish desires. (James 4:3-4)
All teaching on prayer in the Bible is under the big principle of God’s Sovereignty – 1 John 5:14 – “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
Jesus said, “Pray in this way . . . Our Father in heaven . . . may Your name be treated as holy, may Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done . . . (Matthew 6:9-10) God is our Father and Creator; we are creatures and need to have humility in prayer. Some Word of Faith teachers even teach that you can command God in prayer!! (False teachers such as the late Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, and Joel Osteen) Prayer is never a command made to God, but a humble request and attitude of worship of God’s Holy character. True prayer should be focused on God’s holiness, His Fatherly love and care; that He is the creator, and sovereign, and the focus on His purposes in the world – His will and the spreading of His kingdom among the nations.
Pray for God to raise up more laborers to go into His harvest and preach the gospel. (Matthew 9:37-38)
True faith in God is trusting that God is able and good, even if He does not give me what I desire. True faith is not psychological certainty that I will get whatever I ask for. The prosperity teachers distort the meaning of Mark 11:24 by leaving out the context of Jesus’ judgement on the temple and the cursing of the fig tree; (see larger context of Mark 11:15-25 and 12:1-12 and Matthew 21:33-46) and by leaving out that the next verse says if you are harboring unforgiveness in your heart, God will not hear your prayers.
True faith is faith in God, not faith in our faith. We should have the same attitude that Daniel’s three friends had when Nebuchadnezzar commanded them to bow down and worship the golden idol – “our God is able”; but even if God does not deliver us from your fiery furnace; we will not bow down to the idol. (Daniel 3:17-18)
Even if God does not heal me or deliver me from this trial, or give me the job I want or promotion that I want, or money, etc. I will still love and worship Him and know that He is good, and He has a good and wise purpose for not giving me what I want. Job’s attitude was right under God’s soverignty – “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
We should have the same attitude as Jesus, “not My will, but Thy will be done”. (Luke 22:42; Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36)
God is able to bless me and heal me and provide my needs, yes; but God also gives us trials and suffering to sanctifiy us and make us more like Christ and glorify His name. God is able; I believe that; but I don’t demand it. Jesus said to the man, “Do you beleive that I am able to do this?” Matthew 9:28 That is true faith, that God is able and powerful, not that He will for sure give me everything I ask for with the phrase “in Jesus name” tacked on the end.
These two lectures linked to below demonstrate a big problem in today’s “Evangelical” church culture – the problem is basically a wrong view of God and a wrong view of worship and a wrong view of what prayer is suppossed to be, and a wrong view of church. The Word of Faith heretics teach that pray is “naming and claiming” things and “speaking what you need and want” – like success, money, prosperity, material blessings, healing, etc. Amazing how they violate James 4:3 and Psalm 66:18, by the focus on selfish and fleshly desires.
Michael Horton exposes the problem with today’s Evangelicalism, which he calls “Moralistic and Therapeutic Deism” – because the human desires of the flesh have been emphasized more than the glory of God, the character of God, proper worship of God, and prayer under God’s Sovereignty and crucifiying our selfish desires and motives. (James 4:1-4)
McArthur is right about the Word of Faith heresies; it is a big “Ponzy scheme” for these greedy teachers.
Even though there is a lot of wrong teaching on prayer these days, we still should and must pray. God has commanded us to pray. A life of prayer is a life of dependence on God, worship, and humility. And of course, there is nothing wrong with asking God to provide for our needs. (Matthew 6:11)
“You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2) Ask God for the gospel to go forth with power and for God’s word to be honored and for sound doctrine to be proclaimed and taught. (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3)
“pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Jesus taught His disciples that they should pray and not give up or loose heart. Luke 18:1 ff
Get the book, Operation World and pray for the nations and unreached people groups – use the information in this book, in praying for God’s glory and His gospel purposes in this world.
Also, see the other articles we have for practical guidance on praying for missions, people groups, countries, and missionaries. Put “prayer” in the search button or click on the prayer category.