Growing up in a home where I was taught to pray and ask God for all my needs, I had a lot of questions about prayer like:
- Why do we need to pray?
- What is prayer?
- How should we pray?
- Do we even need to pray if God already knows everything about us?
These are some questions I’ve asked myself before I understood what prayer really means and how important and powerful it is.
The Focus of Our Prayer
I’m sure all of us have prayed for our needs, blessings, desires, healing etc. I have, too. And I used to wonder why do we need to pray if God already knows everything about us? But the day I realized I am already blessed with everything I need (Ephesians 1:3), the focus of my prayers changed.
The focus of our prayer answers the question – why do we need to pray.
If we read through all the letters that Paul wrote to the churches, we see the many prayers he has made. But in none of the prayers do we find him asking God to meet his needs. The only prayer he makes for himself and the believers of the church is that they would know the Father and that their eyes would be opened to see who Jesus is. That was his only prayer and desire.
So what should the focus of our prayer be? The answer is in Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him, – since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened – so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displaced in the exercise of his immense strength.Ephesians 1:16-19 (NET)
There are three main points that we can gather from these verses. We need to pray that the eyes of our hearts be enlightened to know:
- the hope of God’s calling
- the riches of His glorious inheritance in and for the saints (that’s us!)
- His incomparably great power toward us who believe
The more we get to know Him, the more we become aware of who He is and what He has done and who we are and what we are called to do (He has given us eternal life and we are called to partner with Him).
Jesus promised us eternal life. But what is eternal life? Our stereotypical answer would be ‘a better afterlife, a never-ending life after death in heaven’. But what we often forget is that we are partakers of the new covenant, which means we already have eternal life in Him, because according to Jesus, eternal life is not something we are waiting to experience in the future. It is knowing the Father – a gift that we get to enjoy right here, right now, in the present!
Now this is eternal life – that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.John 17:3 (NET)
This gift of knowing Him is not just head knowledge, but intimate, experiential knowledge that comes from being in a relationship with Him. James says that even demons know God (James 2:19), but that knowledge is useless. So what does it mean to know God? Genesis 4:1 says that Adam knew Eve and she conceived. Similarly, when we know God, the result is eternal life. Our growing knowledge of Him reveals the abundant life within us (John 10:10). This growth is progressive, which means that it is not a one-time event, but an everyday relationship. This does not mean we are not getting closer to God, because the truth is, He is already close to us. We are only growing in the knowledge of how close we are to Him.
Why Knowing God is Important
Knowing who God is, is the key to our blessings because He is our blessing. Let me explain this with an illustration.
If someone were to deposit $10,000 into my account, but I am not aware of it, I will never cash the money out because of my ignorance. No matter how great my financial need is, unless I know there is money in my account, I won’t get to enjoy the fruit of it.
If we go through the Old Testament, there are countless examples of how knowing who God was, made a difference to people. For example, Adam and Eve were not aware of their nakedness because God was the glory that covered their shame. For Noah, God was the lifeboat that saved him and his family from the flood. God was Abraham’s inheritance and exceedingly great reward. God was Moses’ deliverance from Egypt. During the walk around Jericho, God was the victory for Joshua and the Israelites. When David was running for his life, God was His light and salvation. For the wisest man who ever lived, God was Solomon’s wisdom.
When we know Christ, we are fully aware of our blessings in Him.
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ.Ephesians 1:3 (NET)
Jesus is the complete package of blessings from God to us. He is our strength, our glory, our victory, our healing, our inheritance, our everything!
Partnering with God
Now there’s one problem with God (yes, you read that right!). The problem with God is that He never does anything solo. God has always been in the business of partnering with man. It’s in His nature to partner with us. Somehow, the believer’s prayer unleashes the power of God in fresh, new ways. Can you believe that the Almighty, all-powerful, Sovereign God, Creator of the Universe, has chosen to limit Himself to the prayers of His people! Intercessory prayer is indeed a mystery. It reveals the power of God in us when we place our requests before Him.
Let’s look at a couple of examples from scriptures. Elijah prayed for rain 7 times even after God’s word was clear that He was going to send down rain after a famine of 3 years. But because Elijah prayed, God sent down rain from heaven as per his request (1 Kings 18). In Ezekiel 37:1-14, we see God asking Elijah to prophesy to the dry bones. God could have done it Himself, but He made Ezekiel do it. God always partners with us on the earth to fulfil His will. His will is fulfilled on earth when someone agrees with Him and is willing to partner with Him. He believes in collaboration.
God’s Master Plan
God’s master plan is to establish His Kingdom on earth. The present kingdom is not His – it was handed over to the darkness when Adam fell and gave up his authority. Like eternal life, we think that the Kingdom of God will only be established after the second coming of Jesus. But the truth is that the Kingdom of God is within us and He rules through us. This is how His Kingdom is established on earth and this is His will.
For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”Luke 17:21 (b)
With all that is going on in our world, it may look like the Church is getting weaker. But the reality is that the Church is getting stronger with every passing day. Christ, at the right hand of God, is ruling and reigning (1 Corinthians 15:25) and His enemies are being brought under His footstool (Psalm 110:1). As time passes, more enemies are brought under Christ. The Church, which is the Body of Christ, enjoys the privilege of ruling over the enemies of Christ. If Christ is strong, then the Church is also strong. Everything around us may tell us otherwise and that we are getting into more difficult times, which is true in most aspects. But it is through these difficult times that the Church will prove that it is strong, thereby indicating that Christ is strong. He promised that the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18). We no longer have to be afraid. We longer need to be defensive, because the Church is on the attack! We are invading and taking over the kingdom of darkness by filling it with the light of Christ!
As the Body of Christ, we have a unique purpose in fulfilling His ultimate purpose on Earth. Our life on earth is not a waste. After being saved, we are not just waiting for Him to come and set things right. That’s passive Christianity. We are here to establish His Kingdom on earth. We are here for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Friends, there is authority in what we pray and declare. This is what the Scripture says:
Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.Matthew 18:18
God does not need us to fulfil His purposes, but He desires to partner with us. Can we partner with Him? Can our prayer today be that we want to know Him?