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Pastor Jay's Blog

God Really Wants You to Pray


We are supposed to pray. We all know that, and yet we still struggle to pray. We remind ourselves of all the promises, all the commands, all the encouragements in scriptures regarding prayer. But alas, we are bent toward self-sufficiency. Let me give you one more weapon to put in your arsenal against self-sufficiency so you can be the earthen vessel through which God’s power can be displayed.

In my Bible reading, I recently ran across one of those passages that leaves us finite sinners asking, “Why would God do that?” The passage is Genesis 20 and it is the story of Abraham and Abimelech. In his (faithless) fear, Abraham told the people of Gerar that Sarah was just his sister. Therefore, Abimelech took her for himself. God came to Abimelech and declared he was condemned for this act. In the ensuing dialog, Abimelech declares his innocence, which God not only affirms, but God even peels back the layers to reveal the restraining mercy of God that kept Abimelech from sin. God tells Abimelech what he needs to do, and Abimelech gladly obliges.

Verse 7 is what struck me. God tells Abimelech that Abraham would pray for him and because of that prayer, Abimelech would continue to live, and the wombs of the women would be opened again. Does anyone else see an unnecessary component here? God is talking directly with Abimelech and this whole issue is being dealt with. Everything is addressed and all Abimelech has to do is just follow through on restoring Sarah to Abraham. Why this third wheel of Abraham’s prayer? It seems like God is using an unnecessary tool to do what is already done. It is like watering the grass while it is raining.

The Desires Of God And Man Aligned

Here is where we have to stop and realign ourselves. God is not a God who does pointless things. He is the all-wise God. If God plans everything, wastes nothing, even bottling up every tear, then surely he doesn’t call for prayer that is meaningless. No, this prayer is integral in God’s plan.

While I don’t think we can say that God does nothing apart from the prayers of his people, this passage and others like it surely show us that God’s main desire is to operate in response to prayer. God is the Savior, and His saving, serving work is best seen when He transforms a people into those who then have the same desires that He does. The proof of our aligned desires comes through answered prayer. When Abraham sought God’s mercy for Abimelech, he was aligned with the heart of God who also had mercy upon Abimelech. Abraham was truly God’s man, because they both wanted the same thing. Answered prayer put that on display.

Praying Prayers That Get Answered

This all means that the best way to grow in prayer is to grow in godliness. They play off of each other. Prayer is a means to greater godliness, and godliness is a means to better praying (that is what you call a victorious circle). When you grow in godliness, you are growing in your realization that your greatest need is having God Himself. When you grow in that realization, you begin to see all your other needs as only having true legitimacy as they are connected with that one great need. That is a connection that we won’t ever know perfectly all the time, but as we grow in godliness, we will see the connection more clearly, more often, and God will answer more gloriously. So as we strive in the upward call of Christ Jesus, we rest in the reality that God does know what needs are truly connected with His kingdom and our growth in Him, and He will answer those prayers. Therefore we pray in confidence that our prayer is the ground-level work upon which God joyously builds all that truly is right and good.

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