Every Tuesday morning I meet with several other women for a scheduled prayer time around what we call an altar. Actually it’s just a Formica-topped table, but to us it represents a place where God is present in powerful ways.
During our time together we claim his promise to hear our prayers and then one-by-one hand him 200+ requests, each one with a name and situation connected to it. After everything has been covered, nearly 3 hours has passed.
Faithful prayer can be hard work.
But God steadily rewards that work with glimpses of the wonders he’s performing, some the culmination of years of prayer, others a total surprise party. We’ve watched him heal terminal diseases, reconcile warring spouses, save lost souls, rearrange careers, shelter refugees, sell houses, and much, much more.
All of us have mental wish lists of what we’d like to see happen within our families, our schools, our friendships, the government, and our world. We want harmony in relationships, financial security, satisfying careers, and global peace…. for starters.
None of us has trouble knowing what we want, but what does God want? Sometimes we have trouble being sure of that. Although he invites us to bring our concerns, he puts restrictions on which ones he’ll answer in the affirmative.
Scripture says, “This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
He’s saying, “If you ask according to God’s will, you’ll get what you ask for. Outside of that, no guarantees.”
For example, we can pray for a raise at work, but God doesn’t promise a yes. It’s possible he will give it, but he might prefer instead to produce spiritual riches through the experience of financial hardship.
As our little band of praying women thought about all this, we decided the only way to be sure we weren’t wasting time on Tuesday mornings was to pray “according to his will,” and thankfully Scripture lets us know what that is.
So we chose 400 verses from the Bible, 20 for each of 20 different topics, each one in accordance with God’s will for all people. We put them on cards stored in mugs, ready for pulling during prayer times. Based on the needs, we ask for:
And because God wants to develop these things in all of us, he faithfully says yes.
“The Lord said…. I am watching over my word to perform it.” (Jeremiah 1:12)