Lessons on prayer

I re-learned a couple of important lessons on prayer today.

The first: Pray before acting.

The second: Wait for God to answer.

Even though I am “prayer equipper” at our church, I realize I frequently ignore those lessons.

A church leader shared with a number of us this morning that he decided to pray about someone filling a significant job in the church.  He was ready to wait for an answer.  To his surprise, the Lord answered within a week – someone stepped forward who was well-equipped for the position.

It tied in well with a Bible passage the pastor had just read – the incident in Acts 13 about Saul and Barnabas being chosen for missionary work.  Prophets and teachers in the church in Antioch worshiped and fasted until God spoke to them about commissioning Saul and Barnabas for this task.

It’s clear the church in Antioch had not decided beforehand to pick Saul and Barnabas for this work.  It may be they did not even know they were to send anyone out for a missionary effort.

Instead, they focused on God, praising and worshiping him.  And they fasted to show they were in earnest about hearing what God wanted for their church.

There are a lot of scriptures in the Bible about people seeking God before major events in their lives.  And God answered, sometimes unexpectedly.

It is generally possible to pray before acting – something I should do as a matter of course.  It is not always possible to wait for specific direction.

But I realize in my own life that are a number of key issues where I have not been praying.  These are matters in the prayer ministry which don’t need an immediate solution.  And, in fact, the most important question may be: How does God want me to pray in this situation?

So, I will bring these concerns to the Lord in two steps:

  • I will ask him how he wants me to pray.
  • Guided by his response, I will ask him to answer my prayer.

Then, I will pray until God answers.

There is one final ingredient – being willing to accept whatever answer God gives – even if it doesn’t fit into my own preconceptions.

As the church in Antioch showed, God moves when our hearts are in tune with his.

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