Focusing on Prayer

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Prayer is one of the most precious gifts you have received as the Father’s child! One of the reasons I sent the Holy Spirit to you was so that you would have His help in your prayer life (Romans 8:26-27). James began and ended his tract on living for the Father with straightforward teaching on prayer. I want you to notice several things about this teaching that are highlighted in bold for you in the verses below.

However, the first truth about prayer you must know is this: prayer is rooted in the grace of your Father in heaven. I taught you to address your heavenly Father with the simple words, “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). Your Father longs to give you good gifts. He longs to “grant all that you need” and “He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking”! Your Father longs to lift you “up from the floor of despair” and bring you lasting life! (See the underlined emphasis in the verses below.) In other words, prayer is first and foremost about your Father. Recognize that prayer is a gift of grace from your Father in heaven. Your prayers need to come from a heart fully yielded to Him.

James also gives several other key truths that are connected to prayer, and that grow out of the following principles:

  • Ask the Father — remember He longs to be gracious.
  • Your request should come from an undivided heart; it should “be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God.”
  • You should enlist righteous people, like your elders, to help you pray for your deepest needs.
  • Your prayers should be offered in faith — remember, don’t doubt the Father longs to hear you.
  • Your prayers should be rooted in the righteousness of your life.
  • Prayers don’t need to be uttered with a lot of words or fancy language, but your heart needs to be intensely riveted on the Father as you pray. The focus of your intensity, when you pray, should be the Father, not the perfect choice of your words.

Prayer is a great gift. Use this gift. Seek the Father. Come to Him out of a life lived for Him. He longs to be gracious to you.

Verses to Live

When I was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night I was betrayed, the soldiers and the crowd sent by the religious leaders knew where to find Me because going there was My regular practice (Luke 22:39-40; Luke 21:37). My request of the Father was specific and heartfelt — “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42 NIV). My surrender to His will was not new. I had prayed this prayer many times. I hope My example for you, along with the following words from James for you, will give you the direction and encouragement you need to pray with confidence to the Father Who loves you and longs to bless you. My desire is that you will seek godly people to join you in a confident prayer offered with intensity out of lives lived to honor the Father. (The bold highlights words about how you should pray and the underlining highlights the Father’s response to your prayers.)

If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.

The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.

(James 1:5-8)

Are any in your community suffering? They should pray. Are any celebrating? They should sing praises to God. Are any sick? They should call the elders of your church and ask them to pray. They will gather around and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayers offered in faith will restore them from sickness and bring them to health. The Lord will lift them up from the floor of despair; and if the sickness is due to sin, then God will forgive their sins. So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life. Remember Elijah? He was a man, no different from us. He prayed with great intensity asking God to withhold the rain; God answered his prayers and did not allow a single drop of rain to fall for three and a half years. It did not rain until Elijah prayed again for God to open the skies, when the rain came down and the earth produced a great crop.

(James 5:13-18)

Response in Prayer

O Father, my Abba Father, thank You for the grace of prayer. Thank You for listening to both my words and my heart. I know that You long to hear my heart when I pray. I know that You have given me the blessed Holy Spirit to make my deepest longings, sighs, and groanings known to You. Forgive me when I pray without my focus on You. Forgive me for the times that I have prayed without the intensity of my heart longing to communicate with You. I especially ask that You hear my heart as I pray for several of my friends by name, friends who need Your grace, healing, and strength… In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.