I’m baaack….with another installment on how to get our prayers answered. In the first part of this series we learned that God is Sovereign; there is nothing impossible to Him. He rewards those who sincerely seek Him and hears our petition when we pray according to His will. In order to know what His will is we must study the Scripture(s) pertaining to our specific issue or thing. Does this sound familiar to you? Cool.
In this blog post, I want to talk about the second key to effective prayer; the legal aspect of prayer. I promise not to get too deep, but it is important to know what prayer is. It’s not just saying some words to get the attention of an unseen, invisible man upstairs existing in an obscure place we call Heaven. Prayer is a legal binder supported by the promises of God. I place emphasis on legal because later we’ll talk about where our prayers are going when we pray. As a legal binder, prayer is a petition. If you Google it, it is defined as follows:
A petition is a request to do something, most commonly addressed to a government official or public entity. Petitions to a deity are a form of prayer called supplication.
Scripture identifies prayer as a petition and supplication as shown in the Philippians 4:6 which put it this way:
Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Notice the distinction between prayer and supplication. There is a difference. The petition aspect of prayer is purely legal or what we would call black and white. It’s straight forward; God made a specific promise, we believe His promise and pray according to His promise and we have what He promised. The challenge is not being anxious about the thing we’re praying about. I mentioned in the previous post that prayer has to be infused with faith in order for it to be effective. Simply put, faith is confidence that God hears our prayers when we pray in confidence. Any prayer that is not made in confidence is displeasing to God and has a 100% chance of not being answered.
A supplication is not just a petition, but takes on a persistent nagging or even begging quality. We find this pictured in the following parable which clearly displays how this works (Luke 18:2 – 8).
One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.
"There was a judge in a certain city," He said, "which neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, 'Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.'
The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, 'I don't fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'"
Then the Lord said, "Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
I tell you, He will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on the Earth who have faith?"
Wow! Did you catch that? There’s a lot here to unpack, but let’s grab a few nuggets. First, there are two types of prayer; the petition which is black and white i.e. God promised it, I believe it, I receive it. This type of prayer is what my Dad used to say is a, “take it to the Lord and leave it there” prayer.
The second prayer requires a more persistent; I’m not leaving until I have what I’m after kind of attitude. This is supplication. It’s not that we pray and pray and pray the same repetitious prayer for the sake of thinking God will eventually hear us. On the contrary, supplication is a petition that’s brought continually until it is answered. When applied it speaks without wavering until like the unjust judge said, 'I don't fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!' Understanding how to use these forms of prayer can be dangerous if applied correctly.
The takeaway from the second key to effective prayer is:
Our next post will focus on where our prayers are going. Don’t miss it! God willing be blessed.