How Prayer Affects God

Prayer is what we talked about at PCC yesterday.  Specifically, the idea that God actually hears us when we pray.  I talked about 3 things that happen when we pray.

  1. Prayer invites the presence of God
  2. Prayer invokes the peace of God
  3. Prayer unlocks the power of God

But here’s the thing – this is not a pick-and-choose list!  We can’t say, “I’ll take peace and power, but skip presence.”

Simply put:  God is NOT your Genie-in-a-Bottle, where you rub the lamp and he pops out and asks, “What is your wish?” 

THE key to your prayer moving the heart of God is found in your sincere desire and willingness to be close to God and to invest in an intimate, ongoing relationship with God.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.”  ~ James 4:8, NIV

I admit that it’s challenging to know what moves God to act or change course. But this one thing I do know:  God is affected by people who long to line up their lives with the mind and heart of God. That’s why the Bible says:

“The Prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  ~ James 5:16b, NIV

“Be delighted with the Lord. Then he will give you all your heart’s desires.” ~ Ps 37:4, TLB

What these two texts (there are many others) emphasize is that when I line up my life with who God is (righteousness, delight in the Lord) I am more likely to get the things I desire and pray for, because I’m more likely to want what God wants.

We also need to know that God does not always give us what we want.  The pinnacle example of this is Jesus’ prayer before he was crucified.  He knew that the most extreme torture was coming, and he asked God to remove it.  But Jesus’ human heart was completely lined up with the Divine heart of God, which is why he could sincerely add, “yet not my will, but Yours be done.”  (see Luke 22)

Many people get disillusioned because God doesn’t grant their request.  I get it.  We can all think of times when God didn’t give us the answer we wanted.  But if I shift my thinking and start seeing the Presence of God in my life as the ultimate answer to prayer, then I win, regardless of how God responds to the specific request.

Further, my closeness to God gives me more of God’s heart inside of me.  And frankly, it seems that the scriptures teach that those who are close with God may actually have a greater hearing (influence) with God.  Isn’t that what James is saying? (see 5:16 above).  Isn’t that why Moses, Abraham, Elijah and others were heard by God?

So there is only an upside to your investment in a relationship with God.  He may not give you all that you want, but He will give you all of Himself.  And there’s no answer to prayer better than that.

Why not start today with a prayer like this:

“God, I want more of you in my life.  Show me how to be closer to you and I’ll do it.  I’ll listen.  I’ll obey.  I just want to know you and receive your love and feel your presence in my life.”

Amen.

 

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