Of the many times when I knew God really heard and answered my prayer, one of them I’ll never forget. I was in Africa pastoring a church. One night my heart was feeling pretty heavy so I went into our church — which was a huge tent — to pray. I started by praying for myself but soon my focus turned. I asked God to bring an understanding of who He is to the kids from our Children’s Home and I asked that they would give their lives to Jesus. Their lives were pretty crazy and jacked up with rejection, abandonment, and so much pain. Just recently, one of the kids was found face down in a river but thankfully was still breathing. Two of the others had been brought to the house by their mom. She had more kids than she could handle, and when she dropped them off, she labeled these two as the ones she didn’t want.
After praying, I left the tent and went up to the “Big House” where the leaders of the ministry lived and where all the kids had gathered. I found them circled around Bethany’s feet. “You won’t believe it,” she said. “One of the kids came to me and told me he wanted to accept Jesus.” She looked at me in amazement. Apparently, because one of the kids did so, the rest followed suit. That night we all prayed.
Witnessing the first independent decision these kids made to accept Jesus, I couldn’t help but wonder what has happened in my own life simply because my mom and others had prayed for me. Or, even crazier, what has happened in the lives of others because I decided to pray for them?
Like the time in Uganda that I prayed for a dear friend of mine, for 30 minutes at a time, pacing back and forth, claiming the promises of God over her life. My bones burned with the desire see my prayers get answered, and with all the effort came the crown jewel. Our prayers were answered.
After this night God solidified it in my heart. He told me:
Andrew I hear your prayers
Since then, I have never had to question it. I find now that the more I seek and pray, the more He shows up. It’s a good deal!
While we usually pray when we need something, we can do more. We can turn prayer into a daily weapon, killing the attacks of the devil on our lives and tapping into the joy we have been given.
It takes courage to pray for others and it’s the most selfless thing we can do: taking our time, our attention and heart and turning it to God on behalf of someone else.
And we often have the same questions. Are our prayers really being heard? Is God even listening? And among those questions: “God will answer everyone else’s prayer but not mine.” This is the biggest lie of them all. Because if you are willing to believe He will answer, He is willing to give you the answer your prayers.
Here are the three steps to prayer: 1: Acknowledge God. 2: Submit. 3: Resist.
Step 1. Acknowledge God. Simply choosing to turn to God is the best choice you can make. “Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge God and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5
“God I turn my eyes and my heart to you and even though I’m going through this I know I can trust you. I choose to lean on you in this situation knowing you will guide me, lead me and bring me clarity.”
Step 2. Submit. Whatever it is you are giving to Jesus, whether it’s your relationships, job interviews, decisions, meetings, or whatever, submit. “Submit yourselves, then, to God…” James 4:7a
“I bring this _________ under the authority of Jesus.”
I proclaim Jesus Christ the Lord of ____________.”
Step 3. Resist. Bring the work of Christ against every attack. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7b
“I bring the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ against all sabotage and destruction.”
“By the blood of Jesus Christ, I cut off sabotage and destruction in every form and every way.”
When we begin to pray, things begin to happen. It doesn’t have to be formal. It might instead be a constant communion with God, within which you ask questions, request strength, open to guidance. And as the days go by, you can make continual deposits of faith and belief in your spiritual bank account.
I have to warn you though that faith can be addictive. Before long, you’ll be at the store and find yourself acknowledging God and asking Him to help you pick the right groceries. You’ll notice the onset of fear and easily submit and resist. You might be with a friend and ask God for wisdom for their situation. With prayer, life becomes exciting again. You open yourself up to the reality that God can drop down an answer or a gift at any time, in any situation.