Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!
By William Walford
I have been thinking and studying a lot about prayer as a colleague and I are preparing to give a presentation to our Network of Christian Counselors in November. I came across this old hymn which some of you might remember, and it expresses some of the beautiful aspects of prayer. Prayer for Christians is such a sweet and unique thing where we can commune with God our Father with Christ as our Mediator enabled by the grace of the Holy Spirit. God’s Word tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17, Romans 12:12), to shape our worries into prayers (Phil. 4:6), to pour out our hearts to the Lord (Psalm 62:8, 1 Samuel 1), and to give thanks in prayer (1 Chron. 16:34, Hebrews 13:15-16).
“if we confess our sins to Him,
He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
1 John 1:9 (NLT)
God’s Word talks about having a renewed mind and putting on the mind of Christ. As we come to God in prayer, we can confess our sins to Him and trust Him to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Many times, as I start my day in prayer, I will be reminded of the ways I fell short the day before. What a relief to know that there is a loving, tender Father whose mercies are new every morning. He removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west, so we stand clean before Him, washed by the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have you ever wondered why God didn’t answer your prayer?
“You do not have, because you do not ask.
(Or) you do ask (God for them) and yet fail to receive,
because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives.
Your intention is (when you get what you desire) to spend it in sensual pleasures.”
James 4:3b-4 (AMPC)
God is such a loving parent. When my children ask to have ice cream for dinner, or to go hold the chainsaw and help their dad cut down a tree, I say, “No!” Our Abba Father answers our prayers with wisdom and love. Sometimes the answer is, “Yes”, sometimes it is, “No” and sometimes it is, “Not yet.” The Holy Spirit searches our hearts and minds and knows the will of God and helps intercede for us even when we do not know what to pray (Romans 8:27). When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to be spared from the cross, He added, “not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 2:42b, and God sent an angel to strengthen Him.
Prayer is such a powerful way for us to communicate our emotions and desires with God and to hear from Him and have fellowship with Him. There is so much more to learn about prayer and God’s purposes in it. Let me encourage you to study what God says about how, when and what to pray in scripture. There are many recorded prayers in the Bible, and these are great ways to pray and align yourself with God and His Word. I have specific prayers that I pray directly from scripture for concerns and for those I love. In closing here is one of my favorites:
“I couldn’t stop thanking God for you- every time I prayed.
I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank.
I ask- ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory-
to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing Him personally,
your eyes focused and clear, so that
you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do,
grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for His followers,
oh, the utter extravagance of His work in us who trust Him-
endless energy, boundless strength!”
Ephesians 1:16-19 (The Message)
May God bless each of us as we grow closer and closer to Him every day through prayer.
May He make His will known to us through His Word and revelation of the Spirit.
And may we have wisdom in prayer and be comforted and strengthened by His love.
And may our prayers avail much in Jesus’ name. Amen.