Seven years ago, my career path took an unexpected turn from a high school Bible teacher to the unemployment line. Following previous setbacks, God always gave me feedback, insight or some sort of sign to know if I was on the right path. Unfortunately, my soul has never fully healed from this crushing disappointment, not quite sure what I am suppose to do or where I need to invest my time in the future. This perplexing situation has lead me to contemplate the mystery of prayer.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.
My research has led me to narrow in on three conditions which influence whether or not prayers are answered. According to Deuteronomy 28, blessings are directly related to diligently listening, obeying the voice of God and carefully following God’s commands in the Bible. The second piece of criteria is provided by Moses’ predecessor Joshua 1:5-9. The new leader of Israel introduces the concept of spiritual disciplines which begins with reading, reflecting upon and mediating upon God’s Word. Finally, Jesus provides the final condition during a conversation with his disciples in Matthew 21:19-22. If you place your trust and confidence in Jesus, free from doubt, ask whatever you desire in the context of God’s will and the mystery of prayer will be unlocked.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, the apostle Paul instructs first century believers on what to do now. In a letter to the church of Rome, Paul writes about times when you are struggling to come up with words to say while praying. According to Paul, this is when you need to lean on the Holy Spirit, trusting God to intervene as you pray. When I evaluate my own life against these biblical standards, I can clearly see where I have come up short. Thus, for now I need to get back to the basics: listening to God, studying the Bible, applying what I am learning and submit my life to prayer. May the words in this blog help you better understand the mystery of prayer.
by Jay Mankus