Creflo Dollar - The Purpose and Essence of Prayer - Part 1
Prayer is a communication with God, but it's more than that, prayer is really learning how to commune with God and prayer is important because prayer gives God consent. There are things that Jesus has already done but if we're not spending time praying, then there are a lot of things that are already done, heaven's waiting on consent. And so I know the foundation of my life, the foundation of my ministry, the foundation of my story, is that place of prayer. And that place of prayer will eventually bring you to that place of power. And a lot of Christians want power but they don't wanna go to that place of prayer.
And so this is a subject that I love. It's a subject that is very timely. If we ever needed to understand how to pray and how to get results and to see results in our life, it's now. And I believe what's gonna change things, and what's gonna cause things to line up the way God wants 'em to line up and what's gonna change our cities and our society and our leaders, what's gonna change other nations, will be people that understand the power of prayer. Not just showing up to ask God for something but the power of prayer where you are communing with him and he's communing with you, showing you how to walk in your authority, showing you how to pray.
And so we wanna start off tonight in this series and we want to really focus in on the very purpose and the essence of prayer. And I wanna begin tonight in some familiar Scriptures and start in Matthew chapter 7, verse 7 through 8. Now, I wanna start off with a couple of questions. I want you to listen to this. How many believe in the power of prayer? Think about that. How many of you tonight believe in the power of prayer? So that's the first question. And second, how many of you get all of your prayers answered? So number one, how many of you believe in the power of prayer? And number two, how many of you get all of your prayers answered? These are two, probably, the most common questions that people ask and wanna know about.
And so, we're gonna provide some pretty interesting information in this series and I believe that when you come out of this, you're gonna know how to get some things done and, more than anything, you're gonna appreciate the time that you spend with God. There was a time in my life where, you know, I just wouldn't do anything until I fell on my face first because I'm, like, "I don't know how to do anything except God show me". And I wanted to be the barefooted priest that would be led by the Spirit of God and that's what we need right now. So I'm calling all Christians, I'm calling the body of Christ, to come together on these Wednesday nights as we learn and take the adventure of prayer into Communion. Prayer into Communion. In fact, I like that title better. "Prayer Into Communion".
Now, Matthew chapter 7, verse 7 and 8, the Bible says: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you". Verse 8: "For every one that asketh receiveth". That's powerful. You hear what he just say? He said, "Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened". And so, clearly, there is a problem somewhere and we know it isn't God if you're asking and not getting answers. If you're seeking and not finding, you know, if you're knocking and the door's not opening because, basically, he just said when you ask you should receive, when you seek you should find, when you knock, the door should be opened.
So clearly, there's a problem if that's not happening. There is a more effective way to pray, I believe, that gets better results. And when Jesus taught on prayer, he spent time identifying the wrong ways to pray. And so I want to start off with that, you know, Jesus talked a lot about, you know, the wrong way of praying, how you shouldn't pray this particular way. And I think that's a very effective way to teach on prayer, you know, is to talk to people, you know, if you're doing these things, that's probably not the best way to pray. And so, let's look at the wrong ways to pray. What prayer is not. Let's go from that position first. What prayer is not.
Let's go to Matthew chapter 6, verse 5. In verse 5 he says this: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are". Okay, so Jesus is saying here that the hypocrites have a certain way to pray and he says, "Don't pray like that". And then he's getting ready to tell us. He says, "When thou prayeth, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men". And he said, "Hypocrites pray to be seen of men". And then he says, "Verily I say unto you, They have their reward".
Now this is so powerful. Hypocrites, a couple of things you get out of this Scripture. First of all, hypocrites love to pray. Hypocrites love to pray. Most believers don't associate hypocrites with prayer. You wouldn't think a hypocrite would ever be associated with prayer. But according to Jesus, he said, "Hypocrites love to pray". Now just because you start with the words, "Our Father," and you end up with "in the name of Jesus, amen," doesn't mean it's prayer. A lot of people pray wrong and start off with "Our Father," and end up with "Amen," doesn't mean it's prayer. A tremendous amount of what's being called prayer today offends God. A lot of what people are calling prayer, it's an offense to God. The heart attitude behind prayer is what interests God the most.
What's your attitude behind, what's your heart when you pray? That interests God much more than the actual words that you say. And you will meet people and you will hear people pray and they put more emphasis on the words they say, but God is putting more emphasis on the condition of your heart. God is putting more emphasis on your attitude. You know, if it's gonna be right, it's gonna come from a right attitude. If it's going to be effective, it's because your heart and your attitude is effective. And so when you look at prayer, the concentration shouldn't be put on the words that are being spoken as much as where's it coming from, where's it coming from? What kind of heart is it flowing out of?
You know, if you don't have the proper motives and that's what I'm really talking about. What's motivating your prayers? If you don't have the proper motives, it doesn't matter what you do, folks. It's just not gonna work right if you don't have the proper motives. 1 Corinthians 13, let's go over there. It talks about motives. In verse 1 through 3 he says: "Thought I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and I have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal". Verse 2: "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity," he says, "I'm nothing". And then verse 3: "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing".
So he was saying you can do all those things and it's not being motivated by love, it's nothing. Communing with God needs to be motivated by love. Your prayer and communicating with God must be motivated by love. If you are not seeing the desired result from your prayer life, check your motives. If you're not seeing the desired result from your prayer life, check your motives. Are your prayers truly motivated by love? That's something powerful. That changed completely my prayer life. It's like, you know, the only reason I would pray in the first place is 'cause I was trained that you prayed so that you can get what you want. And you kind of treat God like a genie. C'mon, Jesus.
And I found out that love should really be my motivation behind praying. Love was my motivation behind wanting to spend time with my wife. And love was the motivation behind me wanting to marry my wife. And love is the motivation for me, you know, wanting to remain married with her almost 40 years. The love is the motivation behind that. So if you're not getting the things that you're praying for, the first stop I would make is what's motivating me to pray? What's the motivation behind my prayer? You see, most Christians see prayer as an opportunity to move God or how to make God do something. And so there's something going on in their life and then they pray.
You say, "Why are you praying"? "I'm trying to move God". "Why are you praying"? "I'm trying to get something from God. I'm trying to get God to do something". And see, here's the thing we don't understand. This is why it's so important to understand Jesus and allow Jesus to be unveiled, the grace and truth in your life. Because in actuality, God has already done everything he's ever going to do, think of that. God is not in the process of doing things. He's already done everything that he's ever gonna do. The Bible says, I believe in Peter, he says that "everything that pertains to life and godliness has already been done".
So when you talk about praying, if you don't know that God has already done everything that he's ever going to do, then you're gonna think prayer is the tool you use to try to get him to do it, all right? And so he moved once and for all and he did it, he moved once and for all in the death, in the burial, and in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I mean, everything that needed to be done, he did it in the death and the burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The death, burial, resurrection of Jesus Christ settled your righteousness, settled your redemption, settled his will for your life, settled everything he said is yours, settled your holiness, settled your sanctification, settled everything. Everything that pertains to life and godliness has already been done.
So a gift given isn't fully yours until you what? Until you receive it, right? And so there are some things that God has already done and I wanna go ahead and receive what's already done. Prayer is not trying to twist God's arm to make him do something when, in fact, he's already done it. It's up to me to receive what he's already done and instead of me receiving what's already done, I'm busy trying to twist his arm, trying to get him to do something that he's already done. I think I've said this many times, but if God has never... there are two prayers that will never be answered. The first prayer is trying to pray that God will do what he's already done. That's the first prayer, never be answered.
The second prayer: trying to get God to do what he's told you to do. And I know people that are still praying that prayer right now. You're praying and trying to ask God to do something that he's already done. That's never gonna be answered 'cause he's already done it. And you're praying to try to get God to do something that he told you to do, okay? "O God, I send you to the world". He says, "No, I told you to go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," all right? And so prayer is receiving by faith what he has already done. I don't know if you've heard that definition before, but prayer is receiving by faith what he has already done. So that's the first step where prayer is concerned, that, you know, I've got to know according to his Word, that I am going to receive by faith what he's already done.
Somebody says, "Well, how's that prayer"? Well, you know, he's already gifted you with stuff so receive by faith what he's already done. See, you skip that and then you decide, "Well, I'm just gonna go ahead and pray for three hours," and he says, "I've already done it, won't you receive it"? It's kind of like, you remember the story where, I think it was Paul and Silas, or Peter, somebody was in jail and all the intercessors got together and they were praying, and their prayer had already come to pass. And in fact, they were at the door knocking. But while they were knocking, they kept praying. The answer's knocking and you keep praying.
And I wonder how many of you, the answer's knocking and you're still praying. And I'm telling you, I want you to pause right now and ask yourself as a person of prayer, before you say any word of prayer to God, have you received what he's already done? That is just paramount in my thinking. That I've received everything he's already done. So that's gonna automatically change some of the ways that you pray. I mean, you can't go into prayer, religiously and traditionally, knowing what I just said. Prayer is receiving by faith what God has already done. But now remember, hypocrites love to pray but they don't connect with God. They love to pray but they don't connect with God. And prayer is no good unless you're connecting with God.
Hypocrites love to pray, but they don't connect with God. Prayer is no good if you can't connect with God. We have a lot of that in church. People just make it a part of their religious image display and then all of a sudden you're praying and, you know, it seems like you're a really good, awesome Christian because you're praying. Remember, hypocrites love to pray but I'm telling you they don't connect with God. Prayer is no good if you're not connecting with God. Prayer is no good if you're not connecting with God. Why am I teaching this series? It is time for Christian people to get results like never before. And the way we're gonna get results is we've got to understand the essence of prayer and we've got to understand the power that's been invested in prayer and we've got to understand that the prayer is designed to move us into communion with God.
Adam and Eve communed with God on a daily basis. You're gonna notice a tremendous amount of power and anointing operating in your life because you're making connections. Are you kidding me? Why am I gonna be praying if I'm not making connections with God? Hypocrites love to pray. Hypocrites love to pray. Communication requires interaction. So God needs to be speaking back to you, all right? I'm making a connection with God. Communication requires interaction.
So prayer is not just a monologue where you're doing the talking, prayer is a dialogue where you're also hearing what God has to say. It's an interaction. Prayer is an interaction. Prayer is not just a display of all of the fancy ways you can speak. It is an interaction. And it's a connection. It is a communication where there is a dialogue taking place between you and God. You are speaking and God is speaking, and you are speaking and God is speaking. And I can't wait to get to this point.
I wanna share with you my recent, really, it was a discovery because God spoke it to me, about our fellowship and how it's moved from one place of prayer to... I'm at this place right now where, you know, I might be talking to somebody and I might not be, you know, really there with their conversation because I'm having another conversation in my mind. I can't wait to share that with you. So prayer needs to be, first of all, it needs to be real, you know what I mean? Authentic, real. It doesn't need to be some kind of religious display. Prayer needs to be real.
You know, what I mean by "real," you know, people changing their voices to pray. "Ooh, kind, heavenly Father". They know they don't talk like that. They don't speak like that when they... it's day and night and it's time to go in the bedroom with their wife. I mean, c'mon, don't do that, it needs to be real. It needs to be the authentic you, walking and sharing with the authentic God. And even sometimes, the folding your hands. You see that a lot, you know? You know, that's on the phone when you send the text messages. You know, I've sometimes used this with the folding of hands, but somebody says, "Well, you're not praying if you don't fold your hands".
Well, it needs to be real. Even closing the eyes. You know, we've created all these different postures for praying. "Well, I'm gonna close my eyes". What are you doing? "I'm praying". You might be sleeping, you know? Prayer is gotta be real. It can't be these kind of things. And even kneeling, there's nothing wrong with kneeling, but you know, I can be just as effective staying up. I can be just as effective sitting in my chair at home. I can be just as effective, and so, you know, you don't wanna put these rules all it's just a bunch of form and fashion. But again, if you're not making connection, you know, it's just not doing anything.
So these things may be appropriate at certain times, but they are not required. May be appropriate at certain times. You're at the dinner table and you know, somebody says, "Bow your head and pray". Nothing wrong with that. But I'm telling you, while there's nothing wrong with,yeah, let me make that clear. There's nothing wrong with folding your hands, getting on your knees, closing your eyes, but it's not required, okay? It's not required. I don't want you to think that's required. You know, somebody says, "I'm gonna really fold my hand this time. And I'm gonna fold it so tight, the sweat won't even get out". Or somebody says, "Instead of getting on my knees, I'm just gonna fall on my face and eat the dirt". You know, it's, you know, you can if you want to but it's not required.
Now, this is the part that really ministered to me. I hope it ministers you the same way. Go to Psalms chapter 5, verse 1 through 2. And I wanna talk about meditation for a moment 'cause meditation... what do I mean by meditation? Let me make sure you understand I'm using that word "meditation". Meditation, or what you are thinking, can be prayer to God. Meditation, or what you are thinking, can be prayers to God. Most of my prayer life I spend in my thinking with God. And over the years, I'm able to really carry a conversation with him. I recognize his voice in my head, I guess that's the best ways I can explain it. But I needed to see the Scripture because, you know, doctrinally people are like, "Well, that's not real prayer". It is, I'm thinking on the Word and I'm thinking on something. Or I'm even asking a question in my head and I hear God speak right back to me, and I'm having a conversation.
Somebody say, "How do you know it's God"? I'm not that smart. You've ever had God say something to you and you know, "That can't be me 'cause I didn't know that". And that's where the enlightenment comes. That's where the revelation and stuff come. Where you think it comes from? It eventually, you know, hits your head. It comes out of your spirit but it comes from God, still. And you can meditate the Word or what you're thinking about can also be considered prayer.
Look at verse 1. He says: "Give ear to my words, O Lord". And when he says, "Give ear to my words, O Lord," he says in the midst of that, "could you consider my meditation". "As you're giving ear to my word, can you consider my meditation, what I'm thinking about"? And here's the response, he says: "Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray". And so here, meditation was considered throughout this time of prayer. And so God will speak to you. See, not all prayers need to be spoken. It can be the meditation of your heart. "Let the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight". It could be the meditation of your heart. But now I wanna show you Jesus doing this.
Look at John, Saint John chapter 11 and verse 41. See, when you have a real relationship with God and you're in it for the essence of the relationship with God, your meditation is pretty powerful. If people could change some of the things they're meditating on, their whole life will change. You'd be shocked to see what people are meditating on. That's their prayer, that's the thing that they're producing in their life. You know, meditating the Word of God, you know, he said to Joshua, "Make your way prosperous and have good success," how? "When you meditate on that word".