Joyce Meyer - Prayer
Well, thank you so much for joining us today on, "Enjoying everyday life," and my prayer is that because you watch the program today you will enjoy your life more. Today, I want to talk about prayer. And gosh, how can you even put this in a sentence and people get the depth of it? Prayer is so amazingly powerful. And I think we turn it into a half-to instead of want-to. I have to pray. Well, when we pray, we're not doing it for God. We're doing it for ourselves. It's like when we study the Bible, we're not doing that for God. He already knows it. We're doing it for us because we need to learn the wisdom that's in it. And, anytime satan can get us with a legalistic mindset, which means feeling that you have to do something as a law, otherwise God's going to be upset with you, automatically our nature rebels against that and then we end up not wanting to do it. Or we feel pressured when we do it.
So, I think the first thing we all have to realize if we want to have a better prayer life is that it's a great privilege. It's not a have-to, it's a privilege. Jesus told his disciples, he said, "After I'm gone, you'll no longer have to ask me anything but you can go straight to the father in my name". Because when he gave us his name, it represents all that he is. So, thank God, when I go pray, I don't go in the name of joyce, because if I did I don't think I'd get very much. You know why? None of us really actually deserve anything. I mean, no matter how many good works we do, we can never reach God's standard of holiness and righteousness without Jesus Christ.
So, what he has done for us is so amazing and we need to think about it on a regular basis. And so, prayer is not an obligation, it is our greatest privilege. It should never be, "I have to pray," but, "I want to pray". And let me just say that keeping prayer simple is one of the ways to really enjoy it. I remember one time, a long time ago, 'cause I had this thing going on in my life like he talks about in Matthew 6 that you know, the validity of prayer is not based on how many words you say. And Jesus told the people then don't just be repeating phrases over, and over, and over just to keep saying somethin'. And so, the Lord challenged me one time, he said, "I want you to ask me for what you want or need in the fewest words possible". And you know what? It was hard.
And I still find it difficult because it's almost like if you've done something wrong, to just say, "Father, I confess my sin and I ask for and receive your forgiveness, amen". That's just like, "Well, that's not enough". I mean, that's the way you feel. So, then we gotta go on, and on, and on. "Oh God, I'm so sorry, I'll never do it again," and you know, on and on, and on. And, I find that with a lot of things, you know. It's like, you have a need, ask God to meet it, trust that he will meet it, the right way at the right time, and set yourself to be satisfied with that. But I kinda tried to form a habit a few years ago, of not just praying, but when my prayers were answered to make a little note of it in my journal because I think a lot of times we just pray for something and it happens, and we don't even realize that it was God.
And I had a good example of this just recently. We were out of town and there was an elvis impersonator that was gonna be at this theater. And I was a teenager in the elvis mania days, and so I wanted to go see this guy, and he was good. And the theater was small and so it sold out right away. And my daughter decided that she wanted to come on this trip also, but was after we had gotten the tickets. And so, we managed to get favor, and we got one more ticket, but her ticket was not with us. So, she's sitting one place in the theater and we're sitting somewhere else. Keep in mind, this has been totally sold out for a long time. So, I told her the day before we went, I said, "Let's just pray that God will open up either a seat next to us or seats next to you".
You know, your natural impulse is like, well, that's not going to happen, you know. But, we're sittin' there in the theater and I saw one empty seat, it was down in the front, and lo and behold, when the show started there were four empty seats right next to her. Now, you can think what you want. I choose to believe that was God answering my prayer. And we waited for a little bit to make sure nobody was going to come in late and then we were all able to sit together. Well, even my daughter who was part of that, I said the next day, "You do realize that was God answering that prayer that we prayed". She said, "You're right".
And see, I just think a lot of times we just forget. We get like the lepers who all got healed but only one came back to give thanks. And, I believe that if we watch more for what God does in our life that it will make our relationship with him so much more exciting. You gotta be very careful that you don't get just used to God, but stay amazed at what God is doing in our lives. You know, recently, I realized that I had let my prayer life slip a little bit. It wasn't that I wasn't praying, but I wasn't praying quite as much or in the same way that I used to pray. And for me, in my relationship with God, if things are not the way they need to be I'll start to feel disconnected. I can't stand that. I have to keep a good connection with God.
And so, I recently have just made a recommitment to some things in prayer that I used to do. And I'm mentioning that because I think we all sometimes have to recommit. You know, we commit and then sometimes we have to recommit or you have to look at your prayer life and maybe it's gotten a little bit out of balance, maybe it's too much petition and not enough intercession. You know, maybe you're praying too much for yourself, which there's nothing wrong at all with praying for yourself and your needs. But to be honest, I think our petitions should be probably a small part of our prayer compared to what we thank God for and the things that we pray for other people for.
Now, thankfully, with prayer, you don't have to be in any certain posture, any certain place. That doesn't mean that's not good. I think we should all have a place where we like to pray. And I think it's good to take more of an extended time of prayer. But, I can tell you that most of my praying is done throughout the day. And, I learned a long time ago not to see a need and say, "Well, when I pray, I'll pray about that. See, that's it. Well, when I pray, I'll pray about that," and the devil loves that because by the time we pray we're going to forget it.
And that's because of that old religious thinking that, "Well, you can't just pray in the grocery store. I mean, you can't just pray walking down the hall or going up a set of stairs. We have to be in a certain posture, in a certain place," and that's just not true. So, you can pray anywhere, anytime, about anything. The only thing is, and I believe this is a prerequisite, your prayer has to be sincere. The sincere heartfelt prayer of a man makes tremendous power available. I'll give ya an example.
I was eating my dinner last night. Dave wasn't home yet and so, I turn the television on, I was going to sit in front of the tv and eat. I'd been busy all day, so I was looking forward to putting my feet up and I was really hungry. And so, I started to do one of those, "Thank you Lord for this food," and just go to eating. And God just reminded me because of this new commitment that I just needed to put my fork down, and put the tv on pause, and say a sincere decent prayer. It wasn't long. But not just a, throw something up at the master of the universe, the king of kings, but if I'm going to thank him for my food and ask him to bless it to my body, which today, we'd better pray over our food. And it just felt so much better than that kinda halfway, "Well, God I'm in a hurry, but thanks 'cause I know I'm supposed to do this". Anybody home?
Alright, so, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Pray without ceasing". Well, how in the world do we do that? Well, we pray without ceasing by letting prayer become like breathing. Where it's just, you see a need, you pray. You see somebody that looks unhappy, you ask God to bless 'em. You can tell by the way somebody's behaving that they're not a believer so you quickly ask God to put the perfect labor in front of them at the just right time. "Thank God, it's noon. I made it through first half of the day". Always talking to God all the time. Give thanks, and boy, this is a challenging one. Give thanks in all circumstances. All circumstances, that means I should have been thanking God when I was having to wait on those appointments instead of being irritated that they weren't taking me the minute they were supposed to.
Listen, if you don't need this today, I'll preach it to myself because I need this. "Give thanks in all circumstances: for this is the will of God for those of you who are in Christ Jesus". I think a lot of times we're lookin' for, "Oh God, what's your will for my life"? And we can't seem to get any direction about our career or this big decision we're supposed to make. Well, maybe we should start with what the Bible already says is God's will. Give thanks in all things, and then pretty soon without you even trying very hard, God will show you what you're supposed to do. Anytime you preach on thanksgiving everybody's convicted, so don't feel bad if you are. It's probably one of the things that we get weak in more than anything else, is just, taking things for granted and not remembering to thank God for them.
God has invited us to pray instead of worrying about anything. I already ready you Philippians 4:6. I think it might have been in yesterday's teaching but it says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God". Now, here I think is the key in doing this. I think somewhere along the line you have to come to the point where you really believe that God hears you. It's not just some obligation we're fulfilling, but you really do believe that God hears you, and you really do seriously, sincerely believe in the power of prayer. So, we're not doing it as an obligation but, "God, I know that you hear me and I believe that you'll take care of this in your own way in your own timing".
I've seen some amazing prayers answered in this last several months, just even for things I was praying for my grandchildren. And I don't want to have God doin' all kinds of things for me and me just skipping along and not even realize that he's doin, "Isn't that lucky? Well, that sure is a coincidence". 1 John 5:14 says, "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us". Everybody say, "When I pray, God hears me". 'cause you know what goes through our head? A lot of times the enemy plants this thought, "Well, I wonder if God really heard me"? And we think if we're bad he can't hear us. But I'll tell you what, his goodness outweighs our badness all the time.
And remember, we didn't go in our own name, we went in the name of Jesus, anyway. "I don't deserve for you to do this for me, but I'm asking in Jesus' name". Isn't it cool that Jesus did all the suffering and you get everything that he earned? Hmm...Now, I love Mark 11:24, and this is going to tell us something interesting about prayer. "For this reason I'm telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe..". There's no point in praying unbelieving prayers. Believe God hears you. Believe he will answer you at the right time in the right way. And, if it's not God's will we shouldn't want it anyway.
So, if I ask God for something that's not covered in the word, I don't have to say, "Well God, if it's your will save that person," I know he wants 'em to be saved. But maybe, if I just want a bigger somethin' or another of somethin' or you know, whatever, it's not bad to say, "Now, God, if this is not your will please don't give it to me". Because I'll tell you, the worst position you can be in is to be trying to take care of something that's out of the will of God. The Lord told me one time, "If you get it in the flesh, you'll have to take care of it in the flesh".
See, a lot of times we can make things happen. You can keep pushing and pressing, and you can make things happen. But, if you do that, then you're going to always have to take care of it. "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you," and this next few words is so important, "And you will get it". Well, it doesn't say when you'll get it. It doesn't say how fast you'll get it. And that's the testing time to see whether we really have faith or not. I ask, I believe, and I believe, and I believe, and I believe, and I believe, and I believe and then I get it. Or sometimes, the Bible says in James that we ask, well, first of all, it says, "You have not because you ask not".
And so, a lot of times we just don't ask, you know. Maybe it's something we think God wouldn't want us to ask for. But there's nothing in your life that he's not concerned about. There's nothing you can't talk to him about. You can ask God for anything as long as you believe it's his will or at least not against his will. But, you always have to trust that if it's the right thing for you, God will bring it to you. But, let's don't want things that aren't God's will for us. And just because you saw God do something for this friend of yours or that friend of yours... "Well, God, don't you love me? You did that for her and you're not doing it for me". Well, God's got an individualized plan for each one of us and we gotta keep our eyes off of what he's doing for everybody else and just say, "I want your will in my life". So believe and you will get it.
Now, when it comes to prayer, oh, I guess maybe 35 years ago, actually, what the Lord put in my heart is, "You should have to listen to you pray". Because, I had a lot of wrong attitudes about prayer. I thought I had to be loud, bang on things banging, "Oh, God..". And dave, my darling husband dave, he would sit in his room with his eyes open and look out the window and he told me he was praying. I thought, "You ain't praying". 'cause I had that old religious attitude that you had to be in a certain posture and that you had to get loud, you know. God's not deaf, he can hear us. And so, he began to challenge me to study how Jesus prayed and how Paul prayed.
And, I probably don't have time to do this justice, but the disciples said, "'Lord, teach us to pray.'" and this is all Jesus said, "'pray like this, our father who is in heaven, hallowed be thy name,'" you never want to go into praying without a little praise and worship first, because it's praise and worship and thanksgiving that bring us into the court of the Lord. This prayer's so simple, "'your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.'" "Lord, let your kingdom in heaven come down to earth today. Let us emulate here what's going on in heaven". "'Give us this day our daily bread.'" "Oh, but God, I want a blueprint for the whole rest of my life". "'And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.'" That means forgiveness is such a key part of answered prayer.
And I don't know if you have any idea how many angry Christians there are in the world. I mean, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and they just think that it's totally unfair for them to be expected to forgive somebody who's done them such a great injustice. But we have to think about what the injustices are that we have done and still continue to do toward the Lord in our own lives, and we want him to keep forgiving us. And I can tell you there's nothing you can't forgive. Now, forgiveness doesn't not always mean restoration of the relationship, but it does mean that you're to bless and not curse. And to bless means to speak well of, and to curse means to speak evil of.
So, you bless your enemies and you do not curse them. In other words, whatever they've done to you, you don't get to go tell everybody all about it. You don't get to ruin their reputation. And this one's good, "'lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'" and the rest that we add on, "For yours is the kingdom, power, and the glory". That's not actually part of what Jesus said, it's a beautiful ending. But, how simple? And let me just say a word to you about temptation. How many of you know what your weaknesses are? Okay, well, if you don't you should sound figure it out. Because those are things that you need to pray about probably daily.
You don't wait until you're in the midst of temptation, and your flesh is already all boiling over with having to do this thing that you want to do. But if you pray about it all the time. "Now, Lord, I know I'm weak in this area so I ask you to help me when I'm tempted, to be strong". "Oh God, if you'd just take away this temptation". Well, that's not the way it works. The Bible says, "Temptation must come, but woe be unto him by whose hand it comes"! So, Jesus said pray that basically, he's saying pray that you can resist temptation and not be led into it. And then, oh my goodness, if you study the prayers of the apostle Paul, boy, did I ever get a lesson studyin' those prayers. There in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Ephesians 1:16-20, Ephesians 3:14-21, and Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-12.
And here's what I have time to say about this. There's not one thing that Paul prayed for the people that had to do with their problems. Not one time did he pray for their problems to go away, but he prayed that they would endure whatever came with good temper. I've yet to have anybody come to me for prayer, and say "Would you pray that I can go through this and stay sweet"? Everybody wants us to pray that God will deliver them from it. But, it's actually the things that we go through that make a strong. When you go through something difficult, you now have some experience that can really help somebody else. Nobody can help somebody like somebody who's been there, done that. Amen? Because then it's not just a story you're telling, you've lived it out and you've proven in your life that God came through, and the word of God really genuinely works.
He prayed for them to have wisdom and revelation. He prayed for them to have discernment. He prayed that their hearts would be enlightened. And that's what we need to pray for the world, the people in the world that don't know Christ, is that they would see the light. Because we look at some of the things that people are doing today and we think, "How could you do that"? Well, they're living in total darkness. They honestly, in many instances, think that what they're doing is right. The Bible says that, "In the last days right will be wrong and wrong will be right". So, pray for people that they'll have light, revelation. Let 'em be enlightened. He prays that they'll know the power that they have as a believer in Christ, the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Come on, I'm wanting you to compare your prayer life to this a little bit. "Oh, God, give me this... God... If you don't do this, I don't think I can hang in any longer, Lord. If you don't do this, I just, I don't know... You know, is going to church even doing me any good"?
Well, in the first place, we should not worship God for what we're getting out of it. We should worship him because he's worthy to be worshipped. And to be honest, if God never did one thing for us, just to have the privilege of knowing him. I can't even imagine why anybody would even want to get out of bed in the morning if they didn't know the Lord. I mean, I just would not see any point in it at all. And you know, the Bible says, "The strong spirit of a man will sustain him in bodily pain and trouble".
So, I want to encourage you to pray for more things about your spirit than you do for another something else for your flesh. He said, "'I pray that your love would abound and bound.'" That you'd love more, and more, and more. Don't get satisfied. Don't get to the point where it's like, "Well, you know, I love people". No, you love them more and more. And another great thing Paul prayed and I love it in Philippians, he said, "'i pray that they would learn to choose and prize what is excellent.'" You know, let's don't be satisfied, "Well, you know, that's good". No, let's go for excellence. Let's always go the extra mile and do it just a little bit better than what a person would do it if they did not have Christ in their life.