By Marlene Tavares
“This, then, is how you should pray.”
(Matthew 6:9 NIV)
Some years ago, my best friend Farah and I went to the movies for our monthly get together and watched War Room, which is a movie about finding power in prayer. In the film, an elderly lady shares with a new friend that she spends most of her time in a little closet inside her bedroom where she prays. She encourages her friend to do the same in making her own “war room” where she can battle the devil through prayer and regain control of her life. And so she does and what she discovers about prayer is amazing.
Often times we can become consumed with the busyness and fast paced world we live in. There is no time for fitting prayer into our daily schedules. While prayer is not confined to any time or space, the idea behind such a concept as a “war room” is that we give ourselves space away from all the commotion and focus solely on our relationship with God. It does not have to be a bedroom, closet, or even church. A connection just needs to be made.
I used to find myself doing most of my praying while driving in the car. Driving for me is therapeutic and so when I was alone and relaxed in my car, I found it the best time to connect with God. Farah and I have jokingly discussed how our cars will now be our “war room” for prayer and although it sounds silly, it’s actually very fitting. Driving is about control and direction just as praying is about seeking direction and giving God control. Whether one decides to make a war room from their bedroom, closet, or car, the important thing is that we have a place we can retreat to at the end of the day and find God. And while it may not always seem like prayers are being heard or answered, it requires commitment, patience, and perseverance just like any other relationship, only then will we feel and see the true power of prayer.
A prayer a day keeps the devil away.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13 NIV)
Jesus’ name is so powerful. The Bible tells us:
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10).
Jesus’ name is worthy of worship, has the power to save, heal, protect, rebuke the devil and do many other wonderful things that carry forward the work that Jesus did, and Jesus encourages us to use it. However, His name isn’t a magic formula that gives us whatever we want. Ask yourself, is my prayer the kind that Jesus Himself would answer? Is it in accordance with all that the person who bears the name is? Then you will know whether or not your prayer has been answered.
Ask in Jesus’ name and expect God to answer.
He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
(1 Chronicles 4:10 NLT)
Nothing else is known about Jabez, except the fact that he was “more honorable than his brothers” and that his mother named him Jabez because she gave birth to him in pain (1 Chronicles 4:9). However, this man’s simple yet powerful prayer has made him well known. Why? Because he asked for all of the right things. He asked God to bless, prosper and protect him—things that are in keeping with God’s will for His children. When we pray the way Jabez did, we can be sure that God will grant our request too. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15 NIV).
God answers prayers that are in keeping with His will.
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. (Proverbs 22:6 NLT)
While this is only a proverb, it does carry a very important truth. Even psychologists will tell you that the early years of a child’s life are crucial to their development. Therefore, it’s at this early stage that God wants us to start training our children to walk in the right way by teaching them His Word. Paul knew that very well. He didn’t have to worry about his envoy Timothy living in a godless world because from infancy Timothy had known the Holy Scriptures through his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 3:15). As Paul’s constant commendation of Timothy shows, the training Timothy received during his early childhood did have a big impact on his upbringing. So while children don’t come with an instruction manual, God’s Word can help us guide them on the right path.
A child can’t go wrong when trained to walk in God’s ways.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
(Matthew 19:14 NIV)
I love children. If I’m speaking to someone and a child happens to be around, I’ll start paying attention to the child instead. But I come from a culture where children are not always well received, and I believe that this is the situation we find in today’s passage. The parents gladly brought their children for Jesus to bless (the wisest thing any parent can do), but the disciples tried to prevent them from getting to Jesus because they thought that children were a nuisance and Jesus wouldn’t want them around Him. But Jesus corrected His yet again mistaken disciples by teaching them (and us) how to enter heaven through the simple trusting faith of little children.
A few years ago, I was blessed to spend time with my best friend’s daughter, Leila. With her mother by her side, Leila didn’t have to worry about a thing. I envied her carefree and cheerful attitude. But then I was reminded that this is what God, our Father, wants to do for us if we would just trust Him like a little child. So let’s come to Him with a child-like faith and trust Him to bless us because He is more than willing to do so.
Come to God with the simple trusting faith of a child and receive His blessing.
Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day—not you, your children, your slaves, your animals, or the foreigners who live in your towns. In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That’s why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me.
(Exodus 20:8-11 CEV)
While I had always known about this commandment (and had even memorized it as a child), I remember the time when I felt that I had to start doing what it was asking–to set aside a day to rest. This was especially true while I was in school. The workload didn’t allow a day of rest (or so I thought). It took a lot of faith to put aside work for a day and just relax, but even then I was worried. But I’m glad that I did it anyway.
When God asks us to do something, like to set a day to rest, He does it for our good. It would have done me no good to study for seven days and I’d have probably not made it through school. But when I had a day to rest, I was actually able to do better. It amazes me that if God, who never gets weary, rested on the Sabbath, how much more do we, mere humans, need to do that!
Set aside a day and relax.
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life.”
(Matthew 6:25 NLT)
Research has shown that unnecessary anxiety is the cause of many illnesses. However, Christians have also proven that the time taken to read and meditate on God’s Word and pray has helped to reduce stress and therefore, the unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office. Compare someone who has learned to rely on God versus someone who worries and soon enough you’ll notice the difference. I love the passage in Matthew 6:25-34. It has been the source of inspiration for overcoming worry in my own life. I pray that it’ll do the same for you. Meditate on it long enough and watch the results.
To overcome worry, read the Bible and pray.
After they had come out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit took Philip away. The official never saw him again, but he was very happy as he went on his way.
(Acts 8:39 CEV)
I wonder if the Ethiopian eunuch ever learned Philip’s name. Philip had played a big part in helping him understand the Scriptures and had even baptized him. But after his mission was complete, Philip was taken away, and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. The Bible is clear – their paths never crossed again. Oftentimes, God allows us to remain anonymous to the people to whom we minister. They may never learn our names (and we may never learn theirs), but what matters in the end is that they know the name of the One who matters most–Jesus Christ.
When we remain anonymous, Jesus becomes well known.
The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42 CEV)
I witness a Martha moment every time I visit family and friends. They’re so caught up with the preparations that have to be made that I often walk away from their house feeling like we didn’t even get the chance to talk. Jesus wanted to spend time with His good friends Martha and Mary, and Mary got it. That’s why she is praised and Martha isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with being a good host, but what God and people really want is someone to talk and listen to them as well. When I visit someone, it’s because I miss them and I want to spend some quality time with them. However, the moment I find them busy in the kitchen, I just want to get up and leave. What God wants and what we need is each other’s company.
Being in God’s presence is better than trying to impress Him with our works.
You are my hiding place.
(Psalm 32:7 NIV)
Who or what is your hiding place? The person or place you run to when you need to get away from it all? While I’m constantly discovering new, quiet places to run to I always know Who my hiding place is. Jesus, the One who is always waiting to listen, comfort and renew us so that when we come out of our hiding place, we’re ready to deal with everything that comes our way. Here’s the rest of Psalm 32:7, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” I pray that you will make Him your hiding place.