Robin J Johnson
Jesus, when teaching His disciples to pray said:
When you pray, there is no need to repeat empty phrases, praying like those who don’t know God, for they expect God to hear them because of their many words.
Matthew 6:7 (TPT)
This is also a lesson for all of us who believe and are disciples of Christ. Prayer is not an act to satisfy some religious requirement or appease a god, neither is it a display of piety or even an indicator of spirituality.
Prayer is communication with the living God with an expected outcome; to receive an answer for our request. Let me be as bold as to say, that if you are praying solely because of religious duty, you are wasting your time. Prayer is simply not just about praying, rather it must be about seeing real answers to prayer. We must have the expectation that our prayers will be answered. Our focus should be on praying prayers that God will answer.
In other words, what will change or has changed because of our prayer?
As we all know the subject of prayer is vast, as is the list of the many things we can and ought to pray for. Whether it is personal prayer, for a loved one or someone else, a situation, a circumstance, serious social issues or the government, there is a whole range of things we can and should be praying for. Some things are easy to pray for, while at other times we are not sure how or what to pray.
Nevertheless, we must not cease praying. Keep seeking the Lord and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead us.
Recently I was reminded of the words of the Prophet Micah.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,And to walk humbly with your God?
It has been said that Micah has cleverly condensed the whole of the Law and summarised it with three fundamental truths; justice, kindness and humility. And in turn this is declared good.
Psalm 19:7 says, “The law is perfect.” Therefore, we can conclude that it is good. It is a reflection of the perfect God who gave it, the good God who we love and adore.
The word “perfect” in our above text is, “an adjective meaning blameless, complete” (CWSB Dictionary).
The “law” God’s Word is perfect; it is complete and without fault. Therefore, what better guide do we have for our prayers than the threefold summarisation of the perfect Word of God; justice, kindness and humility.
To start we must invert the list that Micah gives us. Justice and kindness must and can only flow from the One who epitomises these. For us who believe, everything starts with God and finishes with God. We are nothing without Him and we will achieve nothing (of eternal worth), without Him.
1. “Walk humbly….”
Our dependence is on our God, our trust is in Him. It is He who invites us to pray and by faith to ask Him for great and wonderful things, which He then exceeds. Nevertheless, we must maintain a state of humility, which is a place of trust and obedience. The position we choose where we first invite into our own life, His Kingdom come, His will be done. It is prayer in Jesus name, made in accordance with His will, that God hears and answers.
Since we have this confidence, we can also have great boldness before him, for if we present any request agreeable to his will, he will hear us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we also know that we have obtained the requests we ask of him.
1 John 5:14-15 (TPT)
Jesus told us that when we pray to God we can, with full rights, call Him Father. At the same time He reminds us that His name is to be treated as Holy (Matthew 6:9). We adore Him, He who loved us and thought about us before we ever thought about Him. Nevertheless we must also revere Him, who was and is and will be forever more, the Almighty God.
2. “Do justice….”
Do what is right. Justice is not what we think is right or our interpretation of right, which suits our own purpose, but that which is right according the righteousness of our God. Justice says, “Do no harm, defend the weak and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. 9 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NLT)
Pray that evil will be exposed, unrighteousness revealed and those who carry out acts of injustice will be found and brought to justice themselves.
True spirituality that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans, and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.
James 1:27 (TPT)
In our praying let us ask God to make us instruments of justice. We have a choice; we can either shout at the darkness or we can go and turn on the light by acts of justice and kindness.
3. “Love kindness….”
Kindness, goodness; they are the very essence of the nature of God. Kindness puts our own wellbeing before another, as demonstrated by Christ dying on the cross for us. When we bring the attribute of kindness into our prayers it releases us from any manipulation that may creep into our thinking. It enables us to pray sincere and genuine prayers for those who may have harmed us or intended to harm us. Love always wins and leads us to places of kindness.
The apostle Paul writes that love does no harm.
Love makes it impossible to harm another, so love fulfils all that the law requires.
Romans 13:10 (TPT)
We can have a radical prayer life, one that sees answers to prayer because our requests are governed with the eternal attributes of humility, justice and kindness.
We have considered the exhortation of Micah and his summation of the Law. Yet we have another, one that is better still, Jesus said:
“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Simply put, love God, love people! Simplistic, but profound!
When all our prayers are governed and motivated by these, will they not be effective? We will most likely pray prayers that God will answer; those that glorify His name and make our joy complete.
Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.
Scripture references unless otherwise stated are from the New American Standard Bible
(TPT) The Passion Translation NT / (NLT) New Living Translation