Lord, teach us to pray! Part 3

I expected to hear from someone on my statement, “It is not about what we say, but what God says.”  A strong argument can be made against me.  Since no one made it, I will make it myself.  God really does want to hear what we say.  He loves to hear our voices.  He delights to hear our desires.  As a father enjoys his children asking for help, direction, and blessings; so does God.

I am not being contradictory with you or myself.  I am actually referring to two different types of prayer.  One is what I call soapbox prayer meetings.  These are the times when we dictate to God what we want, when we want it, how He should do it and when He should answer. Matthew 6:7 describes these prayers as ‘babbling like pagans who think they can be heard because of their many words.”  It is in these prayer times that it would be wise for us to be still and not speak at all.

But if we truly understand prayer and come into His Presence to hear from Him then it is possible, even probable, that we not only hear His voice but we will become His voice.  These are the prayers that delight His heart and move His hand.

Here is an example of babbling prayers verses praying His will.  A beloved pastor suddenly takes ill and is in the hospital enduring countless tests that are inconclusive.  I gathered a few friends and we met in the sanctuary for prayer.  We waited upon the Lord seeking His voice as to what the cause and cure was to be.  I must admit we were astounded at what God revealed.  We prayed as He directed and when we left hours later we knew our pastor was healed and would be released from the hospital the next day with no diagnosis ever being made by a doctor.

The next morning at the women’s Bible study, the leader called for special prayer.  Around the circle, the ladies prayed.  One was into natural remedies so therefore she prayed for him to find alternative doctors.  Another was sure he wasn’t eating properly and prayed for him a wife.  Some prayed for the doctors to have wisdom, others prayed for the pastor to have faith enough for healing.  Each woman prayed their own words, their own agenda, and each was assured she was right. I will never forget when a new believer whispered to me, “How do we know which one is right?  Do we just wait to see what happens next?”  Even she knew there was no unity.  To God’s glory, our pastor was released that afternoon.  The doctors were puzzled but the pastor was in perfect health.

I do not believe Romans 8:26-27 is only for those times when we are confused and overwhelmed with the events around us.  This verse says:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.


I am weak and dumb enough to admit that I never know what I ought to pray.  There is never a time I see clearly the will of God on my own.  In my past and on my own, I have prayed the most foolish of prayers.  Some prayers were so ridiculous I now praise Him for not answering them.  Others I begged and pleaded long enough that He consented and instantly I knew I didn’t want it after all.

Every time we come into His presence, we need to admit that we do not know how we ought to pray.  We need to keep our mouths still until we hear His will on each and every subject.  Solomon gives this warning in Ecclesiastes 5:1:

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.  Go near to listen rather than to offer sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.

But with this warning comes an amazing invitation.  We can approach His Throne and He will pray through us.  We can know what is on His heart.  We can hear His voice as we listen to our own words coming out of our mouths.  In a corporate setting we can hear the unity of God’s will as every yielded prayer is speaking the very heart of God aloud.  True prayer is about what is on God’s heart.  What He says to us and then through us.  True prayer is when our words become His words.  When this is happening, there is never a sense of self and never a sense of time.

I encourage you to write out your prayer concerns.  But before you utter a word about what you want God to do, ask Him to pray through you.  Ask Him what is His will.  Ask Him for a verse in His Word that relates to what He is about to do.  Sit quietly before Him and wait for Him to change your heart to unite with His will.

When you are praying in a group, listen to the promptings of the Spirit.  You will know when your prayer is His will.  The unity of your group, the power of the words, the confirmation from the Word of God, the changed lives before you are all evidence of a prayer meeting where God’s voice is heard.


7 responses

  1. How full these words are. I know that when I bring a matter before God but then sit quietly before Him, He does lead me how to pray. Thank you for reminding us, encouraging us to let God speak. I needed to hear this. It fills my soul with such hope.

    1. Thanks Monette, I know you are going through a season of trusting and I also know He has you firmly in His arms. Listen carefully for someday He will have you teaching others all the amazing truths He has revealed. Hope I’ll be around to hear that lesson.

      Read Cindy’s comment below. She offers a bit of wisdom for dying to self. Maybe it will work into your book. How is that going? Hope you are nearing the finish line on it. I want you to teach us ASAP. Love ya

  2. Shelia! God is teaching me something about this today! I’ve been reading through Isaiah, today was ch.38-39, where Hezekiah is told he will die, he prays, God hears, then adds 15 yrs to his life. In the past, I’ve always thought/been taught how great it was that Hezekiah cast his cares on God & how God responds to us when we pray & gives us what we want. Today, however, in light of ch.39, I am wondering if Hezekiah missed it. If Hezekiah would have allowed God’s initial words “Set your house in order, for you shall die” to become his own words, and not prayed differently, would he have spared his family future deportation to Babylon?? It seems to me that the prolonging of Hezekiah’s life was good for Hezekiah, but not so good for his children. And Hezekiah’s prayer surely had a “sense of self” to it (2 Chron 32:31, & Isa. 39:8). So…all that to say, your comment “God really does want to hear what we have to say”, is proven correct in the case of Hezekiah, because God heard & even answered Hezekiah’s request. But, because Hezekiah’s heart was selfish & not in line with God’s, the answered prayer was not the blessing it appeared to be, because on the back end, the answered prayer, in time, brought on disaster and captivity. I am praying today that I will learn this lesson and first “sit quietly before Him and wait for Him to change my heart” before I cast my cares and present my petitions to Him. Because like Hezekiah, I probably have some dying I should do first, dying to myself that is! Philippians 3:7-11 & John 3:30
    Thanks Shelia! Love you!

    1. You are sooooo right! I have used Hezekiah’s story countless times to teach this lesson. God will at times give us his permissive will which is not his perfect will. Permissive will (like Hezekiah or Israel wanting a king) always ends in heartache. Not only did it set the stage for the captivity BUT during those extra 15 years his son Manassah was born and became the next king. He was one of the most evil kings in their history. Had Hezekiah yielded to God’s perfect will, Manassah would not have been born and therefore a vile and wicked part of the nation’s history would have been avoided. Oh, we need to do exactly as you said: die to self before we ever offer a word in prayer.
      Thanks Cindy. When you guys return to AZ we need to have another reunion. I miss you all so much!

  3. This was fantastic!!!! Just what I needed to hear — and listen for… thanks so much for including me… hope to see you soon. Still praying for Tori.

    1. Thanks Marsha! I will be in Chandler the end of next week. Dustin’s family is hosting a baby shower for Tori on Saturday. Maybe we could get together Friday afternoon???

      Thanks for your prayers. Tori is doing well. As long as she drinks tons of water and eats her strict diet, she will be fine. She is motivated. I don’t think she wants to go through that pain and agony ever again.

  4. Wow, what Cindy said is such an exhortation to check our motives and prayers. I love the thought that we need to sit quietly before God and listen to Him Before we make our requests. Wait for Him to change our hearts to be in alignment with His. Amen!
    Thanks for the encouragement and also the exhortation to finish the Bible study. I have been working on it. Making each chapter into 5 days has been such a blessing….but it’s going to take awhile. Each day that I work on it, though, is a personal lesson and blessing for me.
    Thanks Shelia for all your work for the body, for your sacrifices and mainly for the time that you spend before God in prayer.
    Love ya…………………..so so glad to hear Tori is doing better.

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