Assumptions of Prayer

When it comes to the Christian life there are several fundamental and foundational habits. Perhaps you can think of a few, like reading the Bible, or gathering with other believers for worship and encouragement (what we often call “church”), or maybe giving to the church that you are a member of. All wonderful good, godly habits. Another is the habit of prayer. 

It is a fundamental habit that is almost as old as time itself. It has been part of the life of all faithful believers for millennia. Early in the book of Genesis we see people begin to pray when it says “At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.” (Genesis 4:26 ESV). It is a habit that has long endured in the life of believers, and rightly so. 

The habit of prayer is built upon some foundational truths.

The first is that there is actually a God. We wouldn’t call out to someone who does not exist, that would be foolishness. Now we can’t see God but we believe he exists so we call out to him. That’s where faith comes in, but when we pray we are operating on the assumption that there is actually a God.

A second foundational truth is that God is listening and capable of hearing our prayers, whether we pray them in our minds or out loud. It would not do us much good to pray to God, who does exist, if we did not think he was capable of hearing us. I do not start talking to my mom if she is not in the same room, or I have picked up the phone to call her. That’s where prayer is different. We are acting upon our belief that God is real and he is capable of hearing our prayers, which the Bible readily affirms. 

A third truth is that he is capable to do something about the things we pray about. When we approach God about our concerns and we ask him to do something about them, we are acting upon the belief that he is actually capable to do something about them. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray his words assumed God was able to do something about what the disciples were asking. When he prayed about Lazarus being resurrected, he did so with the belief that the Father could actually raise him from the dead.

A fourth foundational truth is that God is willing to do something about those concerns by using his power to address them. There would not be much point in praying if we did not think God was willing to answer our prayers. I am sure you can think of someone you know who whenever you ask them for something the answer is always no. Perhaps you have an acquaintance who you used to ask to go to lunch regularly, but they repeatedly said no. After a while you simply stop asking. When we come to God and share our requests with him we are in effect saying “God I believe you are willing to say yes to this.” Now does that mean God is obligated to answer our request as we want? Absolutely not, but we must come to him with the faith that he is capable to answer our prayers.

We might be able to say there are other foundational truths when it comes to prayer, but these are four that are absolutely prerequisites. Prayer can often break down or be neglected when we forget one of these foundational truths. As you reaffirm these four fundamental assumptions about prayer, I think you will be amazed at the impact it will have on your prayer life and how you pray.

As you consider these four truths I wonder in what ways you might pray for your English Language Ministry. When it comes to the ministry how does prayer impact it? Are you praying for your ministry believing that God is capable to do something in and through it? Do you believe that he is listening to you about the concerns you have for your students? Or what about his willingness to actually answer those prayers? 

I hope as you think about your ministry and prayer that these truths will lead you to praying more.

This is the first in a series of 4 articles on Prayer by pastor and author Jon Varner, who just released his new book Prayer Sparks: The Gospel of Mark.

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