A Checklist for Bold Bible Praying
By Ian Goligher
I have been musing about our praying. In light of our studies in Isaiah, I have struck upon a checklist to enable us to pray with boldness.
In his classic work on prayer, E. M. Bounds contends that the final proof that we pray aright is the answers we receive. He contended that too many make excuses for unanswered prayer. One of them being that God answers indirectly. I don't think we can narrow down the effectiveness of our praying to God answering in only one way and sending the answers immediately.
God may hear our prayer today and answer them after we are in glory with Him. The Lord prayed for the disciples before He ascended to be with His Father and Pentecost came 50 days after the resurrection. I think that God does answer many prayers immediately, but we are often too dull to recognize the answer as given. He protects us and provides for us all the time and we are oblivious to God’s good hand upon us. God may strive with souls for whom we pray while we are not aware of the operations of the Spirit of God already at work. Many a missionary has given his life to gospel work to native souls, but the harvest didn't come in their lifetime. Some faithful praying servants of God were martyred or died on the field before they saw a church formed, or sinners converted.
Surely there is a greater test required to know that our prayers are being heard and shall be answered. Here is a checklist for bold praying. It will enable us to have confidence that our requests are according to the will of God. To be confident that we are not asking amiss we need to ask these five questions:
1. Is it revealed? This was the lesson from Isaiah chapter 45 which is about praying on the purposes of God. Daniel prayed on the Lord's word that the exile would be for 70 years. Daniel read Jeremiah 29:11-12 and learned that God commanded prayer from His people to bring the exile to an end. Daniel’s example in prayer should send us to our Bibles searching for light on how to pray and for what to ask. It is good to have a text of Scripture stating a truth, a promise a decree from God upon which you can pray. The text may be as well-known as John 3:16, Matt. 28:19-20, or James 1:5. Then you can pray, "Lord, it’s in the book." When God has revealed His will we have a strong mandate to pray for its fulfilment.
2. Is it righteous? We must ask if it is in God's general will, that is his will for all men as stated in the ten commandments. The fifth commandment requires that we honour parents. The sixth requires that we be honest when paying taxes. We cannot pray to God asking for help to “beat the system”. There is also God's particular will. Not all are called to be a gospel preacher, and not all missionaries are called to Africa. The whole world is God's harvest field. God’s servants can only be in one place at a time. Not all are called to be a politician, nor a mayor in a certain city. When calling on God for guidance, or to open a door of opportunity, we must ask, Will it keep me honest? Will it build my testimony as a Christian? To enter into a business arrangement that will make you compromise the truth, be dishonest with fellow workers, lie on the paperwork is not righteous and we should never expect God to open that door as a result of our praying, though the devil would happily lead us that way.
3. Is it regal? Is it for the glory of God? We know from the words of the Lord to His disciples that the goal of Christian living and service should be for the glory of the Father (John 15:8).
a. The salvation of a soul will bring glory to God in heaven among the angels over the repentance of a sinner.
b. The extension of God's kingdom will rob the devil of a subject under his dominion and demonstrate the power of the blood of Christ.
c. The honour of God's Son is equal to glorifying the Father. Whatever we ask in Jesus' name should honour Him. We cannot make the Lord’s name a play-thing for our own whims and fancies. God will not answer all prayers with Jesus’ name tagged on to them.
4. Is it resigned? In the Lord’s prayer, the Lord taught His disciples to pray, “Thy will be done”. And he prayed about his laying down his life on the cross, “Not my will, but thine.” In all of life, the Christian must make this a priority in prayer for it recognizes God’s superior wisdom, it rests in His goodness and submits to His divine purposes.
This is true: When we pray for healing. When we pray for the dying. When we pray for a church to grow and become a witness in the community. When you pray for finances to provide for your home, or to keep your business going. As you submit to God’s will, you must recognize that God may be leading you to something else for your good.
5. Is it on redemption ground? When we ask in Jesus' Name, we need to plead the power of His redemption work – His cross-work. All of God’s mercies flow to us from the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. We, therefore, plead for the victories that the Lord purchased through His death. If Jesus bought it with His own blood for His redeemed people to enjoy, then you can pray for it with total confidence that God wants you to have it. You are then claiming your possessions in Christ.
As a specific case, you should pray for the person of the Holy Spirit to do His work as the Vicar of Christ. Remember His threefold work (John 16:8-11). To convict of sin, to reveal Christ as the righteous One, and of divine judgment upon all men. When you do so, you are praying in obedience to the Lord's will and in faith that God will do His work to build His church, by converting souls to add them to His church. So, open your Bible with a select text and take that word to the Lord in prayer, praying for God to fulfil His word. King David did this, "And now, O LORD God, the word that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as thou hast said" (2Sam. 7:25).
So, with great confidence take your Bible into the closet, or into the prayer room, and plead the word of the Lord as you pray. Your prayers will be full of faith for they will be full of scripture. Pray not in your own words, but in the will of the Lord and you can be sure the blessings will fall upon you from the heavenly throne of grace; blessings bought by the blood of Jesus; blessings that will glorify your Father which is in heaven.