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 14-15 NIV
Most people would agree that the major challenge to praying faith-filled, prevailing prayers is to find out God’s will and pray it back to Him. While at times discovering His will may seem a daunting task, it is not as shrouded in darkness as some may tend to assume. Thankfully God in His providence has given us “a lamp for [our] feet, a light on [our] path” with which to guide us to His will, and it is called His Word (Psalm 119:105 NIV).
Praying God’s Word with the help and illumination of the Holy Spirit, is therefore the primary means God has provided for us to pray according to His will. The Bible, which contains all of God’s words and promises, is among other things a prayer book. When we pray from the Bible, reciting back to God His own words and will, we do so with an incredible confidence, knowing not only that we are in agreement with Him, but also that He is hearing and agreeing with us. When that happens, we cannot help but believe that answers to our prayers are sure to come.
Psalm 119, the longest recorded prayer in the Bible is illustrative of this priority of praying according to God’s word/will. In this Psalm, in which God’s Word is likened to a lamp and a light, we find its author David, appealing to God repeatedly on that basis. At least twenty four times, we see David asking God to hear and answer him based on God’s own “word,” “promises,” or “laws.” “Remember your word to your servant.” “Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live.” “Preserve my life according to your laws” (Psalm 119:49, 116, 156 NIV emphasis added).
All the great intercessors in the Bible, like David, prayed the Word of God back to Him. Consider Moses, Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Nehemiah, the Prophets, Peter, Paul, especially Jesus. They all made it their practice to base their powerful, prevailing prayers upon words and promises God Himself had spoken. Like Jeremiah, they knew the commitment God places upon fulfilling His promises. “I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled” (Jeremiah 1:12 NIV emphasis added). If all these greats prayed God’s words and promises back to Him, how much more should we?
In the New Testament, Paul strategically links God’s word and prayer in his teaching about the armor of God and spiritual warfare. In this familiar Ephesian’s passage, we are instructed to “put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11 NIV). As the various pieces of armor are listed it is instructive to note that the only piece of armor that is offensive in nature is the last one mentioned – “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 NIV). Many make the mistake of thinking that the instructions regarding the “full armor” conclude with this verse.” The next verse however is critically important in understanding how the sword of the Spirit is to be used. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV emphasis added). This gives us added insight that “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” is to be wielded as an offensive weapon through Spirit inspired and directed prayer. When the sword of the Spirit is thus engaged by praying the word of God, enemies are defeated, promises fulfilled, and victories won.
Every person, who longs to prevail with God in prayer, must make the study and use of the Scriptures a lifelong priority. Since it is the Word of God from which formulate our prayers and draw our firepower, having an intimate working knowledge of the Bible is of the utmost importance. Do you realize that setting aside just fifteen minutes each day to read the Bible will enable anyone who does so to search its entire sixty-six books once every year for prayer ammunition? Ironically, that is less than a sixth of the amount a time the average person spends on the internet daily. Just think of the multiplied benefit in spending time studying and praying the Word of God instead of wasting such valuable time in frivolous pursuits.
One of the great benefits of proclaiming the Word of God in our prayers is the confidence it gives us in believing God hears and answers. The Apostle John, who had the enviable experience of learning how to pray at the feet of Jesus, points this out in his first Epistle. “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 14-15 NIV emphasis added). The Apostle Paul also underscores this when He says that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 NIV). As a result, it is not uncommon for those praying Scripture to actually sense faith rising up within themselves as they hear the word of God proclaimed from their own lips. With the increase in confidence, comes a heightened expectation that God is going to do something in response to our prayer. Such faith is not only to pleasing to God, but it also releases His answers (Hebrews 11:6).
If you are not already committed to the regular practice praying the Word of God, would you consider asking God to help you do so?