Talking with God (Prayers) 2

He Cares For You

'Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you' (1 Peter 5:7, KJV)

'Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you' (1 Peter 5:7, NLT)

'Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you' (1Peter 5:7, GNB)

The above Bible passage has been much quoted in many of our letters, especially when our contacts share a challenge/concern for our prayers. While we neither disregard nor disapprove of these prayer requests, we also want them to know that they have as much access into God’s presence as any other Christian. We desire that they enjoy the blessed privilege of communing with our heavenly Father and theirs – expressing their heartfelt concerns to Him.

Embedded in this verse is both an instruction as well as the reason for the instruction. Somehow the mention of the word ‘cast’ brings to mind a picture of an uncompleted building where you still have some wet clay. If you throw a wet ball of clay (a cast) unto an uncompleted wet wall, it sticks to the wall: it stays there. Again, when you cast something off yourself, you are getting rid of such a thing. While I am not too sure that these illustrations were on Peter’s mind when he wrote his letter, I do believe that they illustrate the concept. At least other renderings of the same passage suggest a similar explanation: ‘Give all your worries and cares to God’ (NLT). ‘Leave all your worries with him’ (GNB).

The message is clear: give over to God whatever can cause you to worry or become anxious. And to go a step further: leave them with Him. Imagine throwing a ball of clay and then going right back to remove it. For one thing, the wall did not complain. Yet by removing the clay, it has become your load /burden again. A songwriter puts it this way: ‘take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there!’ Too often we tell God our worries and then we go right on worrying. That doesn’t show trust, does it?

The reason we can leave our worries/anxieties with God is stated – ‘because he cares for/about’ us. God is concerned about us and every detail of our lives. It’s easy to think that we are the ones who can best care for ourselves. Jesus proves us wrong. Here is what He says: ‘the very hairs on your head are all numbered’ (Luke 12:7, NLT). Have you ever bothered to know how many strands of hair are on your head? Now imagine that God has a number for each of those strands. That is too much detail for me. If God knows that much about us, why can’t we leave more important issues to Him? (See also Psalms 139: 17-18, Isaiah 40:26-27, Isaiah 49:15-16, Matthew 6:25-33, Philippians 4:6&7). So we can cast our worries on God because He truly cares for us.

He Is Able

Now a father may be concerned about paying his children’s school fees, and yet not have the resources. However, not only does God care about us, He is abundantly ‘ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20, NIV). Hence, we can duly rest on Him. Paul told the Philippians that God will supply all their needs ‘from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19, NLT). The emphasis we should note here is ‘His glorious riches’. Suppose that I have a very wealthy father who loves me dearly, does it make sense for me to become perplexed about how to pay my school fees? Certainly not! Our God is not incapable of meeting His children’s needs; rather He is able to meet our needs from His glorious riches. Nothing is impossible for Him (Luke 1:37). This is not limited only to our material needs but we can indeed give to Him everything that concerns us. God Himself said: “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27, NLT). A songwriter has correctly expressed: ‘He is able, more than able. To accomplish what concerns me today. He is able, more than able. To handle everything that comes my way. He is able; more than able to make me what He wants me to be’.

Will God Do Everything I Ask?

It is good to quickly note, that though God cares about us and is able to do all things, He does not always give us everything we ask for. Sometimes God handles situations differently from what we expect, but He cares for us all the same. Sometimes we ask God for things that are not His will for us. Jesus asked that the cup of suffering pass over Him, but God did not grant this. God had a purpose for Jesus’ death (Luke 22:42-43). Paul asked God to remove the thorn in his flesh. Instead God assured him that His grace was sufficient for him (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

Like Jesus, we can present our requests to God while submitting that His will be done. God doesn’t always take our troubles away but may give us the grace to bear them (2 Corinthians1:3-4, Act4:24-31, James 1:2-4). Whatever the case, we can rest assured that God has our best interests at heart and that He will work ALL things together for our good (Rom 8:28).

Spare Me The Requests

While making our requests and needs known to God is an important part of prayer, there is more to praying than simply presenting our requests to God. He does not exist just to solve our problems: we exist for Him, not the other way round (Colossians 1:16, Revelations 4:11).

What we have been called into is a life of fellowship/communion with God (1 John 1:3). A fellowship is a two-way thing. Wouldn’t it be awkward if a child comes to his father only when he is need of material things? There is more to a father-child relationship than that (1 John 3:1). Some Bible teachers have used the acronym ACTS do describe different aspects of prayer

A- Adoration: We simply adore and worship God for whom He is. We focus on His endearing attributes of love, kindness, greatness, holiness, awesomeness etc. The more we learn about God from His Word, the better we are able to worship Him. The book of Psalms is filled with expressions of worship.

C- Confession: We admit our shortcomings to God. The Bible says ‘if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.’ (1 John 1:9, NLT). Because we often falter in our walk with God, it becomes necessary that we confess our sins to Him. This simply means that we acknowledge before God any shortcoming that is known to us. God’s promise to forgive and cleanse us is assured.

T- Thanksgiving: We express gratitude to God for what He has done for us, what He is still dong. The greatest thing to be thankful for, of course, is the gift of ETERNAL LIFE through Jesus Christ. The Bible admonishes us to be ‘thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT). This means that no matter the circumstances around us, we are to maintain an attitude of thanksgiving to God. Even while presenting our requests to God the Bible teaches us to do so ‘thank(ing) him for all he has done’ (Philippians 4:6, NLT). This becomes easier to do when we believe that ‘God causes everything to work together* for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.’ (Romans 8:28, NLT)

S- Supplication: We bring our needs and those of others before God. We have already explained that God cares about us and would rather have us give Him our worries than to burden ourselves with them. We can pray for the needs of others around us.

Please note that this is just a guide to help remember different aspects of prayer.

The Simplicity of Prayer: You Can Pray

How else can we bring this write-up to an end than to again emphasize that prayer is indeed what all of God’s children can and should do. It is not reserved for a special few. Often times, people think that in order to talk with God, they must develop a new set of vocabularies-‘thee’, ‘thou’ etc. However, this is not true. If prayer is talking with our father, and it is; then we can speak to Him in our own language, expressing ourselves in the way we know how to. After all, is there a language that He doesn’t understand? He created us all and in order to live among us, Jesus came to earth in human form.

God doesn’t also become more attentive to our prayers because we repeat the same words over and over. As a matter of fact, Jesus discouraged this practice. Here is what He says: ‘When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!’ (Matthew 6:7&8, NLT).

The above Scripture also suggests that our prayers don’t need to be loud for God to hear. There is nothing wrong with praying aloud. However, this is not what determines that God hears. After all, He knows what we need before we even ask.

We can go on and on analyzing several other man-made pre-requisites that we have attached to praying. For instance, our prayers are not better answered in a particular place than another. God is Spirit and is everywhere (John 4:23-24). Hence, we can talk to Him at any time in any place. Neither does prayer need to follow a rigid ritualistic format. Look through the Bible and see the prayers of Jesus.

We charge you to maximize the privilege/access given to us by Christ. Listen to what He said:  ‘At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. I and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God.’  (John 16:23-27; NLT)

 Why not make communing with God through prayers an enjoyable lifestyle. After all: ‘the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will’ (Rom 8:26-27, NLT).