4 Guided Steps To Prayer

GOD’S PROMISE: “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 5:14-15

Praise is the first step to take in prayer. “Sing to the Lord, all the earth; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods” (1 Chron. 16:23-25).

Praise, according to the Scriptures, is an act of our will that flows out of an awe and reverence for our Creator. Praise gives glory to God and opens us up to a deeper union with Him. It turns our attention off of our problems and on the nature and character of God Himself. As we focus our minds on God and proclaim His goodness, we reflect His glory back to Him. The results can fill you with peace and contentment (Isaiah 26:3) and transform your outlook on life. “It is better to put on a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)

We praise God because He is worthy of our praise (1 Chron. 16:25; Rev. 5:11-14). He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is our Creator, Provider, Healer, Redeemer, Judge, Defender and much more. We praise God to be obedient to Him. The Bible says God is a “jealous” God who demands and desires our praise. “You shall have no other gods before Me,” says the first commandment (Deut. 6:7). As the psalmist said, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).

Praising God helps restore us to that right
relationship, for God actually dwells in the praises of His people ( Psalm 22:3). As we draw near to the Father in praise, He draws near to us (James 4:8). We were created by God to praise Him ( Isa. 43:7, Matt. 21:16). Praise is also our ultimate destiny. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns again to earth, all creation — including prideful mankind — will recognize His glory and praise Him (Phil. 2:9-11).

PRAISE FOR PROTECTION

God also gives us assurances of additional blessings as we praise Him. When we praise God, He honors us as His children, and provides His loving protection (2 Sam. 22:47-51). Failure to praise God, however, leaves us out of fellowship with God and out of His divine protection ( 1 Samuel 2:27-32).

Our praise can also serve as a powerful witness to those who do not know the Lord (1 Peter 2:9). Also, God can work miraculously through our praises. The ancient walls of Jericho came crashing down, giving victory to God’s people, as a result of shouts of praise ( Joshua 6:1-21). The prison doors shook open when Paul and Silas praised God ( Acts 16:25-26).

OBSTACLES TO PRAISE

Praise is both important and powerful. So why is it so difficult at times to praise God? The Bible explains that, even with the power of the indwelling Jesus, our hearts are still “more deceitful that all else” (Jer. 17:9). We sometimes forget that we are always dependent on God to live victoriously in this life.

Satan therefore tries to persuade us that we will eventually reach a point where we can “do it ourselves.” The Scriptures are clear that Satan “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Disguised as an “angel of light,” the devil and his host seek subtly to subvert the praises the children of God owe to their heavenly Father.

God, however, has given us grace in times of need, provided we humble ourselves (Matt. 23:12; James 4:5-10). Praising God allows us to defeat the strategies of the enemy. As God’s adopted children, we no longer have to remain slaves to sin (Gal. 4:6-7). We have a powerful spiritual weapon in praise, and it is guaranteed to be effective (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

Confession is the second step you will take in prayer.

Our relationship must be right with God, and with others, if we desire him to hear and answer our prayers. “Confess” means to agree with God that something is sin in our life. The wonderful promise in God’s Word is, “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Confession of sin alone is not all that God requires. He asks that we repent, that we turn away from our sinful activities and turn instead to follow Him. Repentance can be defined as: “A turning away from sin, disobedience, or rebellion and a turning back to God. In a more general sense, repentance means a change of mind or a feeling of remorse or regret for past conduct. True repentance is a ‘godly sorrow’ for sin, an act of turning around and going in the opposite direction. This type of repentance leads to a fundamental change in a person’s relationship to God.”

The Apostle Paul notes this in (Acts 3:19-20): “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus.”

Repentance doesn’t mean we become perfect. God understands that even at our best, we may backslide at times. However, every time we seek His forgiveness, we will receive it. There is even better news for those who have learned to confess their sins, to repent and to turn to God. The Bible says Jesus Himself will come to our aid. “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

When sins are forgiven by God, the Bible says that God does not hold those sins against us. Psalm 103:11-12 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Thanksgiving is the third step you will take in prayer.

Spend some time together thanking God for some specific things he has done for you. During this time do not ask God for anything, only offer him your thanksgiving. “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18) Remember that you are not thanking God for difficult things, but you are thanking him for being with you in the midst of them.

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12–14)

The Bible repeatedly stresses the importance of giving thanks. “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Psalm 50:14). “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing” (Psalm 107:21–22). “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High” (Psalm 92:1). “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Ephesians 5:20). “

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). Thanksgiving should permeate our speech, our songs, and our prayers.

These first three steps prepare your heart for the fourth step-Intercession.

Intercession is prayer that pleads with God for your needs and the needs of others. But it is also much more than that. Intercession involves taking hold of God’s will and refusing to let go until His will comes to pass.

Intercession is warfare — the key to God’s battle plan for our lives. But the battleground is not of this earth. The Bible says, “We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and spiritual powers in the heavens above” (Eph. 6:12). Intercessory prayer takes place in this spiritual world where the battles for our own lives, our families, our friends and our nation are won or lost.

If you are born again, you are God’s son or daughter (John 1:12). As His child, you have a direct “hotline” to God. At any time, you can boldly come into His presence (Heb. 4:16) This incredible access to God is the basis for intercession. Once you are in God’s presence, you can now discover His battle plan for the situation you are facing. Because prayer alone is not enough — you need a target for your prayers!

To discover God’s plan, all you have to do is ask. The Bible says that “if any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). When we ask God for wisdom, His desires will become the focus of our prayers. “Let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him” (Romans 12:2).

First, recognize that Jesus is in control of the situation. Jesus “rules over forces, authorities, powers, and rulers … over all beings in this world and will rule in the future world as well” (Eph. 1:21). He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Then, put on “all the armor God gives” (see Eph. 6) so that you will be ready to fight with God’s weapons. These are the “weapons of our warfare” that can pull down strongholds in the spirit world (see 2 Cor. 10:3,4). They will also protect you from the attacks that are sure to come once you begin the spiritual battle.

Next, bind the work of Satan, knowing that Jesus has given you authority “to defeat the power of your enemy” (Luke 10:19). If God shows you the identity of specific spiritual strongholds that are at work, take authority over these strongholds in the name of Jesus. And always remember that “God’s Spirit is in you and is more powerful that the one that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).


Finally, as you begin the spiritual battle, take comfort knowing that you are not alone: Jesus also is interceding on your behalf! The Bible says that Jesus “is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25; see also Romans 8:26,27,34).


Intercessory prayer is also prayer that doesn’t give up. It’s the kind of prayer that endures all setbacks and overcomes every obstacle. It’s prayer that “presses on” until we “apprehend” God’s will in whatever situation we are facing (see Phil. 3:12).

This kind of prayer is the key to seeing breakthroughs in your life and in the lives of those around you. Jesus gave a great model for intercession in the story of the persistent friend. Here we see a friend who knocks on his neighbor’s door at midnight to ask for three loaves of bread. The neighbor does not want to get up, but Jesus said, “because of his friend’s persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (Luke 11:8, NASB).

Then Jesus said, “Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who searches will find, and the door will be opened for everyone who knocks” (Luke 11:10). Those words mean keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. In God’s time, your persistence in intercessory prayer will reap a spiritual harvest in your life and the lives of those around you!

God is calling Christians to join His battle plan for this world — to join in intercessory prayer. He is not looking for perfect prayer warriors, just willing hearts who want to see His will come to pass on the earth. All you have to do is turn to the Lord in prayer:

“Father, I come into Your presence and ask You to give me the heart of the intercessor. Help me to be persistent in prayer until the breakthrough comes. Thank You for this powerful weapon of spiritual warfare — and for Your faithfulness in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

The Suffering of The Righteous

Job 2:7-8 “So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes“.

Faithfulness to God does not guarantee believers freedom from trouble, pain, and suffering in their lives. In fact, Jesus taught that we are to expect it (John 16:1-4; 33). The Bible provides numerous examples of godly people who experienced a significant amount of suffering for a variety of reasons – e.g., Joseph, David, Job, Jeremiah, and Paul.

REASONS BELIEVERS SUFFER. There are various reasons why believers suffer. Believers experience suffering as an ongoing consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve. When sin entered the world, pain, sorrow, conflict, and eventual death invaded the lives of all human beings (Genesis 3:16-19). Paul affirms this: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). In fact, the entire created universe groans under the effects of sin and yearns for the time of the new heaven and earth (Romans 8:20-23; 2 Peter 3:10-13). Some believers suffer for the same reason that unbelievers do, i.e., as a consequence of their own actions. The principle that “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7) applies in a general sense to everyone. If we drive our cars recklessly, we may get into serious accidents.

If we are undisciplined in our eating habits, we are likely to have serious health problems. God may use such suffering as a means of disciplining us so that we may achieve “the peaceable fruit of righteousness”. We must always act in wisdom and in accord with God’s Word, and we must avoid whatever will remove us from God’s protective care. Believers also suffer, at least in their inner selves, because they live in a sinful and corrupt world. All around us are the effects of sin; we experience distress and anguish as we see the power that evil holds over so many lives. We must pray to God that He will demonstrate His victory over the power of sin.

Believers suffer at the hands of the devil. Scripture makes it clear that Satan, as the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), controls this present evil age. He has been given power to afflict us in a variety of ways. The story of Job centers around an upright, God-fearing man whom God permitted to be tormented by Satan with unspeakable sufferings (see especially Job 1-2). Jesus testified that one of the women he healed had been bound by Satan for eighteen years (Luke 13:11; 16). Paul recognized that his thorn in the flesh was ‘the messenger of Satan to buffet me” (2 Cor 12:7). As we engage in spiritual warfare against “the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12), we will inevitably suffer adversity. In order to deal with such assaults, God has given us spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) and spiritual weapons (2 Cor 10:3-6). We must put on the whole armor of God and pray Ephesians 6:10-18, resolving to persevere faithfully in His strength.

Satan and his followers delight to persecute believers. Those who love the Lord Jesus and follow His principles of truth and righteousness will be persecuted for their faith. In fact, such suffering for righteousness sake may be an indication of our genuine devotion to Christ. Since all true believers are called to suffer persecution and reproach for righteousness’ sake, we must remain steadfast and immovable, and keep on trusting Him who judges righteously (Matt 5:10-11; 1 Cor 15:58, 1 Pet 2:23). More positively, another reason why believers suffer is that “we have the mind of Christ”. To be a Christian means to be in Christ, to be one with Him; as a result we share in His suffering. For example, just as Jesus wept in agony over the wicked city of Jerusalem and their refusal to repent and accept salvation, so we are to weep over the sinfulness and lostness in humanity. We must thank God that just as the sufferings of Christ are ours, so also is His comfort (2 Cor 1:5).

God Himself may use suffering in our lives as a catalyst to spiritual growth or change. He often uses suffering to call His straying people to repent of their sins and renew their faith and trust in Him. We must confess known sin and examine our lives to see if there is anything that displeases the Holy Spirit. God sometimes uses suffering to test our faith, to see whether we will remain faithful to Him. To test Job’s faith was the reason He allowed Satan to afflict him (see Jon 1:6-12; 2:1-6): would Job remain committed to the Lord, or would he curse God to His face? James calls the various trials we face “the trying of your faith” (James 1:3); through them our faith in Christ becomes more mature. We must realize that the genuineness of our faith will result in “praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 peter 1:7). God uses suffering not only to strengthen our faith, but also to help us to grow in Christian character and righteousness. According to both Paul and James, God wants us to learn patience through suffering.

In suffering we learn to depend less on ourselves and more on God and His grace. We must be attuned to what God may want us to learn from our suffering. God may also send us pain and affliction so that we might be better able to comfort and encourage other sufferers. Thus, the effectiveness of our ministry deepens and increases. We must use our experience of pain to encourage and strengthen other believers. Finally, God can and does use the suffering of the righteous to further the cause of His kingdom and His plan of redemption. For example, all the injustices that Joseph experienced at the hands of his brothers and the Egyptians were part of God’s plans “to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance”. The prime example of this principle is the suffering of Christ, “the Holy One and the Just’ (Acts 3:14), who experienced persecution, agony, and death so that God’s plans of salvation might be fully realized. This does not excuse the wickedness of those who crucified Him (Acts 2:23), but it does indicate how God can use the suffering o0f the righteous at the hands of sinful people for His own purposes and to His own glory.

GOD’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE SUFFERING OF BELIEVERS The first thing to remember is this: God is involved in our sufferings. Even though Satan is the god of this world, he is able to afflict our lives only by the permissive will of God. God has promised in His Word that He will not allow us to be tried above what we are able to bear. God has also promised to bring good out of all the sufferings and persecution of those who love Him and obey His commandments. Joseph recognized this truth in his own life of suffering, and the author of Hebrews shows how God uses the painful parts of our lives for our growth and benefit. In addition, God has promised to stand by us in our pain, to walk with us “through the valley of the shadow of death”. He does so by His Holy Spirit, who comforts us in all our trouble. To each one of His children, He sends sufficient grace so that they can bear the trials of life.

Finally, do not forget that the Lord Jesus shares your pain. When we pray to Him, we have sympathetic high priest who Himself experienced the various dimensions of our trials and sufferings (Hebrews 4:15). He has indeed “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4); there is healing for our own sufferings through the sufferings that He bore on our behalf (Isaiah 53:5)

VICTORY OVER PERSONAL SUFFERING Now we must address an important issue: when experiencing trials and affliction, what steps can we take to cope with such suffering so as to be victorious over it?

(1) First, consider the various reasons why human beings suffer and how those reasons apply to you. If you can identify a specific reason, then follow he appropriate response.

(2) Believe that God cares deeply for you, regardless of how severe your circumstances are. Suffering should never lead you to deny God’s love for you or to reject Him as your Lord and Savior.

(3) Turn to God in earnest prayer and seek His face. Wait upon Him until He delivers you from your affliction ( see Psalm 27:8-14; 40:1-3; 130).

(4) Expect God to give you the grace that is necessary to bear your affliction until deliverance comes (1 Cor 10:13; 2 Cor 12:7-10). Always remember that “we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us”. The Christian faith lies not in the removal of weakness and suffering, but in the manifestation of divine power through human weakness.

(5) Read the Word of God, especially those psalms that give comfort in times of affliction (e.g., Psalms 11; 16; 23; 27; 40; 46′ 61; 91; 121; 125; 138).

(6) Seek revelation and discernment from God regarding your particular situation through prayer, the Scriptures, the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, or the counsel of a godly and mature believer.

(7) During the time of your suffering, remember the prediction of Christ that you will suffer trouble and affliction in your life as a believer (John 16:33). Look forward with eager anticipation to that time when “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Revelation 21:4).