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Praying For Your Heart's Desires

(Psalms 37:4-8 NKJV) Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. {5} Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. {6} He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. {7} Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. {8} Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it only causes harm.

(Mark 11:24 NRSV) So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

(James 4:1-4 NRSV) Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? {2} You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. {3} You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. {4} Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

(Philippians 4:5-7 NKJV) Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. {6} Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; {7} and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

(1 John 5:14-15 NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. {15} And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Briefly review the above Bible verses and extract all the principles on prayer that you can find...

The great challenge of prayer for the ordinary person is to be granted the desires of their heart. Prayer, for most of us who are not specially called to intercession, is getting God to grant us the righteous and good desires of our heart. How frustrating it is when they are not! When a sin does not budge, when a friend is not converted, when we struggle in loneliness or illness or poverty. The promises seem so powerful and reality so distant from them. The promise of prayer and the practice of prayer seem so different.

Point one is that God grants "the desires of our heart". Prayer needs to be telling God about our whole-hearted desires. I have learned that whole-heartedness is essential to miraculous answers to prayer, when Peter took those first few triumphant steps on the water it was because he was whole-hearted in following Jesus. He let his whole heart lead. Daniel 9 is a whole-hearted prayer for the return of the Jews that may well have moved heaven and Cyrus!

James tells us that prayer is to be "without doubting" and that double-minded (lit. double-souled, di-psuchos) person "receives nothing". I find that most Christians have to struggle to get in touch with the desires of their heart where Jesus lives. Its like there are a number of layers of confusion, for me there is the layer of mental confusion, anxiety and intellectual doubt - the area of the plausible and the implausible, the possible and the impossible, "I don't think that can happen ..etc". That is the outer layer.

Then there is the layer of confused emotions "I understand x but I feel y". This is the area where we "can't believe that God would be like that". Where we come up with the "God loves missionaries but not me" and the "God can't possibly be paying attention to me.." feelings. Underneath all those waves there is the still place where the Spirit lives and prayer begins. That is the place of the desires of my heart. I just tell God what I desire. Its up to Him to make it possible. Don't pray your doubts, don't try and tell God the mechanism or you will end up full of doubts and confusion, don't tell God how to move the mountain just tell him that you want it moved.

When you pray the fundamental questions are:1. Do I want it 2. Can God allow it.(if its immoral or significantly violates someone else's free will then God cannot allow it). Assuming that it is neutral or a good request then ask yourself "Do I want this with my whole heart". If you do then pray it and expect to receive it. Forget about what your mind says is possible or your emotions say is going to happen, just let God know your whole-hearted desire no matter what is.

This leads us to the "how to". How do we get our prayers answered and results for the Kingdom, our daily needs met and our hearts desires answered. Here are the steps...

1. Ascertain whether the request is within the broad bounds of His moral will. When John uses the term "according to His will" here he means according to the broad moral will of God. It is only in modern parlance that we have coined the phrase "God's will" to refer to specific things such as which person to marry. In Scripture the term always refers to things such as the Ten Commandments. When it comes to who to marry the terms Scripture uses are "the counsel of the Lord" or "the word of the Lord" (on a specific matter). It may seem like semantics but it is important in this case. Far too many people get blocked at this step and get in a lather about whether their perfectly OK request is "God's will" or not. Its a mix up that is not needed.

2. If we are believers and the request is within the bounds of Scripture then we can be confident that God has heard our prayer.

3. Once we know He has heard us we can be confident that we will receive what we have asked of Him.

4. In which case we should believe that we have received it. We should hold on to that fact. We should believe God as Abraham did when praying for Isaac despite being 100 years old. (Romans 4:20-22 NKJV) He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, {21} and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. {22} And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."

5. After believing we have received it we wait in expectant hope - and we DO RECEIVE. This works. Scripture says it will work. I have seen it work. I would not teach it to you if it did not work.

6. There are two main obstacles that you will have to remove if you are not to waver in unbelief. The first is your belief about what is possible with God and what is not possible with God. This includes thinking that God has to use "normal means". God has means we don't know about or understand. Abraham believed God for a son despite him being 100 and Sarah 90. He put aside human reasoning and calculation and believed the promise of God.

Secondly we have to put aside our feelings about the situation. There are often deep emotional blocks to faith. These include "I am unworthy", "God doesn't care for me", "these things don't happen for people like me.." and many others. Sarah displayed this emotional blockage when she laughed at the idea of conceiving a son. She saw it as God playing a huge joke on her. There is a certain degree of spiritual discipline required in order to keep these interfering things out and stay on track especially if the request is a long-term one.

OK I hope you have got the idea. May I emphasize two things a) This is not for worldly gain or fleshly pleasures b) It works! It works! It works! I have seen it work for 20 years. God is faithful to His word.

Review and Practice

Write down one or two things that you desire with your whole heart and bring them to God in prayer each day for a week. Also do the following workshop with some friends in your Bible study group

Praying For Your Heart's Desires Workshop

(Psalms 37:3-5 NKJV) Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. {4} Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. {5} Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.

(1 John 5:14-15 NKJV) Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. {15} And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

1. List three desires of your heart that, to your understanding, are in God's moral will.

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B)__________________________________________________________________

C)__________________________________________________________________

2. Now list the anxieties and intellectual doubts you have about God answering them.

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B)__________________________________________________________________

C)__________________________________________________________________

3. Use the Scriptures, logic and your Christian testimony to answer these doubts.

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B)___________________________________________________________________

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C)___________________________________________________________________

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4. Now list the emotional blocks, feelings and sheer unbelief you have about God being good enough or powerful enough or nice enough or you being worthy enough etc.

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B)___________________________________________________________________

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C)___________________________________________________________________

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You may also sense some deep spiritual blocks that need to be prayed through. Ask Jesus for help (Mark 9:24 NKJV) Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

5. Now use Scriptures, logic, your Christian testimony and the encouragement of your brothers and sisters in the Lord and tackle these blocks to belief.

A)___________________________________________________________________

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B)___________________________________________________________________

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C)___________________________________________________________________

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6. Now agree in prayer together and bring each others heart's desires to God.

(Matthew 18:19-20 NKJV) "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. {20} "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."



7. Have you reached a feeling of breakthrough in prayer? Do you sense God answering? Has He said anything to you about the desires of your heart? Write down what you are sensing from Him.

A)____________________________________________________________________

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B)____________________________________________________________________

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C)____________________________________________________________________

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8. Do you sense a course of action that you must undertake for your heart's desire to be realized? Is there some way you can "put legs under your prayers"?

A)____________________________________________________________________

B)____________________________________________________________________

C)____________________________________________________________________

This article may be freely reproduced for non-profit ministry purposes but may not be sold in any way. For permission to use articles in your ministry, e-mail the editor, John Edmiston at johned@aibi.ph.