Living By Faith Blog

Icon

Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Learning How To Pray From Jesus

Jesus in Gethsemane by Gustav Dore CroppedHow Should I Pray?

Let’s say you are without work.  And imagine you just returned from an interview for a job you really want, and you decide to pray about the job.

But as you think about praying, you start to wonder —

  • Why pray, when it’s the interviewer who will decide who gets the job?
  • Maybe instead of praying that I get the job, I should just tell God that I submit to his will.
  • Maybe to have my prayer for the job answered I need to believe without any doubt that God is going to give me the job.

These questions can weaken and discourage our prayer.  So how can we answer them?

Learning From Jesus

What helps me with those questions is Jesus’ prayer in Mark 14:36.

It’s late at night.  Jesus knows that the next day he faces hours of horrifying suffering as God’s wrath for our sin is poured upon him on the Cross.

So he heads to the garden of Gethsemane, and asks Peter, James, and John to pray for him.  

Then he goes off a little farther away by himself, falls to the ground, and prays —

“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

Each of these lines have helped me answer crucial questions about prayer —

“Father, all things are possible for you.”

Jesus understood that the Father was sovereign over everything, which means it is entirely up to the Father whether Jesus is spared the Cross, or sent to the Cross.

That’s true for Jesus as he anticipates the Cross, and it’s true for every situation we face.  God can do whatever he chooses to do.

So as you think about how much you want this job, it’s crucial to understand that God is able to give you the job, or to not give you the job.  It’s ultimately up to him (Proverbs 21:1).

That doesn’t mean you don’t prepare for the interview.  But it does mean that what happens is not ultimately about how well you interviewed, or who happens to do the interview.  What happens is ultimately up to God.

That’s why it makes sense to pray for the job, because when you pray you are talking to the One who is in complete control of who gets the job.

“Remove this cup from me.”

Sometimes we think that if we were fully submitted to God, then all we would need to pray is “Do your will.”  But that’s not how Jesus prays.

There’s mystery here.  But it seems clear that part of Jesus’ heart did not want to go to the Cross.  So Jesus prays and asks God to keep him from the Cross — “Remove this cup from me.”

This was not all that was in his heart, as we will see in the next request.  But it was part of what was in his heart.

And that’s how God wants us to pray.  God wants us to ask him to fulfill the desires of our hearts, as long as those desires are not against God’s Word.

So even though we don’t know God’s ultimate will, we should ask God for what seems right to us according to his Word.  So we should go ahead and pray for jobs, healing, salvation, provision, protection, and so forth.

So don’t just pray “Do your will.”  Pray as Jesus prayed — for the specific desires of your heart.

“Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

When you pray to get the job, do you need to believe with absolute certainty that God will give you the job?  That’s not how Jesus prays.

Jesus prays and asks God: “Remove this cup from me.”

But Jesus also understands that what’s most crucial is submitting to God’s will — “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Sometimes God will give us a supernatural, spiritual gift of faith by which we know exactly what God is going to do.  In that case we can pray with absolute confidence that God will do precisely as we ask.

That is a spiritual gift which God sometimes gives to some of us.  But it’s not something God always requires from us.

So apart from a spiritual gift of faith, we should pray as Jesus did in Gethsemane.  Express to God the desires of your heart earnestly, persistently, and passionately —

Please, Father, have the interviewer hire me.
I plead with you, Father, heal me.
For the sake of your name, free me from this trial.

This is crucial, because God might have ordained that your earnest pleading be what moves his heart to do exactly what you are asking.

But at the same time, because you understand that God knows best, also pray —

Yet not what I want, but what you want.

This is also crucial, because it will remind you that God might have other, even better plans for you.  And it will help you keep seeking your joy in God, and not in specific answers to prayer.

Learn how to pray — from Jesus.

Comments?  Questions?

I’d love to hear them.  Leave a reply below — thanks.

If you know someone this would help, email it to them using the “share” button below.  Or use the other buttons to share it on your favorite social media.

If you would like to interact with others who are seeking to live by faith in Christ, visit our Forums page.

If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — go to the top right of this page, fill in your email address, and click the “Submit” button.  (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)

And here are some related posts you might find helpful –

 

(Picture is by Gustav Dore and in the public domain.)

Category: Help with Prayer

Tagged:

17 Responses

  1. Liz says:

    Hi Pastor Steve,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and wanted to say Thank you! It’s been especially helpful as I am learning to walk with Jesus through a painful health issue. Each of your posts has been a great encouragement.

    I am praying for you!

  2. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Steve,

    Have you looked into a twitter share button for your blog, I would love to share these posts of yours with my followers, and by the way a great insightful post as always my friend.

    Paul

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, brother. And great question about a Twitter button. At the bottom of each post there should be a button which you can use to tweet posts to your Twitter followers.

      Let me know if that’s not showing up when you access the blog.

      Onward, brother!

  3. pamela putumani says:

    Helo there.
    I hear what is being said here. If I’m right, I must pray for the desires of my heart and name them. Still ask God to do His will.
    I trust in God with all that I have and believe that He loves me. But, is it wrong to ask God 4 wealth/money?
    I still believe that God loves me. Do I ask 4 money from God? Is it godly o ungodly? Jc wondering,nothing much.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Pamela,

      You raise an important question. Jesus urges us to pray that the Father will provide our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). But Paul says it is dangerous to want to get rich (1 Timothy 6:12).

      So it seems the wisest approach would be to ask God to provide our financial needs, but at the same time being aware of the dangers of loving money.

      I hope that helps, Pamela.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  4. Amanda Cross says:

    This encourages my heart greatly. I really haven’t been all that faithful in prayer. A number of things have popped up their ugly head (mainly pride). Through this and a couple other things I have read recently, I’m being encouraged to plead with the Lord over sinful ways of the flesh. Like please keep me from this way, sanctify my mouth, etc. I’ve thought I really only had one trouble area (not being faithful to His house), but turns out there is several other areas. Not praying faithfully has helped me get to these places. Thank you for sharing these posts with us.

  5. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    Beautifully written.

    This article taught me a lot because I have the tendency to turn out to be an almost always “Thy will be done” woman of prayer in case of insecurity. Maybe, I falsely thought that my wishes are less important since for others I always pray. But for me?

    Just about one hour ago, I was praying for something that should not happen (my wish). And immediately Jesus said, “Approved.” The very moment after He had said this, I felt NO DOUBT and JOY that things would happen exactly as I want them to be (it has to do with a rather dangerous situation as to our daughter which I want to avoid).

    …Come what may you must believe that you are the man, hey Steve! 😉 The man who’s chosen by Him too, to see His blessings breaking through…

    Love,
    Susanne

    🙂

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Susanne,

      Thank you for sharing your encouraging story of God’s answer to prayer. I, too, have been more of an “if it be your will” type of pray-er in years past. But that changed when I saw how often in Scripture men and women asked God to work in specific ways. So you are right — both are important.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  6. Esther Lewis says:

    I just went to an interview, my 3rd one in the last month, and had no idea how to pray. Thanks. So helpful.

  7. Patricia Taylor says:

    Steve, I am so glad you are doing this Living by Faith blog! I find it very helpful and I am thankful how God is working right now in my life. I need all the help I can get, as I think He is asking me, at least offering blatant requests from specific people, those I would never have suspected, in fact, to have a Bible study, which is exactly how I became a Christian myself in 1976! We met some years ago in CA. I am Katherine’s mom! God is good! And He is certainly using you! Alleluia!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Patricia,

      Yes, I remember meeting you — and thanks for re-connecting here, and for your kind words.

      And definitely keep us posted on how the Bible study goes.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  8. Robin says:

    Hi Steve, I just found your blog, and God has used it to encourage my heart this afternoon. Thank you! I’ve had some recent confusion about prayer and these points really helped to clear it up. One question lingers… Could you explain what the verses in the early part of the book of James (1:5-8) mean about praying without doubting? Is it referring to having unwavering belief that God can and will answer prayer, but not about the specific request? I’d appreciate your insight. Thanks so much.

Leave a Reply

Join 2,375 people who receive each week’s posts by email

More Help for Your Faith

  • RSS Feed
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Feedback

"I just found your blog recently, and I've NEVER found such clarity, understanding and comfort before." (Sarah)

"AWESOME. Going to mangle this sin tonight with the Promises of God." (Alec)

"If I could subscribe to only one blog, yours would be it." (Lyn)

"I think you are really on to something with this blog. I don’t know of anything else like it." (Doug)

"Excellent comment. Really well put and wisdom that is strangely lacking in much evangelical thinking." (John)

"Thank you -- I needed to hear this. So clear and concise yet captivating." (Stacey)

"Such a helpful post. I’ve bookmarked it and reread it two or three mornings just this week." (Doug)