Front Page
Series Contents

Series Theme:  Looking at Prayer Afresh

Phase One :  Preparatory Foundation Stones





Title:   2. A New Perspective


                 This page looks to consider what God wants rather than what we want.




1. Introduction
2. A New Perspective
3. God at Work
4. Hopes for our Unbeliever
5. Questions for Prayer
6. And So…



1. Introduction


I have added this page after a conversation with my son-in-law, who has seen something about prayer and people, which so fitted in with what I felt the Lord was saying on a broader scale, that I felt it necessary to add this emphasis here.


As I have proof-read the later pages I see that I have already moved in this direction a number of times but never made it a strong emphasis – which it needs. The result has been that I have reordered these pages on Prayer and place this one early on to act as a foundation stone on which to build later pages.




2. A New Perspective


I have found welling up within me over recent months, a growing awareness of something that perhaps culminates and can be summarised in two questions: “What is God doing?” and “What is God saying?”


I find these two questions arising when anything to do with church or with people and life generally, arises. In fact I would say that these are THE two most important questions in life for Christians who think about ‘issues'.


Now I am aware that for evangelists the key questions might appear as, “Who around me can I share the Gospel with?” or “Who around me does God want to bring to salvation now?” For pastors the questions might be “Who in my flock is in need?” or “How does God want to help these people?” For teachers it might be, “What teaching do these people need” or “How does God want to strengthen in the faith these people?” In the alternative in each case I have sought to make the question more God-directed.


Nevertheless, whatever the ministry, whatever the perspective in the church, I would suggest that the two questions: “What is God doing?” and “What is God saying?” are still key.


Thus, when we come to pray, and after all these are pages about prayer, the focus moves from what I want to what God wants. On the Introductory page I testified about an experience I had to do with fasting, where I came to see that God wanted to bless me more than I wanted to be blessed.


Now if that is true of me, surely it is true of each of us?




3. God at Work


Now because I suspect that it is probable that many of us are unclear on these things, I have created the next page looking at how God ‘moves' in His world. I am sure He moves much, much more than we have indicated in those notes, but I include them to cover a particular facet of His moving – the way He speaks to both believers and unbelievers to bring about His purposes.


The crucial element of those notes, perhaps, as they pertain to this subject of prayer, is God working in the lives of unbelievers (because so often that is who we are praying for). Nevertheless, on a wider scale, whenever we pray, I would suggest that if we start thinking about what God IS doing, it may have a dramatic influence on the way we pray, especially when it comes to us asking for things.




4. Hopes for Our Unbeliever


Here comes the difficult part. So often as you listen in church prayer meetings you hear people telling God what to do in the lives of those we are praying for. We have in mind what we think a believer is and so what we want this person to become – like us.


Unfortunately our picture of a believer is both incomplete and imperfect. For those who think they are well taught evangelicals, this will come as a challenge, but if we cannot accept that, it means we have got very limited understanding.


Think about it like this: do you think exactly the same as you thought ten years ago as a believer, or has your understanding increased with all the sermons you've heard and all the Bible Studies in which you have participated, and all the experiences you have been through?


The New Testament has a great deal in it about growth of the believer and becoming mature – which is an ongoing process. We will not stop growing in grace and in faith etc. until we leave this earth and go to glory. Thus what we are now is different from what we were in the past, and from what we will be like in years to come.


But back in the Prayer Meeting, we have this picture of our unbelieving friend or family member and we want them to become like us. Heaven forbid!




5. Questions for Prayer


Here are some points for consideration:


When we pray,

a) do we ask the Lord to do specific things for this (unbelieving) person or

b) do we ask the Lord what He would like to do in the process of ultimately bringing them to know Him, and

c) is there anything He wants us to be doing to win their heart?

Moreover, do we have set ideas about the way they come to the Lord? I came through a fairly dramatic crisis moment and my tendency is to want others to come the same way, but am I open for the Lord to gradually move in small steps in this person, so that the final step is not a major crisis?

Rather than assume anything, would we do better to ask the two questions “What is God doing?” and “What is God saying?”

 What is God doing? Is the person we are focusing on in a phase where God is working in them, stirring interest, stirring questions and provoking a sense of need?

•  Sometimes these questions don't need a great sense of revelation; you just have to have an open relationship with this person where in conversation they give indications of their state.
•  For some people the need of which they are aware, is not so much of personal failure as of a difficulty in life – which then presents us with opportunities to offer to pray, to pray and to offer to help practically.
•  Never assume where this person is. On one hand the nicest person can be absolutely hard against the Lord and apparently completely uninterested. On the other hand, the hardest person can suddenly reveal a real need and be greatly open against every expectation (The most amazing example I had of this was of a relatively elderly man who was a hard-bitten atheist who had derided me and my faith for a long time, and who suddenly asked a spiritual question about his wife in need and within half an hour had given his heart to the Lord!)
•  Does the Lord simply want us to befriend this person as a way to melting their heart? How might we join in with what God is doing in them? So often enthusiasts simply want to challenge with the Gospel but in so doing fail to express Jesus' love to the person in question.
•  Do we consider we have the right to challenge someone with the Gospel when we have given them no indication of our care and concern previously? Is that how God's love is expressed?
•  Do we leave the person (even when they have rejected our overtures with the Gospel) feeling loved and respected by us, so they welcome future contacts with us. If someone feels loved by us, they will feel drawn to us, even if, at the moment, they are not ready to receive the Gospel.
•  Do we know what they think and feel in life and have we taken time and trouble with them, or are we basically uncaring about them except as a spiritual ‘scalp'? Is that really how God's love is expressed?


•  What is God saying? Again is God's will for this person more important than our assumptions?
•  Dare we ask the Lord to tell us something about them that will convey His knowledge and love for them? (Word of Knowledge or Word of Prophecy)
•  Dare we ask what He wants us to DO in respect of them? (Word of Wisdom). A number of the points above apply equally here.
•  To summarise: Does the Lord want to give us a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom or a prophetic word for them? One of the most exciting group prophetic times I have known was with a group of young people, half of whom were clearly non-believers, but who were open to and amazed by the prophetic word for them as individuals. God loves unbelievers and very often wants to speak into their lives – if only we are available to be His mouthpiece!



6. And So….


This page simply asks us, when we go to a church prayer meeting, to go with a godly perspective.


This is a view that asks first and foremost what God is doing, what God wants to say, and then what God wants to do in and through us.


In this way we may ourselves more available to Him so that we become more aware of being part of the outworking of His will, being His ‘fellow workers' (1 Cor 3:9, 2 Cor 6:1)


The emphasis changes from “me praying” to “Him pre-eminent”. Yes, we will pray, yes we will ask, yes we will listen but it is all with the awareness of Him.