Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1

Which area of prayer is most challenging for you? Is it giving thanks? The Bible states that it is God’s will that we “give thanks in all circumstances.” God commands our thanks.

Surely, God wouldn’t want hypocrisy from those whose circumstances don’t warrant thanksgiving. God doesn’t want hypocrisy, but I don’t think anyone would want to trade circumstances with the one who penned the words: “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The apostle Paul suffered in ways most of us will never imagine:

 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.  2 Corinthians 11:24-27

If Paul can say, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances…” we can give thanks in all of our circumstances, too.

You may be a thankful person but find it difficult to be honest with God when it comes to confession. All of us know we have room for improvement, but some folks remain hung up on the idea that they must earn God’s love. When we believe we must earn God’s love, it is hard to be honest about what’s really happening in our lives. Instead of confessing our sin, we seek to justify our sin. We offer excuses. We gloss over our sin. Again, God doesn’t forgive excuses; God forgives sins. Making excuses only keeps us trapped in sin and guilt.

Some people are masters of denial when confession is what is needed. A common example of denial by many Christians is the phrase, “I’m not angry, I’m just hurt.” This is because these people believe it is wrong to be angry but not wrong to feel hurt. Anger is not always sinful. Lying is always sinful. God knows when we’re really angry. We can’t fool God, and we should stop trying to fool ourselves. We need to honestly confess our feelings and seek resolution.

When was the last time you lingered on your knees in prayer and asked God to show you those areas in which you have personally grieved Him? Prayer starts with a personal relationship with God. When we join with the psalmist in asking God’s Spirit, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,”  He answers our prayer. He shows us those particular problem areas where we not only need to ask His forgiveness; we may need to ask the forgiveness of others as well. Recognizing the reality of our failures and knowing that we are forgiven will result in a deeper gratitude toward God and greater patience with others.

As we get to know God better, we adore Him more and more. As we start our walk with God, we must focus our attention on the person of Jesus Christ as revealed in the pages of Scripture. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being…” “He is the image of the invisible God…” Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

It’s important to know how to pray and to pray in accordance with God’s will. The goal of prayer is not to get God to do our will, but for us to get in line with God’s will. The purpose of prayer is to draw close to God, not making speeches, but rather having intimate conversation.

Prayer is a marvelous opportunity to deepen our relationship with the living God. The God who created all things, the God who rules the universe, the God who will judge the living and the dead, this God loves us and wants us to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him and to draw close to Him. Prayer is absolutely vital and powerful.

What should you do if you check your prayer pulse and you can’t find signs of life? Cry out to God. He loves you. Ask Him to forgive your sins and to give you a new beginning. Invite Him to be the ruler of your heart and life. Do you want to be healed? Do you want a new life? Are you ready to start right now?
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