I’ve noticed that unbelievers come to prayer in their lives when they reach a crisis. They reach a melting point or a crisis. And this is the time they turn to the Creator of the universe. But they feel out of their depth. They’ve never prayed, so they don’t know how.
The most common prayer by far is the prayer for needs or requests. In fact, most people, even Christians, go to God for needs and nothing else. How many times do we cry out in desperation instead of approaching the throne of grace every day?
But prayer isn’t only for emergencies. Can you imagine what it would be like to talk if every conversation your best friend had with you was about what they need from you? It would be quite a tedious relationship after a while.
You have so much more to offer your friend. And God does too. Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer to approach God knowing who he is to remind us that he wants to have relationship with us as our Father.
It is after these two steps that we turn to the prayer for requests. Christians can go two ways with these types of prayers. Either they will only approach God with their requests or they fearfully ask him for the things they need.
Jesus talks about anxiety in our lives (Matthew 6:25). He says that God knows all of our needs before we even ask them. So what’s the point of asking? I think God wants to hear from us. Even though he knows our needs, he wants to hear them from us.
And that brings up an interesting question. What needs do we address? Do we bring up the small needs or the big ones? How big is our faith? I preached a sermon last year called “The Big Ask.” My point was that we tend to not ask God for the big impossible things we need.
Our faith is proportionate to the needs we bring before the Lord. It’s not that he can’t answer the small requests. Our God can do all things. The Bible tells us that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37). And yet, do we have the faith to ask for those giant, and impossible requests?
Praying for God’s Provision (Matthew 6:11-12, 14-15)
The next principle of powerful prayer is to petition God to provide for our needs. We have needs, and we have a God who provides. But the key to praying for our needs is not to complain to God or to demand from God these things.
The key to praying for our needs is to trust that God will fulfill them. The small needs such as having a great day or finding something we lost are important to God. But the more we trust him, the more we open with the big, impossible things in our eyes.
The prayer of petition is about God’s power and willingness to fulfill our needs. We go to God first and often because only his power can fulfill our needs. His resources are greater than ours (Psalm 24:1). If we can do it ourselves, what do we need God for?
Why do we wait until we are at the end of our rope and on our last leg before we appeal to God? Even if we are not in desperate need, we ask humbly and unselfishly about for these things because only he can answer these prayers.
Even in the part of our prayers that could be the most selfish, we lean on God for our very lives. We come into his throne room, bow at his feet, and ask our Father to provide for us. Like any child, confidently and for him to use his lavish resources on your behalf. Pray in faith without doubting (James 1:5-8).
After praying for God’s will, the next line begins, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). The request is straightforward. Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush. He isn’t afraid to go to the Father and ask for the need. He doesn’t “butter God up” or come crawling like an undeserving worm.
Page down page down There is a balance to requests before the Lord. We are God’s children and he is our Father. He loves the lavishes gifts of grace upon us. But I have also heard Christians demand things of God. I have heard them throw his own words in his face as if he didn’t know them.
There is a major difference between knowing what God has promised in his Word, and demanding it from him, “The Bible says I deserve this. Give it to me now.” This sounds just like the prodigal son who demanded his inheritance before the Father wants to give it. He may give it out of love but that’s not the way to approach him.
Never forget that we approach the Lord of the universe. He is the Creator of all things. He is sovereign and knows what’s best for us. We don’t have to demand things. Our perspective keeps us from knowing what we need when we need it.
Instead we approach as a confident son or daughter of the King. We approach with childlike faith. We know that our Father can do all things. So we ask him for anything, even the things we don’t see possible.
When I pray for my daily bread, I take it both physically and spiritually. I ask God for the physical needs I have: food, shelter, clothing, and finances. I know that He is Jehovah Jireh, my Provider (Genesis 22:14).
So in asking for these things, I’m coming to the one from whom all things originate and asking for what I need from His hand. And He wants to take care of me because He made me and loves me.
I also pray for my spiritual bread. We have no trouble praying for our physical needs, almost demanding in some prayers, for God to do things for our benefit. But we forget that we are spiritual beings and have spiritual needs.
Soul care and spirit care should rank above physical needs in our lives. We must care about both, but everything begins in the spiritual realm. The physical realm follows the spiritual. God, who is spirit (John 4:24), spoke and physical creation obeyed.
When I pray for my daily bread, I am reminded that Jesus quoted the Old Testament and said, “Humans don’t live on bread alone, but on the very words of God” (Matthew 4:4). And I am reminded that Jesus in the book of John tells us, “I AM the Bread of Life” (John 6:48).
If I don’t have Jesus and my relationship with him is not where it should be, then I am not living life to its fullest. Every Christian must prepare for what comes in each day. It is the Christian version of, “Seize the day!” As the psalmist said, “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)
So what are my spiritual needs? I need to hear from God. Every day. I need to know what pleases him. What’s on his mind? He speaks if I will listen. The Holy Spirit waits to lead me. This is what it means to hang on the very words of God every day.
So when I pray for my daily bread, I’m also praying for my spiritual needs that day. Ask the God of Provision to provide my fresh dose of Jesus. God ministries to both our bodies and souls. We need spiritual well-being along with the physical. We want God’s Spirit to speak into our lives his words of life.
We begin with praising the Almighty God who is bigger than our needs. Then we remember his place in heaven. His perspective is greater than ours. Next we align ourselves with God’s will and kingdom. We pray that they will come to pass on earth. And then we address our needs before him.
What requests do you bring before the Lord? Do you ask him more than once? Do you ask for the big needs that are impossible for you? Leave me a comment and tell me how you go before the Father. Do you keep a prayer journal?