Charles Spurgeon, who was nicknamed “The prince of preachers,” once famously said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” Why would a man known for preaching believe that praying was even more important? Spurgeon knew what many of us tend to forget: prayer is a powerful tool we’ve been given by God! A Christian without an active prayer life is like a car without a battery. We might look nice on the outside, but there is a vital source of power missing deep down on the inside.
One of the reasons we struggle with prayer is because we don’t understand prayer. In our modern world we are wired for instant gratification. We want what we want and get what we want, now. Perhaps without noticing it, we begin treating God like a vending machine or a magic genie who is expected to give us what we want — especially if we believe that we’ve asked the right way. In John 14:14 Jesus says, “If you ask Me for anything in My name, I will do it,” and many Christians assume this means we simply need to end our prayers with “in Jesus’ name, I pray,” and God will do whatever we’ve asked. When prayers are not answered, people grow discouraged and wonder if God doesn’t love them or hear them. You can avoid this confusion or help others by remembering these three truths about prayer:
Truth #1: Jesus’ Name is About His Character and Reputation
In the Bible, someone’s name represented their character and reputation. To pray in Jesus’ name is to pray in line with who He is, what He is all about, and what He is known for. Jesus is not a vending machine wired to dispense whatever you ask for, but rather, He is focused on unfolding the Father’s will in our lives (John 5:19). Jesus will do anything you ask in His name because that would mean you have asked for something in God’s will for your life.
Truth #2: Prayer is About Aligning Your Heart with God’s Will
Prayer is not about getting God to do your will, it’s about aligning your heart with God’s will. Jesus set this example for us so beautifully in Luke 22:42 when He knelt in Gethsemane to pray. With the weight of the world on His shoulders and the cross calling His name He said, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Even Jesus, the very Son of God, modeled a submission to God’s will. No matter what we ask of God, we ought to say, “Not my will, Lord, but yours be done.”
Truth #3: Prayer is About Drawing Closer to God
Healthy relationships are based on a deep, unconditional, genuine love. Our relationships become little more than shallow tide pools when we base them on transactional expectations. If you feel like you’re not as close to God as you could be, or that you do not have a vibrant prayer life, it may be wise to ask yourself: am I treating God like a transactional merchant or like a Father whom I desire a deep relationship with? Like any good Father, God does and can meet your needs, but prayer is a way to draw closer to Him, not merely a tool for getting what you want out of Him.
Costi and Christyne Hinn are the authors of In Jesus Name I Pray, a fun new book that teaches children the biblical model for praying in Jesus’ name and not for their own wants. Kids can take comfort that God hears and answers their prayers when they ask for the things that are important to Him and His Kingdom.
Help your child develop a lifelong habit of effective, biblical prayer.
Costi W. Hinn is a pastor at Shepherd’s House Bible Church in Chandler, Arizona, and president of For the Gospel. He is a graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has authored multiple books, including More Than a Healer and God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel. Costi is married to Christyne and they have four children.
Christyne Hinn pours the majority of her time and energy into her family, her church, and other creative projects. Christyne is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University and a devoted follower of Jesus.