THE PRAYER OF PETITION

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B. Childress
Jan 25 2008 08:00AM


"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall
receive."  Matthew 21:22

"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray,
believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."  Mark 11:24

By far the most frequent prayer of Christians is the prayer of petition.  We always are petitioning or asking God to do
something for us.  This is scriptural, of course, because He told us in Matthew 21:22, "
...ask in prayer, believing." The
words petition and supplication are defined as "a formal request of a higher power.
"  This prayer changes things.  It is
based on Philippians 4:6, "
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let
your requests be made known unto God.
"

The prayer of petition must be a prayer of faith. It primarily concerns an individual's desires, needs, and problems.  It is
you praying for yourself, not someone else praying for you or agreeing with you in prayer.  When you pray the prayer
of petition, believe that you receive.  If you will do that, you will have what you ask for.  God is concerned about our
needs and He wants to meet them for us.  

Notice that in the Old Testament, God promised His people more than spiritual blessings;  He promised them that they
would prosper financially and materially.  He told them He would take sickness away from their midst, and He would
give them long life, ".
..the number of thy days I will fulfil"  (Exodus 23:26).  God also told them that if they would keep
His commandments, they would eat the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19).  God is just as interested in His people today as
He was then.  He is concerned about everything that touches our lives.  He promised us in Third John 2, "
Beloved, I
wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
"  Jesus said, "If ye then,
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give
good things to them that ask him?
"  Matthew 7:11.  We must realize that it is God's will that our spiritual, physical and
material needs be met.  

Some people think they should conclude every prayer with the words "If it be thy will."  They claim that this is the way
Jesus prayed.  However, Jesus prayed this way on only one occasion, when He was praying in the Garden of
Gethsemane.  By contrast, when He stood at Lazarus' tomb, He didn't say, "If it be thy will."  Instead, He said, "I thank
You because You hear me always" John 11:41-43.  Then He
commanded Lazarus to come forth.  The prayer to raise
Lazarus was a prayer to change something.  Anytime we pray to change something, we do not need to put an "if" in
our prayer.  If we do, we are using the wrong rule, and the prayer won't work.  Instead, we need to claim God's promise
for our petition and believe that we receive it. Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane- the prayer in which He put an "if, was a
prayer of consecration.

Do not go into the prayer of
petition and supplication without knowing what you want to say and how you want to say
it.  Enter the throne room with your petition drawn up according to God's Word.  Ask yourself these questions:  What
happened at Calvary?  How did the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus affect this trial I am facing?  Then, find out what
God has already done regarding your situation.  If you need healing, look up those scriptures pertaining to healing.  
Present your petition.  No matter what your situation may be, God has provided an answer for it in His Word.  The
Cross paid the price for your deliverance.

When we ask God for the things we want and need, we are praying prayers of petition.  We probably pray this type of
prayer more than any other and it is one of the ways Jesus instructed us to pray.  He said in Matthew 7:7, "
Ask, and it
will be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
"  If nobody knocks, no doors
open.  If nobody seeks, nobody finds.  If nobody asks, nobody receives.

Because we need to ask in order to receive, our petitions are very important.  As we make requests of God, though,
we do want to make sure our petitions do not outweigh our praise and thanksgiving, because we do not need to be
asking for more than we are thankful for.  Remember that Philippians 4:6 instructs us to "
Be careful for nothing, but in
everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
"  When our
requests are in balance with our praise and gratitude, petitioning God is awesome and exciting.  It is awesome to ask
God for something, believe Him for it, and then watch Him bring it to pass in our lives.  We may know in our heart that
we have received the answer and never need to mention it to God again or we may feel we have to persevere in
prayer; either way, we can be sure that God loves to give; He loves to answer our prayers, in His wisdom and His
timing and His way - so go ahead and ask!

Petition and Desire

Here's the way a petition would work.  Let's say you're busy serving God; you are obeying His Word; you are seeking
righteousness; you are truly seeking first the Kingdom of God, according to Matthew 6:33.  The true cry of your heart
is to treat people well, to live with integrity, to be wise, and to live in the center of God's will.  Now, when a desire arises
in you, what do you do?  You mention it to God, saying something like, "You know, God, I really need a new car.  I
know You are good, Lord, and You want us to be blessed, so I pray that You make a way for me to have this car,
because I don't see how I'm going to make it happen in my own strength."  What do you do next?  You go right back to
serving God, living the way you are living, and you wait expectantly for God to help you get that new car.

Petition is usually based on desire.  I believe that we have to desire something before asking God for it.  I believe that
God puts the right desires in our hearts, and that we have to know the difference between the desires of our flesh and
the true desires of our hearts.  When God puts a desire within us, we are responding properly to say, "God, I want
that," and the Bible says that God will give us the desires of our hearts if we delight ourselves in Him (Psalm 37:4).  But
we also have fleshly, carnal desires, desires that are not God-given - and He does not promise to grant those.  The
proper way to respond to such desires is to release them, to simply let them go.  Sometimes a prayer is not answered
because our prayers are related to a fleshly desire and are not really being led or inspired by the Holy Spirit (James
4:3).

We frequently discover that we cannot be certain if our desire is a desire of our heart or our flesh.  When that is the
case, I simply pray, "Lord, I am asking You for this, but if it is not right for me, then I trust You to do what is best for
me."  Since I know God is good and I know He loves me and wants good things for me, It would make no sense at all to
persist in wanting something that God did not want me to have.  Father always knows best!  We need to follow the Holy
Spirit as we pray about what we want.  We need to allow Him to teach us how to handle our desires, especially when
they do not come to pass as quickly as we would like.  We must not let a desire get out of balance and become an
obsession, and that can happen when our desires are not submitted to God. When a desire for something becomes so
strong that we think we cannot be happy without it, that desire has turned into lust - and lust is sin.  There is nothing
on this earth we cannot be happy without as long as we are in Christ and as long as He really is our joy.  Here is an
example of what it looks like for a desire to get out of control.  There are some single women who can hardly think
about anything but getting married.  They keep telling God, "I have to be married. I have to be married."They ask their
prayer group to get into agreement with them, and during the prayer time, everybody asks God to send them
husbands.  They ask for prayer over and over in this same area.  They talk about it all the time.  They get depressed
and discouraged about it.  They have made a decision that they absolutely cannot be happy unless they are married.  
Do you know what?  Those people may stay single forever, and if not, they may end up with someone who makes them
wish they were!  There is certainly nothing wrong with a single person saying, "Lord, I'm lonely, and I'd really like to
have somebody with whom I can share life. And I am asking that You would bring the right person.  I want to be
married," or "I need friends."  Sure, it's okay to pray about those things, but we need to be diligent to avoid becoming
fixated on one desire and allowing it to become the entire focus of our lives.  Focus on serving God and obeying Him.  
Focus on being a blessing to others and you can be sure that whatever God's will is for you will come to pass at the
right time.  You won't have to struggle, be frustrated, or upset.  You can enjoy where you are on the way to where you
are going.

If God gives us something and it separated us from Him, then He will not want to give us anything else.  But if God
gives us something, and it deepens our relationship with Him, inspiring us to love and worship Him even more than we
did before, then He is not bothered by what we ask for.  God wants us to have anything we can handle - as much of it
as we can handle - as long as we keep Him first in our lives.

At the same time, we are not always smart enough to know the right things to ask for.  Jesus said that if we ask for
bread, He will not give us a stone, and if ask for fish, He will not give us a scorpion (Matthew 7: 9,10).  But do you know
what?  Sometimes we think we are asking for bread, when in reality, we are asking for a stone.  In other words, we may
be asking for something that we truly believe is right, but God knows that if He were to grant us that request, it would
be the worst thing He could ever give us.  We have the ability, in all innocence, to ask for something that is potentially
dangerous without even realizing it.  In that case, we need to be glad God does not give it to us!  Sometimes we may
be asking for something or for a certain person to come into our life, and little do we know that if God said "yes" to that
request, it would be like letting a serpent into our house.  So we have to trust God enough to say, "You know, God, I
have the confidence to ask You for anything.  But I don't want anything that is not Your will for me.  And I trust You,
God.  If I don't get it, I will know that the timing is not right or that You have something better for me and I simply have
no thought to ask for it yet.  But I am not going to get a bad attitude or go pout because You are not giving me
everything I want." We are God's children and He wants us to be blessed.  He wants us to have not only what we want,
but what is best for us.  We always need to keep that in mind when we pray prayers of petition.  If we truly trust God,
we must trust Him when He says "no" to our requests as much as we do when He says "yes."

If God won't let you do or have exactly what
you want, find out what He does approve of and get busy doing that.  Don't
spend your life being confused because you do not understand God's ways.  We are not meant to understand God;
we are meant to trust Him.  There is no such thing as trust without some unanswered questions in our lives.

Come Boldly

Romans 8:26 says, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we
ought:  but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
"  Sometimes we do not
approach God with confidence because we feel so worthless or condemned or ashamed.  Sometimes we do not think
He really wants to help us, which is another manifestation of feeling worthless.  Some people only pray on days when
they think God should approve of them because they have been "good" that day!  All of these ideas are lies of the
enemy.  True, we do not know how to offer our prayers worthily in our own strength, but we do not go to God in our
own strength; we go to Him in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Because Jesus has made us righteous, the Holy
Spirit intercedes for us (see Romans 8:26). That, coupled with the fact that Jesus lives to intercede for us (Hebrews
7:25), should give us the courage to approach Him with confidence.

We need to be secure enough in our relationship with Him to approach Him with boldness.  Approaching God boldly in
prayer can be likened to going to a bank to make a withdrawal.  If I know that I have fifty dollars in the bank because I
deposited it there last week, I will not hesitate to pull up to the drive-through window and cash a $50.00 check.  I know I
have the money, it's mine, and I can get it out of the bank if I want to.  When I present my check, I fully expect to get my
$50.00.  We need to approach God with that same kind of boldness.  We need to understand what is available to us
because of Jesus and we need to pray confidently, with full expectation that we will receive what belongs to us.  God
has made incredible provision available to us in Christ and we simply need to ask for the blessings He has already
purchased for us.  When we struggle with feelings of unworthiness, all we need to do is ask the Holy Spirit to help us,
because "
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs;
heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
"  
Romans 8:16,17  Because we are children and heirs of God, we can do exactly as Hebrews 4:16 says "
Let us
therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
"  
meaning appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it).  One of the main reasons people do not
pray and are reluctant to ask God for what they need and want is that they do not feel worthy.  They do not feel good
about themselves; they do not feel that they are spiritual enough; they do not really think God would listen to them
anyway.  They are not sure whether or not they have a right to ask God to bless them, because they have "been bad."
This happens when they have not grasped the reality of His forgiveness and grace, which allows His blessings to flow
even when they have made mistakes.

When we pray prayers of petition, we must understand our position as sons and daughters of God who are made
righteous through the blood of Jesus.  You see, we so often think our righteousness is based on doing things "right" -
saying the "right" words, behaving the "right" ways, or having the "right" attitude.  The truth is that we cannot make
ourselves righteous.  We can make ourselves religious, but we cannot make ourselves righteous.  Righteousness has
nothing to do with doing everything right; it has to do with the fact that Jesus shed His blood so that we could be
cleansed of our unrighteousness.  We are only right with God through the blood of Christ.  If we will believe that, then
we will begin to express that righteousness in our lives, but until we believe it, we will not display it or approach God on
the basis of it.  Throughout the New Testament, we read about the fact that Jesus makes us righteous - we cannot do
anything to try to get there again.  In Him, we are settled in that place before God.  Once we truly believe we are
righteous before God because of the blood of Christ, we will begin to behave righteously.  However, no number of right
actions can ever make us right with God apart from Christ.  Affirming this, the Apostle Paul prayed that he would be
found and known as being in Christ, having no righteousness of his own, but only that right standing that comes
through faith in Christ (see Philippians 3:9).

When we truly understand that we cannot do anything to make ourselves righteous and that we do not have to prove
anything to God, we are able to rest in the gift of righteousness Jesus gives to us - and that will make us bold in our
petitions and confident in God's desire to answer us.  I know that God does not hear or answer my prayers because I
am good; He hears and answers because He is good!


Source:

Prevailing Prayer to Peace, by Kenneth Hagin, Copyright 1985, RHEMA Bible Church.

The Power of Simple Prayer, by Joyce Meyer, Copyright 2007, Hachette Book Group, USA.
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