Every Christian acknowledges the power of prayer by our mouths. But do we acknowledge it in our hearts?

Paul told us that we should always be in constant prayer. This even means while we are driving down the west bank distress way, it is OK to talk to God. Now I will admit that you may get some strange stares. But one does not have to get down on ones knees in front of an alter to go to God. It is perfectly OK to walk out in your back yard with a cup of coffee in your hand and even sip it while you talk with God.

We also pray in the wrong way a lot of times. When we ask God for something we usually end it with a statement like," Your will be done." God's will will be done whether we pray or not. Don't we in fact want our will to be done? Then why not believe that God will do our will. We should always acknowledge to God that we want Him to do what He knows is best, but we want what we want.

Aren't we in most cases actually trying to change God's mind? After all Jesus tells us about the widow whose only son is in jail. I do not remember for sure but I don't believe that the Bible says whether he was guilty or not. This woman kept pestering the judge day after day after day to let her son go. The judge got so annoyed at her that finally he gave the order to release him.

I believe that most of us, including preachers spend less than 10 minutes a day in prayer. Jesus set the example. Many times he would pray all night long.

Jesus said ask and believing, His Father in Heaven would make it so. Peter stated that the prayer of a righteous man avails much.

The Bible also says no one is righteous. No, not one.

Well then these two statements contradict each other. No they do not. When someone is contrite and praying to God from his heart,

at that moment that person is righteous.

Most of us are like the little boy who prays just before bedtime on Christmas Eve," God, please send a blanket of snow tonight. The flowers and grasses are so cold. A nice blanket will help keep them warm."

Then he thinks to himself, "Boy, did I fool God this time."

Or we are like the man who read that if we were to have the faith of a grain of muster seed we could demand that a mountain fly away into the ocean and it would obey. We pray at night that the hill that is blocking our view of the ocean be removed by tomorrow morning. When we waken the next morning, we rush to the window and we find it still there, we exclaim," I knew it."

Or we have a personal problem with someone and we pray so that person straightens up and flies right so he will be easier to get along with.

We should be praying truthfully to God. After all He can and does read our innermost thoughts. When we pray let's remove all selfishness from our thoughts.

God does answer ALL prayers. Sometimes He say yes. Other times He says Yes, but not right now. Other times He says a resounding no.

If you had a child that you love so much that you would die for -and He did for us- and that three year old child wanted very badly to play with your razor would you let him? Of course not because you know it is not good for him. You would answer his request with a resounding, "NO!"

Would our Father who is in Heaven do any less for us? How about that same child who has now grown up and is twenty-five years old with a family of his own. He comes to visit you and  forgot his razor at home. He now asks to use your razor. Would you let him? Of course you would. When he was three years old you did not tell him no. You just loved him enough to tell him not right now.

What if that same child wanted to try out cocaine. If you are a loving parent you will tell him no. And never give your permission. I believe that sometimes God even answers yes when it is not in our best interest. This can be used to teach us a lesson.

We also petition God in a prayer, and get an answer but because it was not answered in the way we expected we do not believe it was from God. Don't fence in God. When we ask Him for answered prayer, don't tell Him how to answer it. Stand back out of His way and let Him do it.

As most of you know I sell insurance for a living. Several years ago the pay off for winning a contest was a trip to Las Vegas. Now I had never been to Las Vegas and wanted to go in the worst way. Now you and I know that Las Vegas is probably not the best place in the world for a good Methodist boy to go. But I really wanted to go to Las Vegas.

So I worked especially hard and prayed especially hard. The last day of the contest I still needed six more sales and $800 in premium.

That morning before my office opened, I went to God in prayer. I told Him I had come to believe that maybe He did not want me to go to Las Vegas. But I really did want to go to Las Vegas.

At 10:00 that morning I got a call from a man wanting to know if I sold life insurance. He came over and bought a policy for himself, his wife and their four children. I asked him about his car and home insurance and it seems he already had it with another agent with my same company. In fact he had to drive by that other agent's office to get to mine. It seems that he and his wife were having coffee at the same time I was praying and decided that today was the day to get that life insurance they had talked about.

They looked in the phone book and there was my name. Now what makes this more interesting is that his agent's name was beside mine on the same page. We had gone together and purchased a co- op ad so we could get it cheaper.

Well I was almost to Las Vegas. I only needed $425 more in premium. All I had to do was to make some calls. By 3:00 that afternoon I had exhausted every prospect that I had. There was no chance I was going to make it. I went upstairs at my office and prayed about it. I told God I really wanted to go to Las Vegas, but it was apparent that His answer was no and that I would accept that. I would just like to understand why He had fixed it so I would get this close but would not get to go to Las Vegas.

When I got back down stairs at about 3:15 everything went down hill. Every five minute problem took 30 minutes to handle. At 5:00 when we closed I still had paper work that had to be done. My secretary usually locks me in and goes home. I told her to leave the door unlocked that I was just going to put this all down and walk out in about ten minutes.

All at once the door swung open and someone who I really did not care to see stuck his head in with the statement, "Good you are still here. Let me get my wife out of the car."

Time had flown so fast that it was now after six o'clock. And I really wanted to go home.

He brought his wife in and made a statement to me that made me start laughing. " My wife and I were having a cup of coffee this afternoon at about three o'clock and got to talking. We decided that we really ought to go ahead and get that life insurance you had told us about two years ago."

You guessed it. The premium was $435. Ten dollars more than I needed.

God was teaching me a lesson. When we ask for something, don't fence Him in. Don't tell Him how to do it. He had even made me wait until that man and his wife had time to drive from Venice to see me.

I know first handed of a case where this woman had a medical problem. It was prayed about at a prayer breakfast that I go to. She was told about the prayer. There was apparently no easy solution to the problem. That afternoon she broke a tea pot that was part of a set.

Monday morning at 10:00 she was in D.H.Holmes at Oakwood in the notions department on the third floor to get a replacement when she heard her name called.

There was a high school girlfriend that she had not seen in years. The friend had had the same medical problem in school and knew that her friend had the same problem. It seemed that a few weeks before she had found this doctor who had found a simple solution to the problem. By the end of the month the problem was no longer a problem. Now you see God was not fenced in on how to an answer a prayer. He used a broken tea pot and a long forgotten friend to answer it. Even though He used a doctor, it was an answer to a prayer.

I have a friend who was diagnosed as having rheumatoid arthritis. Six of the best specialist in the world had treated him for that over a period of a year at Oschner's. He was resigned to ending up in a wheel chair.

One Saturday morning I got angry at a prayer breakfast. I reminded God of His promises about prayer and yet this loved one of ours was getting worse not better. I suspect that some of my prayer partners began to wonder at my anger in my prayer.

Our friend immediately got worse and had to be admitted as an emergency patient to the hospital. This really upset me and I just could not understand. Monday night I was talking to God and asking for understanding when my wife came out to our backyard patio to tell me that my friend was on the phone.

When I asked him what had happened he told me that some young intern who did not know any better had run an outdated test on him that morning. He found out that he did not have rheumatoid arthritis but something that could be treated by drugs and he would be well in about six months.

You see God had answered prayer. Just not in the way I expected. He changed an incurable disease into one that there was a treatment for.

I was a member of a church where an elderly person was in very bad health and almost constant pain. This person had diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and cancer. We prayed long and hard for this person to get well. She died.

People were disappointed that God had not answered all their prayers. But think just a minute. The only time any of us will ever be in perfect health is when we stand before God. He had in fact answered our prayers. He had taken her to heaven and made her perfectly healthy.

When we pray for the mountain to be moved why do we go check it to see if it has moved? Why don't we go see how God moved it? Not if He did but how He did it.

When we pray for someone to change most of the times nothing happens. BUT when we ask God to help us to understand that person and to help us to "keep our cool", and to help us do what is right, I have found that all at once that person or thing begins to change to be the way I like it. Oddly enough when I look back later that thing or person really is still the same. God did not change the situation. He changed me. Oh what a Great God we have.

Be careful how you pray . Remember the old saying that says be careful for what you ask. You just might get it.

There once was this missionary in Africa. One day he was on his way through the jungle to another village. All at once he became aware that he was being trailed by about twenty cannibals from a different region. They had surrounded him. He had no hope of escaping. He got down on his knees and prayed to God that they would become Christians. All at once it got very quite in the jungle. He looked up and all twenty of the natives were on their knees in prayer. He lifted his eyes to Heaven to give thanks to God just as he heard the chief say, "We now give you thanks oh Lord for the meal we are about to have."

You see his prayer was answered as he requested. The only thing he did not go far enough. He really wanted them to be saved but he also did not want to be eaten.

I have a service on Sunday nights for the homeless people down on Dryades street. One night when I asked for prayer requests, one man asked that we pray that he found a job. I asked him what kind of job he wanted. He said any job would do just find as long as it was honest. I told him that his prayers had been answered. He could start to work for me the next day. I would pay him one dollar an hour. His answer was that he could not take such a low paying job. So I told him what he needed to do was to pray about what kind of job he wanted and how much money he needed to make.

God wants the best for his children. When you pray for a car, why not pray for the best? God can just as easily get you a new Ford as he can get you and old jalopy.

God wants the best for His children just as you want the best for your children. Why don't we believe Jesus when He said that He came to give us a more abundant life?

I challenge you now as a Christian, make a list of people that you should pray for. Carry this list with you. When you are driving or stopped at a traffic jam or light bring these things to God's attention. When you do this in a car you may get a lot of strange stares but the joy God will send you will be worth it.

Let me tell you about my business just a moment. If I have two phone calls that come in at once and one is a regular customer and the other one is new or just an inquiry, which one do you think I take first? That's right the regular one first.

I sorta believe God is the same way. He takes care of His best customers first. The point I am trying to make is that maybe God does not seem to hear your prayers because you are not one of His best customers. Start today being one of His best customers. Try just telling Him how thankful you are that you can hear the birds sing. That you can see and smell the flowers.

The Bible says God created mankind in His own imagine. I believe that God appreciates praise just as much if not more than we do. Prayer of thanks giving is one of the best forms of worship. Find ten things that you can thank God for before you go to bed every night and thank Him for them.

After all God just may take care of His regular customers first.

Your brother in Christ,

Larry Johnson


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