It’s a new year. You have new hopes and new dreams. But more than likely, you have the same old resolutions. If we’re so resolved to change for the better, then why don’t we? The answer isn’t obvious. It’s hidden in our prayer life. Nothing changes without prayer, first.
“But I’ve prayed many times and nothing has changed,” you might say. “God, just doesn’t hear me.”
Talking to God, our Father, is just as easy as you and I communicating with each other. God loves you and he loves to hear from his children. Have you prayed, without results? Perhaps there is something standing between you and God—unforgiveness and hidden sin.
Mark 11: 24-25 (King James Version, KJV)
“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
So get rid of the old grudges. Acknowledge your mistakes. Then ask God to forgive you. Just like any good Dad would forgive his child if they said, “I’m sorry” and really meant it, God will forgive us too.
1 John 1:9 (King James Version, KJV)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God is pleased when we realize that we have done wrong and repent. It shows Him that we are learning right from wrong–which is what He wants.
Prayer does not have to be long, complicated or religious (repetitive or saying what you think sounds good). It just needs to be sincere. As soon as you pray, know that God has heard you and will answer immediately (though sometimes you don’t see the results of his answer instantly).
Jesus taught his disciples (that’s includes us too!) to pray this way…
Luke 11:2-4 (King James Version, KJV)
“And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”
Forgiving others is a crucial part of our prayer life AND PERSISTENCE.
Luke 11:5-10 (The Living Bible, TLB)
Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this illustration: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You would shout up to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit and I’ve nothing to give him to eat.’ He would call down from his bedroom, ‘Please don’t ask me to get up. The door is locked for the night and we are all in bed. I just can’t help you this time.’ “But I’ll tell you this—though he won’t do it as a friend, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you everything you want—just because of your persistence. And so it is with prayer—keep on asking and you will keep on getting; keep on looking and you will keep on finding; knock and the door will be opened. Everyone who asks, receives; all who seek, find; and the door is opened to everyone who knocks.
God will give us everything we ask for (that doesn’t conflict with His will and His Word), especially the ability to resist temptation. Once you’ve identified what tempts you, try this strategy (this has really helped me):
- Recognize the pattern – We are usually most tempted when we are tired, stressed out or upset. The bad habit or sin is a way of coping with the pressure. But we have better way through Christ, that won’t keep us in the cycle of sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting.
- Verbally renounce the sin – Next time temptation comes, reject it verbally. For example: “I renounce every ungodly act and commit my entire being to you Lord. I take authority over my flesh and command it to line up with the Word of God, in the name of Jesus.” Verbal words, cancel ungodly thoughts (every action starts with a thought). Remember the devil is “selling sin”; let him know you aren’t buying. No means no. Pray to God for strength when you have trouble saying no.
- Focus on what you can do – During times of weakness, play worship music, read the Bible or a good book, watch a good, clean movie, call a friend or take a walk. The key is to plan in advance all the good things you can do before temptation comes knocking at your door. You’ll already be too busy to let temptation in.
You are an overcomer if you’ve asked Jesus into your heart. The Holy Spirit dwells inside you and God is for you.
Romans 8:1 (The Living Bible, TLB)
So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine throughChrist Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death.
To study this more, read Romans 8. It’s one of my favorites in the Bible.