“There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work. The challenge is to find which is the voice of God rather than society, ego or self-interest.” ~Frederick Buechner
Two thousand years ago, a priest was burning incense in the Temple in Jerusalem when an angel appeared before him. The angel told him, “Your prayer has been heard.” This was no chance encounter, this was a divine appointment. Yet what unfolded next was highly unexpected.
Jesus once told the people following him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). The word “fit” means “ready for service”. To be useful we must be prepared, to be prepared we must listen, and to listen we must recognize the voice of God.
Todd Coontz shares that to pray the will of God; we simply pray the word of God. For example, rather than ask God to be with us, we recognize the scripture says he will never leave us nor forsake us, so our prayer should reflect a faith that acknowledges his presence at all times.
Paul says we are “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). A royal family member doesn’t pray like a stranger to the King. We are to lay hold of the promises given to us, not plead for morsels that fall from the table. He has given us a seat of honor, not because we deserved it, but because Christ made it so through one offering.
Consider for a moment; the letter of John says, “Beloved, I wish above all things…” Ask many people what they think comes next and they will shrug and begin to share a laundry list of their burdens. Yet the Apostle said, “I wish above ALL things that you may prosper and be in health” (3 John 1:20).
How would you pray if you knew that promise was already yours? Which brings us back to the angel and the priest.
The priest was Zacharias, the prayer that was answered was for a child, the child would be John the Baptist. Yet upon seeing an angel and hearing the angel’s declaration of his prayer being heard, Zacharias questioned, “How could this happen, I am too old?”
The angel declared that because of his unbelief, “you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words.” You can learn the entire story and the outcome in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke and on Cleveland's Fish Radio.
As Kenneth Copeland shares, Zacharias’ mouth was shut so he would not speak unbelief and detour the promise that was given. Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to pray for a mountain to be moved, rather he told them to say to the mountain, “Be thou moved!” (Mark 11:23).
Yes, prayer can be asking, but prayer is also declaring and saying it is so based on the promises. First we must know the promises; that is why to pray the will of God we must first know the word of God.