Wednesday, December 18, 2013

TTF Piece 11: Additional Challenges

(This TTF Workbook starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")


            I would like to include some extra challenges and ideas to continue your journey and to continue drawing nearer to our heavenly Father.  If any interest you, give them a try.  No matter what you do, anytime you choose to read the Bible more, pray more, or be more diligent in your walk with God, you will grow.  So here are some ideas for further growth: 

TTF Piece 10: Looking Back on the Journey

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")


            There are no guaranteed results from this trip through the furnace.  (If you haven’t done this self-and-faith-exploration “workbook,” go back to the beginning to see what it’s about in the post “Through the Furnace: Intro 1.”)  It all has to do with your willingness to be honest, transparent, and obedient, and with how much you invested in self-introspection, prayer, Bible reading, and learning to listen to the Spirit.  And once again, there is no real end to this journey.  I would love to be able to say, “Congratulations on working your way through the Graduate School of Faith.  Here is your diploma.”  But that can’t happen.  Because we will never graduate until eternity comes for us. 

            But as you climb higher and dig deeper with the Lord - as you shift your focus from the temporary to God’s kingdom and His righteousness. - your life will become more vibrant, alive, and fulfilling.  We will end up in the furnace again from time to time.  We will slip.  We will at times get tired of digging and climbing.  (Oh, don’t I know it!)  But we will be drawn back to God, because we know the blandness of life apart from Him and the exhaustion of trying to do it on our own.      

            Before we get into some ideas for future challenges, I would like to pose a few more questions for reflecting back on the whole journey that you have been on up to this point. 

TTF Piece 9: A Time of Waiting

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")

            As I reflect back on my time in the furnace, I have to say that the most growth seemed to happen during the times of God’s deafening silence.  As we waited for years to get direction from God about a house, it seemed that the greater my need for an answer and for God’s leading, the quieter He got. 

            At first, I pleaded with Him for a sense of direction and for a house.  But by the end, I was just pleading to have any sense that He was even there, that He cared and was listening and hadn’t abandoned me.  What started out as a search for a home ended up as a search for knowing that I mattered to God. 

            It’s ironic to me that the greatest level of growth that I have ever had in my relationship with the Lord came out of a time when I doubted everything about my relationship with Him.  The most growth I have ever experienced in my understanding of prayer came from feeling like I totally failed at it.  And by embracing the unworthy truth of myself (the truth that we don’t have to be “worthy” of God’s love because it is free and available and all we have to do it accept it), I finally found the acceptance that I desperately wanted.

            And I could only get to this point by facing the walls and fears and doubts that I had inside.  And I could only do that when God hid from me.  Because the more He hid, the more I pursued.  It wasn’t that He had abandoned me (even if it felt that way); it’s that He knew I was ready to dig deeper and pursue Him more.  And this wouldn’t have happened if I was pampered by His presence and by His blessings.

 

            I think that there are at least five reasons why God remains silent for stretches of time: 

TTF Piece 8: A Correct View of God

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")
 
            One reason that I have so strongly stressed our need to be in the Word daily is because this is where we find God, as He is.  And if we are not relating to God as He is - as He has revealed Himself to be in His Word - we are relating to Him out of falsehoods, misconceptions, preconceived ideas, and half-truths.  And many times we are relating to Him in unhealthy ways because of our broken pasts and broken hearts. 
 
            We just don’t know it. 
 
            But if we continue to do this - if we do not put the effort and thought into correcting our unhealthy views and our unhealthy ways of relating to Him - our relationship with Him will always be stunted, shallow, or damaged. 
 

TTF Piece 7: A Correct View of You

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")

            In Child of Mine (at sweetlybrokengirl.blogspot.com), I wrote all about my insecurities and fears and about how they affected my relationships with people and with God.  But the thing is, I know that my story isn’t any different from so many other people’s stories.  Many, many of us come from broken, hurting pasts.  And so we all carry around scars and defense mechanisms, and we have walls that we put up for self-protection.  Walls that keep people and God an arm’s length away. 

            But I never knew the incredible freedom that came with letting God break through them … until I fully opened the door of my heart to Him!  And now I want so much to help others do this, too. 

            The thing with people who have been hurt in the past is that we spend our lives trying to protect ourselves from being hurt ever again, even by God.  (Except we don’t always know it.)  We don’t let people get too close.  We’ve learned not to expect too much from others, not to cling too tightly or to desire too much from them.  We’ve learned not to need others or to let ourselves be loved by others.  It would just hurt us anyway.  And so we sabotage relationships with other people in many different ways. 

TTF Piece 6: The Importance of Prayer

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")


            If we do not see the immense value of prayer, it could be because of misconceptions we have about what it is.  (Or it could be because we are preoccupied with self and being self-sufficient.)   

            So, I want to take a moment to review some misconceptions that many of us have about prayer.  (Many of these I looked at in the “Understanding God’s Will” series.)  I believe that, in general, we see prayer very differently from the way God sees it. 

            We want it to be a “magic button” that we can push to get what we want; whereas, God wants us to pray so that we can remain close to Him and accomplish what He wants.

            We want prayer to be there when we need it; God wants us to pray because we need Him. 

            We want to be comfortable and not have to spend too much time in prayer or get up too early; God wants prayer-warriors. 

            We want the easy road; God wants people who can boldly storm the gates of hell.

            We want to build the greatest entertainment center in the world; God wants us to build His kingdom. 

TTF Piece 5: Word of God

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")
 
            Before I went through the furnace, I loved God’s Word.  And I valued it immensely.  And at different times in my life, I would immerse myself in it.  But at others, I would realize that I didn’t take it out for weeks.  I knew it was important . . . I just didn’t live like it was important enough to be read every day.  (I’m just being honest here.)  I was so busy with life that I convinced myself that it was enough to listen to godly music and read godly books.  Scripture was extra.  Beneficial, but not as inspiring as music and inspirational books.  And frankly, it was so familiar that it was boring and just not doing much for me anymore. 
            And as far as prayer was concerned, when I used to have my insomniac-ish nights, I would lay there and quiet my mind and pray, asking God to speak to me . . . in the hopes that by silencing my mind, I would actually be able to fall asleep.  I didn’t really want to hear from Him.  I just wanted sleep. 
            But now, after the furnace, the Word has become so alive to me.  And prayer has become a life-line - an intimate, mind-boggling connection to my Heavenly Father.  In fact, now I find that I have a hard time falling asleep because I don’t want to miss anything that He might want to tell me in the quietness and stillness of my heart and mind.  It’s amazing to me that I, a lowly little worm, could communicate with the God who created the heavens and the earth, and that He actually wants to hear from me all the time.  It’s very humbling. 

TTF Piece 4: Radical Obedience

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")
 
            I would have to say that of all the pieces, I think that this one is the most important.  (If any one of them can be considered more important than the others.)  And I’m not saying this like God necessarily needs our obedience or else He’ll be at a helpless loss.  But because obedience says the most about our relationship with God.  Obedience tells us if we are able to hear His messages and if we know His Word, if we trust Him enough and are willing enough to do what He says, and if we love Him and have really made Him God of our lives.  Let’s take a moment to explore some of what the Bible says about obedience:


TTF Piece 3: Learning to Listen and Be Still

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")
 
            Psalm 46:10:  “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
 
            That is one of my favorite verses.  I’m working on a goal right now to find my top five “life verses” and that is one of them.  And it’s funny because when I was in high school, I went to a Christian retreat and that was the key verse for the week.  And all I could think was, How boring!  What a boring verse to pick to inspire, challenge, and “activate” the teens for Christ.  Be still?  Blah!
            But now, this verse has become so dear to me.  So, I guess I’ve come full circle.
            To me, this verse is all about humility.  A humble person is one who has learned to trust in God’s goodness, love, and faithfulness so much that, despite the storms that rage around, they can “be still” because God is God!  A humble person desperately desires to be near the Lord and to bask in His presence, and so they have learned the importance of being physically and mentally still with the Lord at times.  And a humble person also knows that everything is about God’s glory!  He will be exalted!!!
            Oh, I love this verse!!!
            But it took me a long time to learn to be still because, deep down, I couldn’t trust others, not even God.  I couldn’t “be still” before Him because I was too busy and concerned with keeping all the balls up in the air.  And as a consequence, I never knew the incredible joy and delight and peace of resting in His arms.  Of being still.

TTF Piece 2: Honesty and Transparency

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")
 
Honesty with Yourself and Transparency Before the Lord
 
            Proverbs 12:22:  “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.”
            Matthew 5:8:  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  

            Pure.  Being free from impurities.  Impurities are those things that pollute what is true and genuine and good.  And what pollutes a true, genuine, good relationship with the Lord (and pollutes even our own lives) are falsehood and lies.  Hiding from truth and hiding the truth.  Deliberately living a lie or unconsciously agreeing with one.  These keep us from being able to really experience, see, and know God.  But if we will live authentic, transparent lives before God, we will know Him (and ourselves) in a way we never could before. 

TTF Piece 1: The Desire to be Broken

(This TTF series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")

            Psalm 51:17:  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” 
 
            Okay, if you are still reading this then I would guess that you have a genuine desire to be broken, or at least you’re curious about it.  And the first step to brokenness is seeing your need for it and desiring it.  During this step, all you need to do is pray.  It does not need to follow any formula or specific words, just tell God of your desire to be humbled.  (There’s a sample prayer at the end of this post.)  He doesn’t need fancy words or long prayers, but He does need us to open our hearts to him.  He needs our invitation.  He needs us to express our willingness to be molded. 

TTF Intro 2

(This series starts with the post "Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1.")

Starting the Journey 
 
            Psalm 14:2:  “The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.”   
 
            Maybe you’re thinking, Okay, so I am ready to start this challenge.  I want to become diligent in my relationship with the Lord.  I want to draw ever nearer to Him and to live a life that is glorifying to Him.  I want to be humbled at His feet.  I want Him to prune away anything that may be hindering my relationship with Him, so that I can have a deeper, more genuine, more vibrant relationship with Him.  How can I do this?  How can I become Sweetly Broken?       

Through the Furnace (TTF): Intro 1


Through the Furnace: Your “Sweetly Broken” Journey 
A heart-and-faith-changing workbook for those who like to think deeply, tackle the hard questions, challenge themselves, and journal.

Do You Want More?


            In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 
            Okay, now, let me ask this:  How many of us really feel that we are living our lives to the fullest?  Abundant lives?  Vibrant lives?  Eternally-effective lives?  I’m going to suspect that most of us are just hoping to make it through the day, maybe accomplishing one extra chore on our To Do list.  Just so we can fall exhausted into bed, and then wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.     

Thursday, December 12, 2013

UGW Q22: So What, Ultimately, is God's Will?

(This "Understanding God's Will" series starts at the bottom of the list with the post, "Understanding God's Will Intro Part 1") 

            22.  So what is the Will of God, according to the Bible?  And how do I find the next step in His plan for me?   
            Well, I’m glad you asked.  But do you really want to know?  Because once you know then you have a decision to make: obey or disobey.  And doing God's Will is not a simple, quick thing.  It’s a life-long, life-altering discipline.  And that’s part of the problem because we want simple jobs with quick and massive rewards.  We want to put in the least amount of effort and get the most benefits possible.  We want Him to open the doors, but we don’t want any responsibilities.  We want freedom, but no consequences.

UGW Q21: Will He Lead Where I Don't Want to Go?

            21.  Will He take me somewhere I don’t want to go or make me follow His Will if I don’t want to? 
            Yes and no.  Yes, He did drag Jonah to Nineveh, but I don’t think He generally sends along “big fishes” to drag us, kicking and screaming, to places we don’t want to go.  I believe that His typical way is not “a big fish,” but to pursue, challenge, call, and convict us.  He will knock on the doors of our hearts and ask us to go with Him.  And when He does call us to something we don’t like, if we will remain in Him, be obedient, and focus on Him and His glory, our feelings will eventually get in line.  But He does allow us to rebel and to be hard-hearted, if we choose.  And I think it breaks His heart and grieves Him when we do.  He wants so much more for us than we want for ourselves. 


UGW Q20: What if I Missed the Path?

            20.  What if I missed the path that God wanted me to take? 
            Get on the new path!  I think that it is indeed possible to miss the first and best path that God wants us to take, by our refusing to obey and follow Him or by our negligence.  And I think this happens more than we realize.  But God is a wise, sovereign God and He can see how any situation can be turned into good.  And He’s always opening up new paths.  So I would say that if you feel that you’ve missed an opportunity or a path that you knew God wanted you to take, don’t dwell on it.  This prevents you from being of further use to Him. 

UGW Q19: What if I Pray for the Wrong Things?

            19.  What if what I’m praying for is not God’s Will or plan for me?  What do I do?  Like the Israelites begging for and getting meat (Numbers 11), could I end up getting what I ask for as sort of a punishment?  
            I wondered about this one, too.  If I was asking and asking for something that God didn’t want to give me, would He end up giving it to me because I begged so much, but then there would be a punishment attached to it?  That’s how I felt as I pleaded with God for a house.  I mean, that’s like what happened to the Israelites, right?  Or is it?


UGW Q18: Our Responsibilities

            18.  You keep saying that we have responsibilities in getting God’s Will done?  What kinds of responsibilities? 
            I’ve already gone through many of them, but if you read the Bible, you’ll find lots more.  Because as I said before, His Will is a Verb.  It's more about the way we live in obedience to Him than it is about finding His plan for our life. 


UGW Q17: But God Can't Change His Mind

            17.  But what about the Bible verse that says that God can’t change His mind? 
            1 Samuel 15:29 says, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”  I grew up believing this as a simple fact about the nature of God: He is incapable of changing His mind.  It made sense.  I mean, if He knows all things and knows what’s best for all things and always does what’s best in all things, then, of course, we can’t change His mind.  How could we talk Him into something other than what He’s going to do? 


UGW Q16: Can We Change God's Mind?

            16.  Can we change God’s mind with our prayers? 
            Yes and No.  There are Old Testament examples of people who pleaded with God in prayer to not apply a punishment that He said He would do.  And as a consequence of their intercessory prayers, God relents and doesn’t do what He said He’d do.  It seems to me that the times that He has changed His mind in the Bible were almost all because of appeals to His merciful side, to spare the people the terrible consequences of their sins.

UGW Q14 and 15: Does God Force Nations to Sin? Is He Sovereign?

            14.  So what about in the Old Testament when we read things like God sending a nation to destroy another nation as a punishment, but then He turns around and punishes the nation that He just used as a tool of discipline?  How could He cause this - force a nation to be His tool of discipline - and then punish them for it?  Isn’t that unfair?
            I have a hard time understanding this, too, to be honest.  I’m not totally sure how He works or how much free-will overriding He does here.  But keeping in mind His justness, His sovereignty, His fairness, and His decision to allow us free-will (and the consequences), this is the best way I can understand it.


UGW Q13: Am I Limiting God's Power?

            13.  But aren’t you limiting God’s power when you say that He’s not in total control of everything?
            No, I don’t think so.  And yes, He is in control of everything as far as everything that happens to us has to go through Him first.  And I am not saying that He’s not all-powerful.  I believe that He is indeed all-powerful.  If He chose to wipe out the earth in a second, He could.  He could do whatever He wants to do.  But I don’t think that He does do whatever He wants to do.  Because I think that when He created the world, He decided to make man with a free-will that He (generally) will not override, even though He can.


UGW Q12: God Works All Things for Good

            12.  I used to take comfort in the fact that God does whatever He wants to do and that God causes everything to happen for a reason.  But if that’s not the case, what then? 



UGW Q11d: Bad Things Beyond Our Responsibility

            Now, I’ve just been talking about the bad things that happen as a result of our own actions and choices.  But what about the bad things that happen that we had no responsibility for: tornadoes, getting hit by a drunk driver, being wronged by someone, the loss of loved ones, etc.?  Does God make these things happen for a reason? 


UGW Q11c: Deliberate Ignorance

            Now, that’s all about the first main problem that we need a wake-up call in.  And here’s the other - deliberate ignorance.  Deliberate ignorance not only affects our economy because we choose to deliberately ignore the fact that we spend more than we make, but it also affects the health of our minds and bodies and society as a whole.
            When it comes to our minds, I think that many of us do not give much thought to what we allow into them.  We choose to be ignorant of the effects of the things that we shouldn’t be watching, reading, listening to, and thinking about.  And we excuse it with, “It won’t affect me.”


UGW Q11b: Marriage Trouble

            I think that we as a society need a wake-up call in two major areas.  (There are many more, but I’m only referring to two here that are on my heart).  Our constant selfish search for satisfaction outside of God’s marriage design, and our “deliberate ignorance” when it comes to the harmful things that we allow into our homes, our minds, our food, our bodies, our children’s bodies, etc. 


UGW Q11a: Do Things Happen for a Reason?

            11.  But don’t you think that God could’ve caused bad things to happen for a reason, even if He didn’t really want them to happen?  
            Sometimes, maybe.  I wish that I could say no . . . and yes.  No, because I don’t want to think that God causes bad things to happen.  And yes, because I want to believe that all bad things have a purpose and that He is in total control.  It makes the bad things a lot easier to face then.  (And for the record, I think that our view of what’s “bad” can and does differ from God’s.  Our perspective is so, so cloudy and flawed compared to God’s.)  

UGW Q10: Bad Things Happen


            10.  Can things happen that God doesn’t want to happen?  
            Obviously, yes!  We fell, didn’t we?  We introduced death and sin into the human race and the world.  I bring up this question because people want to know why God would allow evil if God is all-powerful and can stop it.  And the answer is because He doesn’t use His power to override our choices and the consequences of our choices.  And so bad things happen because of us and because of Satan and his kingdom.  (Funny thing is, we don’t want God’s interference when things are going good and going our way, but we sure want His “interference” when they aren’t.) 

UGW Q9i: Still Waiting for an Answer

            So how long do we continue to hang in there and pray for something that doesn’t seem to be happening?  When it seems like God is not listening and it hurts us to have to plead again about a certain request?  I’ve pleaded with God for things that haven’t happened or that seemed a long time in coming.  And this is the best advice I can offer right now.  If you have gone through all the steps above and God is still not answering, hang in there and keep praying about a concern until one of five things happens.  Until . . .


UGW Q9h: Summing Up Effective Prayer

            After really searching the Word for verses on prayer, I’m beginning to believe that God doesn’t just answer prayer based on how much faith we have and on whether or not we claim that it will happen ahead of time.  Yes, we need faith.  That is a necessity.  But it’s not about “performing” or about jumping through hoops to prove how much faith we have.  It’s about the condition of our lives and hearts, about our relationship with Him and with others, and about how closely we are walking with Him and living in His love.  Do we have faith in Him to handle our request?  And no matter how He chooses to answer, do we have enough faith in Him as a good, loving Father to remain close to Him and to praise Him? 


UGW Q9g: Other Convicting Verses

            Now, that’s a lot to take, I know!  But . . . there’s more!  If we really want to examine what sins we might be harboring in our hearts, we would be wise to consider these verses. 
            Here’s one for husbands.  1 Peter 3:7:  “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”  The degree to which we treat others with consideration and respect, particularly regarding a husband’s treatment of his wife in this verse, is the degree to which our prayers are unhindered.
            And here are three that scare me:
            Proverbs 21:13:  “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”
            James 4:17:  “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” 
            Romans 14:23:  “. . . everything that does not come from faith is sin.”

UGW Q9f: Maybe God's Not Listening

            Okay, now this is a lot to think about already.  But there is more.  (And even more than what I am saying here.)  On top of all that I’ve already said, there are many more verses that shed light on why our prayers may not be effective.  We have a much greater responsibility than we realize in making sure that our prayers get heard. 

UGW Q9e: Humbled by Unanswered Prayer

            Another problem with the “name it and claim it” interpretation is that we are tempted to bail on God, to criticize ourselves for our “weak” faith, or to question Him when we don’t get the answers that we want or thought we would get.  It confuses us, discourages us, and blows our understanding of God and His Word out of the water.  And I think that God allows this helplessness and futility so that we can learn that it’s not about us, it’s all about Him!  That He is God and we are not!  And so that we dig deeper into the Word to see who God really is and what He has to say through all of it - and not just through the few passages that we are familiar with.  



UGW Q9d: Idolatrous Prayers

            I think that there is something else that we need to consider when it comes to our requests.  How many times do our requests and our desires for an answer become idolatrous pursuits, taking our focus from God?  I think sometimes this is why many of us end up in the furnace of refining, long waits.  To purify our hearts, to help us weed out wayward desires and idols, and to help us refocus on what we should be focused on: God! 

UGW Q9c: Considering Other Verses

            When you isolate a verse, such as Mark 11:22-24, from other Scripture, it’s easy to misunderstand it.  It’s easy to make the Mark passage a “name it and claim it in faith” verse when you do not take into account the rest of Scripture.  And this then causes me to focus more on my faith’s ability to make things happen and less on drawing near to God and immersing myself in Him and His Word.  After all, if my faith is enough to get it done, how much do I need Him?

UGW Q9b: Help for the Journey

            So faith in God isn’t “claiming” something that He hasn’t promised, believing that He’ll do it just because we believe in His ability to do it.  Godly faith is trusting that He is the God that He claims to be in the Bible and that He will do what’s best, in His time and in His way.  And our job is to follow in obedience, not to lead. 
            And contrary to the “name it and claim” way, I believe that we are off-base when we are “claiming” a particular answer to prayer before He reveals it, when we tell Him the answer that we expect and that we are going to wait for.  I think we need to not be claiming specific answers or blessings as much as “instructions” or “help along the way.” 

UGW Q9a: "Name It, Claim It" Nonsense

            9.  How come some prayers don’t seem to work, even when you believe that it’s God’s Will?  And how long do you keep praying for something (especially when it’s a painful issue) when God seems to not be listening or answering?   
            Boy, I tell you, I struggle with this one all the time.  I want something so bad sometimes (even something that’s good and beneficial), and I pray earnestly for it.  And when it doesn’t happen, I struggle with why my prayers aren’t getting things done. 

UGW Q8c: About the Smaller Decisions

            Now as far as smaller, everyday decisions?  The less impact it has on our lives, on other’s lives, and on God’s kingdom, the less we need to spend time sweating over it in prayer.  It’s not wrong to ask God’s guidance about the route we take home from work, if we should buy the blue dress or the green one, if we should go to the beach today or tomorrow.  But we don’t need to dwell on them, either, feeling like we need to get God’s expressed direction in every decision we make.  It’s just not possible to live life this way. 
            If we live wisely - abiding in Him and having learned to heed the Spirit’s nudges and “red flags” - then we can go forward in life, making decisions as we go, knowing that He will direct our feet as we walk and that He will send up “pause” signals as we need them.  Because the Spirit lives in us.  (But we need to learn to recognize the signals and to heed them.) 

UGW Q8b: Three Keys for Discerning Next Step


            And so, the next question becomes, How can I recognize His guidance when He is revealing the next step?  When we were house hunting, I had really wanted the next step to show up in neon lights.  But that obviously won’t happen.  And then I found a book that gave me some really good advice on how to know when God shows “the next step.”  And I really have to thank Gigi Tchividjian here.  Through her book, A Woman’s Quest for Serenity, she helped me understand how to discern God’s guidance, when so many other things were making it hard to hear His leading.  (If you can find her book, it is well worth reading.) 

UGW Q8a: Pray for Specifics?

            8.  If praying for God’s Will is necessary, then do I have to know the specifics of what to ask for?  How do we pray so that His Will gets done?

UGW Q7: But God Already Knows Our Needs

            7.  But what about the verses that talk about how God knows what we need before we ask, like Matthew 6:8 and Matthew 6:32?  Doesn’t this show that we don’t really need to pray for His care, because He’ll care for us anyway, since He knows our needs?

UGW Q6: But God Can Read Our Minds

            6.  But if God can read our minds, isn’t just thinking about what we want to pray good enough?  Isn’t saying, “I’ll pray for you” and intending to do it as good as doing it?  You know, “It’s the thought that counts,” right? 
            I used to think this.  I used to think that if prayers were just formalities and if He could read my thoughts, then He knew what I wanted to pray.  And that was just as good as praying.  Right? 

UGW Q5: Prayer Matters

            5.  So prayer really does matter when it comes to making sure that God’s Will happens?
            Yes!  If we believe that God always does what He wants, then we won’t realize that prayer matters in discerning God’s plans for us and in getting His Will done.  Our prayer life will be weak.  And there are examples in the Old Testament that support the necessity of prayer and the fact that it affects whether His Will gets done or not.