|"I don’t know exactly what I should pray for. So the Spirit is praying with greater fervency and greater design than I can offer. As a result, God is bending the universe to answer my prayer so that all things will work together for good."
How to Pray Backwards
By Jennifer E. Jones
Want to know how to get your prayers answered? It’s all in where you begin. Author Bryan Chapell shares the secret to prayers that get God’s attention.
Jennifer E. Jones: Your book is entitled Praying Backwards, and you concur with Paul that we really don’t know how to pray. Where did we get misguided?
Bryan Chapell: We have good instructions. We know we are to ask God; we know that He hears; we know that He answers. Sometimes we get misled with motive. “It is my purpose to jangle God’s chain so that He’ll do what I want Him to.” So often in the Christian circles, people mistake their desires for God’s will. The notion of praying backwards is real simple. Almost everyone is taught to end their prayers saying, “in Jesus’ name. Amen.” Why do we pray that? The Bible tells us so. What it really means is, I am offering this prayer for the glory of Jesus. So what I’m asking is really for His sake. We end our prayers in Jesus’ name but that may not be what we just prayed. What we’re often doing is saying, “Lord, I need a better job in Jesus’ name.” It’s just like when we were kids. “Lord, I want a pony for Christmas.” That’s not really in Jesus’ name. That’s more in my name. So I’m reminding people of what they’re doing, saying, if you were to pray backwards, if you were to say first “in Jesus’ name,” how would it change your prayer? Our priorities would get changed upside down. We would be saying, “Lord, I’m asking this not because it’s best for me but because it would bring the most glory to Jesus.’ And when that kind of prayer comes, we know God will hear. He must honor His name.
Jennifer: Where’s the payoff?
Bryan: For the heart that really has the indwelling of the Spirit of God, we really want to bring glory to Jesus. So I’m glorifying Jesus by what I’m praying, and that’s really what I most want anyway.
Jennifer: Is it about following a script?
Bryan: I’m not concerned that we use the actual words, “in Jesus’ name,” at the beginning. I’m saying, “If you were to begin where you ended, how might it really change what you’re saying?”
Jennifer: In charismatic circles, some people believe in naming it and claiming it. They say that praying, "if it's Your will, Lord" lacks faith. Is that true?
Bryan: It’s a mix. We are told to offer the desires of our heart. Again, we’re reminded of what those are. Jesus said, “My food, my greatest desire, is to do the will of Him who sent me.” So if you were to say, “name-it-and-claim-it,” what does that mean? If it means that I snap my fingers and God will respond, then you have to think who’s really God here? I think of it this way. Even the apostle Paul said in Romans 8:26 that we don’t know how to pray. It’s the prelude to one of the favorite verses for most Christians. Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.” We forget that that’s the end of a teaching on prayer that begins in verse 26. There Paul says that we don’t know how to pray. So the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep to utter. The Holy Spirit is almost in the pains of childbirth, pleading to God on our behalf. And because God knows the mind of the Spirit, He answers in accordance with His will. Therefore, all things work together for good.
Jennifer: It sounds as though we are just a vessel that God uses to communicate with the Spirit.
Bryan: If you understand what prayer is, it will blow your socks off. Our hearts are eternally united to Christ so that His righteousness is our's. His being is united with my being so I’m told that I’m already an eternal being. That’s amazing. I am praying to God. I don’t always know, in my humanity, all that I should pray. The Spirit is taking my words in His design to God. And then I’m told that Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for me. So the Spirit is taking my words to God, and the Son is interceding on my behalf before God. There is a sense in which God is responding because He’s listening to the voice of His Son. When I know that I’m united with Christ, it’s almost as though when I pray, it’s Jesus talking to the Father for me through me. It’s an amazing privilege. That’s why [it says] all things work together for good. God is changing creation as a consequence of our prayers -- not because I always know what to pray. Because as I pray in humility, God is taking the voices of His children and through His Son making them the power of the universe.
Want to know how to pray? Read Bryan Chapell's book, 'Praying Backwards'.
Got comments? Drop me a line.
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