Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines

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Tag Archives: answered prayer

Does God change his mind in response to prayer?

A friend sent me the following question. “I read once that prayers change the mind of God sometimes. Do you think God’s will is altered at times with persistent prayers?”

My short answer is yes sometimes God changes his mind in response to our prayers. 

Still pointing eyes toward heaven

There are instances in the Bible that demonstrate that. When the people of Israel worshiped a golden calf, the Lord declared he planned to wipe them out. However, Moses prayed for them and God repented or changed his mind about the judgment. (Exodus 32:1-14) When King David prayed for the people of Israel, God changed his mind and stopped the angel of death as it approached Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 24) The Bible proclaims we often don’t have what we want simply because we did not ask for it. (James 4:1-2) Read more of this post

Prayer Digest

Here are my top 5 posts on prayer:

'Praying Hands' photo (c) 2008, jill, jellidonut... whatever - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
[1]  Praying for Church Finances: 6 principles regarding generosity

[2]  What can I do to overcome discouragement when I pray?: The 3 keys to praying when nothing seems to happen

[3]  Why aren’t all Christians healed of illnesses?: 4 hindrances to healing

[4]  Prayer for the Sick: 5 suggestions to help you maintain a balance of humble submission and confident faith as you pray

[5]  Do I have to close my eyes to pray?:  3 good reasons to bow your head and close your eyes to pray


Do you have a question about the practice of prayer you’d like me to answer in a future post?

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You just finished reading Prayer Digest a post on Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines, © 2012 Mark Haines.  Please share it with your friends and family.  Just preserve a link to the source.

Prayer for the Sick

My loved one has been sick for quite a while.  I know the Bible tells us to pray and care for those who are ill.  Can you share some guidelines for a prayer for a sick person?

Sometimes we tend to think if we simply say the right words or phrase our requests in the correct way God will give us what we long to receive.  However, that’s a subtle desire to control God.  When we pray for a sick loved one this is an even stronger temptation.  I trust these suggestions will help you maintain a balance of humble submission and confident faith as you pray.

Remember God is in control.

Request God’s wisdom:

  • About how to pray for this condition.
  • For the doctors’ accurate diagnosis & treatment.

Ask God for:

  • His will to be done.
  • His name to be glorified.
  • Healing of the condition.  (Psalm 103:1-3)
  • Those who are sick to be sustained and for their health to be restored.  (Psalm 41:3)
  • Faith enough to endure a prolonged condition, if he allows it.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Involve others in praying by faith for restoration.  (James 5:14-15)

Trust God for the results of:


Do you have a guideline to add to the list?

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You just finished reading Prayer for the Sick a post on Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines, © 2011 Mark Haines.  Please share it with your friends and family.  Just preserve a link to the source.

Prayer for Persecuted Christians

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How do I offer a prayer for the Christians  facing persecution?

Persecution of Christ’s followers is nothing new.  The apostles, Peter and John were arrested shortly after the church was born. (Acts 4:3)  Their first act after being released was to call a prayer meeting.  In their prayer, they asked for more boldness.  (Acts 4:29-31)

Here are my suggestions for prayer on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world today.

Ask God to give suffering believers:

  • Courage to stand firm and to witness.
  • His protection so that the Church will not be wiped out in their part of the world.
  • Grace to forgive their oppressors.
  • Deliverance of their nations from spiritual bondage.
  • Open doors for religious freedom.
  • Wisdom and understanding for church leaders.
  • Church leaders of great integrity and faith.
  • Unity in the church.
  • Warm fellowship among all kinds of Christians.

What would you add to this prayer for persecuted Christians?

How should I pray for my needs?

When I pray for myself what can I ask God to do?  Can I ask him to make me rich?  Famous?  Healthy, wealthy and wise?  How should I pray for my needs?

You’ve asked a good question.  Most people, whether they claim to follow Jesus or not, are likely to pray for whatever they think will make them comfortable and secure.  However, we often are mistaken about what will give us these things.  Beyond that, being comfortable and secure may not be what is best for us.

Smokey Mountain Storm BrewingIf you are a committed follower of Jesus, your prayers about your needs will reflect a different set of values.  You will not ask God for an escape from trouble.  You will seek his help in finding the blessings hidden in trials, the wisdom of discerning God’s guidance and the wonders of  the community of other Christians.

You should pray to find the blessings in your difficulties.  Whether it’s the pain and humiliation of falling on snow-covered steps or the discouragement of a prolonged illness, trials come to make your faith in God stronger.  They provide you with an opportunity to grow in grace.

You should pray for wisdom and the ability to discern God’s guidance.  There will be times in your life when you need to make decisions and you will not know what to do.  In those times, ask God to help you find his way, to do what Jesus would do with the love Jesus would have.

You should pray that God will help you share the wonders of Christian community.  You need other believers and they need you.  Together you can weather the storms of  life and grow through them.  Together you can find God’s direction and help each other follow his leading.

What one thing in your life have you hesitated to pray about?  If you shift your values to seek the blessings in trials, God’s wisdom and the wonder of community, will it be easier for you to present this need to God?  Why or why not?

If this post has been helpful to you, you may appreciate the following:
Can I really pray for my needs?
How do I know if I am praying effectively?
How to know when Jesus gives direction

Can I really pray for my needs?

I’ve always been told it’s selfish to pray for my needs.  Is that true?  Or can I ask God to take care of my problems?

In nearly 30 years of pastoral service, I’ve met several persons with your question.  Every person I’ve met who wondered about praying for his/her needs believes God answers prayer — at least prayers of intercession.  I’m sure you believe God will answer your prayers for others but praying for your needs is a different matter.

Tiny FingersYes, you can pray for your needs with as much confidence as you pray for others.  I think the people who taught you otherwise misunderstood the idea of humility.  Perhaps they assumed the opposite of pride was belittling self instead of  loving service.  Here are a few Bible texts to encourage you to give God your needs.  It will be an act of love and faith when you do.  Read them before prayer until you feel comfortable presenting your needs to God.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7emphasis added)

Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,  your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:9-13)

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Have you struggled with the idea of presenting your needs to our Heavenly Father?  Have you learned to pray for your needs as well as the needs of others?  How did you do it? Please leave a comment below.

How do I pray for healing?

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. (Proverbs 16:24)

There is no magic formula that guarantees God will answer with a miraculous healing.  I am sharing the results of my research and experience.

First, allow me to define healing.

  1. Healing means to mend something that’s broken.
  2. Healing is to make whole again.
  3. Healing means to overcome an unhealthy condition in the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and relational areas of our lives.

Second, there are four actions involved in healing prayer.

  1. Celebrate Jesus. Worship Him. Rejoice in the victory He won with the Cross and the Empty Tomb.
  2. Clarify your need. Ask specifically. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
  3. Commit your life to God. “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD (Psalm 37:3-5). Develop the attitude that declares, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8).
  4. Confess your sins, needs, fears, hopes, and faith.

Third, look for God’s healing in one or more of the following ways.

  1. People in the helping professions ( for example: social workers, addiction counselors) are a part of God’s healing team.
  2. Medical treatments are a part of the miraculous healing God provides.
  3. God created the healing health maintaining processes in our bodies.
  4. God’s direct healing touch may bring instantaneous healing or he may use a series of touches over time.
  5. Obedience to the Bible’s teachings can bring healing and health as well.

What would you add to these suggestions on how to pray for healing?

How do I know if I am praying effectively?

Effective prayer is not…

  • intense feelings.  We can weep and agonize as we pray.  We can work up powerful desires for the answer to prayer we seek.  We can pray until a sense of relief and peace fills our hearts.  We can experience all of these and still not pray effectively.
  • tone of voice.  We can shout or whisper.  We can kneel in silence or pace while screaming.  We can address God as a friend or an uncaring king.  We can use any tone of voice or posture and still not pray effectively.
  • a religious formula.  We can repeat the words of the Bible several times a day.  We can end every prayer with the words “in Jesus’ name” and “Amen.”  We can recite the Lord’s Prayer or a prayer taught by the church.  We can follow any number of prayer rituals and never pray effectively.
  • even receiving what we asked for in prayer.

Effective prayer is…

  • focused on Jesus.  Effective prayers center on who Jesus is and what he would pray for.
  • led by the Holy Spirit.  He is the one who can help us pray effectively.
  • seeking to know and to submit to God’s will.  We often come to prayer with our agendas expecting God to bless them.  Effective prayer leads us to discover God’s agenda and line up with it.
  • connecting with God.  Effective prayer unites our spirits with the Spirit of God.  It builds a stronger relationship with him.

What would you add to this description of effective prayer?  Please share your comments.

Why aren’t all Christians healed of illnesses?

Why aren’t all Christians healed of illnesses?

Over 25 years ago, our doctor told my wife she had an incurable disease.  One of her brothers reminded us that as God’s children we had the right to ask him to heal her.  We prayed for her and there was no more evidence of that disease in her system.  We thank God for his healing power.

I do not claim to be an expert on healing.  I am indebted to Pastor Jim Garlow for much of my current understanding of this complex issue.  His book, God Still Heals, is an excellent resource for Christians from all traditions.  His list of hindrances to divine healing, at the end of that book,  is more extensive than mine but I believe these are the most common problems.

  1. Many people are not healed simply because no one prays for them (James 4:2).
  2. Others are not healed because those praying give up and stop praying (Luke 18:1).
  3. Sometimes it is a lack of faith that keeps people from being healed (Matthew 13:58).
  4. Sin always blocks God’s answers to our prayers (Psalm 66:18).

Please do not use this list of hindrances as means of assigning guilt if someone you pray for is not healed.  They are meant to be a possible answer to this question.  They are also a challenge to us as we care for the sick.

We should ask God to heal them either through the health care providers or by his gracious intervention.  We should keep praying because we believe God is loving and kind.  We should ask Jesus to help us overcome our doubts as we pray (Mark 9:24).  We should always confess our sins and turn to God for grace and cleansing (1 John 1:9).


Do you have a story of God’s divine healing?

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You just finished reading Why aren’t all Christians healed of illnesses? a post on Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines, © 2011 Mark Haines.  Please share it with your friends and family.  Just preserve a link to the source.

The Relationship between Faith and Prayer

Good words from Larry Wilson — The Relationship between Faith and Prayer.


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