Prayer

Phil 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 

The Bible is given to us so that we may know God’s mind on how we are to live as Christians. It encourages us when we sin and fall into divers temptations with accounts of those that went before us, and gives us a glimpse of what will be taking place not only in the future here on earth, but in eternity. However, if we truly want to have a close personal relationship with Jesus, it will only come through prayer. Nothing can build a stronger bond between two individuals than constant communication between themselves. Prayer moves the hand of Jesus, it touches the heart of Jesus, and it heals the hurts of Christians. As a Christian who has been away from church for any length of time, careful consideration must be given on not only your bible reading schedule, but also on the amount of time spent fellow shipping with the Lord through prayer. We will look at three different aspects concerning this topic of prayer.

1) Does God always hear my prayer? The answer to that is no, He does not. Psa.69:13 But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. This means that we can pray as hard and as much as we want, but if we are not right with Him and with the brethren, God will not here us. Lam.3:8,44 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. What can hinder our prayers from being heard and answered from God?

a) Your not saved. (Is.59:1-2) John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners No matter how much an individual prays, God does not hear them. Some may say ” I have prayed before and it seems that He answered me.” In 1 Tim 2:1 the bible tell us that “.. supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men” Some one was praying for you and God granted an answer to there pray on your behalf. (Gen.19:28-29) If God was to answer everyone’s prayer regardless if they’ve accepted His free gift of salvation or not, what would be the reason to get saved in the first place? When we do accept Jesus as our Savior, we are resurrected from the dead, and brought back into fellowship with God, and then we can “… come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb.4:16 Because then God doesn’t see us, but He sees the blood of the Lamb that cleansed us!

b) You have unconfessed sin. (Prov.28:13) ” He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” You’ll not have a close walk with God, you’ll not get victory over sin, you’ll not grow as a Christian, whatever the situation, the bible says that you will not prosper in anything when you have sin in your life that you know needs to be dealt with. The line of communication between you and God is shut down because of that unconfessed sin. Get it confessed, accept whatever chastisement (if any) God brings to you, and go on and live for Him. Psa.32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. It is a guaranteed fact that the little spankings God gives is not to be compared with the years of agony that can and is spent away from the blessings of God. Prov.10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

c) You harbor sin against others (Ps.66:18) Psa. 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. As a Christian who has been hurt by others, this is a very important fact to consider. If you say you have forgiven someone with your mouth, but not with your heart, the Bible teaches that God will not forgive you until you have truly forgiven others.(Mk.11:25-26)

What needs to be realized is that it is you that is getting hurt by not forgiving others, not the one who might have caused the pain. Jer.5:25 …your sins have withholden good things from you

Mat 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Here we see that if any have anything against us, and we know it, we are to go to them and get it right. We are not to wait on them to see if they will come to us to get the matter right. Our relationship with Jesus and all that we can do for Him will be hindered because of our pride. Mat 18:21-22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. That means countless. Here in Matt.18, it doesn’t say anything about the brother coming and asking for forgiveness, but in direct relationship with Matt.5, it clearly teaches that we are to forgive regardless if they come and ask for forgiveness or not. Remember, you cannot love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ properly if you have anything against one of His children, which happens to be your spiritual brother or sister. 1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

d) When we are in a backslidden state. (1Pet.3:12) 1 Pet 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. The thought of Christians living anyway they want, and then praying to God thinking that He will answer them is as preposterous as thinking you can never read your bible and grow as a mature Christian. It just will not happen. We cannot expect a holy and righteous God to answer our prayers while we are living in the state of sin. Acts 10:34 …God is no respecter of persons. God is not going to deal with you any different than anyone else that is living in sin, no matter what kind of fellowship you think you have with God. What we can expect is the Holy Spirit’s conviction on our lives to get the situation right so fellowship, peace, and joy can once more be restored. The Lord would rather commune with His children than chastise them.

2) What kind of prayers does the Lord accept?

a) When we come to Him of our own free will. (Psa.119:108) Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments. Being forced to do anything shows that it is not a free choice on our part. We do not confess our sins because we are forced to, but because we want to. When David sinned against the Lord with Bath Sheba, he made it plain when he wrote Ps.51 that he was in the wrong and he begged the Lord to forgive him. Why was God so merciful? ” For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” David came of his own free will and freely confessed his wrong. The results were God forgave him his wrong and David is not only known as the king of Israel, but also as a man after God’s own heart. Psa.54:6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good. Mat 8:2-3 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Here we see that what brought this man to Jesus was his condition, not any individual.

b) When our prayers come from our heart, not our lips. Ps.15:1-2 (Jer.29:12-14) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD.

God has never been into lip service. If we really want to get God’s attention, we must show Him that we are serious about what we are asking for. (Lk.11:5-11)

Are we truly desirous about getting sin out of our lives? We sing “all to Jesus I surrender”, but do we mean it? We can make long prayers at church, at the dinner table, we can say all the right words with other Christians around to make them think we are so spiritual, but no one has ever been able to fool the Lord, and no one will.

Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts.

c) When we are truly sorry for our sins. (Psa.38:18) For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. The Bible says in Matt.27:3 that Judas repented himself when he saw that Jesus was condemned. However, when the chief priests and elders didn’t offer consolation to ease his conscience which Judas was looking for, he went out and hung himself. We see from this that Judas was not truly sorry for the sin of betrayal, because if he was, he would not have gone to religion for forgiveness, but he would have gone to God. Religion has a way of putting your conscience at ease, telling you everything is alright, and God loves you, and giving you feel good messages about yourself, and all the other nonsense that goes along with it, and this was what Judas was looking for. On the other side, in Lk.22:61-62, when Peter denied Jesus (which is another form of betrayal– he betrayed his friendship with Jesus) the Bible says that Jesus looked on Peter, (the conviction) Peter remembered what Jesus had told him, and although it doesn’t say, I’m sure Peter remembered what he told Jesus about never denying Him (the condemnation– Mat 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.) and than Peter went out and wept bitterly (the conversion). When God sends conviction into your soul to where you can’t stand it and the need to get it right burns with such a fire that through weeping, praying, and begging God for His mercy you get the matter right, that is the repentance God is looking for. That is when you are truly sorry.

d) When we humble ourselves. (Lk.18:10:14) Here we see that the Pharisee was praying with himself, God wasn’t anywhere near that prayer. He wanted to let God know what a great guy he thought he was. Five times (5 being the number of death) he uses the word “I” in his “religious” prayer. (Religion does have a way of promoting self!) However, the publican knew that the only way to get God’s attention was to humble himself. And he did. Another example is in Mk.7:25-30 Did Jesus answer this woman’s prayer because she admitted she was a dog? No, He answered her because she was willing to humble herself to help another in need of help, which could have only come from the Lord Jesus. Take the centurion in Matt.8. A centurion was an officer in the Roman army, nominally in command of one hundred soldiers. They were usually career soldiers, and they formed the real backbone of the Roman military force. And yet, he was willing to risk much to go to Jesus for help. And the result was a comment made by Jesus that cannot be taken lightly “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” 1 Pet 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

3) Can we limit God in our prayers? The answer to that is yes, we can. Psa.78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. Here is Ps.78, we can see two reasons how we can be limited in our prayers to God.

a) Lack of trust– Yea, they turned back and tempted God. God was not answering the children of Israel’s prayers like they thought He would. Not understanding that all the trials and tribulations they were going through out there in the wilderness was for their spiritual growth, they spent more time complaining about what God was not doing for them instead of praising Him for what He had done and was continuing to do for them. In Ex.13:17 the bible clearly teaches that God did not lead them through the land of the enemy, but through the wilderness.

They didn’t understand that He did that because He loved them. But all they focused on was the negative on every situation until it reached the point to where they gave up on God and wanted to go back into slavery under Pharaoh. They didn’t care about being slaves again because as far as they were concerned, at least Pharaoh fed them daily. But so did God. Had they not noticed that their shoes and clothing were not wearing out! But these were people who were used to walking by sight, not faith. And they didn’t like it. It all came down to a lack of faith and trust in God. Deu.32:20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.

Unfortunately, many of God’s children are living the same way today. John 16:29-30 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. And then Jesus asked them a very important question in v31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? How much does God have do for us before we just trust Him, no questions asked? The Bible says in Prov.3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, in all things, at all times. When our faith and trust in God is based solely on the outcome of situations that come into our lives, what we are telling God by our actions is that we do not trust Him. In Psa.21:2-7 the bible talks about 9 different areas in which God blesses David because of his faith in Him. They are: (1) Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and (2) hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah. (3) For thou preventest (or met) him with the blessings of goodness: (4) thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head. (5) He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever. (6) His glory is great in thy salvation: (7) honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him. (8) For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: (9) thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance. For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved. How much we miss on God’s blesses and answers to prayers when we trust Him half-way. Psa.20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. The question is: who or what is it that you trust in?

A friend loveth at all times. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. And his commandments are not grievous. (Prov.17:17; Jn.15:14; 1Jn.5:3)

b) Lack of faith— And limited the Holy One of Israel. (Eph.3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us) As Christians, we have been given the capabilities and resources to become great and mighty soldiers for the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Lord leaves it up to us on how great and mighty we really want to become for Him. One reason most saved individuals accomplish nothing for the Lord is that they have no faith in the One they are praying to. Their prayer is liken to the man in Mk.9:22 when he brought his son to be healed by Jesus ” if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” He didn’t really believe Jesus could help him. When you have no faith, you have no power.(Jm.2:17) But we see that the Lord turned it back on him ” if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” The man repented of his unbelief, and his son was healed. Another good example is found in John 11:39. The Lord is ready to perform a miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead. All Jesus wanted them to do is remove the stone from the cave where his body laid. Yes, the Lord could have done it Himself, but He wanted them to be involved in His miracle. Martha made the statement ” But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” but yet, when the Lord ordered the stone removed, it was Martha that questioned Jesus on His command.

What was keeping the people from seeing that miracle? It was the stone.

1 Pet 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient. We can compare the stone in Jn.11 to this stone in 1 Pet.

People won’t pray to the Lord Jesus because:

1) They have no faith (2) They have no trust (3) They have no confidence (4) They have no patience. They expect prayers to be answered in accordance to the way they desire and on their time-table, and when it’s not, they feel that God has abandoned them, and they give up one, if not the most important part of benefits we receive when we get saved, and that is direct communication with the Lord of lords and King of kings. We need to let God be God, humble ourselves at His feet, and be thankful on however He decides He wants to answer our prayer. One way we can show people that we serve a living God is when we can show them how He has answered our prayers.

Isa.43:10-12 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.