Monday, March 9, 2020 -
God has shown me and taught me much about prayer within the past 15 months – and He is still teaching me a lot!
For example, why does it often seemingly appear that God does not hear our prayers? Isaiah 59:1-2 states, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” And the blind man who Jesus healed said the same thing: “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He will hear them” (John 9:31). Nothing could be more explicitly clear than the lesson of these verses – it is our sin that separates us from God and answered prayer!
Indeed, God’s promises for victory and deliverance are loaded with the condition of a pure heart and right motives, often indicated by the simple two-letter word “if.” Proverbs 28:15 is a great example: “He who walks blamelessly will be delivered.” Paul equates victory in our lives over Satan with godly obedience: “For the report of your obedience has reached to all, therefore I am rejoicing over you. But I want you to be wise in what is good, and innocent in what is evil. And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:19b-20). Jesus Himself said in John 15:7: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”
This means we must not have wrong attitudes or resentment towards others. Jesus said, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also in heaven may forgive our transgressions” (Mark 11:25). So clearly, we must forgive others before God can forgive us, and it is the blood of Christ which allows us to approach God. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Confession and a pure heart are conditional for answered prayer. So when it seems God is not answering our prayer, we must first examine our own lives for unforgiveness as well as other sins.
But what if it seems our prayer still remains unanswered? James 4:3 provides yet another clue: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” Again, the Scripture is very clear and to the point! We must ask ourselves: What is my true motive? Is my prayer merely selfish or…? Or is my motive for God to get the glory (John 14:12-13)?
Jesus’ teachings, such as are found in Matthew 7:9-11, clearly show that we are to approach God as Father. This means we are His children. He told His disciples, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). Just as a good father only provides for his children what is good, so does our heavenly Father. We as parents do not provide everything to our young children they ask for, as we know better than they what is best for them. It is for this reason John said we are to ask according to His will: “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (I John 5:14).
Yet, we are also to be patient and persevering in our prayer, as Jesus takes us in His parable in Luke 18:1-8. Here there was a widowed woman who had met injustice. When it seemed the judge was ignoring her pleas for justice, “she kept coming to Him.” She refused to give u! Just as Elijah prayed seven times for rain before God acted, this woman was also persistent! “‘This woman bothers me, the judge decreed.’ Jesus then said, ‘I tell you that He will bring about justice for them (His elect who cry to Him day and night) speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?’”
So not only must we be persistent in our prayers, but we must believe – we must pray in faith! Jesus told His disciples: “Therefore, I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you” (Mark 11:24). He also said, “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23). And, “If you have faith as a mustard seed…nothing shall be impossible to you” (Matthew 17:20).
God also so very often delays His answer or does not answer as we desire. This is also for our own benefit. And it is often merely part of the refining process God seeks in us! God may have something He wants us to first learn! He always knows best! He is sovereign and omnipotent. Many things about the future, or things about ourselves, we may not be able to comprehend or perceive at a specific point in our maturity. Here again, we must trust God and His timetable. Stay faithful, don’t stop believing, and continue to be persistent in your prayers. Trust in his promises alone that He provides, which come in many different ways. And stay true to Him and His Word, drawing close to Him as a child would his daddy who knows what is best for him.