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The foundation of prayer is our walk with God. In fact, walking with
God is prayer. When I walk with God, I am not simply using my spiritual
legs; I am communing with God through mouth, mind, heart, soul, and spirit,
by believing and obeying Him.
If we believe and obey, we walk in the light and we have fellowship
with Him, because He is the Light. To pray is to have fellowship with
the Lord Jesus Christ. I can only walk with Him if I am in agreement
with Him. If I disagree with God on any matter, it is I who needs correction,
because there is no darkness with Him, no lack of knowledge or wisdom.
As I walk with Him, He teaches, disciplines, and chastens me, and the
blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all unrighteousness.
Prayer is not only asking God for things; it is much more. It is the
action or process of communing with God, talking to Him, acknowledging
His presence, and getting acquainted with Him and His Kingdom, the Kingdom
of Heaven. It is much like getting seriously acquainted with others,
except with a reverence or fear one does not have with others. God is
not to be taken lightly.
First Commandment is, “You shall Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and soul and mind and strength.”
Jesus said, “He that has My Commandments and keeps Them is the
one who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and
I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).
God only hears those who are true worshippers
I love God, I will do as He says. If I do as He says, He will manifest
Himself to me. As I do what He says, I walk with Him, and He manifests
Himself to me. Otherwise, how can I walk with Him? What does it mean
that He manifests Himself to me if not that He hears and answers? And
if He manifests Himself because I love Him and keep His commandments,
will He not also respond to me and grant me the petitions that I make
of Him? If I err in my petitions, will He not correct and spare me? Would
He give His infant child a pair of scissors if the child asked for them
(Luke 11:9-13)? But He is faithful and His promises are sure, and He
will always grant me that which I ask or need according to His love toward
God does not hear sinners. He only hears those who are true worshippers
of Him, those who worship Him in spirit and in truth, not in works or
religiosity or in their own righteousness (Luke 18:10-14). If I come
to God, I must know that I am unworthy, and that I can receive nothing
of Him except by His mercy and because it is His will to give it to me.
We can never do anything for God apart from Him. Jesus, the Son of God
Himself said, “Without the Father, the Son can do nothing” (John
5:19), contrary to many religious self-appointed helpers of God who say, “Without
me, the Father can do nothing.” To believe and obey Him is to worship
Him in spirit and truth, and He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
If we believe and obey, our prayer life is
taken care of.
Regarding making requests, here are some things to be pointed out (though
if you believe and obey, all else is automatically taken care of):
God expects us to ask at times (Matthew 7:7; James
4:2). I say “at
times” because He has granted me many a thing for which I have
We must ask believing we will receive. This is not a matter of will
power or concentration so much as a spiritual witness within, an assurance
and peace that what we ask for is His will and, therefore, as good as
done (I John 5:14-15). This is faith. Read James 1:5-8.
There must be right motive in asking. If we ask something of God with
selfish motive, we will receive nothing. Read James 4:1-4. Many requests
may appear good on the surface, but God knows the heart. I may pray for
the salvation of a loved one, not because I genuinely want to see that
one saved, in Christ, but because I am not willing to forsake that one
for Christ. This brings us back to our foundation of prayer, namely,
our walk with God. Are we obeying Him? If we believe and obey, our prayer
life is automatically taken care of.
We must be earnest. The prayers of tears and strong crying are the prayers
He hears. Read James 5:16-18. I do not speak of the kind of strong crying
and tears Pentecostals and others are reputed to produce. Those are the
ways of Baal worshippers, who think they can drag God down out of Heaven
by their hypocritical imitations of sincerity and earnestness. I speak
of an inner brokenness that may not necessarily manifest itself in outward
terms, and it be conjured up. God does not acknowledge half-heartedness.
God deals with the real issues. He does not acknowledge matters which
are unimportant in His judgment though they may be important to the petitioner.
We need to learn to recognize answers when we get them. A prayer may
have been answered, though appearing not to be.
We must be clear of sin in approaching God and expecting Him
to grant His ear. We need to walk in His righteousness, not our own, obeying.
God does not hear sinners (John 9:31). Jesus said, “He that sent
Me is with Me: the Father has not left Me alone; for I do always those
things that please Him” (John 8:29). The Lord advises us to be
right with our brothers and sisters in Christ, or anyone else for that
matter, before we approach Him in worship or prayer (Matthew 5:23-24).
We must have the right (not in ourselves) to ask for what we
may be God’s will to heal me or to baptize me in His Spirit, but
is it necessarily His will to answer me directly? Does not James say, “Is
anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and
let them pray over him....” If someone has a gift of healing, it
will be required of that one to minister the gift to others, and others
should avail themselves of that person in the Lord.
If we pray as we ought, ask according to God’s will, and believe
that He has heard and will answer, then we ought to thank Him
for having heard and granted our requests (Philippians 4:6). In many cases you will
find yourself automatically rejoicing and thanking Him because of the
assurance you have received. Nevertheless, in time of trial, you may
have to make the effort.
There are times when you will not feel thankful, but give thanks all
the same. Is that hypocritical? Not if you genuinely want to thank and
be thankful, though you don’t feel like it. We have learned that
when we grit our teeth in difficult times and thank God (“In everything
give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” -
I Thess. 5:18), though we are not thankful, we soon become thankful.
We see the purpose for our sufferings in the fruits that result in our
betterment. Thank God, and you’ll see, in due time, the reason
for the thanksgiving. In other words, you’ll be thankful.
To know how to pray is to walk with God daily
in all things.
Often, even before the prayer is answered, God gives us thankfulness
when we thank Him. It is one of His many miracles. Many times we find
strength to go on simply by thanking God for the circumstances we found
so difficult and unpleasant. We discover that our greatest curses are
our greatest blessings, if only we will submit to the will and sovereignty
of God and trust Him.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1),
He gave an example (not a canned prayer). He did not only give them “The
Lord’s Prayer,” for this example is also found in the middle
of a discourse in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7. This whole discourse
well describes the walk with God. Again, to know how to pray is to walk
with God daily in all things. These 3 chapters in Matthew are the answer
of the Lord to the disciples who asked Him to teach them how to pray.
Luke included only a portion of what Matthew recorded. These men recorded
as was given them according to the leading of the Spirit of God. Each
Gospel gives a portion, and the four Gospels together give the sum ordained
of God for us. Read Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7.
To whom do we pray? Such horrible confusion out there that I should
have to answer such a question! Scrap the notion of a trinity. And for
this statement the religious in certain quarters damn me as a heretic.
I pray to the Lord. Who is the Lord? Jesus Christ. Isaiah says He is
also our Father (Isaiah 9:6). There is only one Lord (Ephesians 4:5).
Pray to Him as I do and as does Stephen (Acts 7:59-60). When I hear Him,
I hear only One voice, not three, and it is the Lord’s!
The rebellious heart seeks
to avoid submission.
What of receiving the Spirit? Luke says that God will give the Holy
Spirit to them who ask. But asking in itself, as we have already seen,
is not always enough. Do you not think Philip would have gladly imparted
the Spirit to the Samaritans if he could (Acts 8:5-17)? Why did the Samaritans
not ask for themselves? Peter and John, having heard that the Samaritans
had not received, came down and laid hands on them to receive the Spirit.
God has His order of things.
The religious nominal Christians like to speak of the priesthood of
the believer; they treasure their independence and claim that they can
go to the Father directly, without the mediation of any other. This is
an over-reaction to the tyranny of the Catholic Church, which abused
and perverted principles of truth for their own ends. It is also the
reaction of a rebellious heart that seeks to avoid submission and does
not wish to acknowledge the need of another, especially, and in essence,
ironically, God Himself.
And what of the laying on of hands in prayer? The elders prayed over
the sick, Peter and John laid hands on the Samaritans, Paul laid hands
on the Ephesians to receive the Spirit, Jairus asked Jesus to lay hands
on his daughter, and Paul reminded Timothy of the gift imparted to him
by the laying on of hands by the elders. Obviously God sanctioned such
a practice, though it was not always required. Jesus did not lay hands
on all He healed. Cornelius and the Gentiles received the Spirit without
the laying on of hands, though Peter had to come and preach to them.
But God leads His servants as He wills and they are found doing what
We are admonished to be reverent
and not careless in the presence of God.
Prayers (requests) are often, if not always, inspired by God. I ask
because I am given to ask and, if given so, I will receive. The question
is, “Is it my request or is God giving me to ask?” This we
learn by the Spirit of God. If it is a request of the flesh (which is
always contrary to God), it won’t be answered, or if it is answered,
we will be sorry, as when the Israelites lusted for meat and God gave
it to them, destroying them while it was yet in their mouths. Again,
it comes back to our walk with God.
We are admonished by Solomon in Ecclesiastes to be sober, reverent,
and not hasty or careless in the presence of God. Read Ecclesiastes 5:1-7.
Notice, though I have said we will not receive an answer from God unless
our motives are right, yet I just gave an example of where the Israelites
were given their request of God even though they asked out of lust. Many
died when they were granted their request. Beware what you ask of God,
especially if you are persistent. He may give it to you, and you may
God performs His will in spite
of our selfish requests.
The Israelites asked for a king to rule over them, as other nations
had, and received one from God. God and Samuel were grieved by their
request, yet not only did God give them a king, but Jesus Christ became
known as the son of one of those kings, David (Matthew 9:27; 12:23; 15:22;
20:30). So here is an example of where God reigns over all and performs
His will in spite of ourselves and our selfish requests. Who can understand?
Paul says: “The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do
not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself
makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now
He Who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because
He makes intercession for the saints according to God’s will” (Romans
Disproving the doctrine of three Gods or a trinity, one never finds
in the Scriptures where it is said, “This is the Father speaking,” or, “This
is the Spirit speaking,” but one will find the Lord Jesus identifying
Himself as to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9) and to John in Revelation (Revelation
1:8,11,18). Throughout the Old Testament, it is, “Thus says the
Lord.” Paul says it was Christ in the Old Testament Who was the
Rock and Who was tempted in the wilderness by the Israelites (1 Corinthians
10:4,9). It was God; it was the Lord; it was Jesus Whose Name is not
only Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, but also Everlasting Father,
the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and End.
a prayer list I went through every day and week, over and over and over...
until answered. Those prayers were not answered in
many or most cases. I was a heathen praying repetitively. Are you doing
the same? Don’t you think that God, Who made the ear to hear, is
quite capable of hearing? But you repeat yourself over and over for
only one reason: You don’t believe! You don’t believe
He hears, and you don’t believe He will answer. Repetitious prayers
are not prayers inspired of God, of course, because God is not so foolish
to repeat Himself over and over again as though He didn’t exist
or was Someone stubborn and heedless.
is ever open to those who are His.
“But what about the importunate widow (Luke 18) and Daniel (Daniel
10) who persisted?” you may ask. The answer is that Jesus already
made it quite clear that nobody will be heard for their much speaking.
But these were heard, so it must be for a
reason other than repetition. Jesus is not in error, and neither are
faith is the answer. The woman would not lose heart. She had faith.
Daniel had faith. He didn’t keep on asking. He was simply steadfast in
his request. It is also recorded that the delayed answer was not because
he had to keep asking, but because Gabriel was stalled by adversaries.
Daniel’s request was heard the first day he made it. Why? Because
he was a man greatly beloved of God. He walked with God. He obeyed and
believed. God’s ear is ever open to those who are His. The widow
trusted in justice. God is just; He will never deny anyone justice.
It is important to know that God loves us, and He is eager to grant
us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). If you have children, do you
not desire to give them good things (Luke 11:13)? If you don’t
have children, at least you have been a child. Have you not experienced
your parents’ desire to give you good things? If not, God desires
to do so (Matthew 7:11; Luke 12:32; Romans 8:32). God is love. And we
experience His love by walking with Him, which is prayer.