Prayer God Answers

Posted: July 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them, because I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their distress. Jeremiah 11:14

I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 16:23

What are the benchmarks to prayer? Will God listen to any and every sort of prayer? What if someone you loved was so far gone that God said He will no longer listen to the prayer? What if you were that person? Will God really give you anything that you ask in Jesus’ name?

The Necessity of Prayer by E.M. Bounds is, by far, the best book on prayer I’ve read. It is saturated with Scripture references, it’s easy to read, yet so very deep to contemplate. I do not doubt that Bounds was indeed guided by the Holy Spirit as he wrote this book, and he is spot on in his theology of prayer.

I’ve heard of many approaches to prayer, from the very simple (prayer is just having a conversation with God) to the very complex (one must learn to pray through years of study, discipline, and diligence). A middle ground between the two extremes would be much more accurate. To consider prayer as just a conversation with God is to lose its reverence, power, and discipline. To think one needs to be a monk or have a seminary degree to adequately pray negates the simplicity, the relationship of praying to our Heavenly Father.

God hears all prayers, but does He listen? Not to compare a Holy and perfect God to humans, but often we hear God, but do we listen? We know what the Word says on a variety of things, yet oftentimes we overlook the passages that will convict us, those that contradict the way we are doing life. We can sometimes turn a deaf ear and not listen to God, rather than heeding correction. Or, we may lack an intimate relationship with God, one of complete surrender and constant union. God hears and answers the prayers of His disciples, the ones anointed by the Holy Spirit and living within His will. But, does he answer those who are guided by self-will?

In Jeremiah, God did not stop listening to the Israelites forever, but for a time, their adultery, immorality, idolatry, and pride disgusted God to the point that he would no longer listen to Jeremiah’s prayers for them. The Israelites had been given enough chances to obey and honor God, but they refused. So, God “decreed disaster” on them because they had “done evil and provoked God to anger.” God’s anger was the anger of a jealous husband who had reached the end of his rope with his adulterous wife. In His love for her, He had to do something to wake her, to shake her from her adulterous ways so she would turn back to Him. Exile was God invoking discipline in justice and love so that Israel would turn back to her beloved Yahweh.

In John 16, Jesus is talking to His disciples about what it means to abide in Him, to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. He’s talking to men who have fully surrendered to God. The difference between Spirit-led prayers and pre-exilic Israelite requests is faith, trust, desire/fervency, importunity, obedience, character/conduct, and the Word of God. These attributes that constitute effective Spirit-filled prayer is the prayer God hears, listens to, answers, and rewards. Such prayer is not for the cultural Christian who tosses out requests here and there. Spirit-led prayer is for the fervent follow of Jesus Christ who is committed to the will of God for one’s own life, for their family, friends, culture, and the Church.

I highly recommend reading The Necessity of Prayer for a more thorough explanation of the following characteristics:

  • Faith. Faith is the foundation of prayer. Without faith, prayer is useless. One must undoubtedly believe that the prayer being prayed will be answered accordingly. When God answers prayer in the Bible, He does so according to the desire voiced in prayer and the faith of the one praying. “Perfect faith has always in its keeping what perfect prayer asks for.”
  • Trust.  “Trust sees God doing things here and now.” Trust believes God can do anything—but such assurance rests first and foremost on who God is, and on the relationship between the one praying and God—one of intimacy and being mutually known. This is not an intellectual exercise nor is it based on head knowledge; rather, such trust comes from the heart—from a strong feeling that God does bless. Trust counts on God’s willingness and ability to answer what is being prayed for—and there is no backup plan in the mind of the trust-filled prayer.
  • Desire/Fervency. Desire and fervency in prayer is not a mere wish, “it is a deep seated craving; an intense longing, for attainment.” I’ve searched the Bible for one example of answered passionless prayer … I could not find one. When people prayed, they prayed with intensity. “A lack of [zeal] in prayer, is a sure sign of a lack of depth and of intensity of desire; and the absence of desire is sure sign of God’s absence from the heart! … Two things are intolerable to [God]—insincerity and lukewarmness [See Revelation 3:14-22].” The issue Jesus had with the Laodiceans is that they did not need God, they lacked passion and zeal for God, their comfort made them complacent. I wonder, are we more like Paul and the Apostles, or more like the Laodiceans? How desperately do you long for God in your prayers?

In my next post, I will complete the characteristics on prayer and provide an example of such prayer.

Challenge: Apply faith, trust, and desire to your prayer life. If you are lacking in any of the three, ask God to fill you—He provides abundantly to all who ask and to those whose lives are devoted to Him.

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Comments
  1. David L Dirkse says:

    From Falling Upward……..”Jesus (God) touched and healed anybody who desired it and asked for it, and there were no other prerequisites for his healings. The belief in heaven and hell is meant to maintain freedom on all sides, with God being the most free of all, to forgive and include, to heal and to bless even God’s seeming “enemies”.” I believe you should pray “as you like”, God will hear you and He will listen. Why make people believe they’re not praying “correctly” when we are ALL God’s People. Some of us just “talk” with our God!

    DLD

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