We did a short study on a negative aspect of prayer recently, namely, the fact that God does not hear every prayer that is prayed. As part of that study, we laid out four basic principles of prayer that every Christian needs to understand if they are to have an effective, that is to say, a fruitful prayer life.
1. All prayer must be "in Jesus' name." In other words, mere words, chants, prayers of unbelievers, prayers to anyone other than the Lord or through any other mediator (or mediatrix, such as “the virgin Mary”) than Jesus are neither pleasing nor acceptable to God.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
2. All prayer must be according to the will of the Father.
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
3. Faith is required for answered prayer. God cannot reward unbelief.
Matthew 21:21-22 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
James 1:5-7 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
4. Active, willful sin will prevent the Lord from hearing any prayer except one of true confession of the sin which is accompanied by biblical repentance. No kind or quantity of religious activity, no matter how fervent, sincere and persistent, can overcome the barrier sin places between the willful sinner and our most holy God.
Isaiah 1:13-16 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
God wants His true children to pray. He wants us to make all our requests known to Him. And He wants to answer our prayers as they glorify Him and will be a true blessing to us. But He takes great pains in His holy Word to make plain to us the fact that sin is a VERY serious matter to Him. He will not be mocked.
As you pray (or prepare to pray), remember this: God’s will is all important. Our salvation is not about our getting what we want from Him in this life. God is not our cosmic servant. Rather, our salvation is all about freely giving to Him all the glory He desires and deserves with the life He has given us.
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
May God bless your prayers and your walk in Him today.
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