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Three Steps to Answered Prayer

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Three Steps to Answered Prayer

by Vesta Mangun

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened”(Matthew 7:7-8).

What makes a prayer really a prayer? The saying of it? Or the hearing of it? Or is it the answering of it?  Most Christians pray superficial and shallow prayers. We pray like children in a sandbox throwing up sand toward the sky.

Prayer is not a mystical gift which binds the hands of God to do as we wish. Prayer is the communication between a father and his child. Jesus Himself prayed constantly as an illustration to us, and He taught on prayer to help us understand and answer our questions. We know these verses well; most of us can quote them. But, in our familiarity, we may overlook important concepts. I believe, in these verses, Jesus Christ revealed three elements to real prayer. Each of these elements must be active for the prayer to reach fruition.

The Principle of Asking

Ask, and it shall be given you…”

In verses 9 and 10 of Matthew 7, we see the child’s humble asking.  He asks his father for bread and fish. The child knows his father can provide and has confidence that he will do so. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Psalm 2:8 says, “Ask of me, and I will give thee…”  And in Psalm 145:18 we read, “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.”

Prayer is not shopping for an answer; prayer is asking expectantly for an answer.  Jesus taught us to ask, “Give us this day our daily bread…” The blind man called to Jesus by the way, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” When Jesus asked him his need, he said, “Lord, that I might receive my sight…” Peter, when sinking beneath the waves, said “Lord, save me.”

One would think that this principle would be a simple one. But, “Ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). How many times have you heard someone say, “Why didn’t you just say so?”  Sometimes it is hard to get to the point. The passenger who hails a cab must tell the driver where he wants to go. The lady who walks in the grocery store has a list. The Christian who would communicate with his Heavenly Father must ASK! Our prayers must not be like political speeches, with flowery language but saying nothing.

The first great principle of prayer is to ask.

The Principle of Abiding

“ … Seek, and ye shall find…”

The second great principle of answered prayer is to seek.  This word, “zete”, means to seek in order to find out by thinking, meditating, and reasoning; to inquire into.   God continually calls on His people to seek Him in His fullness.

But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).  “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Jehovah, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, that seek him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:2).  “I love them that love me; And those that seek me diligently shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17).  “Seek ye Jehovah while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).  “And ye shall seek me, andfind me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).  “ … That he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” “Hebrews 11:6).

Jesus expounded on this condition of continual seeking in the Gospel of John.   He called it “abiding.”  John 15:4-7 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.   I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.   If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

To abide in the Vine (in Christ) is a threefold proposition.  We abide in Him in relationship to place, time and condition.  We abide with Him wherever He is, all the time, and in whatever condition we find ourselves.  This is the fullness of the Christian life!  This is the ultimate of Christian living!  This is the place where we find answers to our prayers!  There is a living connection between the vine and the branch.  The life and fruitfulness comes from the vine to the branches.  Jesus says, “Without me ye can do nothing.”  We can be successful only by Jesus Christ dwelling and abiding in us.  We can be pleasing to Him only by abiding.  Notice especially verse 7, “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”  Contrast this verse with James 4:3, “Ye ask, and receivenot, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  One person called this the “absence of holy desire” – and surely it is.  There is no “asking amiss” when we abide in Him, for His desires and blessings flow from the vine to the branches.  We are one in our prayers!

The Principle of Anticipating

“ … Knock, and it shall be opened unto you…”

Our last principle deals with “knocking.”  It means to literally knock on a door.  It is the same word, krouo, used in Revelation 3:20 when Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”  To knock on a door is to anticipate an answer. We knock because we seek entry. We have a desire to have dealings with someone inside.  There is a sense of expectation, or anticipating, in knocking.  Simply, there is faith.  Jesus commanded us to have faith in God.  He constantly chided the disciples, How is it that you have no faith?

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.”  John 14:13-14, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.   If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”  Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Our heart’s reply to those verses is “if only it were that easy!”  But it is easy – if we have faith!  Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”  But remember the order of the principles: ask, abide, and anticipate.  Are you abiding in Him?  Is your request pleasing unto Him?  Are you sure you are asking “according to His will”?  If so, then have faith in God!

The devil has bound both our left hand and right hand in prayer.  If we pray for the salvation for a loved one or that God might revive our church, he tells us that God is not willing, and so we lack faith in Him.  If we do not abide in Christ, we ask amiss for things that are not pleasing to Him.  Then we seem to have faith, and are disappointed when we do not receive the object of our lust.  We have obscured the concept of Biblical prayer.  James warns us in 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.

That’s why Satan will do everything he can to keep People of the Name from praying!

No wonder prayer binds Satan and shackles his bands of hellish demons!  Prayer unleashes the mighty power of Heaven!  Prayer looses the angelic hosts to do their work on this earth – work of deliverance and salvation!

Prayer bombs the spiritual targets of Satan, forcing him to retreat in desperation.  Prayer changes the destinies of families, cities and nations.  Prayer breaks the spell of Satan over individual lives, setting them free!  Prayer is the exertion of spiritual authority in the invisible war that is raging!   Prayer pleases God and gives Him pleasure because it brings victory to the cause of Jesus Christ!  Prayer disrupts and dislodges the powers of darkness in the structures of a city.

A Chain Reaction

Blessed is the praying church for it shall be filled. You will not find that beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount!  It is not in the Bible!   In fact, you have probably never even read it before, but the principle is true – it works!  Congregations that pray together … grow together!

Collective prayer is a vital function of church life. A pastor of one growing congregation remarked, “When my people pray, they begin to love each other.  When my people pray, they begin to work together. When my people pray, souls are saved and the church grows.”

When God’s people gather specifically to pray, a lot more happens than just “the answer.”  There is a chain reaction of growth and blessing!

The individual is blessed in his personal walk with the Lord, and by the strengthening that comes from intercession.

The family is blessed by the forum that calls its members to specific prayer, and by the platform on which god demonstrates the promises of His Word.

The pastor is blessed by the rallying spirit produced by the prayer-consciousness of his flock, and by the resulting support for the local work of God.

Church ministries are blessed … as workers are welded together in common goals and purpose.

The community is blessed … because it senses the church is reaching out to it as members become more need-conscious.

And the Lord is blessed … as His people take up His directive, “My house shall be called a house of prayer!”

 

 

 

Three Steps to Answered Prayer 2018-11-11T21:02:37+00:00

When Prayers Aren’t Answered

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When Prayers Aren’t Answered

(The following is one of the lessons taught during the 2018 WNOP Prayer Training Seminar. If you are interested in the DVDs and lessons from this seminar, contact Lisa Marshall at lmarshall@upci.org, 636-229-7986)

It’s difficult when we pray and don’t see the answer we expect right away. Lack of answers to prayer can cause us to question God and ourselves. The enemy often uses these times as opportunities to turn us from the Lord, and create strongholds in our mind. We need a better understanding of why God seems to not always answer.

God’s Word is full of scriptures that tell us He will hear us and answer when we call on Him. God doesn’t lie so we have to believe He has given an answer. Yet often we don’t understand the answer He gives.

How God answers our prayers

There are many scriptures that mentions God not answering, but these are instances where individuals, groups of people, or even nations stubbornly refuse to obey the Lord. When we live a life that’s submitted to the Lord, we can expect God to answer our prayers. These are the ways that God commonly answers:

No. This is the answer we hate. When God denies our request we can feel rejected, angry, or even condemned. We can feel like God doesn’t care or that we have failed to be good enough for Him to answer the way we want. Regardless of getting denied, we have to believe that God truly is good and will not withhold the best for us. God sees the future and knows the plans He has for us. He will not go against His goodness for the sake of appeasing our human flesh. Ultimately, a denial from God shows our depth of trust and submission in Him.

In addition, God may deny our request because of something that is hindering us spiritually. There are conditions for prayers to be answered. We can pray something that we know is in God’s will but still we can find our prayer not being answered. In these times it’s important for us to spend time in prayer asking God to reveal the hindrances so they can be addressed. (Common hindrances to prayer will be covered below.)

Yes. This is the answer we love. When God grants a request we celebrate and tell everyone how great He is. We feel validated and accepted. Though we are thankful when God gives us what we ask for, we must not see that answer as a sign of His acceptance or an affirmation of our worth. God accepts us because we are His children. He created us with worth that can’t be obtained by human efforts.  God agrees to answer when our request is in His will, the timing is right, and we are in alignment with Him, not because of our achievements.

Wait. This is a difficult answer to receive. It can sometimes be hard to tell when an answer is, no, as opposed to, wait. As we develop a true relationship with God, we will become Spirit-led and know His voice, and it will become easier to know His heart in the matters we pray about. Still, there are times we simply must wait and trust in Him. God’s timing, which is often not our timing, is always perfect. Delays to prayer can produce many good things, as we will see further in this lesson.

Things that can hinder our prayers

As we develop our prayer life, there can be times where we struggle to get answers to prayer. The following are some common hindrances that we should examine our lives for.

Praying with an insincere heart
There are times people pray to be seen and heard rather than praying out of sincere desire.

There are three things that are to be done between us and the Lord. These include praying, fasting, and giving. When we do these things to be noticed, we receive no benefits from the Lord.

In one of Dwight. L. Moody’s meetings, several thousand people had gathered to listen to him teach the scriptures. Before he was to preach, a man who was a pastor from a church in the town, got up to pray. He prayed and he prayed and he prayed and he prayed. Finally, in the middle of his prayer, as it seemed he had no thought to end, D. L. Moody got up, grabbed a hymnal, and said, behind the loudspeaker, “While our brother finishes his praying, let’s begin singing.”

Jesus spoke of the many Pharisees who prayed to be noticed (Matthew 6:1-5; Mark 12:40). They prayed long prayers and used many empty, and repetitive words. Jesus did not commend them, but rather rebuked them for their pride. God is not interested in our display of piety, but in the sincerity and humbleness of our heart.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. (Matthew 6:5)

They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Mark 12:40

Having an unrepentant heart
It is possible for us to have sins that we are unwilling to repent of. Our stubborn nature doesn’t always like to submit to God’s ways, so we hide sins and refuse to change our ways. This rebellious spirit creates a distance between us and God which cannot be

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. (Psalm 66:18)

Having an unforgiving spirit
We cannot expect God to be pleased with us when we expect forgiveness yet withhold from giving it to others. An spirit of unforgiveness is contrary to God’s character, and is a sin.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  (Matthew 6:14-15)

Being insensitive toward others (men toward their wives, I Peter 3:7)

Husbands are to show respect and reverence towards their wives, not belittle them or treat them with contempt. God values all lives and treats no one better than another. When we treat someone with disregard we show pride and belittle what God created. Though the scriptures on this specifically reference a man’s relationship with his wife, the concept applies to all of humanity regarding each other.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (I Peter 3:7)

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

Praying with wrong motives
Many of our prayers are centered on ourselves. We ask for things with skewed ideas of what is right rather than what the will of God is.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)

Having a lack of faith
Faith is necessary. God responds to faith, not simply requests.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

Asking for something out of God’s will
Even if we feel faith we cannot expect God to answer a prayer that is against His will. He simply will not go against what is best for us and His purposes. We must always maintain a spirit of submission and be willing to accept when God has other plans in mind that interfere with what we are asking.

Lack of fellowship with God
We can’t ignore God most of the time and then expect Him to answer as soon as we need Him. Nor can we ignore His Word.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:7)

When prayers are delayed

As mentioned above, delays to prayer can produce some good things. We have to remember that God works everything to our good. Consider the following in your times of waiting:

Delay is not a denial
Many of the answers to prayer in the Bible did not reflect the amount of time it took for the answer to come. Faith doesn’t always bring immediate results as we often think (Hebrews 6:12)

Delay can strengthen our faith
Waiting on God can cause us to pray with more fervency and persistence. If we are denied physical food, hunger develops. The more you are denied, the hungrier we get. Delays build spiritual hunger and can cause us to search God’s Word for answers and seek a deeper relationship with Him. Delays can develop a deeper trust in God. These cause us to grow in our faith as God brings us revelation and direction.

Delay can bring clarification
As we wait on God and listen, He can show us things we need to adjust in our requests. Many of our prayers are based on life events that cause us emotional pain, misunderstandings, and feelings of being out of control. Fear can make us respond irrational and those responses often affect our prayers.

We also pray for things that we haven’t really considered fully. We have whims and wishes that seem important today and fade away tomorrow. Time has a way of filtering much of these so-called needs from our life. It’s important that we always seek God for His will and purposes for our life and not the fleeting desires that come and go through the years.

Delay can cause spiritual growth
God doesn’t just give you the result of your prayer, He takes you through a process to help you develop yourself toward that result. In the process we develop fruit of the Spirit such as patience, long-suffering, and self-control. We grow muscles by working them and increasing the weight. We don’t just get strong by asking for strength or thinking about it. It’s the same in the Spirit.

Delay can subdue the flesh
Our flesh often doesn’t want to pray so delays can cause us to pray more. Interestingly enough, if God immediately answered our prayers, we’d be spiritual weak.

Delay can expose our sin
As already mentioned, some prayers are not answered because of sin. As we seek the answer as to why the delay is occurring, God can bring us revelation of strongholds we have, reveal spirits of entitlement and complaining, show us our lack of faith, and adjust our wrong attitudes. God corrects those He loves, and develops us. The emptier of self we become, the easier it is for His Spirit to flow through us.

E. M. Bounds said it this way, “Men do not pray well because they do not live well.”

Delay reminds us of God’s sovereignty
God is in control, not us. He has the right to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, and however He wants. He doesn’t need our opinion or agreement. Our human nature is to be selfish and it’s good for us to be denied or made to wait at times to humble us and put us in our proper place.

The silence of God

The silence of God can make us feel like we are wandering in the wilderness. Roaming. Searching. Disorientated. With no sure end in sight and no map to help us get there. The wilderness can seem a lonely, depraved place. Yet, depravation breeds desire. Hunger. Thirst. And where there is hunger and thirst… there is God to fill it. So is the wilderness a curse or a blessing? Is God’s silence Him turning away from us or an act of Him drawing us towards Him?

It’s been said that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” The more we are apart from someone we love the more we desire to be near them. Time and distance make us forget the little things that annoy us and cherish every moment we have together.

There’s another saying that goes, “familiarity breeds contempt.” It’s easy for us to find fault and take for granted those that we are consistently around. When we don’t fear losing someone we are more comfortable to treat them with less respect.

When we go without food or water, those things suddenly become much more valuable to us than when we sit around the table three times a day. Those that are not hungry can selectively choose what they want to eat or not. Those that are starving will eat anything they can get.

We live in an age and place where we can easily obtain whatever we are looking for. No longer do we wait days and weeks for a letter, or a package. We can pick up a phone and call or text someone on the other side of the earth. If we can’t attend church we can go online and bring up a live or archived feed instantly. There’s little we truly are deprived of. And with that lack of deprivation has come a lack of desire.

What if there was yet another answer God provides that we most often don’t recognize. It’s not no,yes, or wait, but simply a better answer than we asked for. And what if that answer was simply Himself? Not a silent God, but One who answers in the still, small voice we so easily miss. How many more answers to prayer would we have if we only recognized the way He answered them?

We may not always know why God answers the way He does or why He is sometimes silent. How we choose to respond to God in those moments reveals a lot about our relationship with God. When we trust Him, we will accept any answer He gives even if it’s different than we expected. We will accept any delay He deems necessary. We will allow Him to be God, not put our focus on things of this temporary world alone, and see ourselves as God sees us regardless of the answer He gives.

Colleen Clabaugh
WNOP

 

 

 

When Prayers Aren’t Answered 2018-11-11T21:50:10+00:00

Created for His Glory

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Created for His Glory

Martin Luther once said, “As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.”
I firmly believe when you put prayer in its proper perspective it will be much easier for you to pray and to feel successful at it. As Christians, we must get to the place where we understand that prayer should not be viewed only as you asking God for something or asking God to do something.  Prayer is a way for you to grow in relationship with God.  Prayer is a way for you to tap into God’s will and live and practice it in your life.
In recent months, in my personal prayer life, I’ve spent less time asking for things and more time worshiping God. I have also spent more time than normal listening. There are times when I pray, that I do not ask for anything at all. I’ve found that as I endeavor to spend time with God giving Him glory and intently listening to what He may have to say to me, that I feel a closeness that I really like. And you know what?  I think He likes it too.
Will there be times to pray and intercede? Yes, absolutely!!! But it must be balanced with an intentional effort of getting to know the One you love. I believe we can impact the world with our prayers, and should. But we must not neglect having consistent times of intimacy with our God.
The changes I’ve made, have helped me hear His voice clearer and easier. I’ve also found that I have much clearer direction on which particular things to intercede about when the time comes to do so. (Far too often I fear we are guilty of going on auto pilot in our prayer time, instead of bring spirit-led.)
I want to challenge you this week to take time with God and don’t ask for one thing. Instead, tell Him how much He means to you and how great You think He is. Then, take time and listen. He probably has something He wants to say back to you.  After all, you were created for His glory.

“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him”. (Isaiah 43:7)

Have a blessed week.
Lisa Marshall
Strategic Prayer Coordinator
World Network of Prayer
Created for His Glory 2018-11-20T12:23:15+00:00

Prayer for the Return of Stolen Vessels

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Prayer For the Return of Stolen Vessels

“Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go out ye of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.”(Isaiah 52:11)
“Cyrus decreed the vessels Babylon stole from Jerusalem be returned.” (Ezra 6:5, Daniel 1:2, Apostolic Study Bible). When I read the phrase, “vessels Babylon stole from Jerusalem” my heartstrings perked up. I thought of the prodigals that satan has stolen by taking them captive. I felt called to prayer for them to be released from captivity!
In the Old Testament, Daniel was a sanctified prayer warrior that prayed for the exiles to be returned to Babylon. The stolen vessels that were set aside to be used in the temple were returned as well. In the New Testament people are the chosen vessels of honor, housing the treasure of the Holy Ghost.  Following the example of the Old Testament, sanctified vessels of honor in the New Testament are given the charge to pray for the “stolen vessels”, backsliders/prodigals to be freed from the captivity.
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonor.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”  II Timothy 2:20-21, 24-26
A call to pray:
  • Pray for sanctified, vessels of honor (prayer warriors) to rise to occasion to intercede for the backsliders/prodigals.
  • Pray that servants of the Lord will be equipped with gentleness, teaching ability, patience and meekness to instruct those that oppose themselves.
  • Pray for those that oppose themselves to “come to themselves”, just as the prodigal son did, realizing that they can return to their Father’s house.   Lord, cause them to envision your steadfast love and mercy welcoming them back.
  • Pray that Jesus will cause the backsliders/prodigals to repent to the extent that they acknowledge the truth, and return to a right relationship with Him.
  • Pray that a surge of hope in the power of the Holy Ghost will cause them to recover themselves out the snare of the devil who has taken them captive.  Pray they will make the choice to submit to the Lord; and resist the devil, causing him to flee.
  • Praise and thank Jesus for the returned vessels (backsliders/prodigals).
Wendy Gerky
Rocky Mount District
Prayer for the Return of Stolen Vessels 2018-11-20T12:19:26+00:00