As Christians, apprentices of Jesus Christ, we are living our life not only in the natural realm, but also very much in the spiritual realm. There is always a lot for us to learn in both these realms. But in the spiritual realm, we are called to pray – really pray. Prayer is communication with God. And prayer involves asking for God to change things.
“… men ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1)
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;” (Colossians 4:2)
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
We should be
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— Ephesians 6:18
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)
Getting answers from God is important not only to us, but also to God Himself. God is NOT glorified when there are a lot of people spending so much time praying, but it looks like God is not answering. That kind of religiosity makes God look bad. But praying and getting answers makes God look good – it glorifies Him.
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20
The promises of God were actually given so that God could get glory – and it happens when we receive those promises and get results.
Jesus told us that God does not hear or answer prayer simply on the basis of using many words.
So how do we get results in prayer?
If God loves us, if His Word declares the things He wants to do for us, why doesn’t He just do it?
This picture in Luke 18 of the persistent widow coming before a judge might give us some clues.
Apparently, the outcomes we get depend on God, but they also depend on our prayers. The kind of prayers we pray are important. The attitude of heart in prayer is important. Persistence is important.
We also see that this widow had an enemy that was “making life hell” for her. She was claiming that some serious injustice had been done to her by the enemy. She believed that only the judge could avenge her.
We too have an enemy – Satan. Through various machinations, Satan has been hurting us and stealing from us – whether we know it or not. Its a pity that so many Christians believe that God is the one who brings disease, loss and death to us. Jesus said that “the thief comes not but for to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” (Acts 10:38).
When God blesses a man, it has a powerful effect. Just read the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to get an inkling of what the blessing of God might mean. And now, Jesus Christ became a curse so that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles (you and me, unless you are a Jew, in which case you too can be blessed in Christ!) in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:13,14).
So anyway, Satan has still been stealing from us. Jesus likens prayer before God to a situation in a courtroom before a judge.
We need to realize that someone else is in the courtroom – our adversary. Satan, our adversary, accuses the saints day and night before the throne of God. He would not bother doing this if it didn’t or couldn’t have any effect.
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Revelation 12:10).
Note that this Scripture speaks of a future time when Satan will no longer have access to God’s throne to accuse us.
Satan had access to God’s throne to accuse Job and incite God against Job. God allowed this to prove a point about Job – that Job feared God because of God and not just because of God’s blessing.
Satan also got before the throne of God to demand that he could try the apostle Peter.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
We notice here that sometimes God grants Satan’s requests. See, Satan can see our weaknesses and faults. He sees our sins. That is what he uses against us in the Courtrooms of Heaven, before God’s thrown, as reasons why God cannot and should not answer our prayers. It is also how Satan gets access to do things which are contrary to the blessing of God.
Please get real. You and I know that even faith filled people sometimes have horrendous things happen to their families, for example. How many men of God have had to watch on as their wives are brutally assaulted with disease, pain and trouble? They command blessing and pray, but it doesn’t seem to work. They speak to the mountain (Mark 11:23). They minister to others, and miracles happen. Yet their own wives cannot be helped – at least for a season. Or maybe their children are away from God. This is the brutal nature of the warfare we are in. But God be praised, there are yet answers even for such horrible trials. This is my faith. I will always hope in the Lord, and I hope you will too.
I do believe we need to know how to use the power of the Blood of Jesus to shut Satan up in the courtrooms of heaven, so that we can get a ruling from God, the judge, in our favor. Once that ruling comes from heaven, Satan’s power is finished in this matter.
Sometimes shouting at the enemy and rebuking him doesn’t work. Sometimes there is a hidden or not-so-hidden reason why our prayers are hindered. The Bible does say that our prayers can be hindered. And this is New Testament.
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
This is just one example of the kind of thing that might hinder us getting answers from God. Its the kind of thing we have to fix, with God’s help, if we are going to be fully effective in prayer – and prayer is one of the things we are supposed to do all the time – so it pays to do it well.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7)
Either this verse is true or it isn’t. Either Jesus speaks the truth or he lied to his closest friends. What is it? If Jesus speaks the truth, then we need to pay special attention to the life where we are ABIDING (or staying connected) to Jesus. We also need to fill out minds with the Word of God, especially the words of Jesus. We need to do these things, if we want to be blessed. The difficulty is, our hearts by nature want to deviate from this course and pursue something else. That is, we want Jesus, but sometimes we want something more than Jesus, or besides Jesus. And this is why we don’t have the purity of heart that makes our prayers irresistable to God.
We ought to take the command to be filled with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18) very seriously. Part of this is to make music in our hearts to the Lord. The challenge for all of us is to give the musical part of our hearts and minds only to the Lord. Though ungodly people may be very talented and write attractive music, we are going to lose something and fall short if we let their music live and play in our heads.
Another way to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to pray a lot in tongues.
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God. (Jude 20,21).
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Epheisans 6:18).
All kinds of prayer are important – including praying in tongues.
We need to be constantly thanking God so that our prayers can be heard.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
If you are wondering how this kind of life could even be possible, let me request that you check out my teaching on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
What else could be hindering our prayers?
As we consider that Satan, who knows God’s word, might well be accusing us before God’s throne at times, we would do well to take heed to the things that God says in the Bible, that might hinder our prayers.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25
Unconfessed sin and iniquity
When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:3-5)
Iniquity – this is a big subject and needs another whole article. But iniquity is more than sin – it is the power and inheritance of sin in our lives that came down through the generations and causes the thoughts of our hearts to deviate from the perfect will of God. Jesus took it at the cross but like many things Jesus achieved at the cross, possessing the achievement personally can involve a struggle of faith.
I am going to leave this article here for now. May the Lord teach us how to be more effective in prayer and get more answers for His glory.