I’ve Been Praying… Why Isn’t It Working?

“My People are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6).

This is, perhaps, one of the most important letters that I have ever written. Let me start off by saying that God wants every promise that He has given us to come to pass. He desires to say of us as He said regarding the people of Israel under Joshua… “There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). We know deep down in our hearts that God’s promises are supposed to come to pass in our lives, but yet it doesn’t always seem to work out that way. This can raise doubts and questions.

In answering some of these questions we are going to have to take some “sacred cows” out into the woods and shoot them, bury them, and never dig them up again. Do you know what I mean by that? I’m talking about religious beliefs and teachings that sound good but are really not good at all. The Kingdom of God and the spiritual world operate with the same degree of precision as the natural universe that God created, and when things get out of their proper order, they don’t function properly.

The first sacred religious cow that I want to address is the belief that “God is in control…” Have you ever heard anyone say that after some kind of tragedy, mishap, or failure? “Well, God is in control…” This is possibly one of the most damaging and destructive beliefs that has ever been introduced into the church. The concept implies that anything that happens in a person’s life, or in the world, was somehow “God’s will,” and that He has some “greater, mysterious purpose” in “allowing” certain things to happen. This is a grave error, and has caused pain, heartache, disillusionment, and failure in the lives of many sincere believers. There are times, after we have done what we are supposed to do such as apply faith, stand on the promises of God, pray, and do whatever God has told us to do, that we can say “God is now in control of this situation.” When the Children of Israel were at the Red Sea, Moses told the people “…The Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:13-14). In essence, he was telling them, “Don’t worry, God is in control…” Was God pleased with this? No, Moses was rebuked by the Lord… “And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they GO FORWARD: But LIFT THOU UP THY ROD…” There was something that Moses and the children of Israel were required to do in order for God to be “in control” of the situation. Had there been no act of faith, there would have been a bunch of dead Israelites.

In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve authority and dominion over His entire earthly Creation, and then gave them an assignment (Genesis 2:15). Adam, through disobedience, forfeited his God-given authority over to Satan, and in essence, made him his “god.” Satan then became the “god of this world” (Luke 4:5-6, II Corinthians 4:4). The devil is the one influencing and manipulating natural kingdoms and events in the world today. God gets involved in the affairs of men to the extent that men allow Him to through faith and obedience, but He is not responsible for the vast majority of things that take place in this world, nor in peoples’ individual lives. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, and to give the authority that originally belonged to us, back to us (Luke 10:18, I John 3:8). It is the thief (Satan) who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Jesus defeated principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15), but we must enforce His victory in our lives by faith, by standing firm on God’s promises and exercising authority over the powers of darkness.

Another thing that we often hear after some kind of failure or mishap is “All things work out for the good…” This is a misappropriation of Romans 8:28. If this were true then every destructive thing would work out for good in the lives of God’s people, and this is obviously not the case. The divorce rate is over fifty-percent in the church, and broken families, devastated children, verbal, sexual, and physical abuse are rampant. These things are not designed to work out for good, but are rather a product of Satan’s attacks which are designed to steal, kill, and destroy, and in the majority of cases, succeed. The true application of Romans 8:28 is found in the essence that every good thing which God has ordained for your life will work out for your good and the good of them who love God and are called according to His purpose. In other words, if we love God, then we will obey Him (John 14:23), and the things that God has ordered for our lives for the purpose of His calling and will, such as our marriages, families, divine friendships and relationships, our gifts and callings, and anything else good that God has ordered (James 1:16-17), will work together for good. Although God can (and does) certainly take bad situations and turn them around for good when there is repentance and faith, this is not the intent of Romans 8:28, but rather the mercy and grace of God at work.

The other sacred cow I want to address is the act of putting all of the responsibility on God. Have you ever heard anyone say something to the effect, “God, you need to deliver me…” “God, you need to do something about this…” “God, this is your church, your house…” Religiously speaking, this sounds like a good thing, but can you hear Adam saying, “God, I give everything in this garden to you…” God would have turned to Adam and said, “No, Adam, I’ve given everything in the Garden to you!” “It is your responsibility.” “I’ve already told you what to do; I am here to help you, but you are going to have to do something!” Before the fall, all of God’s wisdom was available to Adam. God even told him where the metals and resources could be found (Genesis 2:11-12). The earth contained all that was needed in order for Adam to carry out his assignment; they could have invented machinery, computers, tools, airplanes, and whatever else that they needed in order to subdue the earth. God gave Adam dominion, and it was Adam’s responsibility to make sure that everything was cared for, even down to naming the animals (Genesis 2:19-20). Today, God has even restored natural knowledge and revelation (technological wisdom and knowledge that had been lost since the fall) to a greater degree in these last days in order for His will to be fulfilled (Daniel 12:4). We should always inquire of the Lord for wisdom, but then we need to do whatever He tells us to do. God had already given the land of Canaan to the children of Israel, but they had to overcome giants in order to possess it. It took a second generation before they were willing to do this, and the first generation died in the wilderness without having received the promise (Hebrews 3:17, 19). The giants remained in the land until they were dispossessed, even though it wasn’t God’s will for them to remain in the land that He had given to Israel. If we don’t occupy and possess what God has given us, then someone (or something) else will.

Jesus declared in Mark 4:13 “Know ye not this parable? And how will ye know all parables?” In other words, if we don’t understand this one, then the rest of the teaching in regard to God’s principles and ways will be a mystery to us. This parable demonstrates that we have a responsibility in regard to our own fruitfulness, and the responsibility does not rest with God, but rather on what we do with the Word that we hear (Mark 4:24). How we value it, protect it, and apply it to our lives. One of the devil’s most crafty deceptions is to lull us into believing that we can be negligent with what we hear, not apply the principles that Jesus taught, doubt them, allow distractions into our lives that steal the Word, and then somehow believe that because “God is merciful,” that everything will all work out in the end. You may still go to heaven because your salvation is based upon your faith in Jesus Christ, but your earthly life can be a complete mess and total disaster. The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent (those with unwavering, aggressive faith) take it by force (Matthew 11:12).

In order to live an overcoming life, we must first believe that God wants us to live an overcoming life. We are to reign in life by one Christ Jesus (Romans 5:17). If we don’t believe this, then we will have no solid foundation on which to stand in the face of the devil’s lies and attacks. We must stop blaming God and also be willing to discard religious misconceptions and excuses for failure. We have all experienced failure at some point, but it is not because of God, and as we grow, we should mature in our walk, and through the Spirit, walk more like Jesus walked. We have believed that walking as Jesus walked means that we don’t live an intentional and willful life of sin, and while this is true, Jesus was also victorious in other ways; He was never sick, never fell off a camel or skinned His knee, nor did He ever experience financial ruin. Many people get angry at the suggestion that we can walk as Jesus walked simply because they feel as though it is unattainable, but God tells us that it is possible (I John 3:6). This should be good news for us, not bad news. If you struggled getting “A’s” in school it wasn’t because an “A” was not available, nor would you get angry with the school and insist that no such achievement was possible. On the contrary, it probably challenged you to reach for something higher; it was a prize to be sought (Philippians 3:13-14). The victory that Jesus walked in is available to us. Jesus never failed. We fail because the flesh is weak, and this weakness hinders our ability, at times, to apply Kingdom principles, but we should be growing in this every day. The Apostle Paul declared, “Not that I have already attained, but I reach forth… I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14).

What assignment has God given you? What has God told you to do? God has equipped us and given us all that we need in order to overcome. He has given us the name of Jesus and the blood of Jesus. The love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts. He has given us His Word and His authority; the authority to bind, cast out, and tread on principalities and powers and over all of the power of the devil (John 10:18). He has given us the Holy Spirit along with His gifts, and access to His grace and wisdom (Romans 5:2, James 1:5). He’s given us His armor and the weapons of the Kingdom (Ephesians 6:10-18), and the ability to speak His Word and pronounce decrees that alter natural events (Mark 11:22-24, James 3:6). He has fully equipped and armed us. What are we waiting for? Today, God is saying to you, as Joshua said to the children of Israel, “How long are ye slack to go possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?” (Joshua 18:3) Let us go up at once, for we are well able to overcome it!”

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