Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Power of Prayer

More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of …
 – (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

The liberal media, non-believers, and atheists have suddenly taken the opportunity to publicly ridicule prayer and anyone who states that they will pray for another person. Why is this outspoken ridicule and disbelief occurring in such numbers? Personally, I believe that the devil knows that his time is coming to an end, so he is using every means possible to defame Christians and hurt them. In fact, it is amazing just how desperate the devil has become to keep the blinders on those who do not believe in God so they will never believe. For, the devil does not want non-Christians to come to know God.

 The result of the devil’s effort to blind non-believers from the truth is that many of those whom he has turned against God are also unwittingly willing to work for the devil. Oh, they may never think that they are working for the devil, but when they circumvent the truth in order to reap their own agenda that is exactly what they are doing. For example, many atheists are not only desperate to get rid of the Christian faith any way that they can, but they are willing to do the devil’s bidding to ridicule anyone who believes in God or anyone who shows their faith in God through worship or prayer. Other non-believers refuse to believe the truth, because they have bought into the lies of the devil which are espoused by the non-believers throughout this world. Still others, though, have never heard the truth and the devil wants to keep it that way.

Some particular non-believers, and especially atheists who have succumbed to the lies of the devil, constantly work hard to turn other people away from God. They tell untruths about Christians and their faith, and they have become misinformed by professors and theologians of other religions who espouse false religions. Moreover, these converts to untruths and their willingness to accept falsehoods, fear that if they don’t do something to ridicule and get rid of the Christian faith that it will somehow intrude into their own lives. There is no live and let live in their eyes. Consequently, many non-Christian liberals and dedicated atheists do not want to allow other people to believe in or worship God even if they wish to do so. They want to take away the freedom of the Christian religion even as they support false religions where they can. To accomplish this goal they disparage, belittle, defame and vilify all Christians in whatever manner that fits a particular situation.

(I have again broken down this post into sections for those of you who do not have time to read the entire post in one setting. Take your time and digest each section slowly. I hope you enjoy reading this post because it has a great deal to tell you about the power of prayer. I would also like to apologize for not getting this post out sooner, but I had surgery and was sick for the greater part of November. I will try to do better in the future. Thank you for your patience and your willingness to keep reading my blog.)

The Current Catalyst for Defaming Prayer

A prime example of again disparaging Christians occurred shortly after the latest shooting tragedy that occurred in November this year. The shooting happened in a small Texas town where twenty-six church attendees were killed and other church members were terribly hurt. Although this shooting was an evil incident that was committed by a psychotic, evil, and angry individual, the incident was immediately used by the devil to stir up dissention and ridicule Christians. Unfortunately, the devil accomplished his goal of giving non-believers and disparagers of the truth the opportunity to belittle Christians by whispering in the ears of non-believers and atheists to publicly ridicule the idea of praying for those who lost loved ones or for praying for those in need. These liberal non-believers and atheists, who do not believe in prayer, don’t want others to believe in prayer or to use prayer to pray for those in need. They also wanted the whole world to know that they think prayer is useless and silly, so they were given air time by the media to express their disbelief and ridicule. How sad!  

Christians know that the time is coming when many people will no longer be able to tell the difference between right and wrong or between truth and falsehoods, because they will have chosen to follow the un-righteous ones and other false religions. We are seeing the beginnings of this prophesied time period now, as we watch on television and the internet people telling lies to promote their own agenda and power structure. But it isn’t just the media that is telling lies. There are also some powerful people in Washington and around the country telling lies to get what they want. Some of these lies are even told to bring down other people whom they do not want in power.

The Consequences of Not Heeding and Believing the Truth

If we study the God’s Word, we will realize that God has forewarned people throughout history and during specific time periods about the falling away of people from the truth of God. In fact, long ago, the prophet Isaiah was told by the Lord to tell His people this: “You will hear My words, but you will not understand. You will see what I do but you will not perceive its meaning. Harden the hearts of these people. Close their ears, and shut their eyes. That way they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn to me for healing.” – (Isaiah 6: 10). And that was just what occurred. 

Many times throughout history, people have refused to believe the truth of God. And from biblical history, which is recorded in God’s Word, we can know that God will again harden the hearts of those who refuse to open their eyes and ears or to refuse to understand with their hearts that they need to turn to God. In fact, centuries after Isaiah, the Apostle John, wrote that even with the witnessed miracles of Jesus that many people still refused to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. How could that be? They saw the miracles first hand. Well, to explain their lack of belief the Apostle John quoted from the book of Isaiah, which we can read in John 12: 38-40. For, what the Lord had once told Isaiah centuries before about hardening the hearts of people who refused to believe in Him was being written about again by the Apostle John in order to explain why these people also refused to believe. Now, here we are centuries later, and we still see that many people refuse to believe in Jesus Christ despite the evidence, the Holy Spirit’s voice calling to them, and the Word of God given to them to substantiate Christ as the living Son of God. Their hearts have been hardened.

Why do so many people fail or refuse to believe in God and His Son? Well just as in times past, God continues to “harden the hearts of people, to close their eyes, and to shut their ears so they can’t turn to Him for healing”. Certainly, this does not mean that God prevents people from coming to Him or that He prevents them from believing in Christ. Rather, God simply confirms their own free will choice to not believe, which results in the eventual hardening of their hearts. For, over the years, the Holy Spirit has called and called to them, and God has put evidence in front of them of His existence, but instead of believing in God they have chosen not to believe in God and to not believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Instead they have chosen to believe the lies of those who don’t want God and Christ to be known. Therefore, God gives them exactly what they wish, which is to have nothing to do with Him. He then simply closes their hearts, eyes, and ears from His presence and the calling of the Holy Spirit.

Between the devil’s devious ways of keeping people from the knowledge of God and the many people just disregarding the Holy Spirit’s call, are those people who have actually made the personal choice to not believe in God. Unfortunately, many of these, who call themselves atheists, do not want anyone to believe in God. Since they have chosen not to believe in God, these atheists do not want others to believe in God either. Their anger at life makes them want to pull other people down into their same deep canyon of anger and disbelief. In addition, they constantly have the help of the devil on their side. Now, with the devil’s help, these atheists have suddenly now turned their anger against the spiritual communication Christians use to talk to God, i.e., prayer. They have suddenly decided to attempt to stop the godly communication of prayer by ridiculing prayer and by suggesting that if God can answer prayers, then why does He let people die. Better yet, why did God not stop the shooting in Texas before it happened? Sadly, they really have no concept of God! Nor, do they have any concept of why we are living in a fallen world. What about free will? Do they understand that if God stopped all bad things from happening, we would either be robots or already living in Heaven? But because of the world that we live in and because we have free will, we can choose or not choose to pray to God in belief and ask for His help.

Even most non-believers will accept the idea of prayer simply because they have seen the power of prayer even if they have never prayed. They have seen prayers answered even if they don’t understand how. But, if the devil can get atheists and misguided non-believers to publicly ridicule and belittle those who believe in prayer, perhaps the devil can in the process not only stir up controversy and dissention, but also keep many non-believers from turning to God during a time of need. Therefore, if these particular ridiculing non-believers and atheists are able to get any people to not believe in prayer, then they believe they have struck a blow against God and His followers, i.e., against Christians. So, these particular groups of non-believing people are ridiculing, defaming, and vilifying the concept of prayer to God.

What is prayer?

At its deepest level, prayer is fellowship with God;
Enjoying His company, waiting upon His will,
Thanking Him for His mercies…
Listening in silence for what He has to say to us.”
– (p. 102. Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011, Franklin Graham).

Prayer is a method of communication with the Most High, i.e., it is communication with the God of the Universe. Because God is spiritual, we have to use a spiritual type of communication to talk to Him. That spiritual communication is prayer. Indeed, this communication brings us closer to the One who created us. In fact, prayer specifically communicates with God through Jesus Christ the Son.

We can pray short prayers like in a moment of panic when we lose control of our car. In that case we may just yell out, “God save me!” or “God help me!”  For those of us who have prayed those types of prayers, we know that God answers right away. At other times, we may say a short prayer for someone who is sick or we may pray for understanding of a particular situation. Those types of prayers are to be sent up to God through Jesus Christ, the Son, and may or may not be answered immediately. For, we have learned that God’s answers to our prayers may be “no”, “yes”, or “not at this time.” However, remember that God sees the past, present, and future all at the same time, so He knows when something needs to be done right away or if it needs to be accomplished in the future or not at all. But above all, God always has His children’s best interest at heart.

We also need to remember that we all have free will to live in this world as we see fit. So, some of the things that we get ourselves into have nothing to do with God. Rather people have allowed the temptations of this world to entice them or they have simply made a bad decision. Of course, succumbing to temptations can cause some people to get themselves into serious problems, especially if they make a wrong decision. But, God has given us His laws and commandments to guide us in making right decisions. He has also given us the Holy Spirit to guide us. However, if we fail to adhere to God’s laws and commandments or fail to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can get ourselves into big trouble, because the devil is just waiting for us to make a mistake. Sometimes, too, the children of God may find themselves looking straight upon an evil situation that is no fault of their own. In these dire situations, only God knows what the outcome will be. However, we can rest assured that God has the best planned for His child, even if that means that His child is suddenly called home to live with Him. For God has said, “I know the plans that I have for you. … They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  -- (Jeremiah 29: 11. NLT).

At other times, like after I was struck by a car while in a crosswalk, a person can have their whole world changed in a moment. However, God can see into the future, and He knows what you or I can become for the glory of the Kingdom of God. Moreover, the prayers of family, friends, and fellow Christians can have an impact on the outcome of any situation. In my case, my life was spared, and I was able to live a full life for the Lord even though I am handicapped. Yet, even when we lose a loved one through violence, evil, or just an accident, God will be there to strengthen us and give us peace and understanding, if we will trust in Him and pray for His strength to get through the situation. Moreover, God will never leave one of His children stranded without His love or strength. For, no one is ever alone if they trust in and believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Indeed, God is always there for His children. God never gives up on us and we can’t give up on God. We just need to communicate with God through prayer and talk to Him about not only our needs, but talk to Him and tell Him how much we love Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Finding a quiet place to fellowship with God

 Longer and more meditative prayers of communication with God, though, should be said in a quiet place where we can also listen for the Holy Spirit’s prompting of us on how to pray. By setting aside a quiet time and place to meditate and focus on communicating with God we are honoring God and giving Him the respect and glory that He deserves.

The movie “The War Room” gives us a wonderful example of why we should find a quiet place to pray, which is to focus on God. In fact, the Bible tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” – (Luke 5: 16. NLT). Jesus did this to get away from the crowds and to be able to speak quietly and intently with God, His Father. Actually, it is this quiet prayer time with God that strengthens us and allows us to hear God’s Words within our heart.

Studying the Bible is Necessary for Effective Prayers

Effective prayers have at their core Bible Study and the acquired knowledge of the Word of God. This means that for truly effective prayers we are to quote verses from God’s Word or quote back to God His own words in order to validate that our prayer is in line with what God wants for us and that we are not asking for something that goes against God’s values, morals, and laws. For example, praying specifically to become a millionaire goes against God’s plans for His children. For that type of selfish prayer means that this person’s desire for money and what it can buy far outweighs their desire to serve the Lord. In fact, when a person focuses only on money and acquiring money, there is probably no room in their heart for God. That is why Jesus specifically told his disciples and the crowds that “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” – (Matthew 6: 24. NLT).

In order to have effectual prayers, we must also be in obedience with God’s Word. This means that we must live in obedience to God. Billy Graham tells us that “Obedience is the master key to effectual prayer.”  -- (p. 103. Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011 Franklin Graham). Like a master key that opens all the doors in a house, obedience is the master key to a fruit producing life that is lived for the Kingdom of God. In fact, if we are always looking for ways to show our obedience to God, we will have many blessings bestowed upon us, including the blessings of answered prayers. Think about this: Why would God answer our prayers in a positive manner if we are always disobeying God or if we are not living up to God’s rules and laws. Like any father who loves His children, God wants to give us blessings. But a father who has to deal with a continually misbehaving child doesn’t want to give undeserved gifts. God is a good Father who wants His children to receive gifts from Him. However, He, too, will not give misbehaving children gifts. So, to receive blessings from God, we must learn to obey God, love God, and care about how we are living for and serving the Kingdom of God.                                                                                                                                                                    

Fellowshipping with God through Prayer

Billy Graham said that you are to “pray frequently as you read [the Bible] and you will discover a fellowship with God.– (p. 102. Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011 Franklin Graham). Communication with God provides fellowship with God. Ultimately, developing that close fellowship with God is the reason for prayer. Yes, we can pray for ours and other’s needs, but God wants us to desire to spend time with Him. In fact, God created us to fellowship with Him.

Remember how God walked in the Garden with Adam; talking to Adam in the evenings? (See Genesis 3: 8). Well, God would have continued to walk and talk with Adam and Eve in the evenings in the Garden of Eden had they not disobeyed Him and eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But having eaten from that tree they were kicked out of the Garden for their disobedience and their lack of trust in God. From that time on the only way to talk to God and fellowship with God was through prayer. Prayer is our way of communicating with God.

It is important to take the time to pray to God and to be in spiritual fellowship with Him. For, it is in the process of fellowshipping and listening for God’s Words that Christians find that they can not only talk to God, but can ask for God’s help and that He hears their requests. Indeed, Jesus said to His disciples “If you get your life from Me (meaning that you are Saved) and My Words live in you, ask whatever you want. It will be done for you.– (John 15: 7. NLV). Yes, as a child of God’s we know that we can pray and ask God for not only our needs but also for His help. But, Jesus also told us that “Your Heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” – (Matthew 6: 33. NLT). So, in living for God and working for the Kingdom of God we know that we do not have to ask for daily provisions, because God already knows our needs. However, we can ask for help with our spiritual needs and with our understanding of situations, and we know that God will give us what we have asked. But by understanding God’s Word, though, we should also realize how our desires and our needs should always relate to God’s Word. One of the things that we need to understand from God’s Word is that “faith” is an important part of believing in God, in living for Him, and in praying to Him. It is also an important part in our obedience to God.

Asking in Faith and Obedience

The Bible tells us that our prayers must be offered up to God in faith! That is, we cannot pray not believing that God will answer our prayer and then expect to get what we have asked in prayer. To not believe that we will receive what we have asked for in prayer means that God will not answer our prayers because we do not have faith that He will answer our prayer. In fact, Jesus told his disciples: “Have faith in God. I assure you that you can say to this mountain, ‘May God lift you and throw you into the sea,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that is required is that you really believe and do not doubt in your heart. Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you will have it.”  -- (Mark 11: 22-24. NLT). The type of prayer that Christ is talking about here is prayer for the fruitfulness of the Kingdom of God and it has to be prayed in faith. Although it may seem impossible for a mountain to be moved into the sea, Christ used this illustration to show the disciples that God can do anything.

This would also have to be a prayer of obedience as well. This means that there are certain conditions that would need to be met for God to answer such a prayer. First and foremost, the person praying would have to be a believer, i.e., he/she would have to be “Saved”. Secondly, the believer could not pray with selfish motives. In other words, just saying to the mountain to move into the sea because he/she just wanted it to happen or to show off to another person would certainly not lend itself to receiving an answer to this prayer. For the one praying would not be in obedience with God’s will. Next, such a request in prayer must be for the good of the Kingdom of God. In other words, praying for a mountain to be moved would have to ultimately benefit the Kingdom of God before God would answer such a prayer, and only God knows when something like that would be a benefit to His Kingdom. Finally, when we pray, we cannot have a grudge against another person or have failed to ask for their forgiveness if needed or failed to have given forgiveness to another if needed. If we can’t forgive someone or can’t ask forgiveness of another how can we expect God to grant our prayer request.

Of course, as in the above example, we should remember that our prayers must be motivated by God’s interest in our lives and not motivated solely for our own interest. For example, when Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying to His Father to take “the cup of suffering” from Him, Jesus said: “Abba Father” … ‘everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet, I want Your will, not mine.’” – (Mark 14: 36. NLT). Just like Christ, we can pray for our own desires, but we should always want God’s will for our life above our own desires for our life. Remember, that God wants good things for each of His children. Therefore, to be in obedience to God’s will, we must always look inside our hearts to see if we are truly focused on God’s desires and not our own.

No matter what we are asking for in prayer, we must remember that prayer is not just about getting things from God. Prayer is about spending time with God and about glorifying and honoring God. That should always be the first part of our prayers and it should be the last part of our prayers. Moreover, focusing on God’s Word, focusing on obedience to God and having faith in everything that God does, gives us a well-rounded time of spiritual communication with God. But, without Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we could not even come before God in prayer and expect it to be answered. For, it is Christ who takes our prayers and petitions before His Father. Christ is our advocate and He is the One who makes all requests on our behalf. What a glorious God that we have!

Even though mankind was banned from the Garden of Eden and from walking in communication with God each day, God gave us a way to spend time with Him, i.e., he gave us the ability to spend time with Him in prayer. God planned this process of spiritual communication through Jesus Christ, His Son, eons ago. In fact, God first foretold of His Son coming to earth to give people a hope and understanding way back in the book of Genesis. Then through subsequent prophets God continued to foretell of Christ coming to earth for our salvation. When the time was finally right years later, God fulfilled His promise of sending His Son to earth to die for our sins but then to arise from the grave conquering eternal death for those who would believe upon Him.

The devil was afraid of Christ and tried to get rid of Him. Although the devil had told lies on Christ and had convinced the Pharisees to crucify Him, the devil ultimately lost, for Christ arose from the grave conquering eternal death and in the processing giving every human a chance to believe on the living Son of God. Now it is through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that every “Saved” person can have their prayers heard by the father through Christ, the Son.

The devil cannot stand the fact that God gave humans a way to spend communication time with Him every day and every moment if we are willing to take the time to pray. So, the devil continues to try to keep people away from communication or prayer with God. He continually tries to defame and ridicule Christians any way that he can including most recently to ridicule Christian’s prayers. But, remember that the devil can’t and won’t win. So, don’t let anyone belittle your ability to pray. Don’t let anyone cause you to feel ridiculed or bad because you pray to God. They are the unfortunate ones. They are the ones who are missing out on knowing the greatest God and Savior and of knowing the greatest peace and love a person can feel through the salvation received through Jesus Christ, the Savior. Instead, continue to pray to God in Jesus’ Name. Continue to pray in faith and believing that God will answer your needs!

Do you know Christ as Your Savior?

If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, take the time to pray. Ask Christ to forgive your sins. Tell Him that you really believe that He is the living Son of God risen from the grave. Then, ask Christ to come into your heart and cleanse it from all sin. If you truly believed and if you truly meant what you said, you are Saved. You just need to do one other thing. You need to tell a friend, family member, or even a stranger that you are Saved! For, “if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus as Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in Salvation.” – (Romans 10: 9-10. NASB).

There is Salvation power in this prayer to God! I hope that you take the opportunity to reach out to God and through prayer ask for His free gift of mercy and grace. You will never regret it. May God Bless each of you!  

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