Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
Who does that anyway -- "Pray without ceasing"? Is that even possible? What would it look like in practice? What would I look like?
Your answer to these questions is telling. When you think of praying, does your soul rejoice at the prospect of being in God's presence as He tells us we can "Boldly come before the throne of grace"; or are you filled with anxiety and apprehension? Is it a burden or a privilege? Why are some prayers answered and some not? Are there barriers we unknowingly institute which hinder God from answering prayer? Can God Be Hindered?
There is no secret formula for prayer, and I purposed long ago to never make fun of two things. How a man prays, and how he bugles elk.
Let's look at some basic truths. 1) God limits Himself by our prayers. John Wesley said "God does nothing on earth save in answer to believing prayer". How come? I don't know. It's a mystery. If God is sovereign, omniscient, omni-potent, then why not just do it before we ask? Why does He tell us to pray? Bottom line is, we've been commanded to pray, and to fail to do so is sin. God says there are certain things He will not do, until we (in obedience) pray. Like what? Only after prayer is Christ's victory over Satan enforced in our everyday life. "But I have prayed for the, that thy faith fail not:" Luke 22:32. Through prayer, lost people get saved. Why else would God tell us to pray for them? "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." - Matt. 9:37-38.
Wisdom is available no other way. "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." James 1:5. Prayer is one of the ways God established for the sick to be healed. James 5:13-14. By prayer, we can do greater works (in scope) than even Jesus. "Verily , verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my father." John 14:12. What are we saying? God longs to answer prayer. Trent of Dublin said: "prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, it is laying hold of His willingness". Proverbs 15:8 = "the prayer of the upright is His delight". Psalm 145:18 = "The Lord is nigh to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth". So one of God's chief objectives is to answer prayer, if only the barriers were removed.
What are these barriers? Here they are in order. #1 = Failing to ask. Truth be known, we don't ask. We don't even think about it. So what or whom do we trust in? The greatest barrier to answered prayer is un offered prayer. #2 = Unbelief. Most of us believe deep down, that it's our effort, hard work, or preparation that will ultimately prevail; either in and of itself, or to make God somehow obligated to us. #3 = Too busy. Too busy for whom? #4 = Satanic interference. I don't believe I have ever known anyone who has actually done battle with Satan, but I believe many more people than would ever admit it, or even are aware of it have battled His demons. #5 = Abandoned Obedience. How seriously do you take God's Holiness? Do you realize that prayer is actually entering the throne room of God? It's coming into His presence.
Nugget: You don't do that dirty. Are you living in what you know is sin? Why do you seem surprised when God doesn't answer? Psalm 66:18 = "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:" Obedience is the pipeline through which God's blessings flow. Want some? Clean the pipes. You say you love God?
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." John 14:21. God Bless.