like minded

January 16, 2016

praying mom

 

If we follow all of the guidelines presented in the Bible for prayer, does that obligate God to answer our prayers? The answer to this question is both yes and no. It is yes in the sense that when we pray according to God’s clear promises to us, God is obligated to answer (exactly what we mean by this will be clarified later in the chapter), although the timing is up to Him. But the answer is also no, for three reasons. First, we often link the “when” and the “how” to the general prayer request, thus putting man, the creature, in control of God, the Creator. In current spiritual-warfare practice, the prayers of many people, although expressed in words that indicate a request, are in fact nothing more than commands by the believer toward God to intercede in a particular way. This is pride, not humility. A proud approach in prayer makes this type of prayer satanic rather than holy. Whenever we do anything in pride, we are following Satan in his rebellion.

Petition is essentially the request of a child to a father to intercede and protect. How this is done and when it is done are left completely to the sovereign will of the Father.

 

A very important prayer promise is found in James 5:16b: “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James then draws upon the prayers of Elijah to illustrate this principle. But before we look at Elijah to find several principles that are characteristic of efficacious praying, we must first ask what “efficacious praying” is.

The King James Version translates this phrase “the effective fervent prayer,” which is similar to the New American Standard translation, and implies that fervency somehow makes prayer more effective. Some people interpret this to mean that the harder we pray the more effective the prayer, thereby treating prayer as something mystical or magical. Some churches have been known to promote marathon prayer sessions based on this interpretation. However, the Bible always distinguishes between prayer and magic.

The difficulty with this verse is the unusual Greek construction. Without laboring the point, we suggest that the most consistent way to understand this verse is to realize that it is not the prayer itself that is strong or efficacious but rather the One who answers. In essence, “the prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much when it is effective.” Elijah furnishes the example of how much can be accomplished through prayer.

 

Effective prayer is based on the promises of God. The specific instance mentioned by James occurred at the beginning of Elijah’s ministry. James 5:17–18 states, “He prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (The incident to which this passage refers is recorded in 1 Kings 17:1–18:45.)

Elijah was able to stand before the powerful king of Israel and announce this judgment on him because he knew the promise of God. We are not told whether God specifically told Elijah to confront Ahab or whether Elijah simply knew the promises of God and applied them to his situation. (We believe that the latter case is more likely, especially because 1 Kings 18:1 specifically states that God told Elijah to go to Ahab to announce the end of the drought.) In either case, however, Elijah’s actions were grounded on the promise of God.

When we pray the promises of God we are on good ground for great prayers. The trick is to realize what promises are made to us. (stay tuned).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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