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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Prayer I

Who hasn't heard Jesus' words in Mark 11:24? “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” We also know He tells us that with the faith of a mustard seed, we can move mountains and whatever we ask for in His name, will be ours. Why, then, does this not fit our own reality? Is it because it's not true? Is it because Jesus wasn't talking to us? Did God lie to us?

No. This cannot be.

Our reality confirms the existence of God: our changed hearts, our changed lives, the many miracles we've seen. We know God, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible, is nothing but truth. He is incapable of lying. All Scripture was written for our reproof, and the Word of God stands forever. This Scripture was for our teaching. In fact, Jesus commanded His disciples to teach others everything He had told them.

Why then do we not always see answers to our prayers? Well, we would have to dig deeper into God’s Word for an answer to this question. In exegetical studies of the Scriptures, we find that most of the promises of God are conditional. "Believe on me and THEN, you will be saved." "Seek First His Kingdom and His Righteousness and THEN all these will be added to you." "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." So many, many conditions. No, it's not a works based faith I'm professing, for we hear in Romans 4:5 that FAITH is not a work. "To him who does not work, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

Our faith is not about works. To whosoever believeth, He gives eternal life. It's not by works, but by faith—so that no one can boast. Our salvation is not about works, but occasionally the promises for our lives are. The abundant life of peace and joy is available to all who call upon Jesus—but there are certain requirements. This is probably why the Great Commission is not only to bring others to the faith, but also to teach them everything Jesus taught the disciples. We must pass along the baton of truth to one another.

In searching the teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures, I have come across five possible reasons why prayer might not be answered. Most people are quick to jump to the conclusion that when God does not answer, it's because it is not His perfect will. This could definitely be the case and probably is most often the case. However, I believe God’s Word gives us some other reasons—some clues that might reveal why sometimes our prayers are not answered.

Let's take a look:

Remember that first Scripture I quoted from Mark 11:24: "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Well it's followed by an AND. In the Greek, this word "kaiv" is also translated BUT. I think placing a “but” here is a better rendition of the verse. Let's see how it reads:

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. But when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:24

That gives a lot more meaning to the verse, doesn't it? It appears that one reason we may not be seeing answers is because we treasure some unforgiveness in our heart.

Do we have unforgiveness toward:

a relative

a spouse

a child

a neighbor

or even a whole community of people?

Do we hold unforgiveness toward ourselves? It's not uncommon. We've all acted so foolishly when we should have known better. This is part of being human.

However, no matter who it is, we must forgive. It's hard I know. Very hard sometimes. Be encouraged, though, because it's a choice—not a feeling. We choose to forgive even before we feel like forgiving.

It's time to allow God to cleanse you of the sin of unforgiveness. It only adds to your burden. Honestly, it doesn't benefit us one single bit to hold onto our sadness at another's treachery.

Unforgiveness is the poison you drink expecting someone else to die.

The times I have sat quietly before God and have asked Him to reveal any unforgiveness I have toward anyone, He has ALWAYS been faithful to show me. I have an entire blog on forgiveness—mostly as it relates to marriage, but forgiveness in general is also discussed. You can read it here:

Forgiveness 

Forgiveness is vital if we want to see our prayers answered. Cleanse your hearts before God and allow His healing to flow into the wounds of your past. Then you can say with confidence, "Forgive me my sins, Lord, just exactly in the same way as I have forgiven those who have sinned against me."

There are four other reasons I will share over the next four blogs, so don’t miss these posts!

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