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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 can not 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 Jesus had told them.

So, why then do we not always see answers to prayers. Well, we would have to dig in deeper into the Word for an answer to this question. In exegisical studies of the Word, we find that most of the promises of God are conditional. "Believe on me - 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."

No, 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 are available to all who call upon Jesus - but there are certain requirements. This is probably why part of the Great Commission is not only to bring others to the faith, but it's 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 the Word gives us some other reasons, some clues that might reveal why sometimes are 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 Greek is 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."

That gives a lot more meaning to that 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 towards

...a relative

...a spouse

...a child

...a neighbor

...or even a whole community of people?

Do we hold unforgiveness towards ourselves? It's not uncommon. We've all acted so stupidly when we should have known better. 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 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.

Whenever I have sat quietly before God and asked Him to reveal any unforgiveness I have towards 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.

Forgiveness Blog.

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 few days. Tune in tomorrow!

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