I had thrown out an insensitive and stupid comment about Roman Catholics a couple days back, and I made an even stupider comment about prayer. Again, my apologies. Atheists of course mock and ridicule prayer as much as they mock anything regarding Christianity.
I confess that I don’t understand what is taking place, not exactly, when I attempt to communicate with my Lord and Saviour. This I do know. The deeper my relationship with Jesus becomes the more that discernable patterns emerge regarding prayer. For example, when atheists say that prayer doesn’t work, there’s a good chance that they’re right, at least according to what they perceive as working. In other words, there are good reasons for why they are right in certain cases.
. John 14:6 - “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
When we pray without a healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus we simply do not have unimpeded access to God the Father.
. Matthew 6:7-8 - “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
How would your spouse or ANYONE for that matter respond if you spoke to them with rehearsed and rote phrases? It’s ridiculous. Prayer is communication within the context of a personal relationship.
. Psalm 66:18-19 - “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.”
To call God a liar, to say to Him that what He says is wrong is not wrong and then to ask Him to help you out with something doesn’t make any sense. God is love, but He’s not a fool; He will not be mocked.
. James 4:3 - “You wouldn't think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you'd be asking for what you have no right to.”
When you know that you are in a wrong relationship with God, you are right to expect Him to ignore your requests for help.
. Matthew 6:5 - “And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?”
Whether it’s in a restaurant or at Church or anywhere really, if your motive for prayer is to make a show of praying, well, again, that has nothing to do with a genuine, honest relationship and God is likely to ignore you if not discipline such insulting behaviour.
. James 1:6-8 - “But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”
My own experience has been that the longer I live with Jesus, the better that I know Jesus, the more that I become “one” with Jesus the more likely I am to want what He wants, disagree with what He disagrees with, shun what He wants me to shun, go where He wants me to go, and so on. That means that I will be more likely to ask for what He wants me to ask for and therefore I will have faith that I am praying in His will. I will have faith that what He wants for me is what I’m asking for and my faith will be strong and sure that He is hearing me.
. 1st Peter 3:7 - “Be good husbands to your wives. Honour them, delight in them. As women they lack some of your advantages. But in the new life of God's grace, you're equals. Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don't run aground. ”
This pretty much speaks for itself. To think that I can be mistreating anyone that God loves and then ask Him for Him is absurd.
. Mark 11:25-26 - “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Obviously I can’t be holding bitterness in my heart and expect God to honour my hypocrisy. God promises that we will be forgiven only as we forgive others.
. Proverbs 21:13 - “Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.”
God desires mercy, not ritual, not religion. He will not ignore our selfishness and hoarding.
There are times when God does not answer our prayers and there are good reasons for Him ignoring our plea for help. God willing, I’ll finish this post tomorrow.