Prayer is a method of communication by means of which any soul on earth may present his/her requests to Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel. Most forms of communication, such as the telephone, radio, television or data transmission by computer, can breakdown and messages do not get through. The system of prayer, though operating on an infinitely higher plane than any man-made telecommunication system, is no exception. It can also breakdown. But, in some strange way, even though prayer operates on an infinitely higher level than, say, local area networks (LAN) do, to correct faults in prayer is easier by far than repairing the telephone or fixing a computer. What’s more the parameters of prayer are extremely simple:
- Meet Yahweh’s spiritual conditions, ask in Messiah’s Name (Yeshua, Jesus) and your prayers will be answered, and that to your utter amazement.
- Ignore His conditions and most of your prayers will go unheeded, even though you were to employ a million words in an attempt to gain His attention.
Here then is a brief outline of the spiritual parameters, conditions and guarantees of answered prayer. Put them into practice and your life will be immeasurably blessed. Ignore them and you will live in a world of spiritual darkness, never really understanding where in this universe you fit and what is the purpose of your existence. Students are, therefore, advised to look upon this lesson as one of the most important in the entire series. Make sure that you read it over and over again. Re-reading these truths is a sure way of fixing them in your mind.
- FAITH. The first requirement in prayer is to believe that the Almighty God exists, that He is the Creator and the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Yahweh has filled the universe with stunning evidence of His presence. Look above and around and you will have to admit that such breath-taking design and power could never have originated without a master mind behind it all. That mind is Yahweh’s mind. And yet the beauty of the physical creation, wonderful though it is, is only a small part of His handiwork. There are other areas of His activity of which we know little which are greater by far than the physical creation. Yes, every logical mind will admit that the Almighty God must exist. Only fools reject that fact. See SBS articles on Evolution and Creation for further study.
(Hebrews 11:6, Psalm 14:1)
- OBEDIENCE. The next requirement, and this is certainly the most unpopular one, is to be prepared to amend one’s ways and to live a life in obedience to the commandments of God. Failure to meet this mandatory condition is the main cause for failure to get results in prayer; for it is a fact that the Most High will never answer the prayer of a person who knowingly continues in sin. Success in prayer in other words is directly related to one’s willingness to change for the better. Indeed the holier a person becomes the more effective will be his/her prayers.
(2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 66:18, Proverbs 28:9, James 5:16-17)
- MOTIVES. Self centred prayers which are prompted by unsanctified motives – even if they are voiced by a believer – are seldom if ever answered. Or rather the answer is – No! Prayers motivated by the spirit of competition, greed, self glory or pride are really a waste of time; for Yahweh will never grant a request that has at its source some unworthy motive.
- ASK IN YESHUA’S NAME. This phrase does not imply that merely voicing the Master’s name (Yeshua, Emmanuel or Jesus) will somehow work miracles and cause a request to be granted; or that a prayer with the words, “in Jesus’ name” tagged on the end is somehow given special treatment. No, the phrase “in Jesus’ Name” means by the authority and power of Yeshua, in his cause, for the extension of Yahweh’s Kingdom or in accordance with His holy will and purpose. In other words if you ask for anything in the interests of Yeshua’s cause, for something that is in line with His will – it will be granted!. Let me repeat It will be granted!
The astonishing promise, that every request made in the Master’s Name will be granted, is repeated several times in the Scriptures. It comes with all the guarantees of heaven itself. It just cannot fail. Get the parameters right and everything worthwhile is possible! Let every believer pause and consider the unspeakable value of the Saviour’s advice on prayer. His actual words – yea promises may be found in the following passages:
(John 14:13-14, John 15:7-8, John 15:16, John 16:23-24, 1 John 5:14-15) Study them carefully.
- Prayer may be made for a wide variety of things. Here is a sample list of acceptable things to pray for.
- For forgiveness and cleansing from sin. (Psalm 25:16-18)
- For the Holy Spirit. (Luke 11:13)
- For faith and wisdom. (Luke 17:5, James 1:5)
- For the insight and understanding of Yahweh’s law. (Psalm 119:18)
- For healing (approach the elders as instructed). (James 5:14-15)
- For day to day provisions. (Matthew 6:11)
- For fellow believers to grow in grace and generally benefit. (Colossians 1:9-10)
- For others and especially those in authority. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
- For the workers in the Lord’s field. Matthew 9:38)
- And even for your enemies and persecutors. (Matthew 5:44)
- EXPECT RESULTS. Yes, believe, ask and expect results. In fact wait for results and prepare for their arrival.
(Matthew 21:21-22, James 1:6-7, Psalm 40:1, Psalm 130:5-6)
- PERSEVERE. If no results are forthcoming, even after a period of waiting, check your life and motives and pray again. Persevere. (Luke 18:1-8) If desperate, begin a fast and invite other Christians to join with you in more prayer. If still no results arrive, do not despair, Yahweh has a very good reason for not granting your request. Read Luke 18:1-8 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
Study the book of Job. It will show you how that behind the scenes an almost incredible drama was being enacted to prove to the angel host that Job worshipped Yahweh, not for personal gain as Satan had implied, but because he (Job) admired the Almighty. There may well be a similar drama being enacted in your life. ABOVE ALL, IF YOU ARE GOING THROUGH AN EQUALLY TRAGIC EXPERIENCE DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR FAITH IN GOD WHEN YOUR PRAYERS APPEAR TO GO UNHEEDED. If you have re-checked every condition mentioned in this lesson and still get no results, you may be sure that Yahweh has a perfectly good reason for not granting your request. It is at this stage – when nothing seems to move – that a believer’s faith is tested to breaking point and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 must become a living reality to you. It is, of course, possible that your life or motives are not quite right and you yourself are unaware of this. Examine yourself, pray about it and wait for an explanation. It will come.
- MODES AND TIMES OF PRAYER
- Make prayer a habit. In fact wrestle with God and – dare we say it – overcome Him. (Genesis 32:28)
- Of course you should not be presumptuous, but neither should you cringe. Rather be respectfully bold with God. (Hebrews 4:16)
- Raise your hands when praying if opportunity allows. This was a habit of patriarchs, prophets and apostles. (Exodus 17:11-13, 1 Timothy 2:8)
- Pray mostly in secret. This allows more freedom. Keep public prayers short. (Matthew 6:6)
- Kneel when possible without becoming ostentatious. (Psalm 95:6)
- Pray in the morning and again in the evening. But any time of the day or night will do. Never give up the habit of prayer. (1 Thessalonians 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Try fasting. Fasting is prayer’s invincible ally. (Acts 14:23)
- If you have never prayed, ask Yahweh to teach you. (Luke 11:1) Bear in mind that every prayer is sifted, edited and presented to the Most High by the Holy Spirit in a way that will do justice to its true meaning.
The criterion of a good prayer is, therefore, not the glowing language used to express it, but rather the spiritual content of the prayer and whether or not God grants it.
- Above all remember that prayer is the believer’s most powerful weapon in his/her fight against evil, and it is still true to say that:
“Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees“.
Yahweh is even now, waiting for the church to wake up to the power of prayer, to make prayer a habit, to ask and receive of Him the immeasurable bounties He has already provided in Jesus. And it is a constant cause for divine amazement that so few believers even want to understand the subject or give themselves to prayer. (Ezekiel 22:30-31, Isaiah 59:15-16)
And so we will end this lesson reminding you of your duty to pray. Indeed it is your privilege to pray; for coupled with faith, prayer is the finest communication system with the Almighty the church possesses. To be sure it may breakdown, but that is usually because we have not understood its requirements. But though it is sometimes difficult to understand it is easy to start again. Prayer it an extremely powerful system. More powerful than wealth, or talent, or numeric supremacy. Prayer can do anything Yahweh can. So, meet the divine conditions, ASK and RECEIVE, and shall we say “surprise God, yourself and everyone else.”
Author: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland