Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Praying Elijah-like Prayer, part 2


In case you missed it, the blog post yesterday was about Praying Elijah-like Prayer. I have long felt that the "modern" church was sadly missing some of the best parts of the first-century church. When those apostles prayed, seriously great things happened. 

It's a commonly held belief that all the "signs and wonders" were just done to get the church up and running. Some people believe that the miracles were all used up back in the early church.

I was taught to believe that theology, and it was a source of great grief for me. What kind of God calls me to Himself but doesn't save any good stuff for me? Not the Great I AM. That's for sure.

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) The God who did the miracles, signs, and wonders in answer to prayer in the first century is STILL the same God today.

So where are the miraculous answers to prayer? As I asked yesterday, "Why, then, do we not see Elijah-style answered prayer?"

My answer yesterday was, "One reason for unanswered prayer might be that we worship the not-so-great me instead of the Great I AM." We depend upon ourselves and the "answers" we can obtain instead of relying wholly on God alone.

After I hit the publish button, I realized I had omitted the most important reason for unanswered prayer.

SIN.

James 5:6 says, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."

There's a big difference between a righteous man and those who do whatever they want and call themselves righteous. 

The word translated as righteous is dikaios and indicates one who is "upright, virtuous, keeping the commands of God." We cannot harbor secret sin, or not-so-secret sin and, at the same time, keep the commands of God. 

When we indulge in pride, anger, bitterness, idolatry, lust, covetousness, gossip or whatever our particular sin, it greatly impairs our prayer life/communication with God. It shatters our chance for answered prayer, especially Elijah-like prayer.

When we do not love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, when we fail to love our neighbor in the same way we love ourselves, we have not met the high standard of God. Our failure will hamper the answers to our prayers. We don't have to be perfect, but we do have to recognize our failures and address them.

(When I say, "Lord, I have not loved you as I should in this situation. I have loved _____ more than You. I repent of my idolatry and cast it away from me. Forgive me and help me love You more..." I have recognized my sin, admitted it, repented, and asked God to help me make it right.)

Do we want answered prayer, or not? 

That's the question we should be asking.

If we want answered prayer, we must be willing to do what is required. It begins by repentance and turning from our sin. 

Just to be clear, repentance does not mean simply that we agree with God that we have sinned. Repentance means we agree with Him that we have sinned, promise not to do it again, and ask Him for forgiveness. 

The intent to stop doing the sin for which we need forgiveness is a vital part of repentance. 

If we want answered prayer, especially Elijah-style prayer, even our favorite sins have to go. It's that simple.

So the question we all want answered is whether or not answers to Elijah-style prayer are still possible. 

The answer (I believe) is yes. 

I've seen quite a few miracles over the years. Not even one of them had anything at all to do with me. They were all prayed because God whispered that prayer in my heart. All I did was repeat what I heard. Those answered prayers were literally, from beginning to end, all God. 

Not once did those answered prayers happen when I was indulging in secret sin. 

Not once did those answered prayers happen when I failed to repent of all known sin. 

I'm not sinless, so I've gained some solid experience in repentance, and that, my friends, is critical if we want answered prayer. 

When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, we are supposed to STOP IT. Repent of it and STOP IT.

That's how it works. 

Now, another point needs to be clarified. Even when I am as repented as I can possibly be, I still can not "get" an answered prayer on my own if my life depended on it.

Answered prayer comes from God alone and our participation in the excitement of answered prayer is birthed in our relationship with Him, built morning by morning. Hours of quiet time, Bible study, meditation, and listening to God are key elements in a relationship with our Lord.

In a nutshell, to have answered prayer (including "big" answered prayer) we must:
1) Get rid of our sin.
2) Have a deep and intimate relationship with our Lord.
3) Quit asking for what we want and starting listening for what God wants.
4) Pray what God wants.

When we pray for what God wants, we will see Him do exactly as He pleases. 

You might recognize that prayer if it's worded a little differently. When Jesus prayed it, He said, "THY WILL BE DONE."

Answered prayer is possible, but much more likely if we pray God's way and for God's will.

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." James 5:16 nasb
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's blog post: Praying Elijah-like Prayer 
Here's the link to: The Prayer List
#prayer #unansweredprayer #sin