My little sister was visiting us last week so I took a little time away from writing to spend with her. During that time I was also contemplating our prayers to the Father, and my attitude about them. I often pray quick requests and quick thanks and try to remember to do this before I have to pray for forgiveness. I am often surprised when I see God actually move and I see a prayer miraculously and wonderfully answered. I think that reveals my heart. (I’m going to be in the Book of James a lot today). We know that:
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
So the question I ask myself is this: why am I shocked? Why instead aren’t I rather questioning when my prayers go unanswered? I should expect my prayers to be answered, not because of some virtue that I have; instead it should be out of my closeness with Him. That I pray according to His will. We read again in James:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.
The conclusion I’m arriving at is this: God want’s me to ask in faith. That faith is not in myself, it totally needs to be in Him!
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
When I pray, it needs to be “fervent” not just a one time through away “gimme gimme”. If my prayer goes unanswered I need to start digging deeper. Is it possible that I am double minded? Is it possible that I am asking “amiss”? If that is the case then my lack of effectual prayer can be a symptom of my “double-mindedness” can’t it? Rather than shrugging and saying “Oh well, I guess He didn’t answer that prayer for whatever reason” is not “diligently seeking him”. Like Paul I should want to get to the bottom of it. Paul made a request of the Lord and didn’t let go until he received his answer:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Paul kept diligently knocking until he received an answer. I suspect that Daniel was even more diligent in his prayers when he was visited by an angel of God:
And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
It took a while and it took persistence.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that if we pray persistently that we will get what we want; far from it. What I am suggesting is that we form the habit of persistent praying until we either have our prayers answered OR God lines us up with His program and shows us how to pray effectively. We approach Him with humility:
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
If our prayers are going unanswered we should suspect that this is a symptom of a double-minded condition. The cure for this is to cleanse our hands, to purify our hearts, to properly mourn over our condition and to humble ourselves appropriately. Anything less is ignoring our foundation Christ Jesus.
Are our prayers going unanswered? Does it grieve us when they aren’t?