Monday, June 20, 2011

Believe That You Have Received

It has been said, "If you pray seven times for any one thing, you prayed six times in unbelief.” Are believers not to be persistent in prayer? Didn't the Apostle Paul pray three times for the same thing? So what does it mean, "If you pray seven times for any one thing, you prayed six times in unbelief.”
First of all, Luke 18:1-8 Jesus shares a Parable revealing persistence in prayer. The Apostle Paul also tells us that believers are to "pray without ceasing", (1 Thessalonians 5:17) So prayer itself is not the issue but how we are praying. Looking at other scripture Jesus address the issue of how to pray or how not to pray...
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. (Matthew 6:7)

True prayer is from the heart that is, in faith, not from the mind, which is mental assent. God is moved through fervent prayer that is spoken in faith, not lofty long prayers that are repeated over and over that may sound holy but are not rooted in faith. Jesus continues...

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:8)
Well, then why bother praying at all? Because prayer is not meant to inform God, it is to encourage believers to draw near to Him, to talk with Him, meet with Him, to know Him in an intimate way and assure ourselves that He hears and answers us. It’s communication with God. But do believer's really believe (?) that He hears are prayers and is also willing and able to answer every time? Upon a closer look at Luke 18:1-8 we see some events that we can learn from...

Understand that the woman went to a “Judge” seeking justice. It does not matter that this judge did not fear God or have respect for people. The point is that he was a judge, one who is to make a ruling based on evidence not bias. So we need to think in terms of a case being tried in court. We do not know what evidence the woman has presented to convince the judge to rule in her favor. What we do know is that she continuously presents her case to the judge. In a court of law evidence is not repeated over and over, it is presented from different perspectives or witnesses, that builds a solid case.

If an attorney presented the same one piece of evidence over and over again and his opponent presents a multitude of evidence that refuted the one bit of evidence, who do we suppose the judge will rule in favor of? Let's be honest, the judge would rule in favor of the one who presented the most and best supporting evidence. Though it is obscure as to how she presented her case and what she said to the judge we have to conclude that she presented her case not only persistently but also with enough compelling evidence that the judge ruled in her favor.

In 2 Corinthians 12 Apostle Paul prayed or pleaded with the LORD three times For Him to remove the messenger of Satan that was buffeting him. There is no indication at all that Paul asked the LORD the same way all three times. Ignorance would say, "Well it doesn't mean that he didn't ask the LORD the same way all three times". Why ignorance? Because Paul was a praying man (as indicated in the invocation of his epistles) he knew the LORD very intimately (as indicated by the abundance of revelation that he received) and therefore we would have to assume that from the time of his conversion, he continued to pray as "the hypocites" scribes and Pharisee's (which Paul was a former Pharisee) that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 6.    

So now we can see that it is not so much what we pray for (although it must be according to His will, 1 John 5:14-15) but how we pray. If I don't have an answer to my prayer, I can pray for the same thing but I must  adjust my prayer. The reason why I must adjust my prayer is very obvious in light of God's Word. The problem is not with God, it is with me. I have to suck up my pride and admit this one hard fact, I probably have not prayed in faith...

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:23-24)

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