Flames of Truth Ministries
Monday, July 24, 2017

 

Asking God
                God doesn’t answer my prayers. I don’t think He even hears me. When I think about it does He really answer anyone’s prayers or is it all coincidence? Is there some secret formula and special prayer language that I should be following in order for God to hear me and to answer my prayers?
            Let’s allow the very Word of God to speak to us about how we should ask God for things and what we should expect from God.
 
            James 4:2 “You lust and do not have so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.”
 
            If we stop there then it seems very simple, we don’t have because we don’t ask so then just ask and God should give it to us. However, the meaning of this verse doesn’t end here. We must read on to the next verse.
 
            James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
 
            Oh, wait, this adds a different concept. This is where too often we get ourselves into trouble with the Word of God. We take one single verse and try to make it say what is comfortable and more tolerable for us. We should always take the whole Word of God on any subject we are studying so that we discern clear meaning. God very clearly tells us here that we don’t have because we don’t ask AND we don’t have because we ask with selfish motives. You see we live in an instant gratification society, a McDonald’s society, a microwave society. We ask and someone should deliver quickly and if they don’t we are mad. We act as if God is our butler. We snap our fingers and call Him to service when we need something but we quickly dismiss Him when we don’t need His help. Our view of God and how we communicate with Him has become extremely distorted, like looking in a funny house mirror at a carnival. We don’t even know who we are trying to communicate with. 
 
            John 14:13-14 “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
            John 16:23 “And in that day you will ask Me no question. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name.”
 
            So here is our next step. It is not about just asking or even asking unselfishly but it has to be in Jesus name. So this means that I can ask anything as long as in the prayer I say “in Jesus name.” Well not exactly.   Well really not at all. There is no secret prayer language and phrases that magically make your prayers have more power and evoke a positive response from God. This is where we need to refer back to the study on praise. God’s name is holy and powerful and full of meaning. His name is not just what we call Him but it is WHO He is. If we are praying in the name of Jesus then we are praying in His character and purpose. Let’s look at a very practical example of this. Our widow’s ministry requires a great deal of travel. We know without any doubt that is in the character and purpose and will of God for us to visit these people on a regular basis. He has set Biblical mandates for us to care for widows. In order for us to do this we must have adequate transportation.  So I consider this carefully and reason that I need a new vehicle so that it will be reliable for me to get to and from each house. I may even need to transport some of the ladies to town to run errands so it needs to be a nice car that they will be comfortable riding in and it needs to be big enough to transports gift packages on holidays and meals on a regular basis. TV commercial comes on at just about that time for a greatly reduced rate on a Cadillac Escalade. Well God must be showing me this right at this moment because that would be just perfect for this ministry. So my prayers begin for God to provide me with a Cadillac Escalade for the widow’s ministry. Now, I’m not in any way saying that God can’t or won’t provide you with a Cadillac Escalade but let’s look at it from a different point of view. What if my prayer went something like this: “Dear Lord, I really would like a new car that is more reliable and that is a good deal on the Cadillac but those widows are so needy. If You could keep my vehicle running and provide some extra cash to fix what’s wrong with it, then I will have extra money that I can use to help meet the needs of the widows.” You see in that prayer we are totally dependent on God to keep the car going and to allow us to meet their needs not our wants. The second prayer would be much more in line with the character and the will of God. Also, consider this, He may have predestined you to break down and meet someone along the way that you can witness to about the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. He didn’t keep Paul and Silas out of prison but used them in prison to witness. He may want you to have inconveniences in order to have opportunity to witness and share the joy of the LORD in all circumstances.
 
Let’s look at some more verses about prayers and why our prayers may not get the answer we want.
 
Psalm 66:18 “If I regard wickedness in my heart; the Lord will not hear.”
 
Before we ever go to the Lord with any request, we must first examine our hearts. If we have unconfessed sin in our hearts then the Lord does not hear us so there is no point asking for anything until we ask first for forgiveness and mercy.   So make sure you take time and go through the steps to repentance before you go to the Lord with your petitions.
 
I Samuel 1:15 – “But Hannah answered and said, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.”
 
Daniel 9:3 – “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplication, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”
 
We next need to ask ourselves do our prayers lack passion. Hannah was praying so hard and with such strong passion that they thought she must be drunk or simply going out of her mind. When was the last time you prayed like that? Have you ever prayed like that? Is there a burden on your soul that cries out to the Lord or are you just asking for things you want and there really is not passion in that anyway? What about for a lost friend or relative? What about for your children? Do you truly CRY OUT to God? Look at Daniel. He put aside his own physical needs, not just wants, to cry out to God for forgiveness of His people. When is the last time you put aside your wants, to dedicate yourself to prayer for the needs of others. Please take notice that I didn’t ask when was the last time you set aside your needs because if we just set aside our wants, God could do a wondrous work in us. Do your prayers lack passion?
 
Luke 11:5-13, “And He said to them, ‘Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and from inside he shall answer and say, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
 
Luke 18: 1-8, “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, ‘ There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man. And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give my legal protection from my opponent.’ And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.’ And the Lord said, ‘ Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?  I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
 
When we pray do we lack perseverance? Do we ask once and then figure God heard us so we shouldn’t have to ask again. The Bible says we are to keep asking with diligence and because of our persistence God will hear and answer. I have spent a lot of time considering this thought and God has taught me much through the years on this topic. When I first considered this, I thought wait a minute, God is all powerful and all-knowing so why should I have to ask over and over again. God didn’t even have to hear me the first time if He is all knowing, then He already knows what I’m going to say anyway. Well that thought makes it ridiculous to have to say the same prayer request over and over again. When you think about it that way, why should you have to pray at all? Here’s the deep discovery that it took me a while to fully understand; prayer is not for God’s benefit or to inform Him of anything. Prayer is for our benefit. There is nothing that we can tell God that He doesn’t already know. We can’t put our spin on it so that He sees our point of view over someone else’s point of view. He sees the motive and feelings in our heart. My past experience with prayer is that when I pray for something over and over again, then I begin seeing my thoughts and my ideas changing. God uses our persistence to grow us and to change us. He takes away our wants through our persistence and reveals our needs or the needs of the one we are praying for. Our persistence also gives us a deeper passion and compassion for the person or need we are praying for or about. Through our persistence we begin to see God moving, many times in steps not leaps. What or who are you praying about or for? Are you persistent in your prayers?
 
I John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence which we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
 
Above all we must remember that we are to be praying God’s will NOT our will – not our wants! Our confidence comes when we are empty of ourselves and we are praying God’s will. This becomes difficult if you have not studied the Scriptures. How do you pray God’s will?
1.       Quote a promise as assurance of an answer – example, “Your Word says that you will never leave me nor forsake me so I will not fear going into this world alone. I will walk boldly forward and ask that you are with me, knowing that You will always be.”
2.      Quote a fulfilled promise as a reason for praise – example, “God you promised that if I walked blindly in faith and did not reason about what I saw with my eyes that you would provide for my needs, thank you God for taking care of me.” This is a broad example but you should list a specific praise and thank God for the details.
3.      Apply Bible verse to a current situation – example, “God you didn’t call the strongest or the most well trained when you called David to be king, so I trust you that you can use me to accomplish your mission even though I feel inadequate.”
4.      Use Bible verses as a prayer or praise – example, “Psalm 23:1 says ‘The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.’ Lord be my shepherd, lead me beside still waters, when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, by my comfort.”
5.      Use Bible phrases in prayer
In order to do this we must study, learn and yes even memorize Scripture to use in prayer. You have to know God’s Word to pray God’s Word. As you begin to study God’s Word keep a list of Bible promises that can be used in prayer. Here are some to get you started.
 
Psalm 138:8 – “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; do not forsake the works of Thy hands.”
 
Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
 
Jeremiah 32:27 – “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
 
Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to me, and I will answer you and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
 
Matthew 18:19-20 – “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.”
 
John 15:7 – “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.”
 
Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 
Romans 8:28 –“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
 
What should we be praying for on a daily basis?
1.       For spiritual changes in ourselves and those close to us. God’s work in our lives is so much more important than any material things we can ask for.
2.      For spiritual guidance and wisdom and discernment for yourself.
3.      Intercessory prayer for others
          a.      Friends and family
          b.      Enemies
          c.       Civil authorities
          d.      Our nation
4.      Praying for the sick
          a.      Matthew 8:5-10 – “And when he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, entreating Him, and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering great pain.” And He said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, “go!” and he goes and to another, “come!” and he comes, and to my slave, “Do this!” and he does it.” Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such a great faith with anyone in Israel. And I say to you, that many shall come from the east and west and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”   And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; let it be done to you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very hour.”
               b.      Matthew 15:22-28 –“And behold, a Canaanite woman came out from that region, and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came to Him and kept asking him, saying “Send her away, for she is shouting out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O, woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.”
          c.       Luke 8:43-48 – “And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him, and touched the fringe of His cloak; and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the multitudes are crowding and pressing upon You.” But Jesus said, “Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out from Me.” And when the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith had made you well; go in peace.”
5.      Praying for the lost – our days should be filled with passionate prayers over those we know are lost. We need to daily recognize that today could be that person’s last day to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and we should feel the urgency to bring them to the throne of grace through prayer as often as we think of them. 
 
When we pray and ask God for anything, the requests should be all about God and His will not about us and our wants. If we focus on that, then we will begin to see prayers answered in mighty ways.