Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Does Prayer Work?

What do you think about prayer? Do you receive answers to your prayers? Do you know how to pray? What does the Bible say about prayer?

These are valid questions and may be difficult for some of you to answer. Prayer is a serious issue in my life. I want to pray and receive answers to my prayers. I want to know that God is listening to me. I have no intention of merely going through the motions. Most of us make excuses when God does not answer our prayers in the manner in which we expected to be answered. We say, "God knows best...or it is not the Lord's will for this or that to happen..." The truth is something else again. God does hear our prayers and it is up to us to find out how he wants us to approach him. Think about this for a moment:

John 14: 12-15
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

The book of John in the New Testament is interesting reading. The 14th chapter gives us insight. Jesus was speaking with his disciples and made a direct statement. (whatever you ask in my name, I will do it) he repeats this two times within two verses. Interestingly enough, the very next verse says, "if ye love me, keep my commandments".

It seems likely that getting answers to prayer is closely tied to keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ. As believers, we have an obligation to seek the truth in the Word of God and live according to the principles laid down by Jesus Christ and passed on to us through his disciples. I believe that we should have our prayers answered. There were no qualifiers in the above statements. I do not believe Jesus Christ has changed his mind in the past two thousand years. Therefore it falls to us to search for answers.

James 5: 16
16 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.

James was the brother of Jesus Christ and also the pastor of the church at Jerusalem. He understood the message that Jesus Christ brought to the world. Three things leap to my attention as I read his words. (1) Confess your faults one to another (2) pray one for another that you may be healed (3) The effectual fervent prayer gets results.

James was teaching humility, honesty, and love one for another. When you pray for someone else you forget about your own needs and desires. When you pray fervently you forget about your dignity and prostrate yourself before the Lord, no matter what your request. We need to forget about our own needs. This is not easy to do in a world where everything is "all about me," but is necessary if we plan to receive something from the Lord. To receive one's healing as a result of praying for someone else is a very new and interesting concept. It is definitely worth thinking about.

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