Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More on Getting Your Prayers answered

Oops! I Left Out a Couple of Things on How to Get Your Prayers Answered.
By Barbara Henderson

Last week I wrote an article titled ‘Seven Steps to Getting Your Prayers Answered’. Well, this week I realize I left out a two important things. First, there is another step; and, it may be the most important step after the step of salvation. It is forgiveness.

When I first realized the importance of forgiveness my thought was, ‘Oh! RATS!’ Why does THAT have to come into getting my prayers answered? I suppose it truly is about getting my prayers answered; but, even more important, it is about getting closer to the Lord.

Anyway, if you are praying for something that is dreadfully and continually important to you, then you must consider your own life. Sometimes, a delay in getting a positive answer to your prayer means ‘sin lieth at the door’. (Genesis 4:7) The sin at the door is often lack of forgiveness toward those who have wronged you. The more I studied on forgiveness, the more I came to realize…. ‘I’ve been robbed!’….

That’s right. Robbed! I don’t know of the right word here, so I will use the word ‘unforgivness’.
Unforgiveness robs you of:
Peace with God.
Direct access to God.
Answers to prayers.
Freedom – it chains you to your hurt and prevents you from enjoying the blessings of the day.

Don’t misunderstand that the act of forgiveness is sort of like a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Forgiveness isn’t cause and effect in that you forgive someone and then God will grant your prayer. Forgiveness is a requirement for getting God’s attention when you pray. Your level of forgiveness to others is key to how well God hears your prayers. The smaller hurts are just as dangerous as the big hurts. Left unforgiven, they wind up growing to the same size as a big hurt.

Unforgiveness is:
A liar – it tells you things are worse than they really are.
A slave driver – an unforgiving heart finds every thought consumed by anger and bitterness toward the one who ‘done him wrong’.
A devouring fire – destroying whoever gets in its way. No one and nothing is more important than holding on to that anger and hurt.

And – unforgiveness is EXPENSIVE!
It costs the future by chaining you to the past.
It costs the present by binding your thoughts to hurt.
It costs you the people and things you love because you neglect them in favor of nursing hurt feelings.

According to John MacArthur there are seven reasons to forgive:
To deflect pride
To show mercy
To restore joy
To affirm love
To prove obedience
To restore fellowship
To thwart Satan

I also left out something else. Step 7 to getting your prayers answered was that we should keep on praying. Prayers often go unanswered because we fail to continue to pray. Why is that?
Do we still want our prayer answered?

Probably, but there is a problem. To continue in prayer regarding one subject, whether it be healing of an illness, restoration of family relationship, or revival in the lives of Christians, is usually going to require something of the prayee (the one praying) that is very difficult. It requires the prayee to deal with sin in his or her own life.

Yep, that’s exactly right. I have never gone to the Lord in effectual fervent prayer (James 5:16) without being severely convicted of something in my own life that was bothering God. It turns out that there are no ‘little’ sins to God. If there is something going on in your life that is not pleasing to God, get ready to hear about it from Him.

Continual passionate prayer is work to begin with; but it is also dangerous work for anyone who wants their own lives to go along without change. To get your prayer answered often causes your own life and self image to be turned upside down!

There is some really good news in all that. God can’t fix what is broken in your life until He has your attention, and because of your passionate prayer He suddenly has it. Then, God ‘runs a diagnostic check’ on you. One thing may have led you to pray, but God is going to use it to your good. He is going to point out obstacles that are keeping you from being the growing Christian God wants you to be.

So, every Christian praying for something important has to make a decision.
How badly do I want this prayer answered?
Count the cost before you set out to get a prayer answered.
God is not going to ask you to go out on a great quest in order to get Him to listen to your prayer. He is not going to ask you to sacrifice something in your life like ‘fish on Friday’, or powdered sugar donuts for breakfast (thankgoodness). He is going to ask you to get your heart right with Him.

God will ask you to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who often speaks through scripture, so Bible reading is a must if you are serious about wanting your prayer answered.

My preacher and dearest friend Evan New preached that a good reason that King David was loved so much by God, even though David was at times a dreadful sinner, was that once David realized the error of his ways, or ‘came to his senses’ regarding a sin, he immediately repented. David did not waste time excusing his sins. He truly repented and asked forgiveness.

That is an example that we need to follow. Don’t waste your time explaining how badly someone hurt you, or what your provocation was to sin in the first place. Just admit it was a sin. Turn from it. Restore your relationship with God. It is really plain stupid not to. Here’s why. God can soothe the hurt or trauma like no one and nothing else can do. To stay alienated from God because of anger or hurt feelings is like a burn victim refusing medical treatment because he is mad that he was burned in the first place.

Well, those are the two things I left out of ‘Seven Steps to Getting Your Prayer Answered’.
Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you.
Be ready to repent and turn from sin in your own life immediately upon conviction of sin.

I have to add that none of these ‘steps’ are guaranteed to bring you the exact answer to anything. Often God changes our prayer to suit Him better. In effect, we come to desire something better than our original prayer. It is like in Psalms 37 – God gives us the right desires in our hearts and then He brings it to pass.

Instead of a song I think I will just add Psalm 37:1-11 and Psalm 107:26-30.

Psalm 37:1-11
1. Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
2. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
3. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and veriy thou shalt be fed.
4. Delight thyself also in th LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5. Commit they way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
7. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him”: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devises to pass.
8. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
9. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.
10. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
11. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Another really good passage for anyone going through something so terrifying and distressful that it brings them to agony of spirit is Pslam 107:26-30. This passage compares someone in turmoil and distress to a mariner going through a storm.

Psalm 107:26-30
26. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. (That pretty much describes the emotional roller coaster ride we go through when facing a crisis.)
27. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.
28. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. (PLURAL – distresses – I love that part.)
29. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. (God stops your emotional storm, and helps you to be still and hear His voice.)
30. Then are they glad because they be quite; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

Oh, man, I love verse 30. We reach our desired haven. The storm is over!

Barbara Henderson
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