A Study By: Timothy M. Youngblood
Copyright © The Master's Table
Prayer

Note: You can find this study in a audio sermon on the Master's Table.
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This is a companion study for Just what is Faith? and can be found at the end of this study.

I have thought about many ways to convey the importance of thinking about God and about our worship of Him in the proper way so we can have a real relationship with Him. The one thing that I can't seem to convey is who and what God is and the short answer is He is perfection and that perfection even relates to truth. If we are not truthful about God and even ourselves we lose contact with Him and that is one reason the command not to tell a lie is one of the Ten Commandments. Now let me put it this way…There are precise measurements in lengths as well as weights and portions of things such as flower and sugar right? Now if you state that 7 + 7 = 14 you would be correct and come to the right conclusion and if you continue doing this correctly in all mathematical equations adding, subtracting and dividing correctly I'm sure no thinking normal person would disagree with your conclusions.

That would also be true for a baker that has to use the other true weights and measures to bake any cake correctly. If you asked the baker to bake an apple pie but he used cherries, most people would think the baker has lost his mind. Let’s also look at it this way for more understanding that can't be refuted. I play the guitar and know for a fact that truth in the manner and ability with which I play as any artist, dancer, athlete, or the like employs their skills will show through as great, good, mediocre, or bad in relation to their commitment to the truth of each skill. The more true one is using in what they do the greater they will do it and those watching or listing will notice.

Now my point is that the God we worship is not a God made of wood and stone by our hands but as all Christians should understand and believe is that the God we worship is the one that created all we see not only on earth but the vastness of the universe as well. This being the facts of the God I worship I also realize that He being the one that made components and measurements to be as they are He also has to work within the same framework He created and mankind does not have the power to change it no more than man has the power to change what God has stated to be truth. Like the true message that Jesus brought from the Holy Father to mankind.

Things are the way they are because God the creator commanded them to be that way so why do Christians (Those that state they believe God is the creator.) go against His commands? Why do Christians insist on having Pagan gods in their churches and even bow down and kiss these things? I can go on for quite some time on the many things that should not be in the Christian religion here but these teachings are on the Master's Table web site if anyone is truly interested. My great point here is that if Christians don't worship God the way He instructs then how do you truly expect your prayers to be answered?

I want everyone to understand that the choice is yours and I never want to get into God's business as I know many are at different levels of growth in there walk in this life or their walk with God. I never judge to condemnation so please never take this to mean that. I just place the information out here for when someone is ready to hear it.

The question is are you absolutely sure God hears your prayers? Have you studied the subject of prayer in the Word of God and proven for yourself that the way you pray, and what you pray for is accepted by God? Did you know that sin separates us from God and it is very possible that God may not hear your prayer because of sin which means your going against His commands? We also will consider in this study the importance of the statement by Jesus when He declared that if we don't forgive others, God would not forgive us. That is also one of God's commands along with if you show mercy He will show you mercy, If you give out of a pure heart of love for others God will do the same for you.

Let's start by asking what is required first and foremost in the beginning of our relationship with God? Let's turn to the book of Acts chapter 2:38-39. Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (NKJ throughout) The very word repentance means to turn from our old ways and to feel regret or contrition, or to change one's mind and to dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life. Without a desire to change and repent we can't come to the One that holds the keys to the door of salvation. We also must come to understand what He commands us to do and not do.

What did Jesus say concerning how we are to reach our Father in heaven? John 14:6. "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." And in John 10:9. "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." So we see here that no one can reach the Father, except through the Messiah (who is pure) and must be in order to make intercession for us. Just what does it mean to come in His Name? It means in His stead (i.e.) to come in the name of the King gives you entry into the court, or other restricted areas without being arrested. Jesus is the only one that has the keys to the Kingdom and we must go through Him (in His Name) in order to unlock the door to God or to receive the Holy Spirit which is the power of God!

What about Praying?
Now let's cover some points about prayer. Some very important questions are, what did Jesus say about our reasons for praying, and what did He say we should do while praying? Let's read in Matt 6:5-8. "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 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. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him."

Here we see that we should not make a show of prayer and that we need not be too concerned about detail as God knows what we have need of before we even ask, so if God knows what you need before you ask, then what is the reason for prayer? The answer is that God wants us to become partners with Him in our own growth towards perfection. He wants us to walk through the very changes that must take place after conversion with Him in prayer. It's like teaching others through a program like spokesman club, or a woman's group, where the members are an active part of the process and success of the club. God wants us to learn the lessons necessary to grow into mature Christians and this is why it's very important to place your life in ALL aspects in God's care. This is truly laying up treasures in heaven. Notice Christ calls those that blow the trumpet," hypocrites." He states that we should do our praying and giving of charitable deeds in secret so the Father will reward us openly. The reason God wants us to pray in secret is because when the heart is right, and there's no ulterior motive, the act becomes pure and acceptable before the Father. We see many times where a business will give to charity, but their business is given great advertisement on television, and in the news paper. Is their good deed before God as treasures in heaven? Could be that they have their reward because they blew their trumpet very loud for the wrong reasons.

Vain Repetition
We also need to look at what is called vain repetition because as Jesus stated "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do". Some have been taught they will be heard if they repeat a sentence over, and over or even if they can get hundreds of people praying for them. Do we need to get as many people as possible to pray before God will answer? God hears the prayer of the just and those with a contrite heart. What did Christ say about repeating our prayers over and over without thought as by rote? Here in this scripture Jesus was addressing a problem where people used prayer beads, and chanted prayers over and over. These practices were of pagan origin from many years past and had crept into the Hebrew religion. He was teaching them that this type of prayer was "Vain" and God would not hear just because they did so. We should be very diligent in prayer, and please understand there is a big difference in "vain repetition" and being diligent as recorded in Luke 18:1-7 concerning the widow and the judge and with her continual coming she wearied the judge till he gave her justice.

It's also very important to teach our children to pray in a way that is not vain repetition so let's take a look at the subject of how we should teach them to pray. What about this old prayer that many teach their children? "As I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take" Question: Is this an acceptable prayer? And some may reply..."Are you saying that God will not accept the prayer of a little child!" Yes I do believe He will answer, however, what I'm saying here is that the parents have the responsibility to teach the child to pray and worship the way that is acceptable to God as instructed by Christ in the word of God. Remember, your children will grow up and continue in what you, or others teach them. This prayer may be fine and even cute for a child but it teaches vain repetition and will not teach a child how to pray in a way that brings them into a good relationship with God as they grow. The child needs to understand who God is and that to pray to Him is the same as being on a spiritual phone and they can tell God anything and they can always reach God no matter where they are, and if they need help they can always count on God. That He loves them and will always be there for them and God is their friend, but to also remember that He is the almighty, and the most important being there is anywhere. This understanding and more is a very important part in our prayer life, and vain repetition voids what can be a very fine relationship with Jesus and God the Father.

The subject of prayer has been a focal point of misunderstanding for many people for many years because misguided men have made people believe they lacked faith when great financial success had not come their way after giving abundantly to the Church. Others were promised a mate, a good job, a house, or healing. In fact I have personally seen greedy ministers place advertisements in the mail with pictures of people and their new homes, stating below each picture that these people received these homes and cars after sending money to the minister in question. So the minister states that if YOU want to be blessed by God then YOU must step out in faith and send as much as you can to support THEIR ministry. He goes on to say that YOU will receive ten times as much as YOU send him. So if you want a new house that cost $95,000 dollars then you need to send him at least 10% of that amount. I hope you can see why this type of thing is not of God, but of the spirit of lust, and will never be answered by God in a positive way. Please never let these men take your hard-earned money from your family. The truth is that if you give what is needed to some poor man or woman without others knowing, or without expecting something in return from them or God, then you have greatly pleased God. A person with a heart of giving will give even when no one is watching and will never expect anything in return. You see; God looks at the heart and judges that which is pure!

What is God trying to teach us?
God wants us to understand we are not equal to Him, and that He is the creator of all things and is the King of kings, so when we come before Him we must come in great reverence being very impressed with Him. We should realize God holds all power in His hands, to give life forever, or destroy it forever. Some think they can use prayer for the purpose of getting a high paying job, or that car they want, but as stated in the study titled "Just what is Faith" we should never have the attitude that God is our personal genie that gives us all the physical things we ask for. Let's understand that it's not that God has love but more that God IS love, and He wants us to understand that the spiritual gifts such as Love, Wisdom, and most importantly, God's Holy Spirit to dwell in us is what we should diligently seek.

Let's look at what Jesus stated concerning treasures as recorded in Matt 6:19-21. It states...."Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." In fact I will go so far as to say that if all God ever gave us was His Holy Spirit that we would never need anything else, because to have His Holy Spirit is to have all things. We need to come to the place in our lives where we just turn our lives over to Him in complete trust and truly come to understand and believe that we are saved once and for all by the sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah. It is that belief that IS faith. It is not a matter of continuing to lay the foundation of repentance but to go on to perfection asking in prayer for more of His Spirit so we can love Him, and become more like Him in loving others. When we experience real love for others we will feel connected not only to our fellow man but to God as well.

As I stated in the companion study titled "Just what is Faith?"We must remember, prayer is always answered, but not necessarily in the time or way we want. If we will trust God's judgments and have the humble attitude to accept His decision, we can rest in peace knowing all is well. This is where true faith comes into play. Without faith you can not please God, for he who comes to Him must (a command) believe. If we don't believe Jesus is the Messiah that came down from His throne in heaven, to suffer, and die, so we may be justified before The Most Holy Father, then we are still in our sins, separated from God and a very shallow life before death is all we have for our future.

Stirring, Powerful Prayer:
Now the question is do you stir God to action when you pray, or do you just ask in a mild mannered way? Yes, we are to show great respect for God and come in great humility, but this does not mean in a weak manner. Being humble is not being weak! God does not want us to be weak in anything we do, and when we come before Him; being humble we need to be "stirred up" about our request. If you are not seeking Him with great conviction of your request, then how can you expect God to be stirred up about it? When a person has an elder anoint them with oil for healing and that elder does not have tears in his eyes afterwards; then he did not feel the pain and suffering of the person he was asking God to have mercy on. The scripture is clear on what to do if any are sick, but the oil that is used for anointing is not magic oil! It's the representation of the Holy Spirit and should be looked upon as the representation only and not as the Holy Spirit. By calling the elder of the Church and having him anoint with oil is in line with obedience to the instruction given in God's word. It's the obedience with faith and repentance of sin as well as stirring God's compassion towards those that are sick that brings answered prayer in many cases.

Jesus said that men always ought to pray and NOT LOSE HEART. What did Jesus declare?
There are three things Jesus pointed out here in Matt 7:7-8. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." (Notice here the words seek, knock, and ask, are action words and words that denote having faith.) "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? If not then you are saying God is not true to His Word! You would be committing the same sin Adam and Eve committed in the garden because they were told what to do, what not to do, and what would happen if they disobeyed. "They did not believe God" but believed the lie from Satan and sinned. As stated before, sin cuts us off from God; so if we don't believe God when He states He loves us and wants all good things for us, and will give us all good things that our joy may be full; we are cutting ourselves off from Him and His power resulting in unanswered prayer.

Love and Forgiveness:
Let's look at the next important step after repentance and baptism. The next very important step is allowing the Holy Spirit (The power of God) to flow in us from God and flowing out from us to others with the transforming power of love that can only come from God. I Must say if everyone had the faith to move mountains with out love this world would be in total disorder and confusion. What did Christ say was the greatest commandment? To love God above all. As recorded in Matt 22:36-38 but what did He say was the second great Commandment? To love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves as recorded in Matt 22:39-40. So when we pray we should be asking mostly for the good of others, not for ourselves only and realize that God knows what we have need of before we ask.

Might it be possible God wants us learning to love and care for others? Might it just be possible God will answer our prayers after we have sincerely learned to have more compassion on others? Is it just possible that when God looks at your loving and unselfish deeds He will make your path good because His heart will be touched by your love for others? If we will yield our wills over to God in complete trust that He will do all for good, and if we seek and receive in ourselves the love, and mind of God in our lives we can truly live without anxiety and be free from fear. Like I stated in the study titled Just what is faith? The true meaning of faith the way Jesus meant it, is to "place your physical, and spiritual well-being (Health, happiness, and prosperity) into the care of Jesus the Messiah, trusting Him to give you what is good for you and all that's involved. Let's understand that we must become like a child in the care of their father, or mother, trusting with "complete" trust...."complete faith."

What does scripture teach that will help us understand?
Let's tern to I John 4:18 and see. "There's no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." God desires our love. Let that sink into your mind, really meditate on that concept! The great almighty powerful God desires your love! Although faith is very important to answered prayer, we can understand how love is the major key to answered prayer. God who is love answers prayer based on love; so we must ask in love. Let's look at Mark chapter 25 and see a very important point. As we read in Matt 21:21-22 before concerning having faith to cast a mountain into the sea we find the same scripture in Mark chapter 11 but with additional information in vs. 25, it states..."And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses." Notice if we have anything against anyone we need to "forgive them." To forgive is to give up resentment of those who have offended us in some way. Now we really need to understand what forgiving has to do with faith! If we go on without fully coming to understand forgiveness we will rarely have our prayers answered, because to forgive is to love.

To desire to forgive is to feel a kind of compassion that results in mercy. If we have mercy God will have mercy, but if we don't it is possible that we will not receive mercy. Let's take a look at a scripture in the book of Hebrews which coveys a very good example. Turn to Heb 13:1-2 "Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." Now if you knew for a fact that you were in the presents of an angel you would conduct yourself in a much different way right? The point is that you need to conduct yourself in the right way regardless.

As we read above Jesus taught how to pray, and the three important points concerning prayer, so let's take to heart some more teaching of our Lord in Matt 6:14-15. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Jesus made this point within His teaching about prayer to bring out the importance of forgiveness. He wants us to understand that the lack of forgiveness is equal to self-righteousness, and that attitude will hinder our prayer contact with God. Please remember that we all have faults and one thing I have found about myself is that if I judge others, I later find my own weaknesses overpowering me. I take that as a lesson God is teaching me to not judge others in a way that is condescending.

Let's carefully read the story of the man that the King forgave much, but the man that was forgiven went and cast a man in prison for not paying a very small amount to him.

Let's look at a story recorded in Matt 18:21-35 and Please read this in a way as to put yourself in the story.
Matt 18:21-35 states; "Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

To forgive others:
Just as stated above we can't judge anything in any ones life in a condemning way, and that includes motives in any given situation. This is the very reason we are to have understanding towards the weaknesses of others, and this is the very reason Jesus told the story concerning the man that was forgiven by the King. Brethren, we should realize the great seriousness of what God is doing. We should be very humble and thankful realizing that without God's love and grace we would be condemned without any hope what-so-ever. So according to the bible we see that it's possible to think we have mercy from God when we don't because we have not had mercy on others.

We can think God hears our prayers but as we see it's possible He may not answer because not only what we are asking for, but why we are asking! In some cases we do need to go to others and make peace, but this does not mean we must necessarily go to the person or persons in every case to forgive them. Forgiveness from the heart is what counts most of the time, and God will see if you have truly forgiven because true forgiveness will be reflected in our actions and feelings towards those that we have forgiven. Also if we have not truly forgiven those that offend us, it will come out when we are angry, or upset in the future. This should not upset us, or cause self condemnation, but should be used as tools to help us realize the problem still exist and we need to correct it. Please remember that God always looks on the heart!

What we need to do is come to a place in our Christian growth where we can have "compassion" and "understanding" towards others weaknesses, and realize that they too have insecurities that cause them to come to wrong conclusions just like we do. We humans not only have to fight our own nature and what ever in our past that may cause fears, (which makes us put up walls) but we must contend with the other persons human nature as well. We then have to guess in many cases, what the problem may be and did we goof, or was it the other person. Sometimes problems come on us because a third party has sown lies around about us. This is very difficult to deal with because in many cases the one sowing the lies appears as a friend. Jesus Himself had to deal with such a person named Judas Iscariot and the important lesson was that Jesus did not deal with him personally, but instead He let Judas fall in his own trap, and judgment was from God the Father. This is the best way to deal with most people, because God knows them and will judge righteously. Also when God does deal with your enemy's please understand that we should never be smug and gloat in their suffering lest God then has mercy on them and turn their suffering on those that gloat.

Be unbiased:
There's another way we can come to understand the mistakes that happen and causes problems among us all. To be unbiased is to try and understand the problems and weaknesses of ourselves and others in such a way we can have compassion which will give us a strong desire to alleviate the suffering of others. This will help us consider all the facts in all situations where we can come to a better conclusion as to why someone did what they did. I have found that in many cases the one that did the offense did not even realize they offended someone. If we put off our opinions until all the facts are understood then we can put out a lot of fires before they start. The problem comes in most of the time because we act on our emotions first, and then we get locked into our FIRST impressions of the situation, then we only consider the words or actions that verify our conclusion. After this we can't hear or see the words or actions of "I'm sorry", or body language that reflect "please forgive me". If we would "look for reasons" to forgive and if we would "look for reasons" to be peacemakers, we would grow greatly as Christians and gain many to Christ. If we would think of all people as a fellow child of God we might have a better attitude towards their offense. This is difficult for most of us as I know it is for me, but the Holy Spirit can help us in all things. This is what the apostles called walking in the Spirit.

Some will think that we can't look for reasons to be peacemakers because this would put them in the position to have to compromise in some way. Compromising does not always mean we have to make a shameful or dishonorable concession. I'm very aware of the movement that is working to get us to compromise true doctrine for the sake of peace in the Churches or compromise our values for other that live in sinful lifestyles. To be peacemakers does not mean we have to give up true doctrine or our values for the sake of peace. We should NEVER compromise truth or moral behavior for the sake of love, peace, or unity or when the compromise is dishonorable in any manner. We should NEVER compromise the true doctrines of God for any reason. We can and do compromise however when we sign a contract for a loan on a house or car. There are things in these contracts that you might not like, but you can live with them because they do not require you to sin. So in the same way we need to look for things that we can live with when it comes to differences with others, or we will be doomed to have trouble with many we come to know.

When we learn to forgive we then are free to love the way God wants us to, and then we can live anxiety free. Not only can we live anxiety free with the love of God in our lives we can have the true faith in God that He intended for us all along. Not the counterfeit powerless faith Satan wants all humanity to accept, causing people to believe God is just a myth or that God is not really concerned with us. God is concerned for our physical needs; He created us to need air, food, water and clothing, but He does not want us to become obsessed with them. What did Jesus tell us to seek first? Let's turn to Matt 6:33. It states..."But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." This illustrates that God will see to our needs, but He wants us to be more concerned about seeking Him and His Kingdom.

To seek material possessions as the most important things to us is just the lust of our minds and please remember that nothing alienates the mind and spirit more from God more than the indulgence of the flesh. What we need more than anything else is spiritual treasures in heaven to be given back to us at Christ's return. Remember God loves you and will help if you put your life in His hands in complete trust, so do not be concerned. The key is, to not worry in excess, but to believe and rest in the knowledge that God is God and that all He allows is good. He knows the things on this earth are just temporary and the spiritual things are eternal. We came into this world without anything and will leave it the same way, so what matters is...what we learn and how we treat others while we are here, not what we possess.

Will you continue to believe Jesus is true even if He takes Months to answer? Will you continue to love, trust, and believe Jesus if His answer to your request is "No"?

Click on the link for the companion study titled Just what is Faith?

In Jesus' Service:
Timothy M. Youngblood
Author and webmaster of
The Master's Table

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