Tag Archives: Prayer

The Prayer of Faith

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“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:15)

Without examining the various interpretations of this somewhat controversial passage, we merely note that one of the main ingredients of effective praying is faith. There are others, of course (praying in God’s will, no unconfessed sin, unselfish motives, etc.), but all these must be “mixed with faith” to be effective (Hebrews 4:2).

There are many such exhortations to pray in faith. Jesus said, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). Another example is James 1:5-6: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.” And another: “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24).

Every Scripture passage must be viewed in context, of course, including the context of the entire Bible.

The “faith” we must exercise is not only a spiritual confidence that God will answer (and this, clearly, is necessary), but also faith in God as Creator (and, therefore, able to answer!), Christ as Savior (therefore, justly willing to hear), and in the Holy Scriptures as the written Word of God.

James warns any man without genuine faith: “Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:7-8).

True biblical faith is faith in God the omnipotent Creator (Hebrews 11:3), faith in Christ as redeeming Savior (John 3:16- 18), and obedient faith in the revealed Word of God (1 John 3:22). Then we can believe in confidence that God will indeed answer our prayer of faith. HMM

Praying According to God’s Will

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“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

This promise is comprehensive and unlimited—a tremendous assurance of answered prayer. But there is one proviso—according to His will! There are a number of Christians who, with all good intentions, have argued that it evidences a lack of faith to add the qualification “if it be thy will” to one’s prayer. But this can hardly be true in light of the example of Christ Himself, when he “prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).

The question is how to know whether or not we are praying according to God’s will. One key, of course, is to search the Scriptures. God’s will can never contradict His Word, and it is foolish to ask God to do something which the Scriptures themselves forbid. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).

When, however, we sincerely desire God’s will to be done, and so far as can be determined there is no biblical or personal barrier hindering our prayer, then we can pray in confidence even if we yet don’t know for certain God’s will in the matter. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: But the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26-28). HMM

Our Assurance Before God

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“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” (1 John 3:19)

There is a chain of reasoning in this context that is important to understand. Our hearts will be “assured” before God (1 John 3:19) if we love the brethren in “deed and in truth” (v. 18). A lack of that heart assurance condemns us (v. 20). If our heart does not condemn us, then we will have “confidence toward God” (v. 21).

It is worth noting that John uses the word “love” 26 times in this little letter. The word “know” is used 31 times, but the word “assure” is used only once (our text) and the word for “confidence” just four times. In each case, the promises of boldness in prayer or trust in answered prayer are based on our obedience.

Apparently, the key to an effective relationship with God, especially the key to a confidence in our prayer life, is a ready, visible, and instant response to God’s requirements for the believer. To the degree that we abide in Him (2:28), we will be confident when He returns. Our ready love for the brethren will keep us bold before God in our prayers (3:21), and our Christlike lifestyle will give us boldness at the judgment (4:17).

Meanwhile, absolute and steady belief in God’s salvation will remove any doubt that God hears us when we pray (5:14).

There is a continuing loop in these messages. We gain confidence as we “do” truth. We find more boldness as we understand God’s answers to our needs and prayers for others. That, in turn, increases our confidence that God is listening to our prayers, making our hearts all the more confident in our relationship with our heavenly Father. HMM III

Pray Anyhow

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“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way.” (1 Samuel 12:23)

Samuel had served the children of Israel as their faithful judge for many years, and the Lord had blessed them and their land. Nevertheless, they began to want a king and pressed Samuel to get one for them. Finally, Samuel anointed Saul to be their king, but both Samuel and the Lord Himself were displeased with their demands.

Nevertheless, Samuel’s great heart, both for the Lord and for His people, is revealed in the promise of our text. Although he was hurt and disappointed, because he had led them successfully and justly his whole life, he would still pray for them and teach them. This is a great example for Christian leaders or workers today who, through no fault of their own, have been replaced by someone else.

Intercessory prayer is not easy, especially if our prayers are not appreciated by those we pray for. Nevertheless, it is a type of prayer ministry that especially pleases the Lord, and that is more important than human gratitude. “I exhort therefore” said Paul (no doubt reflecting God’s own desires), “that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Paul would even urge prayer for the emperor, Nero, who had imprisoned him and would eventually have him put to death.

Even Jesus had said that we should “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). The Lord Jesus is the greatest intercessor of all. For when we sin (and all sin is sin against the Lord), He is our “advocate with the Father” (1 John 2:1), and in fact, “he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Therefore, should we not also be prayer intercessors? HMM

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