Having Our Prayers Answered Is Conditional...
Too many people live on past experiences, saying that God used to do this or God used to do that. However, we need an up-to-date experience. The Psalmist made it plain in the Word of God that if you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear your prayers. You cannot bargain with God when iniquity is in your heart. I believe that not only do we need to pray more, but I also believe that the real need of the hour is, we need to pray more effectively. God does not hear many prayers that are being prayed because there is iniquity in the hearts of people. They need to get right with God.
First of all, I want to tell you that, according to the Word of God, it is possible to live above sin. There are those who say that everybody sins. They believe that a person cannot help but sin. According to them, everyone lives after the flesh and sins a little every day, more or less. However, if that is so, God is not hearing anyone's prayers, because His Word lets us know that if you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear you. I am glad that we can live above sin. We do not have to have iniquity in our hearts. We can live a victorious life.
The Apostle Paul lived above sin. He said in Acts 24:16, "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men." The Bible plainly declares in 1 John 3:9, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." Christ would not condone sin in a Christian and then condemn it in a sinner. I am glad that we can have an experience in the Lord Jesus Christ whereby we can be set free from the power and the dominion of sin. We can live in such a way that God will definitely hear and answer our prayers.
Romans 6:1-2 says: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" In other words, Paul was saying that it is an impossibility for those who are truly dead to sin to live any longer therein.
Is God hearing your prayers? I believe that the only prayer God will hear from a lost individual is a prayer of repentance. The Bible makes it plain in Proverbs 15:29, "The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous." God is far from the wicked, but thank God, He hears the prayers of those who have truly been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ.
First Peter 3:12 says, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." Those who do evil have no hope. They do not need to look forward to God hearing their prayers until they come to a place of repentance, willing to turn from their and forsake them. Until they come to that place, they may play religion, but they are not getting their prayers through to God.
It is God's will to hear our prayers, if they are according to the will of God. In Matthew 7:9-11 Christ said: "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? In other words, our Heavenly Father wants to give us the things, which we need much more than parents desire to give their children that which they need. I am glad we have a Father who cares about us. He wants to answer our prayers; however, His answering our prayers is conditional. God does not hear everyone's prayers. He only hears those prayers, which are coming from people who have truly been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ.
The Word of God must be rightly divided when studying on any subject. So many people are pulling Scriptures out of context and resting on promises when they are not meeting the conditions of those promises. Matthew 7:7-8 says: "Ask, and it shall be give you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." This Scripture is based on some conditions. You cannot rest on just any Scripture in the Word of God. You have to look at it in context with the rest of the Bible. We have already established the fact that God does not hear everyone's prayers. There are a lot of people who ask but never receive; there are many people who seek but never find; and many people knock, but the door is not opened to them. Why? It is because there is iniquity in their hearts. We must seek with the proper spirit. We must seek with humility, sincerity, and perseverance.
Some think the Word of God contradicts itself, but it does not. It has to be rightly divided. Christ said to seek and you will find; and to him that knocks, it shall be opened; and everyone who asks will receive. However, James points out something in James 4:3 when he said, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that y may consume it upon your lists." So there is another part, which must be considered when reading Matthew, the seventh chapter.
Ask According to His Will...
I want to deal with some reasons why God does not hear prayers. The first thing I want you to consider is, asking amiss. This is asking for selfish reasons. Many people's prayers are for improper objects or improper motives. They ask with a view of self-indulgence and carnal gratification. Asking amiss can lead to unbelief. If you spend your time praying for God to do something (asking amiss) and you never receive an answer, you will fail to believe when you have an important and vital need, because you have spent so much time praying and asking amiss that you will not have the faith to believe and receive the promise.
Another reason why many people do not get their prayers answered is that they pray against the will of God. First John 5:14, says, "If we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." We must ask according to His will. Many times, people already have made up their minds what they want to do.
When praying, we need to consider the Lord's will. Jesus even prayed this way when He was in the garden of Gethsemane. His sweat became, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground. He began to pray, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will (not the way my flesh wants), but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). I am glad that Jesus prayed this way. We need to pray in the same manner.
You may say, "But I know this is what God ought to do." You do not know what you think you do. Sometimes we might think we know what is best, but God's thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts, and His ways are far above and beyond our ways. Many times, we do not know what would be best for us. I am glad we can pray with assurance, believing, "God, I know that you are able to remove this mountain in my life; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done."
We can find God's will in the Word of God concerning many things. There are many things about which there is no question as to what God's will is, because they are found in the Word of God, and His Word and His Spirit never disagree; they always word in harmony. For example, when praying for a sinner, we do not have to say, "God if it is your will, save this lost individual." We already know what God's will is.
Second Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but that all should come to repentance." It is God's will to save everyone. Concerning the details of our individual lives, such as, buying a home, buying a car, or some other business deal, we need to pray and seek the will of God, because we cannot find such things written in the Word of God.
We should not pray for God to do anything that would be against His infinite wisdom. God knows what is best for us. Some things we would pray for could mean the damnation of our souls. Other things that we would ask God to do could violate the laws, which He has ordained in His precious Word.
Ask in Faith, Nothing Wavering...
Another reason that prayers are unanswered is because of doubt. The Bible says in Matthew 21:22, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Believing is a part of the condition we must meet in order to have our prayers answered. We read in 1 Timothy 2:8, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." If you doubt when you come to God, you are wasting your time. We have to get to the place where we believe God and take Him at His Word.
Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." James 1:6 says, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." Doubting God will hinder your prayer life, because unbelief is sin. Romans 14:23 says, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Therefore, to come to God doubting the promises of His Word is sin. You might call it something else, but the Word of God calls it sin.
Many prayers are not answered because ones do not persevere in prayer; they faint in their prayers. James 5:16b says, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James was not speaking of any man's prayers; but the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man. A righteous man's prayers still avail much, even in this day. If people will truly be righteous and live according to the will of God, letting the Word of God rule in their hearts and lives, their prayers will still avail in these last days.
We need to have the kind of faith mentioned in Luke 18:1 where we read, "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." The widow woman spoken of later in this text would not give up. Jesus spoke of a judge who feared not God, neither regarded man; but this widow woman just kept coming. The judge said, "Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by continual coming she weary me (verses 4-5). Now listen to what Jesus said, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily." (verses 7-8).
This is the kind of perseverance we ought to have. We need to be determined that we are not going to give up. We must hold to the promises in God's eternal Word and believe that He is going to bring it to pass. We must have perseverance in our Christian living. Perseverance Pays Off...
At a factory where I worked one time, there was a young man who was hired there. He did not have any experience in that type of work, but he put his application in and began to call the plant every day at a certain time, five days a week, and ask for the personnel manager. He would say, "I am out of a job, and I want to go to work. I will do you a good job." Day after day, the manager said, "When we get an opening, we are going to call you." This still did not change the young man's mind. He continued to call, stating his purpose. This went on for about a month, and one day he called, told them his name once again, and said, "I need a job bad. I have my application in, and you have been promising me that you are going to give me a job." The personnel manager got upset with him, and said, "Now, listen here, young man, when I get ready to hire you, I will hire you. I do not want you to call here and bother me any more until that time." The young man said, "I do not care, I am going to call you every day until you hire me." The manager said, "If you are that determined to get a job, come on in, and I will give you and interview." He did, and he was hired.
I believe that is the way we ought to be with God. We ought to just keep coming to Him with our earnest petition every single day. You may say, "I have been praying a long time about a particular thing and God has never answered my prayer yet." Well, do not give up. Just keep holding on to God, because the answer might be right around the corner. We do not need to give up. David said evening and morning and noon will I cry and pray aloud and He shall hear my voice. If you are living according to the Word of God and praying according to His Word, He is hearing you. Not only is God hearing you, but also, He is going to answer your prayers.
Ephesians 6:18 says, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Let us not faint in our prayer lives; hold on to God. Luke 18:8b says, "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" He was not talking about faith for salvation or faith for divine healing. The faith Jesus was referring to was the kind of faith that would not give up.
I was in a revival at a certain place one time, and a dear sister got up and told about her husband's lost condition and how she prayer every day. She fasted and prayer for her lost companion, and told God, "I know that it is you will to save him. I know that you are not willing that he should perish." She got under a heavy burden for him and really fasted and prayed. She said she was down on her knees one time in the secret place, and she was praying and asking God for the salvation of her husband. While she was there on her knees, God witnessed to her heart that He was going to save her husband.
She said that when she got up, she thanked God for the salvation of her husband. He did not get saved for about seven months, but she never again asked God to save him. From that point on, every day when she prayed, she told God, "I want to thank you, because you are going to save my husband." She believed God and took Him at His Word. That is what we need to do.
I believe we can know the will of God about many things. We do not have to be in doubt about some things. God wants to reveal His precious will to us. Forgiving Others...
Another reason why prayers are not being heard and answered can be found in Mark 11:25-26: “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” This is the reason why many people get down and pray and pray and pray, but never see the results: they will not forgive those who have wronged them.
I realize that one cannot give forgiveness unless a person comes and asks for it; however, one can forgive, from the heart, the person who has wronged them. An individual may never come and ask your forgiveness, but as far as you are concerned, you can forgive that person, quit talking about it, and leave it in the hands of God.
You might try your best to get around this, but the Bible says if you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear you. It is sin, not to forgive; also it is sin to hold a grudge and let a bitter attitude or a bitter spirit get hold of you. Some may call it a mistake or a fault, but according to the Word of God, it is sin. You ought to forgive people. You might say, “You do not know what they did to me.” Even if they smacked you, spit in your face, knocked you down, and cast your name as evil, according to the Word of God, you are supposed to forgive them. Until you come to the place where you are willing to forgive, God certainly is not going to forgive you of your trespasses.
He that comes before God, unwilling to forgive and harboring dark revengeful thoughts, how can he expect God to show him mercy when he has been unwilling to show mercy to others? If you do not forgive from the heart those who have wronged you, God will not forgive you. If you have bitterness in your heart toward some individual and you are not willing to forgive that person, time will not erase the unforgiving spirit. It must be dealt with. Our Savior said that we should forgive; even if the offense is committed seventy times seven. You must keep forgiving. Peter asked the Lord how many times he was supposed to forgive, seven times? Is that enough? No, seventy times seven was Jesus’ reply.
We who are ministers and preachers have to practice this often, because there are people who are going to wrong us; nevertheless, we must love them and forgive them. When getting up on the pulpit, we have to preach to them in love. It does not matter how mean they might have been, we have to forgive people if we want God to forgive us.
An unforgiving spirit of bitterness and resentfulness is sin, my friend. As long as it is in your heart, you are wasting your time trying to pray. If you allow this root to begin to work on you, every time you get down to pray, there will be a wall between you and God. You could not scream loud enough to get your prayers through. No matter how long you beat and hammer, you will not get around it. I can tell you what will break down the wall and clear it up: repent of that thing and lay it down; only then can you get through to God. There is nothing worth going to hell over. No matter what people may say about you or do to you, by God’s help, you can stay sweet and treat people right.
There is something wrong with you when you see someone coming and you turn and go the other way. That is not a Christian attitude. We are to love everyone, whether or not we agree with them. You will never help anyone by showing them a cold shoulder. You have to treat people right, even though you are tempted to do otherwise. The flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. The flesh says to say something to get back at them, but the Spirit says not to do that. This is a spiritual warfare; however, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Abiding in His Word…
We find in John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Another reason why people do not have their prayers answered is that the Word of God is not abiding in them. In order for God to hear your prayers, you have to walk in every ounce of truth that you have received. The Bible says to walk in the light while you have it, lest darkness come upon you. If God shines light on your pathway through the Word and you refuse that light, God is not going to give you more light. Moreover, He is not going to answer your prayers. He will not hear your prayers until you obey His commandments and let Him have control of your heart and life. When Jesus said, “my word abide in you,” He meant that His doctrines and commandments must abide in you. We not only are to remember them, but we also must suffer to remain in us as the living principle to regulate our affections and our lives. There is more to it than having knowledge of the commandments and the doctrines. Are you adorning the doctrines? Are you keeping the commandments? Only as long as we possess Christ’s Spirit and keep His commandments can we be assured that God is going to hear and answer our prayers.
Let us read 1 John 3:20-22: “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our hear, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” John had confidence in God. The reason we can ask and receive is that we keep His commandments and do those things, which are pleasing in His sight. You cannot bypass any part of the Word of God and expect to have this confidence. If there is sin in your heart, if you are not abiding by the doctrines in the Word of God, you will not be able to believe that God will do what you ask Him to do. In addition to the fact, that your faith will be hindered; God will not hear you. The Word of God must abide in us.
John continued to speak of this confidence in 1 John 5:14:15: “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.” Family of God, this is the kind of confidence that we need if we are going to see the church go forward as God would have her to.
John knew that God heard his prayers. If you do not have this confidence, there is a reason for the doubts and unbelief. However, you can have the cause for the doubts and the unbelief removed. Then you can do as the Bible says and come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy and find help in the time of need.
Did you know that every prayer Jesus prayed was heard? Jesus did not pray one prayer that was not heard, because He knew no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. Iniquity is keeping many people’s prayers from being answered. “According to the Power That Worketh in Us”…
In John 11:41-42 Jesus prayed: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always…” Jesus knew, as He looked up to His Heavenly Father that He had lived pleasing to Him. He knew that He had been abiding by the Word of God, because He is the Word. He had not pulled any tricky deals; He lived according to the Word. Therefore He had faith and He was able to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Some might ask, “Why are we not seeing greater results today? Because people’s prayers are not being heard. We may as well fact the facts. God has not changed; God has not lost His power. Many people have compromised and gone back on truth, yet they still expect God to continue to bless them and work among them. God cannot work among a people unless they live pleasing in His sight.
Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think [ many times, this is all the farther the verse is quoted, but there is more], according to the power that worketh in us.” He is not talking about the power of God here, but rather the power of God that works in us individually. So the reason there are not greater results today, dear ones, is not because God has lost His power; the reason is that God’s power is not working in the individual lives of most people who profess to be Christians.
What is the power? Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” The reason people are not having their prayers heard and answered today is that the Gospel (the power) is not working in them. They are involved in too many other things; and when the Gospel is not working in you, you cannot work it out.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword…” This Scripture is in line with other passages of Scripture that I have already mentioned. Jesus said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you…” Only as the Word of God is abiding in you and you walk in the light of His Word can you have the power of God working in you.
The success of a prayer does not depend on the talent, the learning, the rank, the wealth, or the office of the individual who prays, but it rests on the fact that he is a righteous man. There are people who can pray so beautifully that some would say, “Surely God is hearing that prayer.” However, if he is not a righteous man, if there is iniquity in his heart, that prayer stinks in the nostrils of God. On the other hand, someone who has just recently been saved may not even know how to pray, but their prayer will reach the throne of Heaven.
If there is anything that can prevail with God, it is the prayer of a righteous man. Elijah was a righteous man, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain on the face of the earth for three years and six months; and God did not send any rain for three years and six months. He prayer again, and the heavens gave forth rain. What happened? He was a righteous man and he was walking in obedience to the Word of God. Therefore, God heard and answered his prayers. The day of miracles has not passed. God wants to hear and answer your prayers. [ The End ]