Friday, March 18, 2011

Bible, Prayer, and the Christian Life

In my last blog  I wrote a bit of a snarky entry regarding prayer, and how I would prefer that most people not pray for me. Now while I stand by my convictions here, I also want to make sure my comments don’t do for prayer what motor oil does for stripper poles, or what  wooden nickels do for church coffers. I do confess that there are times when I attack certain subjects like an epileptic barber without a safety razor, but these spastic keystrokes are primarily used to either elicit responses, or engage in private proxy wars with pompous principalities. In the end, like Solomon, I may consider some of these rants to be all “vanity and vexation of spirit”…not to mention I may need to seek absolution for my other sins of arrogance, and alliteration.   



The Bible is a very intricate and wonderful book, but very few people have really read it, and even fewer fully understand its contents. This goes for regular church attendees, as well as those who only darken the church doors twice a year. I know there are millions of people out there who, as children, went to Sunday school, learned a few Bible stories, and probably get really choked up every time they watch “The Passion of the Christ”…However, sentimental attachment to Christianity does very little when it comes to understanding God and the Bible.

I have heard of the Bible referred to as “God’s love letter to His people”. And while I agree with this, for the most part, I also feel this definition is a bit too lovey-dovey, and one dimensional. Personally, I see the Bible as God’s Contract, and Instruction Manual to mankind. This “Contract” contains not only the terms and conditions for living a successful/fruitful life, it also shows us how to access the very heart and mind of God. That being said, it utterly astounds me that so few of God’s people have taken the time to learn and understand what is in this Contract/Instruction Manual. Now I could use countless analogies about business and contracts to further prove my point; I could also make comparisons to the importance of reading medication instructions...but in the end, I know my intelligent readers will be able to connect the dots here. If not, call me, we'll do lunch.

Hindrances to Prayer

Matthew 21:22 “And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.”

The above, spoken by Jesus, is pretty straight forward. That being said, why do prayers fail? Well, one of the answers can be found in James 4:3 which says: “[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.”

And there is more…

Doubt and unbelief:

Doubt and unbelief are two re-offending thieves of God’s blessings. Unbelief- is believing anything other than God’s Word. Now there are two basic kinds of unbelief:

A. Lack of knowledge in the Word. Reference Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”

B. Refusing to Act upon God’s Word. As God’s people we must act upon the Word and prepare to receive. I John 5:14,15 says: “And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. 15And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.

Lack of Knowledge of Righteousness

I Peter 3:12: For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), and His ears are attentive to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil [to oppose them, to frustrate, and defeat them].

Psalms 34:12-16 says: 12What man is he who desires life and longs for many days, that he may see good? 13Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.14Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it!15The eyes of the Lord are toward the [uncompromisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry. 16The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

It is pretty clear from above that if you are not righteous, God cannot/will not hear your prayers and petitions.

Strife

I Peter 3:7 states: "In the same way you married men should live considerately with [your wives], with an intelligent recognition [of the marriage relation], honoring the woman as [physically] the weaker, but [realizing that you] are joint heirs of the grace (God's unmerited favor) of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off. [Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.]"

Who would have thought that if we (men) do not respect and honor our wives, that our prayers would be “hindered”? I think men/husbands best check themselves in this area! (As a husband I would like to think that this verse goes for wives too):->

James 3:16: "For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices."

Strife and jealousy are the hobgoblins of an effective Christian life!

Unforgiveness

The Bible is very clear about harboring unforgiveness. I believe that this area is probably the biggest reason why Christians fail to receive. Below is just a few verses in regards to forgiving others. If you harbor unforgiveness towards anyone…I suggest you clear that up before going to God in prayer.

Mark 11:25

Ephesians 4:26,27

Ephesians 4:32

Ephesians 4:29

2 Corinthians 2:10-11

Colossians 3:12-13

I Thessalonians 5:17&18
17Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];
18Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].


God bless each and everyone of you! Be sure to leave your comments (Unless you have given up commenting for Lent...in that case check one of the "fun-buttons" below)