Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Whatever You Ask??

Really?  Did Jesus actually say that?  Well, yes He did.  We find those words in Matthew 18:19; 21:22, Mark 11:24, and John 14:13-14; 16:23.  And they are powerful words indeed.  The requests that we offer in prayer are verbal acknowledgements of our dependence on God.  We recognize that God can do what we cannot.  So we pray and we ask.  Such prayer, lifted to the throne of God in sincerity and from a pure heart, will often radically change people and circumstances. 

But let's not get the mistaken idea that our great God is some sort of cosmic game show host who awards a jackpot to those who put in just the right words and phrases.  The God of the universe cannot be manipulated.  Yet, we often try to do that very thing by taking a verse or two out of context and using them in an effort to fulfill our selfish desires.  To that end, the Holy Spirit inspired James to write these words:  "You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it.  You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.  Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong --- you only want what will give you pleasure."  James 4:2-3 (NLT)

Did you notice the highlighted portion above?? Even though Jesus has told us to ask whatever we will and it will be done, God the Father has the final word.  And if our motive for asking is selfish -- in any way outside of the Father's will -- He does not respond. 

Now it IS possible for every follower of Jesus to be a powerful prayer warrior.  But that power has a price.  To become a powerful prayer warrior requires that we give prayer a place of high priority in life AND that we always subject our requests to the will of the Father.  John Wesley prayed every day from 4am until 6am.  Martin Luther is known to have spent 2-3 hours in prayer.  David Brainerd, missionary to American Indians in the 1700s, could often be found kneeling in the snow praying for God to open the hearts of native Americans.  He died of TB at age 29.  Tradition tells us that David Livingston, missionary to Africa, died while on his knees in prayer in his hut.  Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma, prayed daily at 9am, noon, pm, 6pm, and 9pm. 

To these men, prayer was the fertile soil in which their life work was rooted.  Their commitments to prayer and their obedience to the Father gave them power for their varied callings, circumstances, and cultures.  They knew that prayer was not just an emergency tool to be used in times of crisis.  It is the lifeline of the believer, his/her connection to the Father. 

Yes, Jesus said "Whatever you ask in My Name, believe that you have received it and it is yours."  But that's not a blank prayer check!  It's an invitation to a deeper relationship.  In John 15:7, Jesus said, "If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, (then) ask whatever you will and it will be done for you."  Do you see the conditions for the promise there?  We must abide in Christ and His words must abide in us.  Simply put, Jesus said, "If you do your part, ask whatever you desire and the Father will do His part." 

SO, what is our part?  Let me offer you six things. 

1.  We are to be subject to the Father's willI John 5:14  The more of our selves that we surrender to Jesus, the more our own desires align with God's desires. 

2.  We realize that Jesus is always our Intercessor.  John 14:13  We ask in Jesus' Name because it is only through Jesus that we can approach the Father.

3.  We must be instructed in the truthJohn 15:7   We should be seizing every opportunity to deepen our knowledge and application of God's word.  The Bible becomes our guide for life. 

4.  We strive to obey!    I John 3:22   Our obedience is the outward expression of our faith in and submission to Jesus.

5.  We cling to the promises of God!   Matthew 22:11  This is another expression of faith.  We believe God is faithful and will do what He has promised.

6.  We act on conviction!   Luke 11:9   Daniel 3   In others words, we put feet to our prayers.  In Exodus 14:15, Moses prayed for deliverance and God said:  Why are you crying out to Me?  Tell the people to move forward.    Sometimes, we pray and wait idly for God to act when God might be waiting for us to act in faith. 

God is waiting to hear from you.  He wants to do things that are even more awesome and beautiful than you've dreamt or imagined.  But if you want Him to give weight and power to your prayers, you have to do your part. 

Become a powerful prayer warrior for your family, your church, your community, and your nation!  If you do your part, God will certainly do His.