Prayer That Makes Things Happen
Prayer is not about getting God to obey you on command. I know it may sound obvious, but when the pain of a situation becomes extreme, it is easy to get angry with God and start making demands. And, many people find God becomes quiet and distant.
Don’t lose hope. There is a proper and effective way to move God.
Prayer and Our Attitude
Imagine how you would feel if your 3-year-old child stomped on the floor and screamed, “I want my candy and I want it now? Where is it?” Most likely you would consider the child’s attitude more important than the candy. But, to him, the candy is much more important. Well, the child has to learn to say, “Please”, and to wait patiently and respect his or her elders when they say, “No”. The same is true of prayer.
I hope that is not pedantic. It helps me to understand why I have had trouble getting answers to prayer. But, another aspect of prayer is praying to understand God’s point of view and intentions — seeking His will. Part of prayer is surrendering fully to God’s will. And another key part of prayer is having the faith to trust God through the difficulty, to know that whatever happens, God is still in control making the best decisions.
Prayer and Free Will
Although God answers prayer, He cannot force love and faithfulness. Love is a choice. You cannot choose love unless you can choose hate. You cannot choose honesty unless you can choose dishonesty. You cannot choose faithfulness unless you can choose betrayal. You cannot choose courage unless you can choose cowardice. You cannot choose humility unless you can also choose pride.
Often we pray someone will make the right decision, but God cannot rob them of their right to choose and express who they are. And just as we can choose whether to love and respect God, our spouses and others can choose whether to love us faithly.
Sometimes the Problem is Us
Sometimes God has answers to prayer prepared in advance. Sometimes those answers are just waiting for someone to pray specifically with a right attitude. Sometimes there are promises in the Bible related to those prayers, and sometimes there are conditions that we have to meet before we can go to God and claim those promises effectively. It will do no good to try to convince God of a promise He has not made. But, if we understand His promises and apply them correctly meeting the conditions, we will have our answers to prayer.
Some Excellent Books on Praying for Loved Ones
- How to Pray for Lost Loved Ones by Dutch Sheets — a small but excellent book.
- Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets is the first book I bought and read on Intercessory prayer by Dutch Sheets. I feel this book lays an excellent foundations for effectual prayer.
- Authority in Prayer by Dutch Sheets — This book discusses the foundation of authority in prayer.
- Posessing the Gates of the Enemy by Cindy Jacobs studies effectual prayer for destroying the works of the devil, such as adultery and divorce.
Some Hard but Needed Verses from the Bible
These verses can come across a little hard but absolutely life changing.
Proverbs 28:9, “He that turns his ear away from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”
Note: This does not mean sin is the cause for all unanswered prayer.
If we remain faithful to God and still cannot understand why God does not answer our prayer, we must remain steadfast and trust God patiently. Remember that whatever horrible tribulations come, God sees solutions that are far better and wiser than anything we could imagine. Sometimes we have to go through the darkest valleys of tribulation to get to where God’s ways become clear.
However, if we are in sin and the heavens are turning to brass over us, then we cannot afford to live in denial. We can call Jesus “Lord, Lord”, but if we do not love Him and do what He says, then Jesus not really our Lord. In that situation, sometimes the kindest and most loving thing God can do is let us suffer the consequences humble us and help us understand our need for Him.
If you are in sin now, humble yourself and repent. That can make all the difference whether your prayers are heard and answered. Surrender. Confess all sin to Jesus. Give it up. Repent of it. Trust Him fully through the darkest times. Believe it or not, your relationship with God is infinitely more important than anything else in your life. Not only will this save your soul, but quite possibility your family and your marriage.
Proverbs 15:8, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.”
If I become a pastor, this is one reason I will probably discourage unbelievers from tithing or giving to the church. I don’t want people to live in sin feeling they are Ok because they give or sacrifice for God. And, I don’t want the finances of the church to rest on my willingness to make unbelievers feel comfortable in their sin.
Proverbs 66:18, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
Proverbs 21:28, “The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination, How much more when he brings it with evil intent!”
Repentance: The Solution
Sin has a cost. If a criminal tortured our loved ones to death, we would probably be angry if the judge let that criminal go to torture people again. We would consider him a corrupt judge.
Similarly, sin violates God’s authority and honor and speaks against His wisdom and love. Sin teaches others to do likewise. In fact, when we’re in sin, we usually tend to forgive others sins as long as their sins do not bring pain to us directly. So, in essence, what we’re saying by this is that God’s feelings don’t matter, but ours do.
When we live in sin, this is evidence of a corrupt heart — a heart willing to betray and hurt God. We may feel the pain of our conscience calling us to stop, but we take action to dismiss that calling and justify or excuse our actions so we can go ahead with our sin.
Because God is not a corrupt Judge, He must punish sin. Since we thwarted Almighty God’s authority, our guilt is infinite and punishable by an eternity in hell, and that’s not good.
Do you know what Jesus did so we would not need perish into hell for all eternity? He took the nails for us on the cross of Calvary. He died a most cruel death for the sins we committed. He did not die so we could grab our ticket to heaven and all the blessings we want from Him while continuing to live in sin. He died to give us a chance to allow His grace to change our hearts so that the sin we once adored and defended vigorously becomes the sin we hate and want to give up because of our love and appreciation for what God did for us. And, if we will confess our guilt and sins to Jesus and take responsibility for them and refuse to defend them or live in them any longer, God will give us the grace to overcome sin, and that same grace will be there to save us and forgive us for our sin.
And this sin we give up is the very same sin that stands in the way of answers to our prayers. Repentance opens the door to a relationship with God that is deep, and you will be a great blessing to others whether or not your marriage survives. And, without your relationship with God being restored, nothing else in life matters as much.
Wrapping up Effectual Prayer
In short, it would often not be honorable or wise for God to answer our prayers if we’re living in sin. If all we do is cry out to God when we are in trouble and turn our backs on Him when our needs are met and everything is going well, then God is not trying to swindle us or hold us over a barrel if He does not answer our prayers. If God can get us to break from our sin by making us wait for our prayers to be answered, He can bless us infinitely more by making us wait. He wants to be our Father. He wants us to love Him. And, the pain of betrayal we feel when our spouses cheat on us is the very same pain He experiences dying on the cross for our sins because of His love for us while we throw it all away on sin regardless. In this way our pain can help us feel the deep love God has for us being willing to love us through our betrayal.