Tongue has the power of life and death and words spoken in prayer, especially when we do not know God or know His will and desires, are sure to result in un-answered prayer.
Ask, Seek and Knock II – Sabotaging Our Prayers
Lord Jesus’ promise to give what we ask, to be found by the seekers and to open
the door for those who knock is well known. But are all the three aspects of
this promise inter-related and is seeking Him an essential ingredient of an
answered prayer? Where and how do we knock and which door is likely to be
opened by God? Do we sabotage our prayers in some way by not following the
command in its fullness?
Asking and seeking -Lord Jesus’command
has three elements about asking, seeking and knocking on the door but generally
we restrict ourselves to the first part itself. Asking in prayer is not about
dialing a number but listening to His voice in His Word, looking for and
understanding Him and then in the soul to peep into His holiness and His heart
to touch Him. We do all this in obedience and love. God is about relationships
for He visits Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden every evening to listen to
them and teach them His ways. Even after sin of disobedience He seeks them. God
is not lost that we have to find Him, we are lost in the darkness of this
fallen world and this seeking is as much about seeking self as about seeking
We are created in God’s image and likeness and finding that original state is
the main reason of this command and all of God’s commands lead us to Him to be
transformed and receive this image. After their sin Adam and Eve ‘heard the
voice of the LORD walking in the Garden’ and the reading tells us about God’s
voice walking for the Hebrew word used is ‘mithallek’ which is a participle.
Thus it should read that God caused His voice to travel for He could not be
present where sin was and God was evicted by us from His own creation. God
thereafter became a visitor on the earth and that too surrounded by fire which
prepared the place for His Divine presence. In the Old Testament God visited
Abraham and Moses and everywhere else His word was directly received by the
prophets or the concerned persons.
Lord Jesus’ coming as man is to restore what we had lost and that in faith we
become ‘children of God’ (John 1:12). Everyone who believes in the Son of God
gets into this Divine relationship individually and not through anyone else’s
faith or work. Lord Jesus commands, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’ (Matthew 6:33). As
members of God’s Divine family we become citizens of heaven and derive certain
rights and responsibilities. We can only understand these once we are aware of
what the kingdom is about for without that we are holding a blank signed cheque
without knowing the bank. With the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit we
are filled with His light while yet surrounded by darkness of sin all around.
Kingdom of God is both physical and spiritual depending on the period we are
in. It was both physical and spiritual in the Garden of Eden and is presently
spiritual through the Holy Spirit in all believers. During the Millennial Rule
of Lord Jesus and thereafter it will become spiritual and physical again. The
blessings of seeking God’s kingdom are manifold.
is about receiving from the kingdom – The Son of God was fully aware
of every detail of the kingdom and with only five loaves of bread and two small
fish He could get five thousand men (families) to sit and be filled. Taking the
bread and fish in His hands and ‘looking up to heaven He blessed and broke
them’. Hebrew word ‘anablepos’ is translated as looking up to and has ‘ana’ as
a prefix meaning upwards and ‘blepo’ meaning ‘to see something material with
spiritual results. Thus ‘it carries what is seen into the non-physical
(immaterial) or spiritual realm so a person can take the needed action’. Lord
Jesus knew the resources of heavenly kingdom and could tap into the same to
establish a multiplication line for the bread and fish.
is about preparing for the eternal home there – I must understand what
to gather here for use in the heavenly kingdom. Apostle Paul cautions us about
the quality of our deeds in this life which will get revealed by the fire to be
destroyed or earn reward (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
is about self realization and introspection – Where am I heading and
am I focused on the Lord or am I looking at the storms all around? What do my
deeds reflect? Lord Jesus ended the parable of the talents by revealing who
will ‘inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’
and these are who feed the poor; provide a drink to the thirsty; helping the
stranger; providing clothes for the naked; visiting the sick and those in
prison (Matthew 25:34-40). Do my works follow these guidelines or am I totally
Seeking God’s kingdom does not ensure worldly comforts and all of its resources
are for God’s glory only. How do we know we are truly seeking God’s kingdom
first? We ask this question to ourselves – where are my energies and resources
focused on, on things of this world that will perish or in service of God which
live for eternity? The Scripture promise guarantees that, ‘God shall supply all
your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19).
God has promised for His people to supply every need but He knows what we
actually need that will benefit in the long run riches or poverty; loss or solitude.
God loved both Job (Job 1 & 2) and Prophet Elijah but He let Satan
absolutely wreck Job’s life and queen Jezebel to break the spirit of Elijah to
make him flee (1 Kings 18-19) but in both cases God allowed restoration after
these difficult times of trials.
God does not promise a life of riches and disease free living and asking and
seeking is not the key to gaining wealth but to follow Him to be transformed
into His image and likeness under the watchful guidance of the Holy Spirit; to
think, to feel and ask like His own Son. For this we have to knock at His heart
to understand Him.
We should knock at which door? – This knock is not for
salvation, for that is already promised to all believers. Prophet Samuel was
displeased for the Israelites sought a king like other nations and God advised
him to do as they asked for ‘they have not rejected you but they have rejected
Me (God) that I should not reign over them’. Again the prophet warned the
Israelites, ‘you have rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your
adversaries and your tribulations’ (1 Samuel 8:7 & 10:19). God revealed the
pain of His heart to the prophet for the Israelites demand for a king and this
after God had expressly commanded them in their Shema prayer, Listen to Me;
‘love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all
your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). And Lord Jesus added ‘all your mind’ also.
Thus thoughts, feelings and emotions; desires and all resources provided by God
are to be used to express pour love for god.
God is willing to open His heart to those who come knocking to know His will
and His innermost thoughts and feelings. Saul was rejected as king by God for
‘the LORD has sought a man after His own heart’ (1 Samuel 13:14) and David was
blessed and called such a man by God.
How can I aspire to be such a man if I do not what is in God’s heart? –
King David declared, ‘God has spoken once, twice I have heard this’, that
whatever God has commanded I repeat it twice to myself for repeated emphasis
that I do not miss out in obedience (Psalm 62:11). Lord Jesus called His
disciples friends, ‘for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made
known to you’. Friendship is about intimacy and that is what the Lord demands and
as a friend I must follow His commands by understanding the spirit of the
command and not just the letter only ((John 15:15 & 14). David confessed
his sin and admitting before God, he cried out, ‘Against You, You only have I
sinned, and done this evil in Your sight’ (Psalm 51:3-4). But the sin of
adultery was with Bathsheba and against Uria, her husband and causing his death
a sin against the wife. But David understood the pain that he had caused to God
for he could gaze in there.
God has given whatever I have and using it for evil purposes is to cause grief
to God. Lord Jesus was well aware of our selfish nature for we only ask and
neither seek Him nor desire to know Him by getting a peep into His heart. He
comes knocking that we open the door to our hearts for Him to share Himself
with us (Revelation 3:20). Of course He will not do for me, to contravene what
He has decreed, but since I do not know what He has already decided, I must ask
whatever I need while surrendering to His Sovereign authority to answer.
But why pray when what He has decreed will in any case happen? –
God actually does things in response to prayer and Scripture clarifies that
‘You do not have for you do not ask’ (James 4:2). Prayer is about surrendering
to seek His power to work in and through us and God intervenes to deliver us
when we cry out to Him (Psalm 72:12-14). God spoke to Moses from the fire of
the burning bush, that He had heard the cry of the Israelites who were held as
slaves in Egypt and had come down to deliver them. My job is to ask in humble
submission, seek Him through His Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and
knock on the door of God’s heart to know Him better and follow His commands
thorough proper while understanding of the same and wait for God to answer
while persevering in prayer.
in any way sabotage our prayers? – In faith when we join God’s
heavenly family we must also get ready to be used by God as He used His own Son
and then speak His language. Lord Jesus went to Jairus’ house, on his
request, to heal his sick daughter but was told that she had already died. But
the Lord told them, ‘The child is not dead, but sleeping’ and brought her back
to life (Mark 5:39). You do not have for you ask for fulfilling your lusts and
desires and any prayer that seeks to fulfill evil intentions will not only be
rejected but may also deserve retribution. Unanswered prayers test our faith
and long waiting of days, months or even years may cause despair. The parable
of the persistent widow and the judge was told by the Lord to encourage us to
endure in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). Scripture teaches us what hinders our prayers
but there is also another category, the un-answering caused by us. Many times
the Holy Spirit turns our eyes inward to our hearts and minds for us to find
the reason of un-answered prayer, that is not in God because our life styles
also impact our prayers. Some of the reasons for this could be –
living a sinful and unrepentant life – Sin and God can never be
together but we presume that He must listen to us no matter what we do. It is
clear that ‘If I had cherished inequity in my heart, the Lord would not have
listened’ (Psalm 66:19) and that that ‘your inequities have made a separation
between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that
He does not hear’ (Isaiah 59:2). We are warned to ‘be self controlled and
sober-minded for the sake of your prayer’ (1Peter 4:7).
Second, ignoring and disobeying God’s commands in His Word –
‘If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an
abomination’ (Proverbs 28:9). God’s Word is a blessing from Him to help us know
Him and develop a close relationship with Him. If we are strangers to Him
despite His having called us, our prayers are sabotaged by us.
praying for self glory – Lord Jesus warns us about
praying like the hypocrites who ‘love to stand and pray in the Synagogues and
at the street corners’ to be seen by others (Matthew 6:5). Prayer is that God’s
name be hallowed and any attempt to deviate from this causes lack of response
Four, harbor doubts about God – James 1:5 is about doubting
God’s intention. The father of the deaf and mute boy cried out in doubt and the
Lord replied, ‘If You can? Everything is possible for the one who believes’
(Mark 9:23). God rewards those who seek Him.
praying in opposition to the wife – We are commanded,
‘husbands live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the
woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life,
so that your prayers may not be hindered’ (1 Peter 3:7). After marriage the two
become one and dishonoring one part, child of God, will hinder our prayers.
Six, irreverence in prayer – Lord Jesus ‘in the days of
His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries
and tears to Him, who could save Him from death, and was heard because of His
reverence (godly fear)’ (Hebrews 5:7). We become children of God and call Him
‘Our Father’ but He is God and cannot be treated like an earthly being. ‘Do not
be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before
God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be
few’ (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
George Herbert’s poem ‘Prayer I’ refers to prayer as ‘God’s breath in man
returning to his birth; The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage’. God
breathed into man and in prayer man breathes back to God and I must ensure that
my breath is not foul smelling because of unrepentant sins. In prayer my soul
is communicating while my heart is peering into the holiness of God. We pray
not losing heart, devouring God’s Word, seeking His glory, loving others while
looking on Lord Jesus expectantly, in reverence persevering in hope of
fulfillment of His promises. He is able to do the impossible but even if He
does not we keep praying more, praying regularly, always joyfully giving Him
is not like sending a message on a whatsapp group but it is about understanding
God’s word, meditating upon the same and knowing Him. How can one ask something
from Him if we do not know Him for who He is, His feelings of love and grace
but mixed with justice. A close relationship with God is thus developed and
then in fulfillment of Lord Jesus’ promise, we can approach Him as friend who
is God and our High Priest in heaven. That closeness then results in rightful
asking and joyful giving by God.