The battle of temptation in the wilderness that the Son of God faced against the devil, is one of claiming and countering a false initiative based on the Word of God and refuted by the Lord Jesus through correct application of the same Scripture. But when we step in before the LORD God in the truth of the promises of God in the Scripture, we indeed receive the answer. Prayers that are not based on the Word of God are like ‘punching the air’ with little or no effect neither in the material nor the spiritual realm.
Significance of the Word in our prayers – The Spirit of God was present over the ‘face of waters’ but nothing happened till God said something, for the Holy Spirit and the Son of God, the Living Word, do not do anything of their own except what the Word decrees (Genesis 1:2-3). Lord Jesus’ teaching is about speaking to the mountain or commanding it in authority and it will move (Matthew 21:21). God is the Creator and sustainer of the universe and all that is in it and His Word carries the authority to change any situation or established order. God promised Joshua, ‘as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5). Joshua believed God’s promise and claimed it by commanding ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon in the valley of Aijalon’ and it happened (Joshua 10:12). Lord Jesus gave the believers ‘authority over all the power of the enemy (the devil, with the assurance that) nothing shall by any means hurt you’ and they acted in the promise to heal the sick and to cast out demons from the afflicted (Luke 10:19).
King David worshipped the LORD God and praised God’s name for His loving-kindness and His truth (Psalm 138:2). But then he declares, ‘You have magnified Your word above all Your name’. God’s name defines His very character and various names are ascribed to Him as per that particular situation; YHWH Yireh, God who sees and provides. The prophetic message of the Psalm is about the Son of God, the Living Word who is God (Acts 4:12). This Hebrew Word, Yehoshua, means ‘Yah (YHWH) saves’ and in ancient Greek it was written as Iesous and pronounced as Jesus. Lord Jesus has promised, ‘If you ask anything in My name, I will do it’ (John 14:14). Using Lord Jesus’ name in prayer is not a mantra or key to open closed doors but it is to be in line with His character so that ‘the Father is glorified in the Son’. God the Father has exalted His Son and His Word over His own name, to forgive sinners, in fulfillment of His justice in the sacrifice of His Son.
Using God’s Word or claiming the promises therein, is like exalting God through faith in His word. Also asking as per His promise is like urging God to fulfill what He has already declared. God cannot lie and what He has ever said is true and holds fast till eternity, also God cannot change nor fail to fulfill His Word. In prayer asking God to fulfill any of His promises is like placing a bank draft for encashment at His own bank in heaven while the result materializes on the earth or in the physical realm. Asking in His name is seeking His partnership and we do not receive an answer, firstly, if we do not ask or secondly, we ask to meet our fleshly desires, for that will go against the nature of a holy God. It is about asking without any doubt and in faith receiving it while it is yet not visible to the eye.
Praying as per God’s Word, first, is about His promise to hear and answer our prayers. God has promised ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me’ (Psalm 50:15). So we pray, Heavenly Father You have promised to deliver me from my troubles and now that I am suffering from……. I seek Your hand to help me and bless that I may witness and glorify Your name before the congregation. Lord Jesus has promised and we can pray as per this, ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you. for everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened’ (Matthew 7:7, 8). When we ask in faith without doubting He is faithful to answer.
General blessings – The promise is claimed by King David, ‘The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want’ for He will lead me into places of abundance, the Promised Land, that He has decreed for me (Psalm 23:1; 5). Furthermore, ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over’. My LORD God cares for, protects and provides for me for all my needs and even my enemies learn about His hand on my head and they either reconcile with me or stay away.
Good health and long life – God ‘forgives all your inequities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s’ (Psalm 103:3-5). He is Yehowah Rapha, God the Healer and Yehowah Yireh, God the Provider. God has promised long life and salvation to His children of faith (Psalm 91:16).
Divine protection – ‘The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe’ (Proverbs 18:10). We are made righteous through faith in the Lord Jesus and receive protection. ‘And who is he who will harm you, if you be followers of that which is good?’ (1 Peter 3:13). When God chose and made a believer a part of His family, He became his ‘light and salvation’ and then one could confidently say, ‘whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ Psalm 27:1
What is promised in the Scripture we claim and make it our own to let it change our inner being. Then the declaration is easy and confident, ‘I dwell in the secret place of the Most High and I abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God; in Him will I trust. He shall cover me with His feathers, and under His wings shall I trust; His truth shall be my shield and buckler. There shall no evil befall me, neither shall any plague come near my dwelling’ (Psalm 91:1-5).
Promise of honor and peace – ‘And the LORD shall make you the head and not the tail, and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath; if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today and are careful to observe them’ (Deuteronomy 28:13). God hears all our prayers and answers at His right time.
Success and prosperity – ‘The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the LORD will rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your fathers’ (Deuteronomy 30:9). God desires to bless His children with abundance and success in every area of life and then rejoice over them to see them in that state. Lord Jesus also declared this, ‘I have come that they (believers) may have life and that too abundantly’ (John 10:10). Life is in the presence of the LORD God and The Savior Messiah gives it in abundance. The psalmist could confidently say, ‘The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children’ (Psalm 115:14).
Help and protection from trouble – ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all’ (Psalm 34:19). Lord Jesus comforted the disciples to not fear tribulations for ‘in the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’ and He promises to be with us ‘to the end of the age’ (John 16:33). When suffering will come, His help is at hand, for ‘They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him’ (Psalm 126:5-6). The promise of God is, ‘they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree are the days of My people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them’ (Isaiah 65:21-23).
Reasons for unanswered prayers – God’s word is categorical, ‘So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it’ (Isaiah 55:11). God said and it happened, for His word carries the power and authority of God to make it happen. Outside Lazarus’ tomb, the command was ‘Take away the stone’ and the answer from Martha was, ‘Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days’ (John 11:39-43). Invariably, we get the same thought of the stink of our past and it interferes with our faith to ask and then to receive.
Apostle James, the half brother of our Lord, was visited by the Risen Lord (1 Corinthians 15:7) and even Apostle Peter, after being freed from the prison by an angel, asked the believers, who were praying for him, to go and inform Apostle James about his release. This Apostle gives two reasons for no answer to prayer, first, ‘You do not have because you do not ask’ because of doubt or lack of faith or any other reason (James 4:2-3). Second, ‘You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures’. God does not see as a man sees, ‘for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart’, to see the real reason behind a prayer request (1 Samuel 16:7). Lord Jesus’ promise to answer our prayers is ‘that the Father may be glorified in the Son’ and where this is not the intent, God will reject the prayer (John 14:13).
The reasons for God rejecting our prayers; first, we may be false Christians who have all the outward signs but from inside ‘have neither believed, nor received the Lord Jesus as their Savior’. Apostle Paul warns us to ‘Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?’ (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Second, we lack faith, ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’ but it is not my faith alone, it is His love and mercy that works (Hebrews 11:6). But that is also released by God, to those who believe in Him.
Three, we turn our back to God by embracing sin –The psalmist realized this fact, ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear’ (Psalm 66:18).
Four, when we treat others in an unfair manner – Not loving your neighbor as yourselves is breaking the second great commandment of the Lord. Not loving and honoring your wife will cause hindrance in prayers (1 Peter 3:7). Not forgiving and reconciling with others (Matthew 5:23-24) may also be the reason.
Five, pride may be the cause, Lord Jesus gave the example of the Pharisee and the Tax collector. The Pharisee claimed his righteousness but the other confessed his sinful state, seeking mercy, and was justified before God (Luke 18:9-14).
Six, we may be under God’s discipline and during a period of drought, it is better to humble ourselves before God and ask for His guidance for correcting the unknown hindrance and then moving forward in faith.
God is faithful and rejoices over His children to see them enjoying the good life in His Son. Sometimes He may be preparing us for giving a greater blessing than what we are seeking and that may be causing the delay. Our job is to believe as having received and thankfully persevere in prayer.
God is love and witness of this fact is the birth, sacrifice, resurrection and ascension and glorification of the Son of God as our Redeemer. Praying in consonance with His Word is like presenting His pay draft for encashment. Our faith works effectively when we obey God’s commands and in that state of total commitment we pray. Getting our needs fulfilled is not the real motive of prayer, but to fellowship with our Creator, who is ever willing to reach out and bless us.