God Answers Faith, Not Prayer
By David J. Stewart
Matthew 6:7-8, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
Matthew 6:7-8 is one of the most amazing truths in the Bible. Jesus said that “THE HEATHEN” (the unsaved wicked world) errantly thinks that God will hear them simply because they pray for a long time. Muslims gather in large public gatherings (by the tens-of-thousands) and lay prostrate upon the ground, praying repetitiously with their faces to the ground, demonstrating the utmost devotion to their false god Allah. The Bible says that God DOESN'T answer them! They have the wrong god!
Most religious people errantly think that God answers prayer, but the Bible teaches that it is FAITH that pleases God, and not prayer. Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” From the Lord's teaching in Matthew 6:7-8 it is plain to see that prayer is NOT always associated with faith. Oftentimes prayer is nothing more than vain repetitions or dead incantations (which are not genuine prayer). Notice that the Lord doesn't refer to religious chants and repetitions as prayer; but rather, as “MUCH SPEAKING.” That's all that Roman Catholics and Muslims are doing when they repeat their recited so-called prayers! It is nothing more than MUCH SPEAKING, but it's not Biblical prayer based upon faith in God.
You've likely heard many Bible preachers and teachers say that the more we pray, the more power we'll have with God. I have some difficulties with that, because many people misunderstand that wording. The truth is that God honors consistency (faith), and not longevity (which is often self-righteousness) in prayer. The Bible never teaches that longer prayers brings greater influence with God. The Bible teaches that “faith” unlocks the promises of God. Hebrews 11:6 doesn't say that “prayer” pleases God; but rather, “faith.” Jesus said that the heathen falsely think they'll be heard for their much speaking. Longer prayers doesn't impress God. In fact, Jesus plainly said in Matthew 6:8, “...Be not ye therefore like unto them...” Isn't that something... God DOESN'T want us to think that praying a long time impresses Him. My friend, you DON'T have to pray long prayers to be a good Christian, but you do need to pray continually (that is, we ought to walk with God 24/7). The Christian life is a life of prayer, not a prayer life.
I'm not against teaching that God answers prayer, for I teach that in many of my articles; but technically, it is faith that God answers and not the prayer itself. Words without faith is dead! Prayer is not prayer unless there is faith. Roman Catholics recite their dead chants, which is not prayer at all. “Prayer is asking,” as Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) often taught! Prayer works, one way or another, prayer works! Prayer works because God is on His throne. God hears and answers prayers, if they are rooted in faith and not self-righteousness. Most people pray and then become quickly discouraged if God doesn't answers right away, so they quit! Biblical prayer is asking God for something and then TRUSTING THE LORD FROM THAT POINT ON! We ought to keep asking until the Lord answers, or His Spirit leads us not to pray anymore concerning that matter. Faith is not evidenced by the time spent praying in a single setting; but rather, by our persistence to keep asking over a period of time. God is pleased by our continual asking! (Luke 18:1-8; Luke 11:5-13). KEEP ON PRAYING!
Pray And Then Rest In The PROMISES Of The Scriptures!
The thing about prayer that gives me the most peace is knowing that I have asked God for His help in a matter. So no matter what happens down the road, I know that God is involved, because HE PROMISED! If I pray and then worry what's going to happen, it's only because I am doubting God's Word. It's human to start worrying, but we need to catch our self and claim the PROMISES of God's Word. 1st Peter 5:7 PROMISES that God cares. Titus 1:2 PROMISES that God cannot lie. Philippians 4:6-7 PROMISES that I can have peace after praying, because God is now involved. Psalms 34:7, “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” I fear God, do you? Most people don't fear God as Romans 3:18 teaches.
Most people have a WRONG mindset toward the Bible. Many people view the Bible as merely a book of Jewish history. Although it is a historical and Jewish record, that's not the primary purpose of the Bible. Others view the Bible as entirely a religious book. Still others see the Bible as written by man to control man (which is a lie). There are some people who view the Bible as God's Word, but they fail to comprehend what that means. First and foremost, I view the Bible as a book of PROMISES from a loving and faithful God. My friend, the Bible is TRUTH (John 17:17). The power of God resides in the PROMISES of God. 2nd Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
I live my life on the PROMISES of God!!! When I pray, I have FAITH that God will do all that He has promised to do. If you have FAITH in God and view the Bible as being filled with PROMISES from a God Who cannot lie (Titus 1:2), then you can build your hope, dreams and future on solid ground. What greater investment can we make than to take God up on His PROMISES!!! There are over 7,000 PROMISES from Genesis to Revelation, some unconditional (like the rainbow) and many conditional (like salvation). Salvation is conditional, that is, we must believe the gospel to be saved (Mark 1:15). If anyone receives the DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ (the gospel, 1st Corinthians 15:1-4) as full-payment for their sins, then they have eternal life (presently, right now!). I was born-again at age 13. I presently have eternal life. I will never die a spiritual death for I was dead, but now am made alive by the Holy Spirit of Christ by faith, Romans 8:9 and Galatians 3:26 - all quotes only from the trustworthy King James Bible).
I love that God is so awesome that He made thousands of PROMISES to us. I like to capitalize the word PROMISES to emphasize that God is a PROMISE-MAKING God. I would rather have God's PROMISES than all the assurance in the world that mankind can offer through religion. Muslims do their best and hope it works out for good. They live in constant fear of Allah, who is capricious (unpredictable). Muslims fear that even urinating on themselves by accident can send them to Hell (as taught in the Hadith). Muslims have numerous so-called holy books other than than blasphemous Koran. Islam is of the Devil.
In sharp contrast, Jesus said:
Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Biblically, 1st John 5:13 teaches that we can KNOW beyond any shadow of a doubt that we are saved, because eternal life is based upon the PROMISES of God, and not upon our own human effort or self-righteousness as with Islam. Truly, the Lord's burden is light, because He bore the intolerable weight of our sins upon Himself on the cross, shedding His precious blood to cleanse away our innumerable sins (1st Peter 1:18-19; Revelation 1:5). Thank you Lord. Jesus is precious!!!
1st Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all of our cares upon the Lord, because He cares for us. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to worry about anything, but to “LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD,” and then we can claim the sweet peace that passes all understanding, knowing that God is helping us now because we asked Him!!! It's all a matter of faith. The Bible promises that God cares! The Bible instructs us to cast our concerns and burdens upon the Lord! The Bible tells us not to worry, but let God know what we need and want, sharing our problem or situation with Him. The Lord already knows everything, so we don't need to go into detail; but need to ask for God's help in every area of our life. Then we can rest confidently that we have done exactly as He asked us to do, trusting upon the name of Jesus Christ Who lives in us as believers (Romans 8:9; 1st Corinthians 3:16-17).
When Jesus' disciples failed to cast the demon out of the man's afflicted son, Jesus said “THIS KIND” only can be delivered by prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29, “And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” The important thing to learn is that FAITH heals the sick, not prayer in and of itself. Fasting boosts faith. Fasting is letting go of the physical to grasp the spiritual. Fasting is not starving one's self to earn an answer to prayer. Prayer is not begging God because He enjoys depriving us of blessings unless we beg. When Jesus spoke of “THIS KIND,” He didn't mention how long to pray. Rather, He simply said to fast and pray. If God works apart from prayer, then we will become arrogant, proud and self-inflated. James 4:6 teaches that God resists the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Hebrews 4:15-16 teaches that prayer is necessary to obtain God's grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
I love that Scripture! Notice what the Bible says... GRACE TO HELP IN TIME OF NEED!!! It's ok to go to God in a time of need. We ought to go to God in fair weather as well. But God is pleased if we come to Him, whether in fair weather, or we wait until the stormy weather. God accepts repentance. Don't ever allow anyone to beat you up emotionally over past mistakes, sins and faults. We will all answer to God one day (Hebrews 4:13). Many people attacked king David because of his horrible sins of adultery and murder. David finally came to the place where he realized that His sins were between him and God alone. Psalms 51:4, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” Sadly, the Christian army is the only army in the world that slays its wounded.
God has blessed all of us abundantly and undeservedly. God is kind even to the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35), setting the example for us to love our enemies. Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” God is a beautiful person. He loves the unloving, cares for the uncaring and laid His life down for all mankind.
Please don't misunderstand my article, I am not saying that we shouldn't pray. I am saying that FAITH should be our object and not prayer itself. Roman Catholics and Islamic Muslims worship prayer instead of God. They foolishly think that their rituals, ceremonies and exaggerated prayer recitals will bring the favor and blessing of God. When I pray, my mindset is that FAITH pleases God. I do NOT depend nor lean upon MY prayers to bring God's blessings; but rather, God Himself, Who is the precious object of prayer. I do not like the bumper-sticker that says, “Power Through Prayer.” It is God Who is powerful and not our prayers. I am totally against the fake ministers who teach prayer as a “therapy” or as a good “spiritual exercise.” Prayer works because there is a real, omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (everywhere) and omnipotent (all-powerful) God reigning over the universe from His throne in Heaven. Prayer works because God works. Prayer is powerful because God is powerful. What I am saying my friend is to focus on faith and not prayer. Faith focuses on God, whereas prayer focuses on religion.
When you pray, expect results because there is a real God Who cares on the other end of your communication. The Bible teaches that God has laid out our life... Psalms 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” When I pray, I trust that God is in control of my life, and that He is keeping His PROMISE to guide, order and work in my life according to His will (that I might be conformed into the image of Christ as taught in Romans 8:29). God has a plan for my life that supercedes my own desires, ambitions and will. We ought to pray and then rest in God's promises (Philippians 4:7). If I have prayed, then I know I can rest assure that I have asked the Lord for His help, guidance and will to be done. The Lord may not, and likely will not, answer in the manner that I expect Him to. God's thoughts and ways are far above our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).
It's important to understand that God is NOT looking for lengthy prayers from us; but rather, He just wants us TO PRAY!!! The Bible teaches for Christians to pray continually. 1st Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” This simply means that God is making it very easy for us to pray. The Lord doesn't want us to feel that prayer is a heavy burden, requiring uncomfortable pain in our knees on a hard floor, or feeling that we have to spend 3-hours praying to receive an answer. In the example of prayer which the Lord gave in Luke 11:1-4, commonly known as “The Lord's Prayer,” He prayed for less than ONE MINUTE!!!!
God desires our faith, friendship and fellowship continually.
When God Doesn't Seem To Answer Prayers
God DOES answer prayer, but He does it in ways that we cannot visibly see nor understand most of the time. We learn the reason why in Luke 18:1-8. This is an amazing truth in the Bible which sheds further light on this matter of prayer, revealing why God most often DOESN'T answer our prayers in visible ways. That is, because God is pleased by faith, and faith means continued asking (prayer)...
Luke 18:1-8, “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
God is not unjust as the unjust judge; nevertheless, the Lord desires for us to pray continually. This truth is clearly set forth in Luke 18:1-8. If we faint (quit) because of a lack of faith, then we ought not expect to receive answers to prayer from the Lord. The important thing is to never give up on God coming through for us. I have learned to trust upon the Lord's wisdom, power and manner in which He often chooses to work covertly (not obvious). Proverbs 3:5-7 tells us as believers not to lean upon our own frail human understanding; but rather, to trust upon the Lord, fear Him and depart from evil.
Jesus plainly taught that we shouldn't pray long prayers as the wicked do, which is nothing more than MUCH SPEAKING (if we place our trust in words themselves instead of the power of God). Prayer must be rooted in trust upon the Lord. I believe in a miracle-working God. I don't believe in miracles; I believe in a miracle-working God! I don't believe in prayer; I believe in a prayer-answering God!
Throughout the Bible we find evidence of believers in dire situations, where it seemed as if God had forsaken them. Yet, God was very much in control every moment and step of the way. Such was the case when Abraham journeyed into Egypt. Such was the case when Joseph spent an estimated 12 years in prison in Egypt. Certainly, Joseph felt that God forsook him. Such was the case when Samson had his eyes burned out and was abused by the Philistines. Samson felt that God had forsaken him, no doubt. But God was with Samson until the very end, and He will stay with you and I too my friend, as the Lord hath PROMISED in Hebrews 13:5.
No doubt, Esther thought that God had forsaken her and her people (the Jews), but God was in control. Even while God was in control, hundreds of Jews still died as a result of Haman's evil plot. God could have spared them all, but for reasons only known to God He didn't. When Peter was delivered in response to the prayers of the early Church, why didn't God deliver James, who was beheaded by Herod in Acts 12? Only God knows why? Why was the apostle Stephen stoned to death, but the apostle Paul was spared numerous times until Nero finally killed him. Why did Jesus choose a devil to be one of His apostles (John 6:70)? Never underestimate the will of God!
Throughout the Bible we have hundreds of examples of saints who felt abandoned by God, but the Lord was with them every step of the way. God sent the two angels to smite Sodom and Gomorrah, because the Lord heard the cry of the inhabitants of those cities. There were many victims of sexual immorality, beatings, theft and homosexual gang rape. They cried out to God and God heard their pleas for help!!! Genesis 19:13, “For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.” Each time that it seemed like God wasn't listening, He indeed was with all His ears, eyes and heart!
Psalms 44:23, “Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.” Boy, David sounds really discouraged in Psalms 44:23. But we know that David was never forsaken, it only seemed that way for a while. Likewise, God is with us today, standing by our side in all that we do. When it appears that God is not listening or involved, He certainly is friend. God's presence keeps us breathing...
Daniel 5:23, “But hast lifted up thyself against the LORD of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.”
So if you pray and it seems like God isn't answering, consider that for 400 years the Jews in bondage in Egypt prayed and hadn't heard from God, so they thought. Actually the Jews were in bondage for 430 years, but the first 30-years were peaceful still. After Joseph's death, a Pharaoh rose up who didn't know Joseph and the Jews were enslaved for 400 years!!! God delivered the Jews by the hand of Moses' shepherd's rod. The point is that God DID hear and answer, but in His own time.
Consistency In Prayer (Faith) Pleases God
From Luke 18:1-8 we learn that it is consistency in prayer that pleases God, which evidences FAITH; and not praying long prayers in an attempt to earn, merit or impress God to obtain answers to our prayers. Jesus plainly foretold that in the end times there will be a draught of faith upon the earth, as you just read in Luke 18:8. God desires for us to keep praying, and prayer is asking.
Praise is bragging on God for what He does.
Worship is bragging on God for Who He is.
Prayer is asking God, making our requests known unto God.
Philippians 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” God already knows what we need, but He wants us to know that we need Him. Prayer is rooted in humbleness. This is why God's recipe for national healing in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 begins with, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray...” Carefully notice that humbling ourselves precedes prayer. The reason why most Christians don't pray often is because they're proud. If we don't pray and abide in the Scriptures we are saying, “God, I can do it by myself, I don't need Your help.” Oh, my friend, you and I need God's help dearly. I am speaking to believers, for if you have not been born-again by the Holy Spirit of God, then you have no right to the throne of God's grace.
Don't make prayer a habit if it merely becomes a ritual. I detest prayer books. I detest watching the President of our country reading a prayer from a script written by his speech-writer. I couldn't believe that Pastor Jerry Falwell's autobiography was actually authored by homosexual ghostwriter Mel White. Truth is stranger than fiction. An autobiography is supposed to be written by yourself, not another, let alone a homosexual writing a preacher's life's story.
The Scriptures teach that God is omnipotent and already knows our every need before we even pray. Jesus said that even the number of hairs on our head are known by God at all times (Matthew 10:29-30). I love Psalms 139:1-6...
Psalms 139:1, “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”
God monitors our every thought, word and deed. God knows every time that we lay down, or rise up, or sit in a chair or go for a walk. God watches us continually, for He is the Keeper of our soul. Proverbs 24:12, “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” We are all sinners in the hands of God. Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Prepare to meet thy God. Amos 4:12, “...prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.” Ecclesiastes 12:14 warns that all mankind must appear before God in eternity... “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Are you ready to meet God?
Why Pray If God Already Knows My Needs And Cares?
God is aware of our situation 100% of the time. Nothing ever occurs to God...
Matthew 6:7-8, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
Yes, God already KNOWS what things we have need of, but DO WE KNOW that we need God? I believe that God wants us to pray to show that we are humble, and to keep us humble. Proud people don't pray. With few exceptions, rich people are sinfully arrogant and extremely proud. Proverbs 18:23, “The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.” James 5:1-6 indicts most rich people. Rich people think they are already self-sufficient, so most of them don't want God. Yet, God is kind to the evil and to the unthankful (Luke 6:35). We all have to die one day, “BUT AFTER THIS THE JUDGMENT” (Hebrews 9:27; Ecclesiastes 12:14).
NOTE: Tragically, there are over 1,600,000,000 Islamic Muslims in the world who all deny that Jesus is the Christ. They deny that Jesus died on the cross. They deny that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. 1st John 2:22 calls them Antichrists. No one prays with the devotion of Muslims, who lay prostrate on the faces in humility toward Allah. Sadly, Allah is a fraud, concocted by the heretic Muhammad. Allah is a myth, who doesn't really exist. Thus, Muslims are praying heathen prayers to a false imaginative god. The Koran teaches that Allah has no son; but the Word of God, the Bible, teaches that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God. Thus, Allah cannot be the true and living God of the Bible.
God KNOWS our every concern, need and trouble. If we want God to work, then we've got to pray. If we don't pray, then God will not work. God resists the proud. You see, if we pray then God gets all the glory. However, if we work in our own humanistic might and power, then God's Spirit cannot work, because our pride hinders God from using us. If we do everything in our own human effort, then God cannot help us like we need Him to. Zechariah 4:6, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” I pray for God's Spirit to use my humble labors online to reach others for Christ. It's NOT our power, influence, intellect, wisdom nor might that changes lives for eternity; but rather, the blessed Spirit of God. If we humbly pray and trust upon the Lord, then He will move in our life and work.
The Bible teaches in Luke 18:1-8 that this is exactly why God makes us ask and ask and ask before answering. But unlike the unjust judge who didn't care, God DOES care and wants us to have greater faith. God tests our faith, shaking our confidence, seeing if we'll grow or turn by the way. If you are going through woeful tribulation, affliction and suffering as I have for several years, then rejoice “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1st Peter 1:7). Keep on praying!!!
The Bible is often falling apart of the man that is not!
"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
—2nd Thessalonians 1:8
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