Understanding How to Pray

I’ve been wanted to write about this for a while now, as much as salvation is confused by charlatans and wolves in the church, prayer is as well. It’s all packaged together in the same lie, that to get saved all you have to do is say the sinner’s prayer, then everything in your life will be perfect. You’ll be healthy, wealthy, and full of joy! What a selling pitch, I would suggest these pastors missed their marks as car salesmen but they’re making a bundle already.

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This is disturbing, as we see statistics showing as many people leaving charismatic churches as there are coming in. Once the people coming in realize that their financial troubles never went away, their health is still bad, their marriage is still falling apart, they have no peace or joy, they leave. The sad part is that most of those disenfranchised by the lies peddled in modern churches leave the faith altogether, most becoming agnostics.

How can this be, when the truth is so clear in the Word of God? Most of these churches do not push scriptural knowledge, the pastors come in on Sunday with one or two short verses and a bunch of feel-good mush in between. This is why the music is so important, you have to pump the music and get the masses to an emotional state. Then you scratch their itching ears with personal stories, and everyone goes home feeling happy right? That’s not what the statistics show.

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James-4

When you spend hours each week praying for more money, bigger and better stuff, adoration from your spouse and children, respect from your family and coworkers, and yet nothing changes, you begin to wonder. If anyone is reading this right now and finds themselves in this very discouraging place let me give you one scripture that destroys the ‘name it and claim it’ TV evangelistic philosophy.

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

You see, these men are promising things that they have no authority to offer. When they don’t come true, when you stay poor and sick, they tell you it’s because you don’t have enough faith. Thus, they hang heavy burdens on you, burdens they are unwilling to help carry. Christ said His yoke is not heavy.

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Matthew-6-9-13

Jesus gave us an example of how to pray in Matthew 6: 9-13, not once does He suggest to His disciples that they should name it and claim it. He gives another example when He, Himself, is praying to the Father before His crucifixion. He says Your will, not mine. Is this what is being taught? Pray for Gods will, even if it means pain, suffering, or death? What does Paul tell us, that when he prayed for the thorn in his flesh to go away it did? Did he pray for health and wealth? Just the opposite, in fact, he tells us that he thanked God for his many afflictions, and worked with his hands to provide for himself rather then taking money from believers.

Friends, please do not be fooled by the promise of wealth, or health. We are promised in the Bible healing, when our bodies are glofied and we live in a sinless world with no curse. There are those who God chooses to heal, but it’s for His glory not some egomaniac  on TV. Pray for the sick, pray for yourself when you are sick, there’s nothing wrong with that, unless you hope to heal someone so you can look spiritual. God searches the heart of man. It always comes back to the heart.fullsizeoutput_145d

If you’ve been told that saying a quick prayer when you were a teenager was a get out of hell free card, let me implore you…work through your salvation through fear and trembling. Where there is a conversion there is evidence of that conversion. If you have been saved you will bear fruit, you will HATE the sin you use to love. You will LOVE the God you use to ignore. A prayer can not save you. You’re confidence in that prayer can not save you. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Prayer and Study

I want to start by making very clear here that I am in no way intending on heaping condemnation onto my brothers and sisters in Christ. I mean only to edify the body and help explain a possible reason for the lack of prayer and study within the church.

I also want to clarify that this is not going to make sense to those who are not believers but are instead Christians in name only. I know this for certain because I never understood this the entire decade I was pretending to be a Christian. I was perfectly happy being spoon fed the word and even happier to take your word for it. This is the reason why false teachers are so successful, we can see them on every “Christian” channel preaching a different gospel, a different Jesus, and a different god. A more common term for this would be heresy, there are more notable speakers teaching heresy, or even worse, blasphemy, then there are teachers proclaiming the true gospel.

I began my Christian faith wondering how we got to the place where famous preachers could announce loudly that Christ wasn’t the only way to Heaven and still manage to have any credibility. I think I can say assuredly it’s because of a lack of prayer and study within the body of true believers.

Let’s start with prayer. Before I was saved prayer was something I did out of obligation, it was done with a general sense of annoyance. The first few months after I got saved that changed, slowly at first, and then like a snowball falling, collectively the idea of what prayer began to drive me to my knees. The annoyance then became the need to do anything else besides study and prayer. What changed?

Study changed.

Before being saved I was perfectly happy to listen to TV evangelists twisting scripture to fit their worldly desires. I also enjoyed anything that was new information, as one enjoys the discovery channel. It didn’t have to be accurate, and I certainly wasn’t going to crack open my dust collecting Bible to check. Once I was saved the Word of God became the primary source, and great men expounding on it needed to be consistently vetted. More so than that, the Word became spiritual food. I felt a hunger for it I had never felt before, the desire to immerse myself in the Bible and to understand what I was reading was overwhelming.

This change led me to a greater understanding of both prayers, and study. What is prayer for the believer? It is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.

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Study of an Apostle’s Hands (Praying Hands) by Albrecht Durer

We are granted the tremendous honor of coming before the throne of God with our thanksgiving, supplication, and requests. This is the very God who had saved me from the chains of sin, a pointless life, and from eternal damnation. I get to come before Him, He hears me. Never once have I ever deserved the honor of coming before the King of Kings!

What brought me to this conclusion? Understanding what the Word is. John teaches us that in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. That Word became flesh…when we pick up Gods Word we need to recognize that on every page we are seeing Holy Spirit inspired Words. The majesty of this is too great for me to understand, however, what I do see is the tremendous blessing we have been given to have the Word.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to have been an Apostle before the cross? The Holy Spirit hadn’t come, Christ hadn’t risen, all they have was the OT to go on. They were waiting for the Kingdom to come! They thought Christ was about to bring it down. What do you mean you’re going to die? What about the Kingdom? All the way up until Jesus Christ, Messiah, Lord, Savior, ascended the disciples were asking about the Kingdom. It wasn’t until the Holy Spirit came that they finally understood the OT. We have the benefit of reading that very revelation they were given.

Can you imagine also what it must be like to live in a country where this Word is illegal? How precious every page must be to believers, and every second they can spend reading it. It is easy to take for granted the amazing blessing some of us have to freely read the Word. I even have the Septuagint on my phone, along with every type of translation. How blessed is this generation? As blessed as we are ignorant of said blessing.

So, what do you do if you’re one of the many believers who does not understand the Word, and find very little joy in reading it? Or perhaps even less joy in praying? First, let’s remember that there are those out there particularly gifted in these areas, we should not compare ourselves to one another. Our comparison should always be Christ. Secondly, let us remember that we need to be growing in grace and knowledge. If you want to enjoy these things but the desires of the world are overpowering you bring it before the throne in prayer. Ask to thirst for God’s Word, ask God to help you love Him with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. We can do nothing apart from Him.

Finally, friends, be good Bereans. Paul called the Bereans more noble then the Thessalonican’s because they accepted the Word while searching the scriptures to see if it was true. We need to take every thought into captivity, which means we cannot continue to accept what the TV evangelists, or even our own pastors, preach without checking its accuracy against the Word of God. Not partial scriptures, but the whole counsel of the Word.

I hope this helps you all grow in prayer and study, friends, to show yourself approved.

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2 Timothy 2:15