There is a God. He created the world and set up certain rules by which the world is regulated. God keeps His own rules. He limits His involvement on earth in some respects. He has CHOSEN to limit His involvement in such a way that our PRAYERS make a difference.
There are good things that will ONLY happen if we pray according to God’s will. If we don’t pray that way, those things won’t happen.
Does God always get what He wants?
The Bible says that “God is not willing that any should perish, but wants all men to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The Bible also says that God “desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
But in spite of what God wants, many do perish, many do NOT come to repentance, and many do NOT come to the knowledge of the truth.
Sadly, its not a matter only of what GOD wants, but what people do. Especially the people of God.
I know there is a whole system of theology known as Reformed Theology which denies a lot of this. Reformed Theology says that God decided before anybody did anything, not on the basis of God’s foreknowledge but according to His good pleasure, whatever that means, that He would unconditionally save some sinners and leave others to be damned eternally. In Reformed Theology, there is also no such thing as free moral agency in human beings. In Reformed Theology, when God saves a person, He does it against that person’s will, unconditionally, by using “grace” to force their will in a different direction. Everyone else whom God does not force is left to perish, and it is also believed that Jesus Christ did not even die for them to provide a redemption. Basically God doesn’t love the world, but only the elect, and no one knows for sure who they are, except God. The whole Universe could be seen as a kind of 3 dimensional video tape which just plays out a horror movie which God designed from start to finish.
You have to twist Scripture and misunderstand the heart of God seriously to subscribe to the fundamental tenets of “Reformed Theology” or “Calvinism”. But many Calvinists do engage in a kind of double think in which they act as if they really do have free will (which in fact they do have), so they don’t end up totally fatalistic and lazy. Many pray and many evangelize in fact. Thank God for that. However, the effect of the whole system of thought is one which leads people to be lazy when it comes to prayer. After all, if God has already decided and foreordained everything, how can your prayers, your love to God, your devotion to Him, actually make any difference? If everything you do, including prayer, is already decided by GOD in advance, why push yourself to deny yourself and go after God. Does it even make sense to talk about “denying yourself” if all you do is in fact pre-programmed by God?
I want to reassert the plain truths of Scripture at this point. God is NOT willing that any should perish. He wants ALL to come to the knowledge of the truth. He wants ALL to be saved. This is Scripture, not fancy theological sophistry. It is the faithful truth about God. And since it doesn’t happen, it should lead a thinking person to ask “Why?”
Many Christians live as if prayer makes little difference, while the world rushes headlong into eternal destruction. I don’t know all the reasons people think this way, but part of my job is to help people to consider that prayer can make ALL the difference.
I believe in a God of miracles. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and I’ve seen Him do miracles through my own hands as I’ve stepped out in obedient action, having sought to live a life of prayer. Prayer DOES make a huge difference. It is our connection with Almighty God, who desires intensely to show and manifest His love towards humanity, so that people might see His goodness, and turn back to Him willingly, ashamed of their former rebellion against His Kingly authority.
Prayer Makes All the Difference
It turns out that prayer, done God’s way, indeed makes all the difference. I would dare to say, that if this is not true then the words of Jesus Christ in the gospels were BIG FAT LIES.
“Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”(Matthew 7:7,8). – Jesus Christ.
Doesn’t this suggest that it is normal to get answers to prayer?
Doesn’t the fact that this is a COMMANDMENT suggest that it might be possible that the disobedient, who refuse to pray like this, won’t get the same results as people who DO pray?
James. the brother of Jesus, went so far as to say, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). He was talking with these believers as if there was something they could do to change this.
It is also written in the Gospels, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).
According to Jesus we are supposed to pray always and not lose heart. This suggests prayers will not always be IMMEDIATELY answered. If every prayer was immediately answered, it would be impossible to lose heart. And in the end, you wouldn’t need the kind of persistent faith that keeps on believing even when circumstances don’t look favorable or look like they are changing. For some reason, probably due to the nature of true RELATIONSHIP, faith is essential to pleasing God.
When we believe God’s Word, we also become people who commit ourselves to prayer.
If we believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, then WE WILL DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM. Hebrews 11:6 says:
“For without faith it is impossible to please Him, because He who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”
If you believe God rewards this behavior, you will believe that He will make it worth your while to do it.
Why Prayer Makes A Difference
It might be asked “Why doesn’t God just do what He wants to do whether we ask Him or not?”
The Bible doesn’t address this question of “Why?” directly but it does give us some strong hints.
We see in Genesis 1:27-28 “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.””
We can see that God gave the authority over the earth to Adam and Eve.
Psalm 115:16 says, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; But the earth He has given to the children of men.”
Most of what happens on the earth happens as a result of the choices and decisions of MEN (that is to say, human beings). Authority over the earth was given to humans. Therefore when humans listen to Satan and evil spirits, they give power to the forces of evil. When humans listen to God and obey Him that advances the interests of the Kingdom of God.
God set up the rules in such a way that what you and I and everyone else does can affect lots of things. I believe God has foreseen all that we will do without determining all that we do. God can do this because He lives in a greater dimension or possibly beyond all dimensions in ways our human minds simply cannot understand. All that however is another subject.
When Adam and Eve listened to the devil speaking through the serpent and disobeyed God, they gave so much of their spiritual authority to the devil. They were corrupted by sin, and Satan became “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2)
2 Corinthians 4:4 “In whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
“in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,” (Ephesians 2:2)
God already gave the authority to mankind. He did not retract it directly. Now Satan had authority and he used it to oppress and enslave people everywhere for many generations almost without interruption.
PRAYER is important because it involves a human being INVITING God to move in salvation. It involves surrendering to the will of God, and invites God onto the scene. God commands us to keep on praying. When we don’t we are being disobedient, and by extension, submitting to Satan to some extent. When we do pray, as part of those purchased back by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have power to affect things, and bring a measure of the Kingdom of God into this world.
More obedient prayer, more results. Less obedient prayer, less results.
You can see in nations like South Korea and China how a vast prayer movement has lifted their nations. The world is full of testimonies of the power of prayer, whether it be in healings, miracles, deliverance from demons, restoration of families, provision or even revival and societal transformation.
Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection defeated Satan legally, and now invites people to become His disciples, His apprentices. The only way we can be that effectively is through a continual learning process in the presence of God, through much prayer, through receiving God’s Word, and obeying God’s Word.
Forgot for a moment about your religious status quo. Are you willing to be that kind of disciple of Jesus, or do you wish to carry on pretty much without God’s direct intervention in your daily life?
The way forward is to devote yourself to prayer and to submit to the will of God as you have begun to understand it. This is a journey, and it will take you into being like Jesus Christ. There is nothing like it on this earth. Nothing else compares. Do not settle for mere religious conformity. You and I – all people – were made for something higher – which is to be like Jesus, to live like Jesus, to do like Jesus.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also” (Jesus in John 14:12).
“And whatever you ask [demand] in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
Doing things in Jesus’ name means doing them “on his behalf”. It doesn’t mean tacking on the words “in the name of Jesus” to the end of your prayer without understanding what those words mean.
When you do things on behalf of Jesus, in union with Him, you can ask for things and expect God the Father to supply them, and you can demand that demonic forces be moved out and Jesus will back you up.
Much more could be said, but these thoughts I hope will serve to enable you to see how important and life changing true prayer is.
It is so important that God expects you to devote yourself to prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray without ceasing”.
Colossians 4:2 says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;”
This kind of thing can ONLY be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. You will never be able to obey those verses without the help and empowering of the Holy Spirit.
That is why it says in Ephesians 6:20 “praying at all times in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and petitions”.
You can’t do it without the Spirit.
But you must do it if you want to be an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ.
That is, if you would like to be one of those people who “were first called Christians” in Antioch. Acts 11:26.
“And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26)