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Monday, March 28, 2016

Restoring the Joy of Your Salvation: A Psalm 51:11-13 Devotional

Restoring the Joy of Your Salvation: A Psalm 51:11-13 Devotional
“Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will be converted to You.”


David spent the first ten verses of this Psalm recognizing and repenting of his sins, declaring his unworthiness to be in God’s presence, and then petitioning God to re-create His heart - to transform it - so he would be made in the image of God again. He realized his sins were rebellion against God and recognized this turning away from God marred his God-given heart so it was no more like God’s heart. David wanted a God-renewed right spirit so he could and would stand strong and steadfast in God’s ways.


With verses eleven through thirteen, David recognized God’s holiness did not permit sin to be in His presence. He realized God cast away from Himself sinful people. We read of God’s compassion and graciousness in 2 Kings 13:23 where He did not destroy or banish the people from His presence. He gave them another chance. In 2 Kings 24:20, a second, even a third and fourth chance, did not lead the Israelites to return to God. His anger over the people’s sin caused Him to cast them from His presence. This means they could no longer face God, see His face, or stand near Him. This banishment is what David pled against from God. He pled for God’s mercy on His sins and rebellion. David wanted to be in fellowship with the Lord again. He realized his sins tainted his heart and removed his spirit from a relationship with God. David wanted to be in the presence of God. He did not want God to remove His Holy Spirit from himself like God did to Saul. David remembered well the torment King Saul experienced when God removed His Spirit from Saul and evil spirits then indwelled him. He had been the lute player to calm Saul’s spirit. How often do we dismiss sin as just a little thing that God will forgive? David realized no small sin existed because all sin is turning away from God. He wanted to be in God’s presence and have a relationship with Him so he repented and then pleaded for God to create in him a new heart, renew his spirit, allow him to stay in His presence – to have mercy upon him – and to allow His Spirit to remain in Him.


Beyond this, David asked for his joy of salvation from God to be restored. He understood joy comes from a relationship with God. David lived at times trying to please himself, but realized he was never happy for long. Happiness due to circumstances is fleeting, but an intimate relationship with God brings joy. A person can have this everlasting joy because he or she knows God provides salvation for those who believe and trust in Him. Joy is not fleeting. David recognized his attempts at happiness did not fulfill his desire. Only God and His salvation provided full joy that filled him completely. Are there times when you think, if I could just have a car like that, then I would want nothing more; that will make me happy? Tangible things may make you happy for a time, but happiness is fleeting. Joy from the Lord is eternal and does not rely upon tangible things, things that rust, corrode, crumble, or fade away.

Besides joy of God’s salvation, David asked God to “sustain me with a willing spirit.” Sustaining anything requires a person to lean upon someone to uphold them. With this request, David asked God to be His support and strength, Him upon whom he lived and found his purpose. He wanted to live honorably as God’s child. David asked God to be his strength and support so he would continue to willingly and honorably live in His ways. David realized he needed God’s strength and undergirding to stay faithful to Him. He understood God could give him the power through His Spirit to continue to choose God’s ways and not his own. Do we sometimes forget or choose not to pray before going to work, school, ministry projects, vacation, or any other task or place we have on our agenda? How is your level of strength not to sin and to walk the way God wants you to walk – righteously – when you do not pray before beginning? We face choices each day to walk and follow God’s ways or follow the ways we consider wise. We should pray before endeavoring anything that we will walk with the strength and in the wisdom of God so we do not sin and He is glorified. Beginning without prayer can lead you away from God and Satan will take hold of part of your life. Beware! David understood this, though we each know he kept relearning certain lessons just as we each do during our lives.


With verse thirteen, David changed his prayer. He realized his faith in God required the heart and obedience. In Deuteronomy, Exodus, and Leviticus, God told the Israelites to teach their children and the foreigners who lived among them about Him and train them to follow Him and His ways. David understood he must show his love for God by his obedience to Him and His commands. He pledged to God in his prayer he would teach transgressors His ways. He meant he would train people to know God and His laws so they could recognize Him for themselves and have a relationship with Him. David understood every person on earth sinned against God and walked away from His ways. He wanted to show God his love and so told Him he would teach people about God and how He wanted them to live, not in sin and rebellion. Have you ever before read the Bible or heard in a sermon something new you had never encountered? When you found out you were doing or had done something contrary to God’s ways, did you seek His forgiveness and promise to walk in His strength, which enables you not to do that thing again? David wanted to make sure people knew God and His laws so they would not sin against Him and be cast out of His presence. He did not want them to be separated from God by sin and so pledged to teach transgressors God’s ways.

The final part of verse thirteen says, “Sinners will be converted to You.” David wanted people, transgressors, to hear about and understand God’s laws and God Himself so they would want to have a saving relationship with Him. By this they could have an intimate relationship with God by turning back to Him from their own ways. David experienced firsthand what life was like in the presence of God being sin-free. He understood how hard life was when he sought to satisfy himself and by it removed himself from an intimate relationship with God. David wanted transgressors to understand about God and His commands so they would realize His love for them, turn to Him for their salvation, and receive joyful intimacy.


What today are you trying to hide from God? Why do you hide it? It keeps you from a relationship with God and He already knows about it. He is waiting for you to give it up, confess it to Him, and accept His forgiveness.

God wants to love you every day and be in a close, intimate relationship with you.

What is keeping you from the joy of salvation?

Give it to God and let Him mold in you with a willing spirit.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Repentance then New Life: A Psalm 51:10 Devotional


David realized his sin and the guilt he carried because of it. He recognized God would not fellowship with Him in his state of sinfulness. In verses two, seven, and nine, David stated he was a sinner full of iniquity, transgressions, and guilt. He admitted (confessed) his sins to God and repented of them.

After his three confessions of sinfulness, David petitioned God to create a clean heart in him. He did not ask only for cleansing, but a re-creating of his heart. The Hebrew word translated as “create” means to transform, reshape, or re-form. Ezekiel used it in 18:31-32 recognizing a clean heart comes because of getting away from sins and includes confessing and repenting. He realized only when a person was no longer tainted by sins and the guilt of sins would God create a new heart in the person. Paul agreed with this and applied New Testament theology to it. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul taught  that when God creates a clean heart in a person, He creates that person in the image of Christ Jesus to do good works. He said we (Christians) are God’s workmanship. Without His cleansing and purification, He would not give us/create in us a new heart.

From this, we get the understanding that a clean heart comes from the forgiveness of God and His washing away our sins by the sacrificial blood shed by His sinless Jesus Christ. The heart David, Ezekiel, Paul, and others speak of is the inner being of each person. The mind, will, heart, and soul of a person that decides to act morally – according to God’s ways – or immorally is the inner being. From Paul’s earlier verse we recognize we can keep a clean heart by doing the good works of God. David added through Psalm 24:3-4 the one who has a pure heart and clean hands is the one who does not lie or swear deceitfully. Only those people, he said, could ascend the hill of the Lord. Luke stated in Acts 15:9 the pure in heart are the ones whom God cleansed their hearts because of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Jesus taught in the Beatitudes the promise of seeing God for those with a clean heart (Matthew 5:8). Why would anyone not want to have a clean heart or be created in Jesus’ image? David, though he did not know the Savior, knew from God’s prophets God would send a Messiah. He sought the only way of being cleansed from his evil actions and thoughts, through God’s love and mercy, through God’s re-creating his heart.


David asked God for a second thing in this Psalm 51:10. He requested God renew a right spirit within him. This request for renewal shows David recognized his tainted and sinful being. He realized his sinfulness and repented to God. David realized only God, the original Creator of his being, could renew – remake – his inner being/heart so he could stand strong and not sin, not be weighed down by the guilt of his sins, and see God. With a heart restored by and to God, God became primary in his life once again.

With God as primary and relying upon Him, David could withstand temptations and trials and continue to be in fellowship with God. The word “right” David used comes from the Hebrew word meaning to be in alignment with God, and persevering, enduring, and being established in God and His ways because of love for Him. David spoke of a steadfast or right spirit other times, like in Psalm 78:36-37. He said in these verses a steadfast heart does not speak deceit or lies, but is faithful to God’s covenant with him/her.

David asked God to create in him a clean heart. He requested further that God re-make and transform his inner being - his heart - so he would be right with God – in a right relationship with Him because of being cleansed from his sins - and stand strong for Him persevering in faith no matter what trials and temptations arose.  We each need to ask ourselves daily if we are in a right relationship with God. Is there sin blocking our relationship with God and leading us to fall more often to temptation? Is there any stain and sin in our past we need to confess and repent as David recognized in himself and repented of to God? Only then will God create a new heart and establish a right relationship with Him for us. Remember, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

v  Now is the time to confess and repent.
v  Now is the time to go before God seeking forgiveness and renewing.

God wants to be in a personal, intimate, and growing relationship with you.



Friday, March 18, 2016

Recognize Self, Desire Truth: A Psalm 51:5-6 Devotional


David, after admitting his sins and repenting of them in Psalm 51:1-4, admitted in no way could he ever be anything but a sinner, a person who chooses his own way in rebellion to God’s will. He stated this in two ways.

First, David said he was born in sin, “in iniquity.” He understood, with the sin of Adam and Eve, humankind’s makeup was altered so they/we could no longer meet with God without an intermediary. Our will became tainted with self-desire instead of a desire for God. Adam and Eve, our descendants, followed their own will instead of being obedient to God. Each person is born into a sinful, disobedient being.

Second, David said his mother was sinful and so he inherited sin through her. His nature was no better than the one who gave him birth. As sinners, his mother and father conceived him. His DNA came from them and he was a born sinner.

David acknowledged all humankind was changed with the fall in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve. He was a sinner in that rite. David recognized he was a sinner because of who his parents were, too. He did not let this keep him away from a relationship with the God whom he had come to know and love and who, he realized, loved him.

David acknowledged God wants to be in a relationship with each person. He said, “Behold You desire truth in the innermost being.” In this verse he meant God desires we know His truth so we can correctly know Him to the depths of our soul, the part of us that communes directly with Him. When we correctly know God, then we will desire to be faithful and always commune with Him, be in His presence. We will not want to rebel and choose a way contrary to His.

Besides this, David said God would make him know wisdom when he repented and lived in relationship with Him. God would enable David to understand how to use the truth God gave Him to act and speak in the world. By opening his secret hidden place - his innermost being - to God, David stated God would purify and empower him by the Holy Spirit to know His will and think, speak, and enact it in the world. His faith in God would be visible. Nothing would be hidden from God or humankind. David would come to be known as a man after God’s heart.

That is the testimony to this day of David’s life. What keeps God from cleansing you and implanting His truth and wisdom in you? What keeps you from having a close relationship that is visibly lived out in the world? I encourage you to do as David did in the first four verses of Psalm 51 –

v  Recognize you are a sinner
v  Realize God is great and compassionate to remove your sins and the stain of your sins (your guilt) from you
v  Repent of your sins one by one
v  Then believe in the Messiah David had faith God would send to redeem each person who believed by faith in Him.

Live by faith in the world with the truth and wisdom of God.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Communing begins with Repentance: A Psalm 51:1-4 Devotional


David, the man God said was “after His own heart,” was a human who sinned, as all do. He was a shepherd who stood up in faith and slew Goliath with the power of God. David was the armor-bearer and soother of King Saul’s heart. He was faithful to his best friend, Jonathan, and cared for his one remaining family member, Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. Though he walked as a man of God, he remained a sinful man. David recognized his sinfulness and wrote/sang of it in many of his psalms. Psalm 51 teaches us how sinful humankind can approach Elohiym God, the one true God. The first four verses speak of sin and God’s righteousness.

David recognized righteous God cannot be in the presence of sin. Solomon, Paul, James, Peter, Luke, and John understood this, too, and wrote about it (Proverbs 15:29, 1 Timothy 2:8, James 4:3 & 5:15-17, 1 Peter 3:12, Acts 10:2, & 1John 5:14-15). God taught this to Job’s friends in Job 42:8. Besides this, Solomon, Jesus, and Peter each taught God considers abominable and will not answer the prayers of an unrighteous person (Proverbs 28:9, Matthew 23:14, & 1 Peter 3:12).

David’s first statement in this prayer of Psalm 51 shows he recognized God would only listen to and answer the prayer of a righteous person. He noted he was not righteous; he rebelled and sinned against God. David’s knowledge of his sinfulness brought guilt to his consciousness. Because of this knowledge, he began his prayer seeking God’s forgiveness. When approaching God, if we genuinely want to commune with Him – pray effectively, we must ask God to show our sins to us and then with genuine confession and repentance seek His forgiveness.

David pleaded with God to be gracious to him and show him favor according to His lovingkindness (love and mercy) and compassion. He realized God wanted to be in a relationship with Him because of his history with Him. God wants to be in a relationship and share His love with every person.

David recognized his sin and guilt. He wanted a renewed relationship with God and understood his sin kept him separated from Him. David asked God with His lovingkindness and compassion to blot out his transgressions. He entreated God to wipe out - completely obliterate - his transgressions (rebellion) against Him, to wash the guilt of his sins thoroughly (as much as needed and continually) from him, and to purify him completely (physically and morally) from sin.

David realized he was unrighteous because of his sin and guilt and knew God could not be where sin is. He wanted to be in God’s presence and commune with Him so he began his prayer asking God to wash away his sins and guilt of sins. David recognized his sin was against God; it was rebellion against God and His righteousness. He knew sin is evil and because God is Elohiym, the true God, the One who is righteous, He is blameless and justified to pass judgment on a person because of his or her sin.

What can we learn from David in Psalm 51:1-4?
When we seek to be with God, to commune with Him through prayer, we must realize God cannot be in the presence of sin and the guilt of sin. The Bible says repeatedly God will not listen to the prayers of an unrighteous - a sinful - person. Read the Bible verses noted in paragraph two. Because of this, when a person seeks God in prayer and quiet, he or she must first confess and repent of sin so God can thoroughly wash and blot out that person’s sin. We must ask God to show to us the ways we have rebelled and sinned against Him so we can confess and repent. John told us in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Once God makes a person clean from his or her sin, He will commune with the person – hear and answer his or her prayer.

How is your prayer life? Are your prayers to God blocked by your sin?

Seek God’s Forgiveness First.

Friday, March 11, 2016

PRAYER (part 3): When, What, and Expectations



Introduction

This Bible study series began as an earnest endeavor to understand what exactly the Bible says concerning praying and the pray-er. This study, using the New American Standard translation of the Bible, found one hundred thirty-two Scripture passages that spoke on the pray-er, and praying, calling out, petitioning, supplicating, asking, and requesting from God.

Ø  The first part of this Bible study series covered three areas.
·                     What is prayer?
·                     What do we do when we pray?
·                     How do we/are we supposed to pray?
Ø  The second part of the series covered what the Bible teaches on the pray-er – the person who prays. What the Bible teaches is expected of the pray-er.
·                     Righteousness
·                     Belief
·                     Prayer in Solitude
·                     Watchfulness and Alertness
·                     Ceaseless Prayer
·                     Fervency and Enthusiasm
·                     Approaching God
·                     Self-Control
·                     Love of People
·                     Acknowledge and Love Jesus
·                     Praying in Agreement
Through this series we learned something greater occurs in prayer than just giving God a wish list - a “gimme” list – or asking for His help. Prayer is a way of growing to know God better by being in a continual close relationship with Him. You may have prayed, when you first learned of it, as a rote discipline. Over time and with deeper devotion, prayer becomes an everyday desire or irresistible urge to be with the Lord. Through it Christians mature in their relationship with God and grow more Christlike.

In part three of this series, we will try to understand three teachings from the Bible. The first addresses when we should pray – morning, night, any time, and/or ceaselessly. The second addresses our expectations for God answer our prayers. Is it too much to ask God to listen to and answer our small human prayers when He is so great and busy keeping the created universe in order. Is God imminent and transcendent? The final part of today’s study shows us what the Bible says happens when we pray? We have each heard of God providing a person his or her necessities, but more than physical help occurs when God enters a situation with a person. Remember, prayer affects the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual part of a person if a genuine relationship/communion with God exists. A person is changed in these areas when God is part of a person’s life. Let us begin our study now.

When Should We Pray


Night and Day.

Old Testament 

First, we should consider the occurrences in the Bible that speak specifically on prayer and when it should occur. The first time the New American Standard translation of the Bible records prayer at a specific time of day is in Nehemiah. Nehemiah 1:6 states, “Let Your (God’s) ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for Your servants, the people of Israel.” Notice here Nehemiah stated he prayed day and night to God. David, in Psalm 5:3, declared the LORD listened to his prayers in the morning when he prayed to Him. Other places in the Old Testament we note people praying at different times of day. Hannah went to the temple during the day and cried out to the LORD for a child. Jacob communed with God through a dream at night. Daniel prayed to the LORD God in the mornings to stand strong and not eat the food from the king’s table and got down on his knees three times a day to pray and give thanks before God before being thrown in the lion’s den. Abraham arose early and went to the place where he met with the LORD before (Genesis 19:27). Moses approached God and stayed in His presence on Mount Sinai forty days. He communed with God day and night. Do these people contradict what teachers taught us in the past – to rise early and begin our days with devotion, Bible study, and prayer? They do not.

New Testament 

Consider the New Testament teachings of Jesus and Paul. Jesus modeled prayer at  different times of day. He rose early and went to the garden to pray (Mark 1:35-38, Luke 4:42-43). Jesus prayed at night, too. After he fed the 5000 people on the hillside, Matthew recorded Jesus went to a mountainside to pray by Himself (Matthew 14:23). The next verse records this happened at night. Even Paul prayed at night. When he was in Athens, but could not get away to Thessalonika, he sent Timothy to encourage and teach the people. When Timothy returned and gave a report to Paul, 1 Thessalonians 3:10 records, “Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.” For Paul, prayer was not only a morning or only a night time occurrence. Prayer was a natural outflow of his faith in God. Because of that, it occurred any time of the day or night. Remember, we learned in the first part of this series, prayer is more than a “gimme” list. It is praising, rejoicing, adoring and exalting God, thanking Him, confessing and repenting, and petitioning God for help. Many times in Paul’s writing, we read of his imprisonment, but yet he rejoiced and sang praises to God. His circumstances did not dictate when he prayed or what he prayed. He prayed because of His close relationship with God, just as Jesus modeled for the disciples. Prayer is part of building and being in a relationship with God.

Ceaselessly. 

Several Scripture passages in the Bible speak on praying ceaselessly. We touched on these in the second part of this prayer series. Luke 18:1 records Jesus instructed the people to pray always and not give up hope. God hears the prayers of His children who cry out ceaselessly day and night. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Christians are to pray at all times, without ceasing. Paul added to this by modeling unceasing and faithful prayer in Colossians 1:9.

Dedicate a Time for Prayer.

The Bible teaches two other things regarding prayer and when it should happen. First, it says, through Luke’s writing in Acts 10:9, we are with intent to dedicate a time for prayer. People become so busy with their lives, schedules, work, sports, and hobbies they often forget to schedule time with God into their lives. Because of this, many Bible teachers teach people to begin their days with prayer and Bible reading. By doing this, making God the first part of each day, it becomes hard to forget your personal quiet time with God. He is the first priority of a person’s day. This teaching is a great way to begin your Christian discipline of prayer. We notice that as we grow, our prayer life grows. It becomes a continual, ceaseless stream of communion with the Lord throughout the day as Jesus, Paul, and James taught (Matthew 14:23, 1 Thessalonians 3:10, Ephesians 6:18, and James 5:13).

Pray before Service. 

The second thing we must note as we finish this section on prayer is before going out to serve the Lord, we must pray. Luke records this occurring in Acts 13:1-3. The disciples laid their hands upon Barnabas and Saul setting them apart for the service of the Lord, asking God’s blessing and anointing on them for the power of the Holy Spirit to work through them while keeping them safe, too. Before Jesus sent His disciples out to minister, He taught them, prayed over them, and empowered them to do His work. Jesus empowered them with His authority (Mark 6:7 and Luke 10:1). Praying before going out appears like an obvious thing to do, but people leave their homes each morning to face the world in their jobs and daily life without praying for God to use them and fill them with His Spirit so they can be an effective witness for Him to the people with whom they come in contact. Yes, every Christian is a witness and minister for the Lord. Jesus did not tell a few disciples – Christians – to go into all the world proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). He commanded every Christian do this. That means every Christian, each morning before they begin their day, should pray for God to guide their steps, make them aware of where He is working, and empower them to speak a positive witness for Him into the situations they face that day.

From these examples and Bible verses, we learn prayer can and should occur during good times and difficult times. Prayer is not limited to either morning or night, but should and can occur ceaselessly. To be equipped in full by the Lord for the day, prayer should begin the day. Prayer comes from being in a close, personal relationship with God. The Bible teaches people should persevere in prayer.  This perseverance in prayer is ceaseless praying which comes from and builds a greater relationship with God and grows the pray-er into greater Christlikeness.

Should We Expect Answered Prayer

Along with continual prayer and perseverance in prayer, God’s Word teaches He will listen to and answer prayer. Yet we each have known of a person whose prayer went unanswered and questions arose of God’s faithfulness or the rightness of the pray-er. Should we expect God to answer prayer? The answer is yes. Should we expect Him to answer everything we call prayer? No. The Bible teaches God hears the prayers of a righteous person, but of the unrighteous and abominable to God He condemns, turns His face away, and does not answer (Proverbs 28:9, Jeremiah 7:16, Jeremiah 11:14, Lamentations 3:8, Matthew 23:14, and 1 Peter 3:12). Why is that? From the Bible, we read, too, of people who are righteous requesting God’s help and none appears to come in time, according to human standards. Let’s review what we have learned.


In Psalm 5:3, David expected God to answer His prayer because God earlier answered him. In Exodus 32:1-14, the Israelites made a golden calf while Moses communed with God. When Moses descended from the mountain, he saw the abomination of the Israelites worshipping a manmade god while at the base of God’s mountain where His presence rested. He understood God could not allow the people to go unpunished and went before Him pleading for the lives of the Israelites. By doing this, Moses showed he expected God to listen to and answer him. He did not assume to perceive what God’s answer would be, but he believed God would answer. Another example of a person expecting God to answer was Hannah. She went before the LORD in 1 Samuel 1 crying out to Him because she had no children. God attended her cry and recognized her heart for Him. He promised her a child before she returned to the temple for the festival the following year.

Each of these people had a relationship with God. They each trusted Him to be faithful to them and to His character of faithfulness and love. Each person had a heart for God and sought Him and His will. This showed God their righteousness, their choosing His way over their own way, and, by that, not sinning against Him. Because of their understanding of God and their relationship with Him, they expected He would answer their prayers. They did not realize in what way God would answer, but they believed He would. We each can expect God to answer our prayers if we are in a right relationship with Him. The way God answer prayers may not be the way we think it ought to be answered, but God, in His sovereignty, always knows what is best for us. Because of this, He may answer our prayers with a “No.”


Still, we each have heard of at least one person for whom God did not answer his or her prayers though he or she was righteous before Him. How can that be? Pastors, ministers, and teachers of the Bible speak of instances like these. When God does not answer a prayer, they say, we must understand our timing is not God’s timing. He knows when best to answer prayer. Job’s time of trial by Satan speaks of this. Job was a devout and faithful man of God. Satan challenged God and said Job was only faithful because God blessed him (Job 1:9-10). He asked God for permission to put him to the test. Satan began the trials by killing his cattle, children, and wife. Before her death, she advised Job to curse God and die (Job 2:9). He destroyed his crops and his wealth. When it appeared Job had nothing left to lose, his friends advised him God was punishing him and that he must repent and ask forgiveness. Job explained he was innocent and had done nothing wrong against God or His Law. He explained to his friends he misunderstood the reason God tested him, but he refused to speak against Him. Job said, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless, I will argue my ways before Him” (Job 13:15). Job chose to continue his relationship with God. He did not give up on God; he was faithful to Him. If the trials he was going through were not his own fault because of sin, then he implied they were God’s fault. This thinking meant Job judged God and His power and the rightness of His actions though he did not mean to imply that. God chastised Job on this in Job 40:8. Job realized his error in judging God in Job 42:1-6. He admits aloud God is almighty and nothing and no one can thwart Him. Job understood better now. He had a deeper relationship with and appreciation of God after this season of trial. The purpose of God allowing Job to be tried was to bring him into a closer relationship with Him. Job knew how he wanted God to answer His prayers, but God knew best. He knew Job needed to grow more. Later God restored Job and gave him more children with a new wife, more cattle, more grain, and more wealth than he had before the time of trial. God not answering your prayers now may be His driving you to deepen your relationship with Him. God is still God – almighty, faithful, and loving. He will provide your needs. At the time He does not answer your prayer, your greater need may be for spiritual growth – growth in your relationship with Him. Stay faithful to Him and grow from your situation. God will always be faithful to you.

It could be, too, that God’s answer is negative. When you do not receive a different word from God, you continue doing what He last told you. Though a person prays and thinks he or she needs God to answer in a particular way, God knows best and may not answer the prayer or may answer it in a way completely different than the pray-er thought or requested. We need to realize God knows best and when He does not answer that non-answer is the best way for the need of which we spoke to Him in prayer to be met.

Yet that is not always the lesson when God initially says no or does not answer. Jesus taught the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8. In this parable a man was taking advantage of a widow. Widows in the first century had no rights, but God told the Israelites from the beginning of Him calling them His nation they were to take care of the widows, orphans, and foreigners. In this parable, the judge refused to listen to her case and rule in her favor. The widow persistently sought the judge’s intervention in her case. Finally, in exasperation, the judge attended to the widow and ruled in her favor because, as he said, “Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out” (Luke 18:4b-5). In this parable, Jesus taught people persistence, earnestness, and faith in prayer. He assured the people God will be gracious to them. Keep the faith. God is just, unlike that judge. He loves His people and will avenge the unjust person while giving what is needed. While the person, the widow in this case, is waiting for God’s answer and action, this waiting causes the person to persevere and grow in faith, too, while growing in his or her prayer life and relationship with God. God’s seeming delayed answer is not necessarily a “No.”


If a person is not a believer, but sincerely seeks the Lord, God said that seeker will find Him. God wants every person to come to know Him through the redemption He provided through His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:4-6). In Jeremiah 29:13, when God spoke to the Israelites, He told them if they turned from their wicked ways and sought Him with their whole heart, He would be found by them. God wants all people to come to Him and become His child. He will draw near to the person and listen to him or her. If what that saved person seeks does not come from selfish motives (James 3), but seeks to help someone or themselves in genuine need, and God knows in the person’s heart He will receive the glory, God will answer the prayer. Seeking God and His will is a primary reason God will answer prayer.

Besides righteousness, persistence, fervency, and faith, the Bible teaches what is expected and required of the person who prays. We learned these things in part two of this prayer study series. The attributes, actions, and attitudes of a pray-er whom God will heed and answer includes the eleven attributes listed in the introduction of this Bible study. What God seeks in a person is a genuine relationship with Him that shows itself in faithfulness, righteousness, love, and obedience. Jesus summed it up with the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:36-40. Should we expect God to answer our prayers? Yes. Can we expect Him to answer them? That depends are your relationship with Him and your genuineness to be with Him and His divine will. It depends, too, on His purpose for the pray-er. Will a “no” answer or a delayed answer to prayer grow the pray-er stronger in his or her faith and relationship with the Lord? If so, then that may be the answer to a prayer. In answer to prayer God can say yes, provide what is requested, say no, say wait, or delay and answer. This leads to what happens when a person prays.

What Happens When We Pray

What then happens when people pray? This carries over from our last topic. Yes, we can expect answers to prayers. The Bible, in forty-eight verses, repeatedly tells people God hears, and answers or helps people because of their prayers.

Growth of Relationship with God. 

Foremost, when people pray to God, as stated in the first part of this series on prayer, the pray-er grows in his or her relationship with God and grows more Christlike. Prayer begins as a discipline a believer is taught to do. Over time that discipline becomes a desire to be in God’s presence and know Him better. Prayer is one way to do that. To prayer, add Bible study, meditation/reflection on the Word, and listening to biblical teaching. These each add to our relationship and communion with the Lord. These help us know God better and grow more like Jesus Christ. From this growth in relationship and Christlikeness, we bear spiritual fruit that fruit that gives testimony and glory to God. Relationship growth with God and personal spiritual growth are the most important results from praying.

God’s Intervention. 

As a secondary result, prayer brings God’s intervention in a person’s or a group of people’s lives. This occurs when the people have a relationship with God. Because the people of the Bible had a relationship with God, they expected to experience God answer their prayers. David begged God to listen to his cry and prayer in 1 Kings 8:28. He prayed for Jerusalem in Psalm 122:6. David would not have expected it nor pleaded for it from God if He did not believe God heeded and answered prayer. He believed the LORD is near to everyone who calls upon Him in truth (Psalm 145:18). David had a close relationship with God.

Daniel believed God cared for His people and prayed to Him for the sin of the Israelites (Daniel 9:20). He prayed for the people to be released from bondage to their captors and to sin. Daniel’s relationship with God was a growing and genuine relationship with God.

Jesus taught that the Father who is in heaven will give good gifts (Matthew 7:11, Luke 11:13); so expect to have God answer prayers. He expressed this again in Mark 11:24 when He said, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you.” Jesus taught His disciples to ask from the Father in His name and He would do what they ask so the Father would be glorified through the Son (John 14:13). He even said because He chose you to be His disciples, whatever you ask of the Father in His name He would give to you (John 15:16, 16:26). When a person asks for something of God in Jesus’ name, it shows the faith and relationship of the pray-er and Jesus. Their relationship shows a growing trust and understanding that leads to greater love of God and other people, and obedience to God. Jesus taught a believer who genuinely seeks God and His will can expect God to attend to and answer his or her prayers.

James said a prayer offered in faith (by a person who trusts in Jesus) can restore a sick person (James 5:15-16) so do not doubt, but believe and pray to God for the sick person. Added to these verses, the person from whom prayers for healing are made must seek forgiveness for sins, too.  He added the person who prays to God must ask in faith without doubting for the doubting person should expect to receive nothing from God (James 1:5-7). In addition, James taught a person who prays should do so with fervency and enthusiasm for the Lord and His will, and God will answer – that for which the person prays will happen (James 5:17).

Each of these people expressed God hears the prayers of the pray-er. Besides these, other people throughout the Bible in a multitude of Scripture passages expressed God hears prayers. Consider these verses –

·         Job 22:25-27
·         Psalm 18:6, 65:2, 66:20, 102:17, 118:5
·         Proverbs 15:29
·         Jeremiah 29:12
·         Luke 3:21
·         Acts 10:31
·         2 Corinthians 1:11
·         1 Peter 3:7, 12
·         1 John 5:14-15

God’s Love. 

Believing God hears our prayers shows great faith and trust in Him, and depth of relationship with Him. God does more than hear prayers; He answers them. If that were not so, the people who prayed would not expect it so readily. Their relationship with the Father had grown to such maturity they knew because of God’s love for them, He would intervene.

God’s intervention is part of relationship. In a relationship of two people, helping, being with, guiding/teaching, and encouraging is part of a growing relationship. That is community and care. The relationship people have with God and He with them is no different. The relationship of one person to another is based on the perfect relationship God offers people. God wants to help people because He loves them. That explains how the people could have such faith in God that He would answer their prayers (a part of communing with Him). God helps people because of His love for them and because of their relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. He helps/answers because of our prayers to Him and because they are in alignment with His will. Consider the following eighteen verses –
·         Job 22:25-27
·         Psalm 66:20, 118:5
·         Daniel 2:23, 9:20
·         Matthew 7:11, 21:22
·         Mark 11:24
·         Luke 11:13
·         John 14:13, 15:16, 16:26
·         Acts 10:31
·         2 Corinthians 1:11
·         James 1:5-7, James 5:16-17
·         1 Peter 3:12
·         1 John 5:14-15

What God Does. 

How or in what way does God answer prayer? There are a myriad of ways we ask for prayer to be answered and God often answers and helps us in ways we could not conceive of ourselves. First Timothy 4:5 tells us God sanctifies every created thing by His Word and prayer. He heals people, too, as James 5:15 states. God makes life occur in Genesis 20:7. He forgives because of prayer (James 5:15). God provided a king for the Israelites because of their petitioning Him. He gave children to Sarah and Hannah because of their prayers. A host of instances exist throughout the Bible that tell how God answered the prayers of the righteous who called out to Him.

These are just a few examples of what happens when we pray. The important thing to remember is God seeks to be in a close love relationship with each person. He created each person because He wants to share His love with them. Because of His love, God provided a way for sinful people to return to a right relationship with Him. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live as a man and be tempted, though not sin. God allowed Jesus to be persecuted and crucified as the payment/substitution for our sin death penalty due. He did not stop with Jesus’ crucifixion. God resurrected Jesus to life again because as part of the Godhead, death has no power over Jesus. By rising from the dead, Jesus defeated death. By dying on the cross an innocent man, He paid the price for the sins of all humankind. God calls to each person his or her whole life hoping he or she will accept His gift of grace to have his/her sins washed clean and being given eternal life in His kingdom. God does not stop calling people because He wants no one to be lost permanently. This love of God, this desire to love us so deeply, is why we pray. We pray to be in a growing and close relationship with the God of love, mercy, and grace. We pray to commune with – be in the presence – of God.

Recap 

Prayer is an active part of intentionally seeking God and growing closer to Him. Through it we come into the presence of God. When we come to Him in prayer we recognize –

Ø  God is to be revered
Ø  God’s mercy
Ø  God exists
Ø  God’s power
Ø  God’s faithfulness
Ø  God is almighty
Ø  God deserves all the glory and praise

Added to these, prayer involves every facet of relationship we expect with one other – adoration (reserved exclusively for God). We can remember these things by using the acronym,  A.C.T.S. (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication). When we petition, we request God’s help for ourselves and other people, including the people who persecute us.

The Bible teaches people who pray have expectations that God will listen to their prayers. The primary requirement is the person will be righteous – be in a right relationship with God - which comes by continual confession and repentance of sin, being cleansed from sins daily and fulfilling the Greatest Commandment as taught by Jesus to His disciples. The other ten attributes, actions, and attitudes of a person whose prayers God listens to include –
·                     Belief
·                     Prayer in Solitude
·                     Watchfulness and Alertness
·                     Ceaseless Prayer
·                     Fervency and Enthusiasm
·                     Approaching God
·                     Self-Control
·                     Love of People
·                     Acknowledge and Love Jesus
·                     Praying in Agreement
Prayer, to be a conduit to a growing relationship with God, should occur regularly each day, ceaselessly as Jesus and Paul stated. It can occur during the day or night. Prayer can be voiced by one’s self or in conjunction with other people. The main point of prayer though is communion with God, not seeking self-importance and showmanship, like the Pharisees.
As in any loving relationship between people, we can expect that God wants to answer our hearts’ cries. If we are in a true and sincere relationship with God, then our will is aligned with His will. We will pray for that which God already knows and agrees with us. Therefore, He desires to answer the prayer requested, or the need voiced. When God answers prayer healing happens, salvation and sanctification occurs, forgiveness is given, life is given, and love is shared from Him to the people who call to His heart.

Relevance and Conclusion

            Each person on earth must decide for him or herself if he or she will accept God’s love gift - grace and mercy given through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. When a person accepts Jesus Christ, prayer is a conduit available to connect God’s heart to each person’s, so that person grows in his or her love relationship with Him. The person’s dedication to God shows in the fruits of the person’s actions, attitudes, and attributes. We each must stop and determine the depth of our relationship with God if we have one. We must assess whether we are in a genuine and growing relationship with God and are becoming more Christlike. If the result of our assessments shows we are not Christians or have not grown beyond infancy in Christ, earnest and fervent prayer to God can bring salvation and growth so we become united with the Father and He can lavish His love upon us as we live to love and obey Him.

It comes down to love:
            Will you accept His?
            Will you give Him yours?
Prove it. Pray.