Since yesterday we discussed the foolishness of attempting to bribe God, and how bribery will neither sway His heart nor move heaven on our behalf, today I wanted to discuss some principles to which we must adhere in order for our prayers to not only be heard but also be answered.
As simplistic as the following might sound, even before we get started, I must point out the fact that in order for God to answer our prayers, we must be men and women of prayer. Throughout the Bible we see the true warriors of the faith, those whose sandals we are unworthy to carry, spend more time in prayer and communion with God than anything else. Prayer builds the relationship between ourselves and Him, and it is not a once a week prayer I am referring to, it is not the prayer of desperation that we utter when we can’t see ourselves out of a problem, but consistent, perpetual and heartfelt prayer as that of the saints of old. Through prayer, we are not only communing and fellowshipping with God, we are worshiping Him. An individual absent a prayer life is an individual absent fellowship with God, and an individual absent fellowship with God is an individual absent power. We must acknowledge the interconnectedness of our spiritual journey, and the fact that omitting one thing from our spiritual lives has a domino effect which extends to the entirety of our spiritual lives. Absence of prayer weakens a soul, a weakened soul becomes more susceptible to enemy attacks, and once the enemy sees the cracks, once he sees that we are susceptible because of our neglect of prayer, then his attacks intensify and increase in frequency until we either return to our prayer lives in earnest, or he overtakes us.
So is it that we can move heaven? What are the necessary ingredients that lead to answered prayers from God?
The first two ingredients necessary to move heaven with our prayers are passion and godly fear. A prayer is a plea, an imploration, a supplication and as such it must be done from the depths of one’s heart, with passion and pathos. Too often there is no life in our prayers; there is no passion in our prayers; there is no groaning in our prayers. We say the words, but our hearts are not moved, we speak the prayers, but it is mechanical and lifeless.
As Paul speaks of Christ, and His time in the flesh, he describes the way in which Jesus prayed, and if Jesus prayed in such a way, then we likewise ought to pray as Jesus prayed.
Hebrews 5:7-8, “Who, in the days of His flesh when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
I often hear murmuring among the children of God, because although they pray with tears, although the offer up supplications with vehement cries, their prayers are not answered, and heaven is not moved on their behalf.
Well, why is it that God answered Christ’s prayers?
Was it because he had offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears? No it was not! God answered Him, because of His godly fear. Yes, Paul tells us that He was heard because of His godly fear. We must possess godly fear in our hearts, we must walk in righteousness and holiness unto God, we must be passionate in our pleas, and He will hear us, He will answer us, and He will intervene.
The third ingredient necessary to move heaven with our prayers is that we make our appeal to God in accordance to His will.
I have preached many sermons on Elijah over the years, and his victory on Mount Carmel over the prophets of Baal, of how we ought to expect of our God more than the world expects of its gods, of how we are to rebuild the altar of worship before we can bring pleasing sacrifice to the Father, but today I want to focus on the specificity of Elijah’s prayer, and see why God answered it in such a dramatic manner.
In case you don’t know, there was a bull on an altar, soaked in water, with water running all around it, and after Elijah prayed, the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
So what sort of prayer was it that brought down the fire of God? It was a prayer in accordance with God’s will.
1 Kings 18:36, “And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.”
What Elijah did, he did at God’s word, he did in accordance with God’s will. He wasn’t just taking a shot in the dark and hoping it worked out, He wasn’t presuming to know the mind of God, going off on his own confronting the prophets of Baal. What Elijah did, he did because God had told him to do it, and because he knew he was doing it in accordance with the will of God, he was bold and courageous and certain of the outcome before the first pitcher of water was poured upon the offering. Walk in the will of God; be in accordance with the will of God, and your prayers will move heaven.
So what is an example of a prayer in accordance with God’s will? Glad you asked!
After being released by Annas and Caiaphas, Peter and John return to their companions, and report all that the chief priest and elders had said to them. In essence, what the chief priests and elders had said, in fact what they had commanded Peter and John to do, was not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus. If they could just keep from doing that, if they could just keep from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus, then all would be well, and no further hardship need be visited upon them. When those who were gathered heard of the threat, when they heard that the only way by which they could keep the peace is be silent concerning Jesus, rather than acquiesce they began to pray.
Acts 4:29-30, “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
This was the essence of their prayer, that God would grant them boldness so they might speak His word. Their prayer was not selfish, it was not ‘Lord spare us hardship’ it was not, ‘Lord forgive us for keeping silent but we don’t want to suffer’, it was not, ‘Lord bless us in spite of our unwillingness to serve you with our whole hearts, and tell others about you’, it was ‘Lord give us boldness to do what must be done!’
Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
Instant answer to a selfless plea! It didn’t take weeks or months, but when they had prayed, the place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Because they had been filled with the Holy Spirit, they now spoke the word of God with boldness, just as they had prayed the Lord would grant them. Yes, this was a prayer in accordance with the will of God, and as such God answered it instantaneously.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.