Public prayer that He hears and answers

public prayer that He hears and answers

The first serious conflict, that really affected me, was between Paul and Barnabas. These two changed the world as God called them to be missionaries to the world. They did amazing things together and their bond was strong and that went quite a few years back when Barnabas became a friend of Paul when he was known as Saul.

Here is what happened —

Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in every town where we preached the word of the Lord, and let us find out how they are getting along.” Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them, but Paul did not think it was right to take him, because he had not stayed with them to the end of their mission, but had turned back and left them in Pamphylia. There was a sharp argument, and they separated: Barnabas took Mark and sailed off for Cyprus, while Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the care of the Lord’s grace. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. – Acts 15:36-41  GNT

I also struggled with the church’s response to the conflict. It seems that they favoured Paul and that all of a sudden Barnabas was of no concern as he left with his nephew to Cyprus. There was no prayer, no sending off, nothing. When Paul left, he was sent with prayers and blessing. Remember, they knew Barnabas much longer than Paul. I am thankful that Paul, in the midst of the disagreement and contention allowed the church to love him and pray for him.

Their prayer was to follow-up with the churches they had met and their prayer was similar to that of Jeremiah’s —

I will give them the desire to know that I am the Lord. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God, because they will return to me with all their heart. – Jeremiah 24:7  GNT

There is a boldness that blind Bartimaeus teaches me about prayer. He also teaches me to pray God sized prayers that I can believe in by faith knowing that He will hear and answer them.

 They came to Jericho, and as Jesus was leaving with his disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”

Many of the people scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called the blind man. “Cheer up!” they said. “Get up, he is calling you.”

So he threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

“Teacher,” the blind man answered, “I want to see again.”

“Go,” Jesus told him, “your faith has made you well.”

At once he was able to see and followed Jesus on the road. – Mark 10:46-52  GNT

I pray that my prayer walk with God will be evident when I pray with others so that my confidence and boldness, even in the midst of contention, will encourage others to know that God does in fact hear and answer prayer.

Prayer is not simply petition, but strenuous petition.  It is not just passive surrender but active pleading with God.  It involves not only submission to the will of God but seeking to change his will.  It consists not merely in reflection on the promises of God but in taking hold of those promises (cf. Isaiah 64:7).  It is often said by those who are attracted to mystical or to philosophical prayer that our petitions change our attitude toward God but that they have no real effect upon God, who is unchangeable and impassible.   My contention is that prayer does effect a change in God’s attitude to us and in his dealings with us. Prayer is reciprocal: it has a definite impact on both parties involved.  That God permits prayer to exert an influence on him is attested throughout the Scriptures (Abraham’s bargaining for Sodom – Genesis 18:22-33;  Nineveh’s repentance after Jonah’s preaching – Jonah 3:10; Moses’ intercession after Israel’s idolatry – Psalm 106:2; the staying of the plague when Phinehas prayed – Psalm 106:30; Amos stopping the judgment of God from falling on Israel – Amos 7:1-6).  In this light we can understand Spurgeon’s contention that “prayer is able to prevail with heaven and bend omnipotence to its desires.”  Prayer in the sense of striving with God in order to alter his ways with his people is utter nonsense to the philosopher… Against the philosophical understanding of prayer Karl Barth insisted that real prayer presupposes a living God who hears and acts – “He is not deaf, he listens; more than that, he acts.  He does not act in the same way whether we pray or not.  Prayer exerts an influence upon God’s action, even upon his existence.  This is what the word ‘answer’ means.”  Christian faith, to be sure, affirms the essential trustworthiness of God’s declared will and purpose for the world; God cannot deny or contradict himself.  Yet Scripture makes clear that God has chosen to work out his purposes in cooperation with his children. His ultimate will is inflexible, but the ways by which he seeks to implement this will are flexible.  He does not change his final purpose, but he does alter his methods for realizing this purpose. He is unchangeable in his holiness and righteousness, but changeable in the giving of his grace.  Prayer, as Fosdick observed, cannot change God’s intention, but it can change God’s action. – Donald Bloesch

 

God does not leave me when I pray even when my prayers are not answered the way I expect them to be

god does not leave me even when he does not answer my prayer the way I expect him to

On the theology side, I know God is omnipresence which means He is always near me. However, I believe not only is He near me, He is also there to sympathize with me and to give me favour. When I pray and confess His name, God does not leave me alone to battle the world, He is by my side. Formal prayers or false professions will never bring me to the relationship that God wants to have with me. To pray with true professions means I need a true heart marked by humility and with passion – anything else would make prayer a lie.  

He is near to those who call to him,
    who call to him with sincerity.
He supplies the needs of those who honor him;
    he hears their cries and saves them. – Psalm 145:18-19  GNT

I believe that there are unlimited answers to my prayers that come from the riches of God’s grace that comes in Jesus. From my desire to pray, coming out of my expression of need, I find what makes a genuine and effective prayer.

God’s people are a praying people, a generation of seekers, and such commonly are speeders. God never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain. They seek his face, righteousness and strength, and he is found of them … The saints alone betake themselves to God and his help, run to him as their sanctuary; others fly from God’s presence, run to the rocks, and the tops of the ragged rocks, call to the hills and the mountains; but a child of God goes only and tells his Father, and before him lays open his cause; as good Hezekiah did, when Rabshakeh came out against him; “O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me”; or the Church ( Isaiah 33:2 ), “Be thou our arm every morning, and our salvation in time of trouble.” They only sensibly need, and so alone crave and implore divine succour; and God will not suffer his people to lose the precious treasure of their prayers. “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him; he will fulfil their desire, he will hear their cry”, etc. That God who prepares his people’s heart to pray, prepares also his own ear to hear; and he that promises to hear before we call, will never deny to hearken when we cry unto him. As Calvin saith: “Oppressions and afflictions make man cry, and cries and supplications make God hear.” –F. E., in “The Saint’s Ebenezer”, 1667.

Definition of prayer – “call to Him“; variety in prayer – “call, cries, honour“; essential characteristic of prayer – “sincerity“; where is God when I pray? – “near“; assured success of prayer – “supplies, hears, saves.

The story of the blind men being healed give me an illustration about how to pray. There are a number of truths I have gleaned from what looks like a simple account of what took place with Jesus.

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd was following. Two blind men who were sitting by the road heard that Jesus was passing by, so they began to shout, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”

The crowd scolded them and told them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”

Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked them.

“Sir,” they answered, “we want you to give us our sight!”

Jesus had pity on them and touched their eyes; at once they were able to see, and they followed him. – Matthew 20:29-34  GNT

I believe they were desperate to get through to Jesus and I believe Jesus appreciated that desperation. There was no formality, they opened their mouths and exercised their right to cry out in their incredible desire to connect with Him.

They did not look for someone else to connect with Jesus – they did not seek for an intermediary. They knew they could have access to call on Him directly.

When they connected with Jesus, they presented themselves in a simple and straightforward manner. No need for fancy words or the right combination of words.

They specifically asked Jesus what they wanted – what is important here is how they didn’t pray. Do I not sometimes come in a round about way to making my request? What takes 1 minute to pray, I take 5 minutes for it to come out of my mouth.

They shouted out loudly – even when I know God is not deaf and already knows what is in my heart, but it sure helps keep my spirit, and thereby my prayer, focused on Jesus. I know this is something I rarely do – I am one to pray silently – I am usually engaged with my thoughts, anxieties or feelings. Howeve, there seems to be an ability, in exercising my prayer out loud, that strengthens my prayer life.

I can pray to God about all the matters of my life – prayer is simply a personal, direct conversation between Him and I. Even when He does not respond directly to my request, or even answers differently than I expected Him to, I am assured that what matters to me matters to Him and that He cares about what bothers me or weighs me down.

The first four benedictions work variations on a common theme with the words “Blessing” and “Amen” holding key positions. … When the time comes to provide a conclusion of the fifth book, the Blessing and the Amen, wonderful and powerful as they are, are dropped in order to bring the Hallelujah front and center as the controlling word. Psalm 150 begins and ends with Hallelujah, but also uses it internally. These hallelujahs are cannonades: thirteen times this strongest of all Hebrew praise words thunders across the earth reverberating the eucharistic end of prayer. There is more. Psalm 150 does not stand alone; four more hallelujah psalms are inserted in front of it so that it becomes the fifth of five psalms that conclude the Psalter – five hallelujah psalms, one for each “book” of the Psalms, and the last, the 150th doing double duty as the conclusion to both the fifth book and to the five books all together. – Eugene Peterson