Cannot pray or God says ‘no’

When I have decided to go in another direction from the will of God, I often find myself trying to run from the Bible, praying, and other Christians too. It is no wonder then that those who reject Jesus cannot pray. If they do though, and when I do, that prayer reaches the ear and heart of God. God wants me to love and serve Him with all of my heart, to confess Jesus to the world, to make the Bible my guide to life and to live by faith and prayer. I get it that Jonah was given a second chance.

Once again the Lord spoke to Jonah. He said, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to the people the message I have given you.” – Jonay 3:1-2 GNT

I can pray for Jesus to leave, just like the people who were around the demonic that was set free. He answered that request. Jesus did refuse the healed man’s request though. He asked if he could go with Jesus and Jesus said, “no.”

Then all the people from that territory asked Jesus to go away, because they were terribly afraid. So Jesus got into the boat and left. The man from whom the demons had gone out begged Jesus, “Let me go with you.”

But Jesus sent him away, saying, “Go back home and tell what God has done for you.”

The man went through the town, telling what Jesus had done for him. – Luke 8:37-39 GNT

I never saw this before, but what if the healed man wanted to come with Jesus because he was afraid the demons would come back.

Of course, this was because this man could be a light among the people of these Gentiles cities in a way that Jesus and the disciples could not. But it was also to cure the man of any superstitions. He might have thought that he had to stay close to Jesus so the demons would not come back. “Perhaps, too, his prayer was not answered, lest his fear should have been thereby sanctioned. If he did fear, and I feel morally certain that he did, that the devils would return, then, of course, he longed to be with Christ. But Christ takes that fear from him, and as good as says to him, ‘You do not need to be near me; I have so healed that you will never be sick again.’” – Spurgeon

Doubtless many have received the Holy Spirit the moment of their surrender to God before there was time to pray, but how many there are who know that their first definite baptism with the Holy Spirit came while they were on their knees or faces before God, alone or in company with others, and who again and again since that have been filled with the Holy Spirit in the place of prayer!

I know this as definitely as I know that my thirst has been quenched while I was drinking water. Early one morning in the Chicago Avenue Church prayer room, where several hundred people had been assembled a number of hours in prayer, the Holy Spirit fell so manifestly, and the whole place was so filled with His presence, that no one could speak or pray, but sobs of joy filled the place. Men went out of that room to different parts of the country, taking trains that very morning, and reports soon came back of the out-pouring of God’s Holy Spirit in answer to prayer. Others went out into the city with the blessing of God upon them. This is only one instance among many that might be cited from personal experience.

If we would only spend more time in prayer, there would be more fullness of the Spirit’s power in our work. Many and many a man who once worked unmistakably in the power of the Holy Spirit is now filling the air with empty shoutings, and beating it with his meaningless gesticulations, because he has let prayer be crowded out. We must spend much time on our knees before God, if we are to continue in the power of the Holy Spirit. – R.A. Torrey

Do not forget to pray and rely on Him

There are times, in the middle of me enjoying my time of praise and worship, I feel a need to pray for Christians who need God’s help and comfort for they are living in moments of distress.

 Give thanks to the Lord, proclaim his greatness;
    tell the nations what he has done.

Say to him, “Save us, O God our Savior;
    gather us together; rescue us from the nations,
    so that we may be thankful
    and praise your holy name.”
Praise the Lord, the God of Israel!
Praise him now and forever! – 1 Chronicles 16:8, 35-36 GNT

While I enjoy God’s favour, I pray for those who need salvation and others who need deliverance. It is then that I can end my prayer with an “Amen.”

I think of Peter’s prayer sometimes.

When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, “Go away from me, Lord! I am a sinful man!” – Luke 5:8 GNT

It sounds like a good prayer, but I believe I need to pray a better prayer by praying, “Come nearer to me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”

I learned a few lessons regarding what to pray and how to pray from the leper.

Once Jesus was in a town where there was a man who was suffering from a dreaded skin disease. When he saw Jesus, he threw himself down and begged him, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean!”[a]

Jesus reached out and touched him. “I do want to,” he answered. “Be clean!” At once the disease left the man. Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go straight to the priest and let him examine you; then to prove to everyone that you are cured, offer the sacrifice as Moses ordered.”

But the news about Jesus spread all the more widely, and crowds of people came to hear him and be healed from their diseases. – Luke 5:12-15 GNT

He begged Jesus – that is more than a prayer – more about pleading, passionate prayer. It is not a half hearted prayer.

He asks Jesus and no one else. I must turn to God alone.

There is a humbleness in saying, “if you want to.” Sometimes I weary of those who sound like they are making demands when they pray.

Jesus prays at His busy moments.

“But he would go away to lonely places, where he prayed.” – Luke 5:16

He takes moments to withdraw from times when I would be basking in the limelight of what had just happened. I am empowered to pray because of Jesus’ model. He was God and needed to pray. If He needed to pray, then He needed to and did.

He found time to pray. He made time to pray. Nothing was more a priority than prayer.

What is keeping me from prayer? Praying for His grace and enabling power for me to walk an obedient walk?

Jesus’ prayer life helps me to pray.

I need to find those quiet corners of my world where this can happen. Maybe because that is where my prayer is uninterrupted.

Prayer brings power from God for my life and my ministry. I think God delights to use me and others who rely on Him through prayer.

The reason for constant, persistent, sleepless, overcoming prayer is that prayer, in every care and anxiety and need of life, with thanksgiving, is the means that God has appointed for obtaining freedom from all anxiety, and the peace of God which passesth all understanding. – R. A. Torrey


Unbelief

battling-the-unbelief-of-envy-psrgvu01-1cc32d5342aa4f59e3c74d699c336718

Moses’ conversation with God showed something that I find disturbing in my own walk with God. I love that God has walked with me my whole life and has never left my side. However, there is something stopping me from fully engaging with Him.

But Moses answered, “No, Lord, please send someone else.” – Exodus 4:13 GNT

Let someone else do it is a common response from me when God has asked me to do something. No excuses, simply a refusal to accept the call. Why? I know that God wants to bless me, deliver people, and reveal His power so great that absolutely no obstacle could hinder the accomplishment of what He has called me to do. The answer seems so simple right now, but devastating. Like Moses, I do not trust Him.

At this the Lord became angry with Moses and said, “What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. In fact, he is now coming to meet you and will be glad to see you. – Exodus 4:14 GNT

I am actually telling God I cannot count on You. No wonder He became angry.

I am thankful that I communicate with God everyday and have not lost my time each morning to spend with Him. However, I know too many who have walked away and have stopped praying. What happens when I do not pray?

The wicked tell God to leave them alone;
    they don’t want to know his will for their lives.
They think there is no need to serve God
    nor any advantage in praying to him. – Job 21:14-15 GNT

I think I would lose my fear of God, severing my relationship with my Father. Dangerous territory with the possibility of disastrous results. I begin to do things as I see fit and I actually find myself weak and end up making all the wrong decisions in my life.

Was a wicked person’s light ever put out?
    Did one of them ever meet with disaster?
Did God ever punish the wicked in anger
    and blow them away like straw in the wind,
    or like dust carried away in a storm? – Job 21:17 GNT

Thankfully God stands with me. My decision to leave Him will cause me to suffer spiritually, emotionally, physically and that does not include what happens to my family, my future and my community of support. The enemy becomes stronger and I finally realize that I am back in the same prison as I was – back in bondage. Unbelief can destroy.

I remember the power of believing when I read testimonies of others who believed so much that they gave everything.

A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him, and Jesus went to his house and sat down to eat. In that town was a woman who lived a sinful life. She heard that Jesus was eating in the Pharisee’s house, so she brought an alabaster jar full of perfume and stood behind Jesus, by his feet, crying and wetting his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them, and poured the perfume on them. – Luke 7:36-38 GNT

 

“Her service to Jesus was personal. She did it all herself, and all to him. Do you notice how many times the pronoun occurs in our text? [she, three times and her twice in Luke 7:37-38] … She served Christ himself. It was neither service to Peter, nor James, nor John, nor yet to the poor or sick of the city, but to the Master himself; and, depend upon it, when our love is in active exercise, our piety will be immediately towards Christ — we shall sing to him, pray to him, teach for him, preach for him, live to him. O for more of this love! If I might only pray one prayer this morning, I think it should be that the flaming torch of the love of Jesus should be brought into every one of our hearts, and that all our passions should be set ablaze with love to him.” – Spurgeon

 

“Left to ourselves, we will pray to some god who speaks what we like hearing, or to the part of God we manage to understand. But what is critical is that we speak to the God who speaks to us, and to everything that he speaks to us. There is a difference between praying to an unknown God whom we hope to discover in our praying, and praying to a known God, revealed through Israel and Jesus Christ, who speaks our language. In the first, we indulge our appetite for religious fulfillment; in the second we practice obedient faith. The first is a lot more fun, the second is a lot more important. What is essential in prayer is not that we learn to express ourselves, but that we learn to answer God.” – Eugene Peterson