Acceptable Prayer: Part Three
Only those who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ can pray to God. Jesus said, No one can pray to the Father unless he has had his sins washed away. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
You know that all games have their rules. When you play checkers, you cannot move just any way across the board. You have to follow certain instructions. Just so, there are rules about praying, and if we do not follow them, God will not be able to answer our prayers.
The first rule is that we must believe—not just believe in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, but believe that God will hear and answer our prayer. Jesus said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matthew 21:22). When the Holy Spirit gives us that true belief, then we can pray with confidence that God will answer. There is a story of a woman who lived in a little house at the foot of a big hill. She wished the hill were not there. In the Bible she read that if one had faith as a grain of mustard seed—that is, even a very little real faith—one could pray that a mountain would be removed, and it would be removed. So she decided that she would ask God to move that hill. At night she prayed, Lord, please remove the hill in front of my house.” In the morning she got up and looked out the window. The hill was still there. She said to herself, "I knew it wouldn't be moved.” You see she did not really believe God would answer her prayer at all. She had no real faith. And besides I strongly suspect that the reason why she wanted the hill removed was a selfish one, and selfish prayers are not the kind that God answers.
In Psalm 66:18 we read, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” If we are holding on to some sin, loving it, and keeping it in our hearts, our prayers cannot be answered. If we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us our sins, and then He will be able to hear our prayers.
"And when ye stand praying, forgive . . ." (Mark 11:25). Has someone done an unkind thing to you? If you treasure it up against them, and will not forgive them, that unforgiveness in your heart will keep your prayers from going to God. Of course you cannot just pray for anything you want. I might ask God for a million dollars but He would not give it to me because it would not be His will. "If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us" (1 John 5:14). If we want more than anything else to do what will please The Lord Jesus, He will reveal His will and then we will be able to pray and be sure that He will answer our prayers.
- Why are there rules to prayer?
- Why does God not answer selfish prayer?
- Why is forgiveness so important for Christians?
RULES FOR PRAYER
- You must be saved—John 14:6.
- Believe He will answer your—Matthew 21:22.
- Do not hold to any sin—Psalm 66:18.
- Forgive other—Mark 11:25.
- Ask according to God's will—1 John 5:14.
- Prayer is essential to spiritual formation and worship, so it is with these rules. One must abide by the "rules of prayer." How can we take these rules an apply them to their prayer life today?