When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3)
There is a poison that has infiltrated the church in the world masquerading as the “gospel”. Understanding this bad theology is important so we aren’t perplexed when God doesn’t appear to function in the way these false teachers claim. There are two flavors of the same false gospel known as the “prosperity gospel” and though it is hard for us to call out this false teaching, it is helpful as we consider prayer.
There are different degrees of this false teaching but at it’s core it goes something like this: God wants you to be happy, healthy, and wealthy… if you aren’t those things, it’ because you don’t have faith. The more faith, the more prosperity. The “name it and claim it” teaching goes along these same lines. If you “name it” in Jesus name, and “claim it” in faith, it’ll be yours… today’s Scripture destroys this entire false narrative. The God of the Scriptures isn’t concerned with your physical prosperity that is temporary and worldly, He is far more concerned with your spiritual prosperity since it has eternal consequences.
James writes that we have not because we ask not, but lest we be confused and tempted to think the “name it and claim it” teaching holds water, he follows up: when you do ask you don’t get what you’re asking for because you have impure motives. God cares about the heart of our prayers and thus the motives of our prayers matter. When we seek God in prayer above all else, we should seek His will. As it turns out, it may not be God’s will for you to have that brand-new house, that six figure salary, that healthy check-up, or that amazing new set of golf clubs. If we will remember that God isn’t some all-powerful, cosmic genie there to grant our hearts deepest desires, it will help build a proper foundation in prayer.
I recall Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane often and I think this prayer could serve as a stark reminder for us all. As Jesus spends his last night before the crucifixion with His disciples, he is desperately praying in the garden. On the other side of the sun rise Jesus knows He will face the mocking, the torture, the false accusations, the abandonment of His friends, and most cruelly He will face the cross to be put to a criminal’s death as He suffers for our sins. In His prayer He is almost overcome by emotion to the point of death and He prays: “Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from my hand. But not my will Father, Thy will be done.” God’s will was done and the cup did not pass from Jesus hand…
As you prepare to pray today, I wonder: are you holding on to some false sense of what prayer is all about? Do you keep hoping that God might answer a selfish prayer with impure motives? Chances are He won’t. As you pray today, what if the things you are asking are contrary to God’s will for your life? Are you prepared, even to the point of suffering, to trust Him and His refining work? Although it may be easier to believe a false teaching about prayer and God, it is far better for us to pray for faith to trust God in prayer and that we would always yield our will to Him.
Father, forgive any impure or selfish prayers we’ve prayed. As we come to you in Jesus’ name, help us to seek Your will for our lives. When we pray Father, reveal to us the true motives of our prayers. Help us grow in this area as we seek to dispel any false teaching concerning prayer or faith. Lord, teach us to be faithful as you were in seeking the Father’s will knowing it is far better to suffer in God’s will than to prosper out of it. Teach us to trust you even when things don’t make sense and remind us that our treasure is in heaven. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
“Answer me, O LORD! Answer me, so that this people will know that You, the LORD, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back again.” (1 Kings 18:38)
Because of our status through faith in Christ before God, we are His children (John 1:12), sometimes I think the “who” God is eludes us. As God beckons us to come boldly (with audacity) before His throne to find mercy and grace to help in our time of need, we forget that this same God also hung the moon and the stars. Though our Father is all powerful, all knowing, and the very manifestation of true love (1 John 4:8), sometimes for me at least I wonder if I forget all that when I come before Him.
Dr. James Dobson in his book “When God Doesn’t Make Sense” writes of something he calls the “betrayal barrier”. This is the barrier that so many of us feel when we think that God has let us down. When He could have kept us from pain or suffering, and didn’t. When we desperately prayed in faith that God would do something and He didn’t do what we asked. Dr. Dobson says that many Christians find their relationship inhibited by this betrayal barrier and some never fully recover. Do you feel like God has ever “betrayed” you in prayer?
If I’m being honest, I can remember several instances where I prayed to the God of heaven knowing He was fully capable of doing what I asked and yet He didn’t. Over and over again I have struggled with the thought: God is sovereign, all powerful, and fully in control… why didn’t He keep the wreck from happening? He could have prevented the wreck that stole my 4-year-old Brynleigh and claimed the life of my late wife Cassie, so why didn’t He? For some time, I felt betrayed, angry and hurt. It has only been God’s continued grace and loving kindness that has slowly helped me understand that He did have a purpose for the immense suffering in my life.
So, who is our God really? Elijah found out. In today’s focal Scripture we see Elijah (the last prophet of God) boldly standing against the false prophets that were numerous. Elijah prays a powerful prayer and God moves in a mighty way that leaves no doubt in the lives of those around him about who was the one true God of the universe. Instead of recounting the story with you, I encourage you to open God’s Word to 1 Kings chapter 18 and read the account for yourself. As you read it, remember this is the same God who loves you, knows you, and gave His only Son Jesus so you could be forgiven and free (John 3:16).
Elijah prays a powerful prayer in today’s focal Scripture. Notice the focus and hope of Elijah’s prayers: “Answer me, so that this people will know that You, the LORD, are God”. Elijah’s prayer is that God would reveal Himself as the one true God of the universe and that they would all know: “You have turned their hearts back again”. How does the betrayal barrier and Elijah’s prayer go together? Because God does not and will not answer prayers in the way we think He should. God is moving in ways outside of our understanding.
What was God’s purpose in taking my 4-year-old daughter Brynleigh? What was God’s purpose in allowing my late wife to lose her struggle and leave this life too? What good could have possibly came out of the suffering my son Kasen and I’ve done over the past three years? Looking back at each moment over my life, especially in the last three years, God has moved in an incalculable way. He has used the pain and suffering to help me pour out my heart to the nations praying He might turn “their hearts back again” to the only One who can save them.
Today I want to challenge you to remember the “who” you are praying to. The same God that spoke the universe into existence by the power of His Word loves you, knows you, and through Jesus hears your prayers. When He “Doesn’t Make Sense”, pray for strength to trust Him. When you are broken laying in a helpless mess on the ground, turn your heart towards Jesus, He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). When you feel betrayed, you’re hurting and your Elijah moment never comes, be still and know Jesus is still “the LORD” and He alone is “God”.
Father, help us trust you even when Your way is not the way we would have chose. In Jesus’ name we ask that you would clear away the doubt, fear, pain, and any sense You’ve let us down so we could boldly trust You. Teach is Lord to seek Your will above our own. Teach us Lord to trust You even when it hurts. Lord give us just a glimpse of Your glorious plan and help us to understand that You are truly using all things for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. We pray that you would help us magnify the name of Jesus and lift Him up so that all men would come to know He alone is Lord. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Matthew 4:1-2 — “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”
You thought I forgot about fasting didn’t you? I know the last time we talked about it was day 4, and I’m sure that many of you were probably hoping that it was the last time we would! When we think of athletes facing incredible challenges, they go into training for big matches or tournaments. When they face these challenges they go into strict training, exercising, strength training, studying their opponents — their bodies are machines and what is the fuel for those machines? FOOD!!!
So Jesus, led by the Spirit into the wilderness for his greatest challenge to date — being tempted by, going toe-to-toe with the devil himself! His first move to prepare for this huge encounter…deprive His body of food. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, we know that Jesus is quite literally on the brink of starvation. Physically He is as low as you can get before death occurs. Why would Jesus put Himself in such a “weak” position?
Because our physical bodies cannot help us overcome a spiritual struggle.
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.” John 6:63
“Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:23
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:6-7
“For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do…And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:17, 24
Jesus knew that to face Satan and his temptations with His body full of fleshly, worldly strength would be disaster. When our bodies are weakened through the denial of food, or comfort of any kind really (TV, wealth, sex or pornography — yes these can be used to comfort, gossip, entertainment, etc.), then our Spirit begins to have greater power and strength than our flesh. Jesus knew that fasting was a pathway to protection. When he stepped into the arena with Satan, He was physically at His weakest…but Spiritually at His strongest! When we pray, we are engaging in Spiritual warfare, not physical warfare (Ephesians 6:12). If you want greater protection, weaken your flesh that wars against you by fasting. Fasting brings protection.
Jesus, thank you for the reminder that I cannot win a spiritual battle through physical means. Help me to strategically and consistently weaken my flesh in order to obtain protection and power. Lord, I admit that this scares me. I fear that my body will react strongly, I may get sick, or it may hurt me. Help me to seek the aid of physicians who can help me do this correctly and safely. But please don’t let me talk myself out of this important discipline. Maybe forsaking food is too much for me, help me forsake other fleshly appetites that keep me from spiritual success. God I trust You. And I believe that You will help me to apply this appropriately and successfully in my spiritual walk. Thank You for hearing me and helping me. I love You. Amen.
Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. (2 Samuel 12:20)
Over the course of the last few devotions we’ve talked about being persistent in prayer and praying selflessly for others. Today, we are going to talk about a much more difficult topic: moving on in prayer. In today’s focal Scripture we see David, the same David the Scripture describes as a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), getting up after God had answered a desperate plea. David’s son with Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah with whom David had an affair) had died. David had desperately prayed for his newborn son that God might spare his child and let him live, God’s answer came through David’s son’s death.
As the father of a child who has gone on to be with the Lord, I can tell you that the death of a child almost destroyed me. Losing Brynleigh Grace was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure. It is by the grace of God alone (the grace that she got her middle name from) that sustained me through her death. Unlike David, I didn’t have the opportunity to pray for her as she suffered in the pangs of death. As I look at David’s response as his son died, I am astonished at his faith and the faith filled actions.
If you go to 2 Samuel chapter 12 and read, you’ll find that the servants and those around David were almost perplexed by his response. The King had been praying, fasting, weeping for his son while his son fought for his life. He pleaded with God for mercy for his child and God said no. After the death of his son, David finished his prayer and fasting and he moved on. Don’t misunderstand what I’m getting ready to say, I am confident that David loved his child and losing the child was incredibly painful. But, David had learned what you and I need to learn: when God gives an answer for our prayer, it’s time to move on.
I almost moved on from this devotion without capturing one of the most stunning response we see from David who had just been pouring out his desperation for his child’s life before God. After God did not spare his son, David entered into the ‘house of the Lord’ and worshiped God! I can frankly and honestly say that my immediate response was not David’s response. After the death of my daughter I struggled for weeks, months, and years with her death. Know this: God has been faithfully patient, loving, and tender to me through every moment.
The truths of God’s Word are so precious and important for us to understand. I’ve called this out in our earlier devotions but the entire childish thought that God “never says no” is a spiritually immature perspective that won’t withstand reality. God does say no. When God says no, we could spend time pleading and beginning like a child who wants dessert or a toy at the store or we could trust Him even when the answer is difficult to accept.
As I sit here writing this devotion, I know what I’m sharing is difficult but I believe this is a Christ honoring way to pray. When God’s answer is “no”, instead of begging for Him to change His mind, how different would our lives be if we prayed for Him to give us grace to walk through that no. How different would it be if we asked for faith to trust Him. How different would it be if we prayed “Thy will be done”, and truly meant it? How different would our lives be if we not only knew that God is using all things for good (Romans 8:28), but that we trusted it?
As you prepare to pray today, remember that God is using all things for good. That doesn’t mean all things are good… it doesn’t mean they feel good or that the things themselves are even good, it means that God is using all things (even our most desperate pain and suffering) for good. As the Master Weaver of time, He is meticulously weaving every moment of time to work out His perfect will for creation. Ask yourself today: when has God’s reply been no? How did that affect your pray life? Is there some doubt or fear that God may say no again? If so, start today by confessing any struggle or doubt. Then trust Him, even in the “no”.
Father, today we confess Lord that as your children it’s hard to hear you say no. Lord, I confess the spiritual memory of some painful no answers to my prayers. Lord we know that you aren’t some cosmic genie who answers our every beckon and call. You are our Good Father and You know what we need, when we need it, and how we need it. Lord just as David did, teach us to move on with our lives when Your answer to our prayer is no. Teach is that we can trust you through every answered prayer, even when the answer isn’t what we hoped for or longed for. Sustain us in the midst of our pain and fear. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
1 Timothy 1:21 – I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—
Stop and think for a moment… when you pray, who are your prayers focused on? If I’m being honest, my prayers are heavily filled with prayers concerning myself, my wife, my children, and those who are close to me. Simply put, my prayers are very selfish or self-centered sometimes. Although I think what we pray for most reveals what (or who) is most important in our life, I think consistently selfish prayers can become robotic and cold.
I’ve asked the question before as I’ve taught: are you praying about it as much as your talking about it? In some circles one may even have to ask… are people praying about it as much as they are complaining about it, gossiping about it, or being hurt about it? Jesus says: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21) and I think this same premise might be applied to our prayer life to discover what’s really most important to us.
Are you like me? Sometimes can you be selfish in prayer? In today’s focal Scripture Paul urges us to pray for “all people”. There is a very real call for the people of God to go before Him and lift up others selflessly as we seek God’s intervention in the lives and affairs of mankind. I’ve said throughout this devotional series that prayer is not intended to change God’s heart; it is intended to change ours. While I wholeheartedly embrace that truth, I know that our prayers are precious to God and I do believe God moves powerfully to meet the needs and requests of His children. Knowing this, avoid the temptation to believe that when God’s will isn’t a “yes” answer to our prayers that our prayers didn’t matter, they still do.
It can be difficult to pray for those we don’t like or those we don’t agree with. Often I find this most evident in the polarized world of politics. I wonder how different some of our leaders may be if we united in prayer for them and consistently asked for God’s wisdom for them. Often we allow our dislike of someone to cut off any chance of praying for them. I wonder, what if that person you don’t really like who causes your life to be more difficult desperately needs your prayers? What if you are the only person praying for them? The husband you think will never change, what if God’s heart is moved to change him through your loving prayers? Remember: the prayers of a Christian in communion with God are powerful and effective (James 5:16).
Today as you begin to pray, I challenge you to ask God: Lord, who do you want me to pray for? Ask Him to put a face or name on your mind and then lift that person up to Him in prayer. You don’t have to know all the details, they may not have even asked for prayer, pray anyway. Ask God to show you how selfish your prayer life may have been up to this point and begin seeking His help to be a selfless servant, even in prayer. Don’t stop lifting up your own needs to God, simply begin making time to lift up others too.
Father, today we come seeking your grace and mercy in Jesus name. Lord we confess that sometimes our prayers can selfish and self-centered. Lord, help us to lift others, even those we may not like, up to you in prayer. Lord help us realize that prayer is intended to change our hearts, not Yours. Lord help us to know your heart concerning prayer and begin to understand the power of this conversation. Put someone on our heart right now that we need to pray for Lord. Help us to make time to pray for others and consistently seek Your will for their lives too. Thank you for hearing our prayers and we are so thankful You hear us, in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Are you ready for Wednesday night Bible study? Tonight’s study, titled: Conformed or Transformed: Who Do I Resemble More? Is a study in Romans 12. You can now join in two unique ways.
To participate, you can join via Zoom at https://us04web.zoom.us/j/9204385457. Zoom is available on your laptop, desktop, tablet, or smartphone device. Joining via Zoom will enable you to speak live with Pastor Scott. There is no cost to join our meeting via Zoom.
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You can download the study guide for tonight’s Bible study at http://www.cometothecreek.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Conformed-or-Transformed-Study-Guide.pdf.
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. (Genesis 32:24)
Today’s focal Scripture takes us to a peculiar recounting in Scripture where Jacob, whose name would be changed to Israel, is wrestling with God. In this historic match we see a determined Jacob who is clinging to God and refusing to let go until he receives His blessing. In the end, God gave Jacob His blessing and changed His name to Israel.
I wonder… have you ever persistently sought God’s face and refused to “let Him go” in prayer until He answered you? In our earlier devotions I’ve mentioned the parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8). In both the parable Jesus spoke concerning the widow and the unjust judge and today’s Scripture, I think we see a principal of prayer that’s important: don’t stop praying. Don’t stop seeking God’s face. Don’t give up or turn away from seeking God’s intervention until He has given you a clear answer.
God could have easily overpowered Jacob (he gave him a lifelong limp to remember the wrestling match). But the God of the creation allowed this man who would further help fulfill God’s promises to Abraham to wrestle with Him. This epic show down didn’t change God or change God’s will, it helped change Jacob’s heart. Earlier in his life Jacob had stolen his father Isaac’s blessing by pretending to be his older brother. This time God asks him: “what’s your name” (verse 27) and this time Jacob replied honesty: “Jacob”.
I find it interesting that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel at this moment and blessed him. Jacob didn’t give up and refused to let God go until he received an answer for his request. Sometimes this type of “wrestling with God” in prayer is reserved for our most desperate pleas. We pray this way when we are seeking His mercy for someone’s life. We pray this way when tragedy strikes. We pray like this when a life changing set of circumstances appear on the horizon and we are powerless to stop them.
I think that God wants us to pray passionately and consistently all the time. Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I wonder how dramatically different our prayer life would be if we would seek God without ceasing and with passion and a fervent heart. As you prepare to pray today consider this: when is the last time you desperately prayed and sought God’s face? When was the last time you prayed continually until God gave an answer for a prayer? Simply put, when is the last time you sought God with all your heart? It’s time to do that today.
Don’t forget, prayer isn’t designed to change God’s heart but our heart. As we pray ceaselessly and wrestle with God in prayer, be prepared to accept His will. Let every prayer we pray be under-girded with the submission to God as we pray: “not my will but Thy will be done”.
Father we come before You in Jesus name seeking Your will for our lives. Lord forgive us for thinking that You are only concerned with the ‘big’ problems in our life. Help us ceaselessly seek You with passion about even decisions that appear small. Help us seek Your face consistently and be prepared to wrestle in prayer. Lord help us remember that the purpose of ceaselessly praying and wrestling in prayer is intended to change our hearts, not Yours. Thank You for being faithful and good. Help us trust You even when it feels like You are far away, because we know You don’t change. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” (Luke 18:13)
Scripture teaches us that God resists the proud but exalts those who humble themselves before Him (James 4:6). There is one danger in prayer that should give us pause every time we come before the throne: pride. Although the definition of pride has changed over the years and society now accepts pride as a good thing, the Bible has much to say about pride. One warning we should all heed before prayer is found in Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
One definition of pride is an inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable feeling of superiority as to one’s talents, beauty, wealth, rank, and so forth; disdainful behavior or treatment; insolence or arrogance of demeanor; haughty bearing. It’s easy to see why pride is such a problem, especially as we begin to see ourselves in light of God’s glory and grace. The “best” among us fall so far short of His glory that without God’s grace each of us would spend eternity separated from Him. Scripture reminds us in Romans 3:23: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
As pride begins to creep in to our lives and our prayers, slowly we begin to forget Who has blessed us, sustained us, gifted us, saved us, forgiven us, and given us what we could never obtain on our own. In today’s focal Scripture we see one of two men Jesus tells us about and the prayers they prayed. Firstly, the Pharisee. As a religious elite this man would have been someone who had the first five books of the Torah (the Old Testament) memorized, strictly followed hundreds of laws, tithed zealously, and often were very proud men of stature. This proud Pharisee comes before God and begins to pray a prayer filled with pride and self-focus.
Secondly, we see a tax collector. The most hated men in Jewish society, the very thought of comparing him to a Pharisee would have been almost laughable. This man was a sinner, the worst society had to offer, worse yet… he knew it. Not only did he know it, but it turns out he also understand who God was (he wouldn’t even look up to heaven). The tax collector prayers a simple, honest, desperate prayer from the heart. Can you see the difference between these two men? Guess which prayer God heard? Spoiler alert: the humble tax collectors prayer.
I don’t think as followers of Jesus we ever wake up thinking: “I’m going to be overly proud and haughty today”. It creeps in slowly, like a water leak it eventually floods our soul and turns our heart towards a selfish focus instead of being focused on God. We become resistant to the correction of God and eventually even though we have a powerful head knowledge of who He is, our hearts are far from Him. It is written in Scripture that: these people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. (Isaiah 29:13).
Have you ever struggled with pride in your own life? I can think of examples in my own life since I surrendered my life to Jesus where pride has crept in unaware. Slowly like a gas leak it built up and suddenly a small spark caused it to explode and everything came tumbling down. As you prepare to pray today, if you are currently or have ever struggled with pride, it’s time to lay it down. It’s time to remember that the only reason we can come before God is because of God. It is through faith in Jesus alone that we can come before the throne of God to find grace and mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
It has been said that before the cross, the ground is level. Simply put, there are only two types of people in the world: sinners and sinners saved by grace.
Father, we come to You today in Jesus name and confess that is by the blood of Jesus alone that we can come to You. Forgive us if there has been or is any pride in our lives. Holy Spirit we ask that you would reveal it to us, that our hearts would continue to be tender before You. Mold us and shape us in Your will. Father help us not to look on others with pride and never let us forget that You are the author of our salvation. It is by Your hand that we grow as You mold us and shape us in the image of your Son Jesus. Lord we confess that if You didn’t finish the work You started it would never get done. Help us not to be spiritually blind as we seek you with our whole heart. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
James 5:16 — Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
So we focused on one part of this verse in our devotion asking “Are My Prayers Effective?” But I could almost hear you thinking to yourself as you read that, “That’s great Scott, but the verse says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective…If I’m not a righteous person, can MY prayers be effective?” It’s a fair question that requires us to define what a righteous person is and who can be a righteous person.
A righteous person is a person who is in right standing, or right relationship with God. God cannot be in relationship with sin, Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Sin separates and breaks relationship. Sin in families brings about broken relationships, marriages end in divorce, children are alienated from their parents…sin separates. So as sinful people (because all of us sin), it is impossible for us to be in right relationship with God because only a sinless person could be in right standing/relationship with God. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
Then who can be a righteous person? The good news is that Jesus was a perfect, sinless and therefore righteous person. As God’s Son, he came to earth and lived the perfect life we could not and became a perfect sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. When he paid the penalty of our sins on the cross, our sins were taken away and no longer are they held against us. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12) So, who can be a righteous person? “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22) The answer is simple: all who believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ. Anyone can be and is righteous (in right standing/relationship with God) that puts their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. How great to know that we cannot earn righteousness, it is accomplished by Jesus and given to us by God through faith in Jesus. Wow. Place your faith in Jesus and your prayers can be powerful and effective.
Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your death on the cross. Thank You for purchasing my salvation and giving me Your righteousness. Thank You for paying my sin debt and forgiving me for all my unrighteousness. Today, I place my faith in You alone for my hope of salvation, and I trust You to lead me in all my ways. I commit to study Your Word and seek Your will for my life. May my prayers be answered, not because of anything I have done, but because You have accomplished righteousness on my behalf. Teach me to pray, and may Your heart become my heart. I love You, and I am so grateful to be called Your friend. Amen.
James 5:16 — “ Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
We asked the question earlier (Day 9), “Does God Hear Me?” But that certainly doesn’t address all our uncertainty when it comes to prayer. In reality, beyond being listened to and being heard, what we ultimately want to know is, “Are my prayers accomplishing anything?” “Are they working?” “Are they doing anything at all?” “Are my prayers effective?”
James says that Elijah prayed that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t. That’s pretty effective. He says that Elijah prayed that it would rain and it did. Again, that is pretty effective if you ask me.
I don’t know about you, but I would love to walk into a children’s hospital, pray for each child with a terminal illness or a lifelong disease and walk out of that hospital followed by children who were miraculously healed and no longer in need of the hospital’s services. I would love for every family member of mine to never struggle again with sin, or need of money, or shelter, or food. Effective prayer doesn’t mean you get everything you want. Please allow me to repeat that: Effective prayer doesn’t mean you get everything you want. Because effective prayer is not about you.
Let’s go back to Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 18. The point at which he prays for rain is in verses 41-46. But we have to look back at the first verse of chapter 18 for the reason Elijah’s prayer worked: “Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!’” Did you catch it? The Lord said “I will soon send rain!” Even though I’m sure he wanted rain to come and heal the land, Elijah wasn’t praying for what he wanted…he was praying for what God wanted! He was agreeing with God.
When we take the focus off of what we want in prayer and learn what God wants, we begin to pray powerful and effective prayers. Because when our prayers are in alignment with God and with His Word, we just simply ask God — as Jesus taught us to, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Prepare to see your prayers become more powerful and effective than ever.
Father, please forgive me. Sometimes when I pray my heart runs to the things I need, the things I want, and to be honest I am often disappointed when I don’t see things happen the way I want…I become surprised when my prayers are ineffective. God, today I am ready to listen for what You want. I am ready to pray for what You want. I am ready to see my prayers be effective! So Lord, I submit my will to Yours. May my heart be Your heart. May my mind be Your mind. I want Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven! Bring Your Kingdom promises, Your Kingdom power, Your righteousness to the ends of the earth. Lord, restore, heal, provide, meet every need at Your move and in Your time. Have Your way in my life, and may I be astounded by the way You answer through Your Word and through answered prayers. Thank You Lord. Amen.