THE NEW TESTAMENT PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER (Part 2)
“You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.” (James 4:3 WEB).
God is a loving and compassionate Father. God’s care and love for His children transcend our most profound understanding or wildest imaginations. God’s ears are always opened to our prayers, and He is much more eager and willing to answer our prayers than we are eager and willing to receive.
God is ever swift to answer the prayers of His children. At the first word of your prayer, the answer is already given and released. Hallelujah!
The Scripture attests to God’s eagerness to answer the prayers of His children.
Isaiah 65:24 – NLT
- I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!
The angel sent to Daniel to give him the answer to his prayer also attests to God’s eagerness to answer the prayers of His children.
Daniel 9:23 – NLT
- The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.
Although God is a very loving Father who is eager and swift to answer the prayers of His children, yet He is not a sentimental or effusively emotional being who can be swayed, persuaded, or influenced by mere gesticulations, loud cries, screaming or shouting in prayer.
We can never control God or manipulate Him to answer our prayers through our vain repetition, desperation, gesture, or posture in prayers.
God cannot be hurried, compelled, or driven to answer our prayers by simply increasing the volume or intensity of our prayers, or by hiring or gathering more people to pray with or for us, or by going to a specific sacred or hallowed place to pray.
If we don’t pray according to God’s laid down principles of prayer in the New Testament, our prayers are void and useless; they are nothing but fleshly, futile, and profitless exercises.
In the first part of this piece, we shall examine some basic principles that should govern our prayers as the New Testament saints. Let us recap what we have discussed so far.
First, our prayers must be offered only to the living God who created the heavens and the earth:
It is idolatry to offer our prayers to any other being, whether man or god, saints or sinners, dead or living. Prayer is a spiritual offering that only the true and living God is worthy to receive (Acts 12:5, Rev. 8:3).
Second, our prayers or requests must be offered to God only in the name of Jesus Christ:
Our prayers will not attract God’s attention if not presented to Him through His Son Jesus Christ, who is the only approved Mediator between God and men, and our Advocator before God (1 Tim. 2:5, 1 John 2:1).
Third, our prayers must be according to God’s will, plan, promise, or purpose for our lives revealed to us in God’s Word by the Holy Spirit:
It is a futile exercise when we pray contrary to God’s perfect will, plan, and purpose for our lives or situations.
The Scripture states, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NKJV).
Let us now consider more New Testament principles of prayer.
Fourth, we must pray with the right motives, intentions, or purposes:
God always looks beyond our loud cries, gestures, desperation, or repetition of words in prayer into our hearts to examine the motives or reasons for our requests, petitions, or supplications before He grants them.
Therefore, it is always good to check out, examine and purify your motives before presenting your requests to God.
What are you presently seeking in prayer to receive from God?
Why do you want it, and what do you want to do with it?
Suppose the motive or thrust of your prayers is to gratify or glorify the flesh, or to promote, advance, or advertise yourself, or just to impress, intimidate or oppress someone else. In that case, it is a waste of time praying, for God will not answer such prayers.
Many of your prayers have not been answered because your motives for asking are carnal, selfish, impure, and insincere. But if your motive is for God’s glory, for God’s Kingdom, or the good and benefit of humanity, God will surely answer you and grant your requests.
James testifies to this truth.
James 4:3 – WEB
3 You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.
Fifth, God only answers when we pray in faith:
It is not the length, duration, frequency, loudness, or volume of your prayers that attracts God’s attention, but faith in your heart while praying.
The efficacy or power of your prayer does not depend on the volume, loudness, frequency, or duration of your prayer, nor your gesticulation or posture while praying, but on your faith and revelation knowledge of what Christ has done in you and for you – who you are and what you have in Christ.
God only answers prayers from a heart that trusts in His faithfulness and ability to perform what He has promised in His Word.
It is only the prayer of faith that avails much and produces amazing results, for that is the only kind of prayer that God always honors and answers (Jam. 5:15). Most of our prayers have failed simply because of our doubts and unbelief.
The Lord Jesus Christ assures His disciples of answers to prayers of faith.
Matthew 21:22 – RSV
22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.
Mark 11:24 – RSV
24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
James also admonishes us to pray in faith.
James 1:6-7 – NKJV
6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.
Lastly, it is the fervent prayer of the righteous that avails much:
The born-again believers have received God’s righteousness as a gift through faith in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. So their prayers avail much, make tremendous power available, dynamic in its working.
The Scripture amply states this truth.
James 5:16 – NKJV
- Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
James 5:16 – AMPC
- Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].
Beloved, you are the righteousness of God in Christ. You are entirely and eternally accepted to God in Christ. God is committed to answering your prayers of faith. So, pray with absolute confidence in God, knowing that your prayer has excellent power and expecting your prayer to produce wonderful results.
The Scripture testifies that “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (Jam. 5:16b NLT).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for making me righteous in Christ. Help me to pray daily with great boldness and confidence in Christ that my prayer is powerful and will produce wonderful results, in Jesus’ name. Amen.