Prayer - Part II
In Part I of this six-part series on Prayer, we dealt with the significance of the first letter “P” and how it applies and affects the outcome of our prayer as Christians. In continuation, we now deal with the second part of the series which will focus on the second letter in the word, Prayer, and how to employ it effectively in ensuring we receive our desired outcome with the Lord.
As discussed in Part I, (which, if you have not read, I strongly recommend you refer to before continuing with this part of the series) it is simply impossible to effectively communicate with God or even say a potent or powerful prayer without the concerted application of every one of these six elements. To abandon one or lack in one, is to compromise your entire prayer.
So, proceeding with the second part of this series, we look at the second letter-
2. R (Request with Righteous Repentance): Righteousness is defined in dictionaries as the state of being perfect and without sin. And James also says in his letter- James 5:16 - The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. So if a righteous person is one who is perfect and without sin as scholars define it, then going by James’ statement in the above verse, it would be correct and logical to conclude that only the prayer of a perfect person, completely without sin, possesses any powers of effectiveness. Romans 3:10 - As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. Psalm 51: 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Now if one were to consider these two verses above, one might be quick to conclude that if only a righteous man’s prayers are heard, and as further indicated by Paul and David above, that there is not a single living soul that can claim righteousness because even in sin did our mothers conceive us, then it is inherently impossible for any one’s prayers to be heard! Furthermore, Romans 3:23 reads: “all have sinned and falling short of the glory of God.” Therefore, if we have falling short due to our iniquities, then I am inclined to ask that upon what do we rely in this hope and faith we profess through our prayers? Why even bother praying if the scriptures clearly say only the righteous, those living perfectly without sin, can ever receive the rewards of their prayers?
The simple answer is this: God does not seek perfection in us, only a commitment to perfection. And for this reason, the Lord demonstrates in the Book of Romans Romans 2:7 5 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, immortality, he will give (their reward). And what is commitment if not persistent dedication. It would then be reasonable to redefine Righteousness not as perfection or existence without sin, a state that only Christ can claim, but rather define Righteousness as a persistent, consistent and perfect commitment to the will of God. And this is why the scripture also says concerning the wayward:
James 1:7 For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord. What the Lord is simply saying is that he understands the very nature of flesh is resident in sin. But if you must come before him, if you truly want him to consider your prayers worthy of his response, then you must be able to demonstrate your commitment to his will. You cannot claim to love him today and profess his name, yet turn back tomorrow, reveling in gossip, malice, adultery, drunkenness etc. For as is stated in the verse above, such a person cannot and must not expect to receive anything in prayer.
Now, there are those who have dedicated their lives to the true committed worship of God. Not that they will not fall or be tempted, but those moments and occasions will be rare, though not without consequences. It is impossible for such people to raise their voice in prayer without being heard almost instantaneously; though the manifestation of the reward may not be for a while. But they receive an acknowledgment receipt from God in the form of a dream, vision, prophecy, a song, a sign, or an exhortation from a stranger or a friend. But they know without ambiguity that their requests have been acknowledged; not because they are perfect, but because they are focused, committed, and dedicated to the will and ways of God and constantly pursue perfection. And that is who a righteous man is, one who has devoted himself to consciously pleasing God in all circumstances.
Yet, there are those who at this very moment are completely entangled in sin. Have you become overcome and overpowered by iniquity? Be it adultery, the physical or the emotional, such as becoming more enslaved by another woman, trusting him or her as your confidant and lover over your spouse, secret phone calls and meetings, escapades in motels and cars, or are you overcome with pornography on the internet or videos, is it alcohol, is it your love of money, position, pride, selfishness, or are you just raped by envy for another person’s life, spouse, happiness or position? If you are such a person, is your prayer consequently doomed to never receive a response from God? “Of course not!” says the Lord.
But you must first come to repentance. And repentance is conversion from Sin to God. A conscious decision that starting this moment, here and now, I refuse to be entangled with this iniquity any longer. I will turn back to my Lord. I will turn back to my spouse. I will win back my life. It’s a process, and depending on how far the enemy has reached into your soul to possess you with this sin and weakness, it may take a while before you are completely healed of it. It may even take you seeking some professional help or trusted counseling. But understand that the moment you make that conscious decision to empower yourself by walking away or stopping that habit or sin – and sin is enslavement – then you have begun your reign in liberty. And if you are reading this now, I assure you, it is no accident. It is the unfathomable love of God seeking you out in the midst of your misery, calling you to repentance. And that is why in the following verse below- Mark 2:17 - And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." But there must be a sincere and absolute rending of your heart and soul. You must submit yourself to contrition, first by admitting to the Lord that you are a sinner, by confessing your sins to him, and then by sincerely asking for his forgiveness and restoration. And I don’t care how perfect you are, but as long as you remain in the flesh, you are a sinner. Consequently you must never say a prayer without asking for forgiveness. Because repentance and forgiveness are the prerequisites to healing, to redemption, indeed to receiving your reward from God; and without realizing one’s wayward and un-Christ-like ways, without confessing and committing the act of turning around, one carries around the yoke and burden of sin which enslaves us to misery, failure, and the reproach of God. As it reads in
Isaiah 59:2 - but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear. And if there is a separation between you and God, how do you expect to get to him? If the Lord has hidden his face from you, then your prayers are no more effective than barking and yelling at a wall and hoping and waiting to see a response. You must first remove the sin that is in your hand, then the Holy Spirit as discussed in Part I will be reactivated within you, reopening the channels of communication between you and God.
Acts 3:19 - Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
So clearly, only after repentance of our sins can we hope for times of refreshing. As long as we remain unrepentantly in sin, it is useless to expect that our prayers or supplications could ever be answered. And that is why in:
Mark 2:1-12 - 1 And when he returned to Caper'na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven." 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 "Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?" 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, take up your pallet and walk'? 10 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" --he said to the paralytic-- 11 "I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home." 12 And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God.
Consider very carefully the steps Christ took to heal this paralytic of his infirmity- first, the man repented of his sin, and Christ, perceiving his contrition, his hatred of his sin, his desire and renewed commitment to serve him and walk blamelessly before the Lord – as demonstrated in the desperate lengths he had them go to bring him before Christ – went ahead and forgave him of his sins in Verse 5. And only after forgiving him, did Christ now pronounce his blessing and healing upon him. His repentance was the precursor to his healing and blessing. You simply cannot put the cart before the horse. Sin separates us from God. But separation from sin is reconciliation with and to God. 1John 1:1-2 1If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. And if his word is not within us, his salvation cannot be received by us, because it is that “word” within us that is activated by God’s response to our prayers, consequently manifesting our desires. And God cannot be mocked. He is not man; he sees your heart and searches into your intentions. You cannot pretend to repent in order to receive your request. He has no time for tomfoolery. Isaiah 29:13 - And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote; therefore I will again astound this people…and the intelligence of the intelligence will vanish. The Lord seeks committed minds, committed worshippers. And it is in this attitude that our prayers begin to find the spiritual wings to rise up to the Father.
Remember that Elijah was a murderer. David was an adulterer. Mary Magdalene was a prostitute and possessed by demons. Paul was a persecutor and murderer of the saints. Yet, despite all of this, that you may know that the Lord indeed is love, he forgave them of their iniquities and glorified them all in his name. So much so that Jesus, in his resurrection, did not appear to his disciples, a priest or even his own mother, but instead, chose first to appear before Mary Magdalene, the former prostitute (of course there are variables here that must be preserved for another article). But let it suffice to say that the Lord is a merciful God, waiting to receive and forgive you of your sins. Only come to him. Return to the Lord and he will return to you. Make your requests known to him in righteousness and with true repentance, and the Good Lord, giver of all things great and good, will look upon our lowly estate and give us according to our heart’s desires (Amen).
If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130:3-4 KJV)
Repentance-->Forgiveness->Righteousness= Reconciliation with God and Refreshing and Restoration from God.
Sincerely, The Humble Servant of the Lord, Damilola Olorunnisola.
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