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Posts Tagged ‘christian prayer’

Here you have my email exchanges with an atheist guru who claims to have a best-seller on the subject.  To conceal his identity I’ll call him Tom in this reproduction.  My name is Mathew Paul.

Tom, I read your de-conversion story a few weeks back with tears in my eyes.  I was not able to get rid of you from my mind and therefore I am sending you this response for your kind reaction.

You said you had a marvelous conversion from drugs and sex etc. to Christ and that your whole life was changed over-night.   I am sure that you are not back to your pre-conversion days after your de-conversion now as no sensible person would ever want to be there.

What do you think now as to how that change took place in your life without the power of God?
If you had not experienced that transformation then in your life, what do you think would have been your position a few years later?  Do you really think you would have survived to this day?  Tell us some thing about your chums who were with you then who were not changed as you were.  Do you know any thing about them at all? 
 
One of the reasons you said for leaving Christianity was that you had received more information now.  Tom, Do you really think that the present information that you have received is the perfect information?
 
What would you think of some of my experiences in prayer, like raising a concrete building of 700 sft. within thirty days without money in hand nor approaching any man for the same either by way of loan or even by sending out ‘information for prayer’?
 
Tom, I hope you will spare a minute and respond to my mail.
 
Thanking you and
praying for you
MP
Tom’s response to my mail.
Thanks for writing Matthew.
 
What do you think now as to how that change took place in your life without the power of God?
 
The power of faith, which is internal to a person. If one truly believes in something, anything, it motivates him and gives him incredible strength.
 
If you had not experienced that transformation then in your life, what do you think would have been your position a few years later?  Do you really think you would have survived to this day?
 
I cannot say. I don’t know. Anything was possible.
 
Tell us some thing about your chums who were with you then who were not changed as you were.  Do you know any thing about them at all? 
 
A couple of them are dead. I don’t know about any of the rest of them. I completely lost track since I went into the ministry.
 
One of the reasons you said for leaving Christianity was that you had received more information now.  Tom, Do you really think that the present information that you have received is the perfect information?
 
Perfect? What’s that? No one has absolute knowledge, not even you. But, I think what I learned was and is true.
 
What would you think of some of my experiences in prayer, like raising a concrete building of 700 sft. within thirty days without money in hand nor approaching any man for the same either by way of loan or even by sending out ‘information for prayer’?
 
I don’t know the details nor do I need to. But I’m sure a bone fide miracle never took place, and that’s all I need to say.
 
Tom, I hope you will spare a minute and respond to my mail.
 
Thanking you and praying for you
 
Go ahead. Thank you. But remember, don’t count the hits when a prayer request is answered, nor discount the misses when a request is not granted. Make it a testable prayer. Pray specifically such that we will both know if your prayer is answered. Don’t offer a nebulous prayer which reveals you truly do not believe, like “help him,” or “convict him,” or “turn his life around before he dies.” None of those prayers can be known to have been granted before we both die, since you might die before me. Be specific. If you want me to return to the faith then give a date when this is supposed to happen. This is not the same as demanding God to do something on your timetable at all, no more than it is when you ask for it not to rain on a given day.
 
I’ve decided to write about this on my blog. I’ll not reveal your name.
 
Cheers,

Tom,
 

My response.

Thanks for your reply.

 Here is my response to your comments.  I’d love to hear from you as you have become some one very dear to my heart and I do wish to have some friendly exchanges with you, if you please.
 
Tom, you said, “The power of faith, which is internal to a person. If one truly believes in something, anything, it motivates him and gives him incredible strength.”
Do you think that if you had believed in ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ you would have been saved from that gutter that you were in?  Do you really think so?  You are a knowledgeable person.  Have you come across one person in your entire life who had an over-night transformation like you had, but that person did not believe in Jesus, but in ‘something, anything’?  Oh Yes, I know many who were helped by rehabilitation centres etc.   It takes weeks if not months for some recovery.  There is nothing dramatic there at all.

But I can produce thousands, if not millions, whose lives were dramatically changed by faith in Christ.  The Mizoes of NE India lived as head-hunters till the early 1950s. Nothing could change them for thousands of years.  But now go and see the transformation which the gospel has brought to their culture.  They are one of the finest groups of people in the entire region now.  In my late teens I lived near them for a whole year as a teacher.  And many more examples are there.  You know it all, don’t you, Tom?

You said, “Perfect? What’s that? No one has absolute knowledge, not even you. But, I think what I learned was and is true.”

I never claim to know every thing.  But you seem to do so.

Let me explain.  If you want to say that there is no piece of magnet in your coat-pocket, you must know whatever is in there, don’t you?  Likewise, if you want to say that there is no God in the universe, should you not know every thing that is there in the universe?  Otherwise how could you possibly tell it to be absolutely true?

Your arguments from philosophy etc. who could say that they are flawless?

At best you could say, “I don’t know if there is a god”.  Any thing more than that is presumptuous and indeed is foolish.  What do you think, Tom?

Oh, yea.  You could very well say, “I have no god in my life” or “I don’t believe in god”.  That is perfectly ok.  But I think you need not verbalize that as your life speaks loud enough.

 You said, “I don’t know the details nor do I need to. But I’m sure a bone fide miracle never took place, and that’s all I need to say.”

In saying that are you not closing your eyes to facts?  And yet you are claiming that prayer has no effect outside of the one who prays.  I throw an open challenge at you to look at my life and then say prayer is useless.  Would you have the courage to take it up, Tom?
You said, “If you want me to return to the faith then…”
 
Sorry, I have no intention to pray you back to faith at all.   All I am praying for you is that God would be gracious to you and give you happy and long life here on earth so that you could enjoy it to the maximum. I am sure God will grant you that.  After all, you closed your door for any thing which is there after you die.  My Bible tells me not to waste time praying for people who don’t want it (1Jn.3:16b).
God never forces His way into the life of any person (Rev.3:20). 
 
I subsist on prayers.  I see answers to prayers on a regular basis. People request me to pray for them.  I do see results beyond any man’s imagination.  By the way, I am not a Charismatic or a Pentecostal. I am a sober person with a post-graduate degree in Divinity and a research degree from a reputable secular university. 
Tom,  did you realize that all your fight against God is like a dog barking at the Sun!

Wish you all the very best this life could possibly offer.

Again praying for you
Mathew

Tom’s response.
It’s all a matter of perspective, and I think my perspective is much better than yours for these reasons:
 
(He then gave his link here.  Since I do not wish to reveal his identity, I have removed it from here.)
 
Tom, did you realize that all your fight against God is like a dog barking at the Sun!
 
Matthew, did you realize that all your fighting against Allah is like a dog barking at the Sun!
 
Wish you all the very best this life could possibly offer.
You too.
 Again praying for you.
 Thank you.   Tom.
My response

Thank you for sending me the link to your blog.  I promise to read it and I will come back with my comments later.
 
You also said,  “Matthew(by the way, I spell my name with one ‘t’), did you realize that all your fighting against Allah is like a dog barking at the Sun!”
 
Tom, I must tell you I do not engage myself with non-entities.  You could never ever get me talking about other ‘god/gods’ as they have no existence in my thoughts.  Could you possibly fight against some thing which really does not exist at all?  Oh, sorry, this is what you are doing with the God of the Bible.  I challenge you to engage yourself with Harry Potter instead, for to both of us HP is an imaginary person.
 
To me the greatest evidence for the existence of god is that man has been talking about god/s from time immemorial even until today.
 
Could you possibly name anything, something which does not exist and yet man has been talking about it from time immemorial non-stop even until this day?
 
Waiting to hear from you soon.
 
Have a good day.
Bye for now.
Mathew
(Four days later I wrote again.)
I was expecting a response from you for my mail dated Feb.21, where I requested you to give me the name of some thing, any thing which does not exist, as you say God does not, and yet man has been talking about it non-stop from time immemorial even until today as they have been talking about God.  I covet an answer from you, Tom, because I know that you are a great thinker, please.
 
As I promised you I read through your reasons for rejecting Christianity.  I must congratulate you for producing such a comprehensive case against the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’.  I must say that your thought pattern is great and that your arguments are succinct.  No wonder your book (sure, I didn’t read that) would become one of the best-sellers.  I must also tell you that I can never think of arguing against you from your stand-point. 
 
But I dare not leave you to the conclusions you reached by your arguments, simply because it lacks practical application in our daily living. Or you must prove it.  Any theory if it is not practical is of little value, isn’t it?   Being a very practical man, after my university studies, where my simpleton faith in the Bible was challenged to the core, I decided to experiment to see whether the faith in the God of the Bible was indeed practical or not.
 
So the first thing I did was to resign my job and was found without a regular source of income to sustain my family.  For three and a half years I was all alone with a family of two children then, with no salary, no job as a preacher or a social worker-which would let one be in constant contact with people- and without any known source of income from any estate or any thing of that sort.  In other words, if I went hungry no one in the entire world was responsible for me.  In fact people could blame me for my situation as I could have easily earned a good salary with my educational background.  But during those years I proved to my satisfaction that God was indeed very real in our lives.
 
Three and a half years later, my local worshipping group commended me to the service of the Lord following the pattern found in Acts 13:1-4.  From 1975 till this day I live without a regular salary, no bank balance, no business income or income from any estate.  Now we have five children and I want to testify to the fact that we never ever went hungry or we were found in need and were left with out any help.  We never approached any man for any financial help.  And we went to a remote jungle-tribe that our contact with the extended family and friends were practically nil.
 
By 1986 I had sufficient faith to believe in God to erect a concrete building without any contact with men for the finance of it.  I started with little money in hand, completed a 700 sft. of concrete structure including the roof within a matter of thirty calendar days; ended with no debt, and informed no man any where even for prayer about this project as I wanted to prove a point.  That building has a granite inscription which reads, “This building stands witnessing the fact that God of Elijah lives”.  For over six months I spent eight to ten hours every day in my prayer- closet praying, planning and interacting with God for the same. The purpose of the building was to house the poor children to educate them.
 
When the building was completed within 30 days, I was amazed to the core. I could not believe it myself.  I thought my life-purpose was indeed achieved as I proved once again without a speck of doubt that indeed God answers prayers today.  In 1991 I became semi-paralyzed and for the last sixteen years I am unable to walk even one step without crutches. And I had to leave my station for health reasons.  
 
Now I am almost confined to my bedroom.  The enormous amount of money for my treatment and for the education of all my children now five in number (the eldest was only 16 then), all were well taken care of as direct, tangible, undeniable, unbelievable answer to prayer day by day. No individual, no organization, no church can ever claim that they kept us going all these years without us going bankrupt. Oh, yes, I have been getting money from people known and unknown to me, from family and from friends, from believers and unbelievers; indeed often I never knew where my next meal would come from, but it always came right in time.  I just don’t know how our needs are taken care of.  But we are well cared for.
 
Tom, in the light of my experiences,  I wish you to prove to me that God never answered my prayers.  Tell me how I survived all these years.  Tell me how I educated my five children to earn a good living today.  Tell me how I met my huge medi-bills every now and then.  Tell me how I maintained an automobile all these years. (Mind you, I am almost confined to my room without any ministry for the last sixteen years and practically without much contact with the world out side.  No, No.  I would have published a dozen and a half articles in Christian magazines in the last 32 years.  Yes, I did go out once or twice a year to teach but it is far too expensive as I could never travel alone.  I worked as a volunteer for three years in a Bible College.  But health prevented me from continuing.  That was just about the touch I had with the world outside. I must also tell you that this email facility I have now only from Oct.07.)   Most of all, tell me how that building came up in just 30 days.  Would you be able to explain my life from your philosophy of life?
 
Your answer must not merely be an explanation of what happened in my life.   You or some one else must produce similar results for a whole life trusting in ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ or on ‘ anything or something’ as you said that it was the power of faith within you that did it. If that is so, do it for me that we may believe your theory.  If you can’t, I can give  you numerous people who like me simply subsisted by prayer all their life.  I took cue from reading the biography of George Mueller of Bristol and others like him.  I ask you to produce ONE single person who did it without God and the Bible, believing in ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ or  on anything, or on something.
 
So here I stand.  I say that the God of the Bible is true and is alive.  He can be trusted and must be trusted.  Or prove it otherwise not merely by your arguments, but by your life.  OK. Otherwise agree that your theory is just a theory which is not practical.
 
Waiting to hear from you.
 
In His Matchless Service
Mathew
 
You might read more stories from my life in my blog-site if you need.
 
Thanking you
 
And bye.
Mathew
Tom’s response
I ask you to produce ONE single person who did it without God and the Bible, believing in ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ or on anything, or on something.
 
I don’t know your full circumstances, but I dare say that your story is a self-fulfilled and group fulfilled answer prayer.
 
Show me that you can duplicate these same circumstances in a world where there are no other Christians who feel compelled to prove to themselves and to people like me that Christianity is true, and who are not bound by divine command to financially help their ministers preach the gospel and in times of need and you may have a case.
 
Ingersol tells a story where two traveling salve salesmen who are trying to show theirs is better. So one guy cuts off the tail of a dog and applies his salve to the stump on the dog and it causes a new tail to grow out. The other guy puts his salve on the amputeed tail and it causes a dog to grow out of it. He says he wanted a good miracle like that. Me too
Tom.

My response.
Thank you for the response.
 
You explain my experiences as self-fulfillment and group fulfillment. You said, “I don’t know your full circumstances, but I dare say that your story is a self-fulfilled and group fulfilled answer prayer.”    I think, You are daring too much, Tom.
 
You also said,
 
“Show me that you can duplicate these same circumstances in a world where there are no other Christians who feel compelled to prove to themselves and to people like me that Christianity is true, and who are not bound by divine command to financially help their ministers preach the gospel and in times of need and you may have a case”
 
 
Tom, why do close your eyes to naked facts?  I told you very clearly that I wanted to prove whether God indeed answered prayers without human interference or not. I, therefore, on purpose did not disclose that I was on this project to ANY man ANY where in the entire world.  My physical situation suited me so well for this as I lived in a place far away from all modern conveniences.  Believe me, I didn’t even have a telephone connection as it was not available in our village.
 
That particular month, April 1986 to be precise, I spent more that ten to fifteen times our average expenditure.  If money was flowing in that way, surely I would have become a millionaire in one or two years!  But the flow of money just stopped as I completed the building.  It was two months later that I opened the building at which time came the first ever announcement about the building.
 
You call it group fulfillment.  Yes, indeed. That is amazing too.  Truly amazing!  Because God moved several people’s hearts that month all over to come forward and donate funds for a cause that they never knew about.  God was behind it all.  Not any man, as no one regulated funds for that building.
 
You quoted Innersole in your mail.  Fantastic illustration, indeed!
 
In all your mails you did not answer my three questions.
 
1.  Produce ONE person other than you who had an over-night transformation from the gutter by trusting self, or some thing, anything, like you had.  (I can not categorize you in that group because you said in your de-conversion story that you had trusted in JESUS and that you were transformed over-night.  Now if you say that it was in yourself that you trusted and not in Jesus, I must tell you that you are simply lying.)  But I can show you millions around the world who could testify that Jesus changed them over-night.
 
2. Tell me the name of SOME THING, ANY THING which does not exist other than God, as you say God does not, yet man every where has been talking about it non-stop from time immemorial till today.
 
3.  Show me ONE other individual who produced similar results as I have produced for a whole life time trusting in some thing, any thing other than the God of the Bible, specially at the construction of the building that I talked about. I can show you numerous people like myself all around the world who subsisted by prayer. (See my link: www.mathewpaul.org/exciting! and read my post ‘Maruthy Omni’ to read about  how I got the car which I run now. Could any one produce similar results by trusting in ‘any thing or some thing’ or trusting in self?)
 
I hope you will give me answers to these questions. 
 
If as you say there is no God, I do not lose any thing at all as you yourself agreed that I am a self-fulfilled person.  If not… who can imagine what?!!
 
Thanking you and hoping to hear from you soon.
 
In His matchless service an unprofitable servant,
Mathew
 (I am still waiting for answers from him.)

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Prayer is one of the most misunderstood subjects. Even well-­meaning believers some times come up with a question, “God is Almighty, Loving and all-­knowing. Then what is the need for prayer?” That indeed is a very good question.

How are we to answer that question? When we realize how God made man, all our doubts would be vanished. To begin with, God has made us as dependent beings. Man has to depend on air that he breaths, water he drinks and food he eats to maintain his physical body. Then man has to depend on his fellow humans to maintain his mind healthy and happy. We depend on our parents, siblings, friends, teachers and the society around us. Imagine our life with out them! The Bible tells us that man is much more than just body and mind. We are told that we have a spirit (1Thes.5:23) and the spirit in man is the God­-element in man (Pro.20:27). And God in His grace has permitted us to depend on Him to maintain our spirits. In other words, the one who does not pray, does not have spiritual life. He is spiritually dead as all in Adam. While the Bible says, “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31), the Bible also declares that only those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom.10:13). It is by prayer that faith becomes saving faith. Faith would be dead faith, otherwise. Thus we conclude that prayer is the vital breath of a Christian. Is prayer all that important? Well, without prayer, we would be living a subhuman existence like that of the animals! In other words without Him we can not live a spiritual life at all.

Let us look at the Scriptures again. What is the role of man here on earth? We are told very clearly that Adam was created to rule over the earth (Gen.1:28). And Adam was to work in the garden and to keep it (Gen.2:15). In other words, man was to be God’s representative here on earth, looking after it and taking care of it. While in the first chapter of Genesis we are told repeatedly that God named things (vv.5,8,10), after Adam was created it was Adam who named animals and NOT God (Gen.2:19,20). Even though Satan claims to have authority over this earth and the world is under the Evil One (Lk.4:6;1Jn.5:19), in God’s eyes it is man who still has that authority here (Ps.115:16). God, as creator and sustain-er of the universe, sends His rain and sun upon the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt.5:45), but God would NEVER interfere in the life of any one unless request is made (Psa.50:15). Is prayer important? Absolutely important. Unless we pray, God wont interfere in our lives. If you want to see God’s work in your life or God working for you, you must pray. There is no history of God running after people to save them unless someone else prayed for them. See Gen. 19:29.

Now we need to look at the vital relationship between God’s promises and prayer.
This is a foggy area as far as many are concerned. They think that God will just fulfill His promises with out any human interference. But the Scriptures teach us just the opposite. God just delights to fulfill His promises only in answer to the prayers of His people! This is a big mystery. Should we pray so that God’s promises would be fulfilled? It looks rather strange that this is so. Let us look at a few scriptures to see how it works. First example is Gen. 25:21. Here was Isaac born to Abraham as the promised son after waiting for quarter of a century! Truly, Isaac brought a lot of laughter to the family; yitschâq, Isaac’s Hebrew form, means laughter. God’s promise to Abraham was that his descendants would be like the sand of the sea and like the stars in the sky (Gen.22:17). But our verse above tells us of a tragic situation; that Rebekah was barren! And the verse goes on to say what the solution was. And Isaac prayed and the Lord opened her womb and she became pregnant. Here is that solemn truth brought before us in all clarity. God delights to fulfill His promises only in answer to the prayers of His people. There seems to be no exception to this rule! Look at the life of Jacob. It was at Bethel that he received the promises of God (Gen.28:10­17). But only after Peniel his name was changed and the promises were fulfilled in his life (Gen.32:22­30). Again look at Dan.9:2­3. Daniel was now living at the time he learned from Scripture that the time of the captivity for Israel was over. See what he does in response to his knowledge. He turns to God in fasting and prayer. Daniel knew the solemn truth that God would fulfill His promises only in answer to the prayers of His saints. And now let us look the last promise of our Lord to His beloved disciple John in Patmos. “Behold, I come quickly” and what was his response? “Amen, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev.22:20). Is prayer important? Well, if you wish to see God’s promises fulfilled, you need to pray! Without us, He will not!

Now, let us go on and see the relationship between the will of God and prayer. This, again, is another area where many are confused. They think all that happens around them is God’s will. Tragically, that is NOT true. We, in India, live in a society dominated by the Hindu concept of fate. But the Bible is against fate. Where is fate when the Bible says, “nothing shall be impossible to you” (Mt.17:21)? But we need to conceive God’s will at three different levels. At the first level, there is the sovereign will of God by which He decides who is to be born where and what the DNA factor of each person is. None could question it or change it (Acts.17:26). Then there is the permissive will of God. God lets every one live as he/she likes. God does NOT force His ways upon any one any time (Eccl. 11:9). Sure, there will be a judgment at the end. But when some one commits something wrong, God is not there to punish that person immediately (Eccl.8:11). Each one has the freedom of choice. This is the permissive will of God. Lastly, there is what is known as the perfect will of God for every one born on earth (Rom.12:2). God has revealed that perfect will in His Word. God wills that every one be saved (1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9). God wills that all saved ones live in holiness (1Thes. 4:3). It is God’s will that every child of God should live a thankfull life, pray without ceasing and rejoice in every situation (1Thes.5:17,18). But if this should happen, it is impossible without prayer. Is prayer important? Absolutely important. Without prayer God’s perfect will can not be achieved in our personal lives, in the life of the assembly and in the world around us. That is why in the so called “Lord’s prayer” our Lord taught His disciples to pray, “Heavenly Father, … Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt.6:10). His perfect will is accomplished in heaven. But if that should happen here on earth, His people must pray. Is prayer all that important? Absolutely so. Unless we pray, God’s perfect will can not be achieved here on earth. Without us, He will not!

Now let us have a look at the ultimate purpose of the Church here on earth.
The epistle to Ephesians deals with the Church Universal. Paul talks about the purpose of God from eternity past to the coming eternity. We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and in the ages to come we are told that God is going to unite all things in Christ (Eph.1:4, 10). Now we are made to sit in the heavelies in Christ Jesus (2:7). But still we are here on earth, are we not? Why did He leave His body here on earth today? Answer is found in 6:10,11 of our epistle. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”. It is clear from these verses that the ultimate purpose (indicated by the word “finally”) of the church on earth is to stand against the wiles of the devil. We are given details in vv.12-17 about the armor which we should put on. And the only activity of the armored soldier of Christ is to pray, pray, pray and pray as found in v.18. Just look at that verse and see the repetition of the words used about prayer in that one verse. Is prayer important? Well, without prayer Satan will be victorious and we will be guilty of failing God in our generation.

Now let us have a look at 1Sam.12:23 which states, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, …”. Here is Samuel making a most solemn statement. In that chapter Samuel lists all that God would want to do for Israel as a nation. But at the end Samuel says that God is going to do it all in response to his prayers. Ask and receive is one of the spiritual laws which can not be broken! James in his epistle puts it the other way around and says, “you have not, because you have not asked” (Jas.4:2). Read also Eze.36:37 in different versions. By not praying for others and for the world around us, we are binding the hands of God as God will not do any thing spiritual except in answer to prayers of His people. We, as believers, sin against the Lord if we stop praying. Is prayer important? Now let the reader decide the importance of prayer as God will not do any thing spiritual in this world except in answer to prayer! Without our prayers, God remains defeated in our generation. Study the history of revivals. Before every mighty revival that swept the earth, there was a praying church, mightily praying through till the revival came. There is NO exception. This once again confirms the fact that without us, He will NOT!

Finally, look at all the commands in the Scriptures about prayer. For example, “when you pray, go into a room and close the doors… (Mt.6:6). How many of us spend time alone with God every day in prayer? “Pray and faint not” (Lk.18:1). How many of us are consistent in our prayer life? “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Col.4:2). Do we have the right priority when it comes to prayer or prayer has found a back seat in our lives? “… strive together with me in prayer …” (Rom.15:30). We do pray. But how many of us strive in prayer? How many of us are guilty of being disobedient to these and other plain commands about prayer? Why did God give so much importance to prayer? Simple reason is: Without us, He will Not do any thing spiritual. Let us order our lives and set our priorities right that we may not be ashamed at His coming. Remember that the desire to pray is given by Him but the decision must be taken by us. May we be given grace to devote ourselves to prayer that we might be the instruments through whom God would carry out His eternal purposes here on earth. To His name be all glory. Amen.

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God created the world and He runs it by unchangeable laws (Psa.148:5,6). We know that there are physical laws which govern the universe. For example the Law of gravity. No one could ever imagine jumping from a high rise building and go without getting hurt. If we break the physical laws of life we get hurt physically. Thankfully, the Lord has permitted great scientists in different generations to discover some of these physical laws and that makes life much easier. Scientists who do further experiments base all their investigations on these known physical laws.
Likewise, there are immutable spiritual laws at work as well. Because no man could ever discover these spiritual laws, it pleased the almighty to reveal these laws to His people (Psa.147:19,20). If one wants to be familiar with the spiritual laws which are operative, one needs to turn to the revealed Word of God which is the Bible. From no where else we could learn these spiritual laws!
Validity of the Old Testament could never be challenged any time. We read in Psa.119:89 “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens”. So we are dealing with eternal truths and we are thankful that God has NOT left us in darkness in this area.

One of the unchanging spiritual laws is “Ask and you shall receive” (Mat.7:7) and it is put the other way around in Js.4:2 where we read, “you do not have, because you do not ask”.

Prayer is one of the most misunderstood subjects in the Bible. There are many promises in the Bible. It looks they are given without any conditions attatched to them. For example, look at Mat. 7:8. It says, “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened”. Could this be true when we pray for material things? Will every one who ever asks for any thing receive it every time? Of course, not. If so, what does this promise mean?

Many have become infidles because they found this and such other Bible promises do not work in real life. Tragically they have misunderstood the Word of God!

What did our Lord actually mean when He made that promise in Mt.7:7? The very next verse is the key to understanding Mt.7:7. When He said that every one receives what is asked for, it obviously means the Lord is talking about spiritual things only.

Come to think of it this way. Have you ever found some one who prayed in faith trusting the word of the Lord who did NOT get forgiveness from the Lord? It could never happen. Could it?

From this we learn a great spiritual truth. Prayer is ordained by the Lord primarily for spiritual things. First thing we ever need to pray for is forgiveness and we need to make sure that we are forgiven before we go on to ask for any thing else in life.

We are clearly told in Psa 66:18 “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”.

Any sinner, praying in true repentance and faith, could confidently pray a prayer for forgiveness and he could be absolutely sure that God would not reject him. Once forgiveness is experienced, then all other prayers, done in the will of God, would surely have an answer as well (1Jn.5:14).

But have you ever come across any one who experienced God’s forgivenss without praying? We are told that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son that every one who believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (Jn.3:16). The only condition is believing. And, indeed, true faith would express itself as believing prayer! We are told in Rom.10:13 that every one who calls upon the name of the Lord would be saved. That means any one who would not do the believing prayer would be damned for ever. Thus we come to the conclusion “Pray or perish”. And there is no exception to this rule ever!

While what is said so far is abundantly clear, a few, at least, would raise their eye brows at the next phrase in our caption, “interced or let others perish”! Is there scriptual warrant for that statement? Or is it the truth that the eternity of every one born in this world is fixed by the Lord before the foundation of the world?!

We need to study the scripture clearly to find out what is being taught in this regard. Doctrines of predestination and eternal security are two of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Bible. This misunderstanding has led to callousness in the lives of many well-meaning believers. I believe that these two doctrines are clearly taught in the scriptures. And if I do not believe them, I am not a Bible believer! We are clearly taught that God does every thing based on His foreknowledge (1Pet.1:2).

Having said that, we need to investigate further the role of a believer in the eternal plan of God. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). Indeed, what does the Lord expect from each believer?

We might begin with Eze.3:17-21. Clearly this passage teaches that Ezekiel is fully responsible for his generation and that the blood of the wicked shall be required of his hands if he was not to warn them!

Now turn to Psa 106:23 where it says, “Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them”. Again in this verse the Lord’s action toward the ungodly and the wicked was based on Moses’s intercession. God changed His decision because Moses interceded for them!

We know about the intercession of Abraham for Sodom and Gomorah. And we are told that the Lord saved Lot because He remembered Abraham (Gen.19:29). Again we read that God did NOT punish Aaraon when the golden calf was made because Moses prayed for him (Dt.9:20)!

This truth of the Scripture is cemented when we read Eze 22:30 where we read, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none”.

Come to the New Testament and see what it says. Paul tells in 1Tim. 2:1 to pray for all men and he goes on to tell the fundamental reason for this in v. 4 where we read that it is God’s will that all men be saved. Again we are told in 2Pt.3:9 that He is delaying His coming because He is not willing that any should perish and we are asked to hasten His coming by our holy lives!

Obviously, these and other scripture portions clearly teach us that the punishment of the wicked would be averted if there was an intercessor standing in the gap for them.
God’s justice demands the punishment of the wicked. But God’s grace longs to save the wicked if they would turn from their wickedness. And those of of us who enjoy the grace of God need to be the media through which God’s grace would reach the wicked.

How are we to understand the doctrine of predestination in the light of these scriptures? The most important thing is that there is no NEGATIVE predestination taught in the New Testament. By that I mean, God has NOT destined any one to go to hell. In fact, hell is created for the devil and his angels (Mt.25:41). In the Old Testament we read of God choosing Jacob and rejecting Easaw even before they were born (Gen.25:23; cf Rom. 9:11-13). In the OT God did that. That was because in the Old Testamet God wanted just ONE nation through whom He would carry out His plan of salvation for the human race.

While God knew what each man would choose, because He is all-knowing, He has NOT determined what each one would choose! That would be interfering with the freedom of human will. Each one has the freedom to choose good or evil. But man by nature is corrupt now and he is inclined to choose only evil. That is because of the total depravity of the human heart due to the sin of Adam. But praise God, God would change His mind about punishing sinners if there was some one who would intercede for them and as a result they would turn to God in repentance.

Our Lord said Joh 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”. Thus it becomes the duty and privilege of each intercessor to ask the Father to draw men to Christ so that they too would be saved.
Be sure of one thing that all prayers done in the will of God would never go unanswered (1Jn.5:14) and we know it is God’s will that all should be saved (1Tim.2:4).

Sure, we are entering into real spiritual warfare here. The devil has trapped millions in various fortresses (2Cor.10:3,4) and also blinded the eyes of unbelievers so that they can not see the light of the gospel (2Cor.4:4). We need to strive in prayer that the will of God might be accomplished in the lives of our loved ones (Rom.15:30-32). There is no other option.

Brethren, let us be men on our knees interceding for our neigbhors and friends who are unsaved and let us be instruments in the hands of God to snatch a few from fire (Jud.v.24). Be sure of this truth that unless we become mighty intercessors, we are letting the unsaved around us to be perished for ever! And thus we will be guilty of failing God in our generation. History is replete with examples of mighty intercessors who moved the heart of God to save millions in their generations. When ever, where ever there was a praying church, there were mighty movements of the Spirit of God when millions turned to Christ. When the church was slack in prayer, there was prportionate dearth in the work of God as well. May the Lord give us grace to be mighty intercessors and may millions in our generation turn to the Lord in true repentance and faith and thus be saved from eternal damnation. May His name be glorified through us. Amen.

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Prayer – A Big Mystery!


Could you imagine living without breathing?
You might say, “What a silly question to ask?”! It is obvious that no man could live even for seconds without breathing. Breathing is so vital to life that some one who is not breathing is not living.

God has made us as dependent creatures. We depend on the air that we breath, the water that we drink and the food that we eat. If we want to have a healthy life, we need to depend on unpolluted air, water and food. Likewise, we need to depend on people around us to have a healthy, strong and a happy mind. Imagine our lives without what we learned from our parents, teachers and friends! Imagine how miserable our lives would have been if we never had the privilege to be literates!

We know that man is much more than body and mind. The Bible teaches that man is created in God’s image and that man has a spirit in him (1Thes.5:23). The spirit in man is that which makes him different from the rest of the animal world. Just as our body and mind, our spirits too can not survive on its on. Graciously, God has permitted us that we depend on Him for the survival of our spirits.

Prayer is the vital breath of a Christian. If you are not a praying person, that means that you are spiritually dead. When we call upon God through Christ our Lord, His grace and power flow to us and make us alive spiritually. A prayer-less person is a spiritually dead person. And a person who spends less time in prayer is a spiritually powerless person!

The first thing that any one should get from God through prayer is forgiveness.
Prayer for forgiveness must be accompanied by repentance and faith (Mk.10:15). There are many who pray and believe with out repentance. Such prayer has no value. Repentance is a total turning around. Man basically lives for himself and for his loved ones. Repentance is a total turning around to live for God. Faith without repentance is like the faith of the devil (James 2:15). It is dead faith and it has no value. Prayer accompanied by repentance makes faith into saving faith. Thus all who call on Him will be saved (Rom.10:13).

There are many who go to God in prayer for material things. God is a generous giver and He gives generously. Such people are able to narrate stories about how God answered their prayers and how they got healing, or other material benefits. It is a trick of the devil to see that they stand short of the full blessings from God which is spiritual son-ship and forgiveness. If you are some one who knows that God answers prayers, and if you do not know that you are a forgiven child of God, you are missing the greatest gift from God!

In fact, God has ordained prayer basically for spiritual purposes. That is why Jesus said, “every one who asks receives” (Mt.7:8). Every one who asks in true repentance and faith for forgiveness and for son-ship surely receives it. If you are not a saved person, call upon Him right now and be saved. Use http://www.4stepstogod.com and pray that prayer at the end of the page now and be a child of God.

Now you may be a forgiven person. That is not the end of your spiritual life. Prayer is meant that we might be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph.3:19). If you have only received forgiveness and son-ship alone, you are enjoying far less than what God expects to give you through this mystery which is prayer. A prayerful person is able to move the hands of God which move the universe. Thus prayer becomes the mightiest weapon that any man can wield in this life. May the Lord make us men and women of prayer for His glory. Amen!

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Key verse: “Because Rebeca had no children, Isaac prayed to the LORD for her. The LORD answered his prayer, and Rebeca became pregnant” (Gen.25:21).

This verse here gives us a clear insight into the relationship between God’s promises and our prayers. This is a totally misunderstood subject as many well meaning believers think that God’s promises will automatically come true. They wait impatiently for God to fulfill His promises and some times even find fault with God for His callousness about His promises.

This verse here tells us the secret about the many unfulfilled promises of God. We know that God promised Abraham seed like the sand of the sea and like the stars of heaven (Gen.22:17). Yet it took quarter of a century before Abraham had the joy of seeing his promised son. There was a time when Abraham was willing to make a compromise and he was willing to accept Ishmael as his heir (Gen.17:18). We can imagine Abraham being fed up with waiting for the son of his promise. And in his conversation (prayer) with the Lord, Abraham was now making a negative suggestion; that he was willing to accept the seed of his flesh as the promised seed! But God would NOT compromise on His promise to Abraham. God said “No” to that suggestion of Abraham and God wanted Abraham to wait patiently for His promise to be fulfilled. We can well imagine Abraham asking God when that glorious day was going to be! Abraham was obviously waiting and praying that God would fulfill His promise soon. And at last Isaac was born as promised by God, in answer to long and patient wait and believing prayers of Abraham.

This truth is confirmed in the incident that followed. Now that Isaac is married, there is yet another problem for the promise to be fulfilled. We are told that Rebeca was barren! It was indeed the least expected thing. But this situation teaches us the fact that the promises of God would not come true in our lives in a natural process. It is absolutely true that God promised seed like the sand of the sea and that not one of the promises will ever fail either. It is also true that God will fulfill all His promises right in time (Acts.7:17). God is faithful and He will surely fulfill His promise with out fail. But the amazing truth is that God fulfills His promises ONLY in answer to the prayers of His people!

All the promises are written down for us in His Word (Rom.1:2) and all promises are for all who believe (Gal.3:22). We are told that the promises of God are to be obtained by faith and patience (Heb.6:12,15). And we are asked to perfect holiness since we have these promises (2Cor.7:1). With all the above, if we do NOT continue in fervent prayers, the promises of God will never come true in our lives. This truth is expressed through out the scriptures and we need to take heed to it to see that we obtain the promises of God in our lives.

Let us look at the life of Jacob as a clear example of this truth exemplified for us. Jacob comes to Bethel and there he receives the promises of God (Gen.28:10-22). Then in the life of Jacob there was that long gap of twenty years where he seeks all short cuts to make His life a blessing. But alas! Twenty years later, though he became a big number physically, yet he was more a miserable person than ever before. But at Peniel he wrestles the whole night and there he became the heir of his promises. His name was changed and he became a new person altogether. We see that though he got promises at Bethel, only after his Peniel experience, the promises got fulfilled in his life.

From Dan. 9:2-3 we learn that Daniel knew this truth as well. When Daniel learnt that the captivity was going to be for seventy years, knowing that he was living at the time when the promise is to be fulfilled, he turns to God in prayer and in supplication. And God reveals to Daniel the mystery behind seventy year captivity. In that most solemn passage of Scripture we have the exact date of the crucifixion of our Lord predicted (Dan.9:26)! Daniel was able to get that truth because he was willing to spend time praying that God would indeed fulfill His promise made by His prophet.

We often wonder why God is slack in fulfilling His many wonderful promises of His Precious Word. Once we get the grip of this truth, we know the real reason for this situation. It is not God rather we, His people, who are responsible for God’s promises not being fulfilled.

Does that mean that God’s promises will never come true in its appointed time? Read what the Lord says about His promises. ”The LORD gave me this answer: “Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed” (Hab.2-3). And to Jeremiah the Lord said, “‘You are right’, the LORD said, ‘and I am watching to see that my words come true’” (Jer.1:12).

Surely God will fulfill all His promises in time with out fail. But because He does it ONLY in answer to prayers of His people, unless we pray, God will raise others who will pray and in answer to their prayers God will fulfill His promises in time! We can see this truth exemplified in history of the church again and again. Where ever there was a praying church, there was a mighty movement of the Spirit of God. If ever there was slackness in the Lord’s work, it is because the people of God failed to call on Him in prevailing prayers. Also we can see that before God begins to do a mighty work, He gets His people praying. Zechariah the prophet sees that in future there is going to be a mighty turning of the people of Israel to God. And before that happens the prophet says that God would pour on them the spirit of grace and supplication (Zech.12:10ff).

So, if there is an urge within us to pray, it is an indication that God’s grace is at work within us. When we feel an urge to pray let us put aside every thing else and be at His feet discerning His will and praying that He would accomplish His will for His glory. If we fail to do that, God will raise others who will pray and in answer to their prayers He will fulfill His promises. And we will be the ones who are the losers. We would have lost the privilege of being co-workers with the Almighty in bringing about His purposes on earth! May we be sensitive to the call of the Spirit of God and may we bring glory to His Holy Name by seeing that all His promises are fulfilled for His glory.

The Bible ends with last the promise of our Lord and John’s response to that promise in Rev.22:20. May we also make it our prayer as we wait for His coming in these very last days of the age of grace.

Let us always remember that the key to get a positive answer to our prayers is to take hold of the promise of God and make it our prayer. Once we know some thing is the will of God, we need to pray in perseverance till we receive our answer. May the Lord give us grace and may His name be glorified. Amen.

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God reveals His will for us through His Word.  But please do NOT imagine that it is going to take place automatically.    That is the place where many good believers make mistake.    They know what is God’s will for them.  God has confirmed it through many wonderful promises form the Scriptures as well. Yet those promises of God remain only as promises and never get materialized it in their lives.  Do you know why is it like that? There is a great misunderstanding about the will of God.   Many people think that all that is happening to us are His perfect will for our lives.  That is NOT true.  Let us see what the Bible teaches about the Will of God.

 God has a SOVEREIGN will by which He decides where we will be born and what our DNA code will be. He decides it without consulting any one.   This He does according to His good pleasure (Eph.1:11).   “From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live”  (Act 17:26).   “The Most High assigned nations their lands; he determined where peoples should live. He assigned to each nation a heavenly being” (Deu 32:8). 

 Then He has a perfect will for each man alive on this earth.  This PERFECT will of God for us is revealed to us through His Word.  God makes His Perfect will clear to us as we study His Word regularly.     There will be that peace of God KNOWING that this is what God wants me to do when we know it.  Now it is OUR duty to pray till that takes place takes place in our lives.  It does NOT happen automatically.  That would be fatalism.  The Bible does NOT teach fatalism.  The Bible does NOT teach that all that happen to us so happen because that is decreed by God.   God only tells us what He expects of us.  He never forces any one to His will in their lives.  We must choose to do His will and we can do it only by His help by praying to Him for His grace.  We must also remember that Satan is always against us to enjoy God’s perfect will for us.   That makes prayer as the only means of reaching God’s perfect will for our lives. 

 We read about the perfect will in Rom.12:2 and once we know some thing is God’s will it is for us to PRAY THROUGH and see that it is accomplished in our lives
 

Let us look at Elijah on the top of Mount Carmel in 1 Kgs.18:40 ff   the Lord told him that it was going to rain after they destroyed all priests of Baal.  Our natural reaction would be,  “ well, any way the Lord promised and His promises can never fail”  and we go and sleep expecting God to fulfill His plan.  But look at what Elijah did.   He put his head between his knees and he was praying.   What is the significance of his head between his knees?   We know that women among the Hebrews those days gave birth to children sitting (cf.Ex.1:16 and note the reference to stool in that verse).  They had some thing before them to which the child would fall as it comes to the world.  That is the position in which they could exert maximum energy to push the child out of their bodies.   We call it agony of child birth.  Elijah, as he put his head between his head, he was agonizing in prayer that God’ will MUST be accomplished as God promised.  read v. 44   how long he had to pray like that.   He prayed   till answer came. 

Look again at Dan.9:2,3 where this truth is once again illustraved.

`Now read Rom.15:30-32   where Paul talks about striving with him in prayer that the will of God may be accomplished  The word translated “strive” here is translated in Lk.22:44 as “agony”.  So “strive with me in prayer” can well be put as “agonize with me in prayer”.  Look at what Jesus did in His life when He prayed (Heb.5:7).   Read Mt.6:10 where our Lord taught us to pray  “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”.    In heaven God’s perfect will is accomplished automatically   but here on earth now, if Perfect will of God must be accomplished,  WE MUST PRAY TILL IT HAPPENS

So,  many believers today are NOT living IN THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD.

Time to accomplish God’s perfect will for us depends upon the fervency of our prayer

Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man avails much in its working.  (Jas 5:16)
 
 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  (Rom 12:2)

 Then there is the permissive will of God where God permits to live all who do not reach His perfect will.  Tragically majority in the world and in the church are living in the permissive will of God.  If we do that, we suffer ourselves and we let God suffer as well.  God watches helplessly asking “why should you die?” (Eze.18:31).

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At first level prayer is a) Asking and receiving from God
At second level prayer is b) Fellowship with God
At third level prayer is c) Striving with God 

Now read on…

Prayer is the means of contact with God. It is the vital breath of the human spirit.

Man has a body, a soul and a spirit.  I Thes. 5:23. With the body man relates himself to the physical world.  With the soul, man relates himself with the living world of creatures.  But with the spirit, man can relate himself to God who is the Ultimate Spirit (Jn.4:24).

In order to maintain his body, man has to breathe, eat and drink regularly. This is because God made man as a dependent being.   No one can live with out these.  Every one has to do it moment by moment and day by day.  That is how God made man. To maintain our physical life, we depend on the physical things around us like air, water and food. We know that every grain of rice has life in it. So we might say that God designed us in such a way that in order to maintain our physical life we need to depend on lower life like grains, pulses, fish and meat.

Same thing with the soul.  Mind is the organ of the soul.  In order to develop his soul, man has to train his mind day by day.  One goes to school and trains oneself to become a doctor or an advocate.  It takes years of regular and hard work to achieve this mental capability.  People need to train their minds before they can enjoy  a poem or a game of cricket.  By regular training of mind man achieves such heights and man is able to enjoy life better in this way. This we do it by depending on our parents, friends, teachers and society at large. We learn from people all around us. Thus we might say that we depend on fellow humans to maintain our souls.

The one who trains up his mind enjoys life better than the one who failed to do so. Not only that, the one who trains the mind enjoys life at a higher level.   That is why some are able to forego a prepared chicken meal to watch a cricket match.  The one who only knows the taste of chicken cannot imagine what he or she is missing in cricket.  But the one who enjoys cricket enjoys life at two levels. 

Human life is not over with chicken and cricket.  Man craves for something deeper.  He feels an emptiness within himself even after he enjoys the very best at these two levels of human existence.  The reason for this is that man has a higher level of existence than these two levels.  Man has a spirit.  The spirit of man is the God-element in man.  The spirit of man longs for the Eternal Spirit who is God.  Only when man’s spirit is able to get in touch with God who is Spirit, is man able to find fulfillment in his life.  He is then able to enjoy life at its best.  With Christ in life, man enjoys life much better than he enjoys it with just chicken and cricket! Simply put, God has permitted us to depend on Him directly to maintain our spirits. Thus we might truly say that prayer is the vital breath of a Christian. He who does not pray, does not have spiritual existence. The spirit of such a person is dead (Eph.2:1) and when one gets in touch with God through Christ, the spirit of that person is made alive and is born again or born of the Spirit (Jn.3:5-8).

The Bible says that through Christ, who is God in human form, any one to day can enter into contact with the Eternal Spirit.  As we approach God through Christ, prayer is the means of that contact.  By praying through Christ who is the mediator between man and God (l Tim.2:5) any one can get into a living contact with God.  In fact, such a person can become a child of God through Christ (Jn. 1:12).  Thus man can enter into the fullness of his being.  Man can enjoy life at its very best. 

Anyone who does not have this divine contact is living like the rest of the animal kingdom.  Such people know only two levels of human existence.  They are missing the very best that life offers.  If the reader is one of those, you are invited to the third level of human existence through Christ.  Man without Christ is described in the Bible as one who is dead in spirit (Eph. 2:l).  It means that such a person is separated from God and thus living a sub-human existence.

The Bible teaches us a lot about prayer.  For our convenience, we may perceive prayer as having three levels.

a) Prayer as asking and receiving from God.

We found that prayer is the means of contact with God.  Now concentrate your mind and call upon God through Christ.  God has promised that He would answer such a call.  Try this.  This is very practical.  Say to God,  “O God, I come to you through Christ Your Son.   I ask that you forgive me and make me your child”.   If  those words came out of your heart and not merely from your lips,  surely heaven will respond to your call.   I guarantee that a hot line will be created between you and God.

The very first and the most important thing which God offers to man through Christ is forgiveness of sins.  Just for the asking in true repentance and in faith, any one can get God’s forgiveness to day.   God does this based on the work of Christ on the cross of  Calvary. There the sinless Son of God paid the penalty of the sins of the whole world.  Millions around the world have experienced this forgiveness which is offered through Christ to day (Rom.3:22-27).  Here is the opportunity.  Do not ever miss this chance to become a child of God.  Do not miss this opportunity to get in to contact with God.  Do not miss this chance to enter into life in its fullest potential.

The Bible is guide for effective praying.  Any one who wants to continue in this relation ship with God must read, understand and practice what the Bible teaches (Pro.28:8).   Some one who wants to have regular answers to prayer must be regular in the habits of reading, meditating and obeying the Word of God every day.

The Bible is like a letter sent to you by God in person.  If you want to send a reply to that letter, you need to read and understand it.  Many people do not know what to pray or how to pray, simply because they do not know what is written in the Bible. So in order to become effective in prayer, read, study, meditate, and practice the Bible daily.  As you eat your daily food to nourish your body, so to nourish your spirit take in God’s Word on a very regular basis.

One of the plain teachings of the Bible is that one needs to ask to get anything from God. “Ask and you shall receive”(Mt.7:7). “You have not…because you ask not”(Js.4:2).  The Bible has many promises pertaining to this life and about the life to come.  But one can enjoy these promises in one’s life as one asks God to fulfill those promises.

Christians are supposed to believe in Christ.  They believe that He is the Son of God.  They believe that He died for the whole world and is a risen savior etc. But if we ask many of them whether they have eternal life, they are not very sure.  The Bible says that he who believes in the Son has eternal life.  Now, what is the problem?  The Bible says that their faith is a dead faith (Js.2:19).  Only when they call upon God  in faith, their faith will be able to save them.  The Bible says, “They that call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom.10:13).  Thus faith and prayer are two sides of the same coin.  Just as prayer without faith is useless, faith without prayer is useless as well.  So  one’s prayer life is a reflection of the genuine faith one has. 

The Bible says that salvation is a free gift from God (Eph.2:8).  But only those who ask for it in faith  will ever  receive it.  Likewise all of God’s promises will remain promises, unless they are claimed by believing prayer.  Without believing prayer promises will never reach its fulfillment.

Prayer is asking and receiving from God.  Prayer is asking God to fulfill His promises.  Many in the world to day have experienced prayer at this level.  God of the Bible is a prayer answering God.  He delights to answer prayers promised in His revealed will which is the Bible.  Every praying believer knows it.  Praise be to His Holy Name.

b) Prayer as fellowship with God

Though at first level prayer is asking and receiving from God, the Bible teaches that prayer is much more than that.  Any one who knows prayer at this level only, knows only the ABC of prayer. 

Many who know prayer only at this level become discouraged very often because all their prayers are not always answered.  God has said clearly in His Word that prayers done in the will of God only can be expected to be answered.  God will never answer prayer against His word and against His nature.

The Bible clearly tells why God created man.  Man is presented in the Bible as the crown of God’s creation.  Man is created in God’s image and likeness (Gen.1:27).  He is created to take care of the created world and to rule over it.  Man is God’s representative on earth (Gen.1:28).  More than that, God wanted to have fellowship with man.  In the cool of the day man used to hear the noise of the feet of God walking in the Garden (Gen.3:8).  God enjoyed the company of man.  Man was created for fellowship with God which He enjoyed.

When man lost this privilege through sin, the Son of God took upon Himself the form of a man that this fellowship can be restored.  To day God offers forgiveness to man free of cost based on Christ’s work on Calvary.  To day God is calling man back to fellowship with God through Christ (I Cor.1:9).  Now our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son (l Jn.1:3). 

When is man able to enjoy this fellowship to which he is called?  Fellowship involves a lot of things.  But the foremost element in fellowship is being together.

Being together in the company of God is the way to enjoy the fellowship with God.  This is what the Lord Jesus did while He was here on earth.  In Lk.6:12 we read that He went alone into a mountain and spent a whole night in prayer to God.  What was He asking God during that night of prayer? It was not merely an asking and receiving kind of prayer that He prayed that night. 

The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, was enjoying the fellowship with God the Father during that night.  He was kind of lost himself in the presence of the Father.  Imagine two friends meeting after the gap of a few years, spending time talking to one another.  They do not know how time flies.  They talk the whole night.  But if you ask them as to what they were talking about, they have nothing to say.  They did not talk philosophy or politics.  In the joy of meeting an intimate friend after a long time, each one is taken up and hours become minutes in the process.

Prayer in the second level is exactly this kind of an experience.  It is being lost in the presence of God.  It is cultivating intimacy with God.  It is enjoying the fellowship with God.

Many believers do not even spend a single hour in God’s presence.  How can they think about a whole night in prayer? They do not know what they are missing.  Only a believer who has climbed up to reach this kind of prayer, is a grown up believer.  They who have this experience will sacrifice every thing else for this sublime experience.  If one is not able to forego a meal or a sleep for prayer, it means that one has not reached this level in prayer.

God wants, indeed He longs for the fellowship of His Children.  God has called us in Christ for this fellowship only.  If any believer does not have a habit of spending a whole day or night in the presence of God, a decision has to be made to this effect.  At least once in a month one must set apart a whole night in prayer.  If nights are far too impossible, spend a day alone in the presence of God.  You will see that your spiritual life is enriched and blessed.  You will grow spiritually.  The Lord will share His secrets with you.  You will begin to discern the will of God.  You will find fulfillment in your life and God’s name will be glorified in your life.  Through these words you are invited to this level of prayer.

c) Striving in prayer

Any one who knows God intimately spends long hours in His presence.  They cherish this experience.  They long for it.  A day in the presence of the Lord is better than a thousand else where.  They enjoy the fellowship with God.  They become spiritual heroes.  This is truly an enviable experience.

Only those who have had this kind of experience in prayer can ever hope to climb the ladder and reach the third level in prayer.  In the third level prayer becomes striving.  In Rom.15:31 Paul exhorts all believers to strive with him in prayer.

Every believer has battles in life.  But many forget that it is in prayer that these battles are fought and won. 

Many want to avoid battles somehow.  They are cowards.  They do not see victory in life.  Victory is seen if only battles are fought.

Many fight their battles in the ability of their flesh.  They continue their Christian life without ever tasting victory.

What is this striving in prayer?  Let us look at the life of Jacob.  As he ran away from home, he was all alone and slept on the way side.  He had a dream there.   Almighty God gave Jacob promises that he would bless him.  That was Bethel.  There at Bethel God promised Jacob that He would bless him and bring him back to his place (Gen.28:10-22).  Years later, on his way back home, he was once again all alone at the bank of the brook Jabok.  There he met with God face to face.  There he wrestled the whole night.  He had a grip on God and he would not let Him go unless He blessed him.  There his name was changed to Israel.  He now owned the promises which were given to him at Bethel.  That was his experience in Peniel (Gen.32:22-32).

The promises of Bethel were experienced in life only after Peniel.

Striving in prayer is claiming the promises which God has given to us in His Word.  “Lord, you have promised this, and unless you fulfill this promise, I will not let you go” is the prayer of a striving believer.  Thus striving in prayer is taking hold of God to fulfill His Word.  God loves a striving believer because He loves to fulfill His promises.

There are many promises in God’s Word.  These promises are for every believer.  But tragically only very few believers  enjoy these in their lives.  As we wait in the presence of God, He gives us His promises through His Word (Jer.23:l8).  But if those promises must be fulfilled in our lives, we too need to have the experience of Peniel in our lives.    Many believers have been up to Bethel.  They know the promises of God.  But they have never been to Peniel.  They never had the experience of striving in prayer.  If those promises must be fulfilled, they need to be strived for.  There is no alternate way.

Unless God’s people strive in prayer, God’s promises will never be fulfilled (Rom.15:30-32).

Dan.9:2 & 3 confirms this truth very well.  Daniel had learnt from the book of Jeremiah that the captivity was going to be for seventy years only.  Daniel knew that that was God’s plan for His people.  Now look at Daniel who was living towards the end of that period.  Instead of just hanging around for God to fulfill His promises saying any way God would carry out His purposes whatever man may or may not do, Daniel began to fast and pray and sought the face of the Lord that God would fulfill His promise for His people.  Daniel knew a great truth that  God would  fulfill His promises only in answer to the prayers of God’s people! 

Before God does some thing some where by way of fulfilling His Word, God gets His people to pray.  When God’s people strive in prayer asking Him to fulfill His promises, God carries out His purposes for the world.  There is no exception to this rule.  Again and again we see this truth illustrated in the Scripture and in the history of the church.

If only God’s people understood this great truth to day!

Satan is always against God carrying out His purposes in the world to day.  Satan claims that this world belongs to him (Lk.4:6).  God in His magnanimity stands a bit away.  But in response to the prayers of His people, God carries out His purposes in the world to day.   By striving in prayer we are in fact resisting the devil and fighting against principalities and powers of darkness (Js.4:7; 1Pt.5:7; Eph.6:12-18).

Some believers think that striving in prayer is trying to move an unwilling God!  It is never to be understood that way at all.  We must remember that it is God who asked us to pray.  It is He who promised us to answer our prayers. It is true that there are conditions if prayers are to be answered. But no believer has ever exhausted God’s ability in answering prayers! He is willing to answer our prayers above all we can ask or think. He always answers in His bounty. But only in response to prayer will He ever fulfill His Word to day in the world.

In the 10th chapter of the Book of Daniel we have a clear demonstration of this truth.  V.12 tells us that on the very first day that Daniel began to pray, answer was sent to him. But v.13 says that the Prince of Persia stood against the angelic messenger for 21 days.  Coming to v.2 we see Daniel was striving in prayer for three full weeks.  He was not enjoying tasty food, nor was he applying oil on his head for all those 21 days.  He was in warfare for all of  that time. 

This is the experience of a believer in striving prayer.  Only those who pray like Daniel regularly could ever sense this spiritual warfare.  Only such could participate in the spiritual warfare.  Only they could share in the victory for God.  For without battle, there is no victory.

This warfare in prayer is experienced when we begin to pray for spiritual things.
There are many believers who have prayed for physical things. They know that God is a prayer answering God.  But tragically they never participate in spiritual warfare.  Their prayers are limited to physical realm only!

In Rom.15:31 Paul exhorts fellow believers to strive together with him in prayer.  It is a command to every believer.  They that do not strive continually in prayer have disobeyed a plain command of the Scripture.  Such are guilty before God for the sin of disobedience.

The word that is used in Rom.15:31 for strive is the same word used in the original in Lk.22:44 where it is translated ‘in agony’ in several translations.  Thus we come to know that striving in prayer is indeed agonizing in prayer.  This is an experience which the Spirit of God would  give to those that are regular in their prayer habits.  Only those who live near to the heart of God could ever feel the pulse of God’s heart.

These days we need men and women who, like Daniel, would strive in prayer to see God fulfill His purpose in the world to day.  May the Lord give us the needed grace that we would become truly men and women who would strive in prayer and participate in bringing about the purposes of God in this world.  To His Name Be All Glory.  Amen and amen. 

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