I would like to share with you somethings that I learned in my darkest hours, yet in that darkness light was born. Here is en excerpt from my book “Remember the prisoners: He Came to Set the Captives Free.”
At the time, my prayers were in their infancy, and I was fumbling through the concept of prayer at best. All I really knew about prayers was that God is the One who answers them. Up until then, most of my prayers were to save my own skin, but I was starting to learn about other kinds of prayer, such as intercessory prayer. That is when you intercede on somebody else’s behalf. You pray for someone else’s need. This kind of prayer has a reciprocal value, which we’ll talk more about later. But for now, I had an urgent need.
Most of my prayers were in petition or request form. “God, it’s me. I have a need. Will You help?” But recently I had run across a pattern in the Bible about prayer and discovered something I’d been missing in my prayer formula. We’ll talk about formulas in a bit as well. There are four elements that are absolutely necessary for answered prayer:
- The will of God. First John 5:14–15 says, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
- James 1:5–8 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 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. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Matthew 21:22 says, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Mark 11:24says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
- An abiding relationship with Jesus. John 15:1–8 says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
- The name of Jesus. John 14:12–14 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 15:16 says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 16:23–24 says, “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
I would like to take a brief moment and cover these four elements before moving on with the story. When we pray, or rather when we are first introduced to prayer, it is usually out of some great personal need. There’s some kind of threat to our self-preservation, or something that’s really important to us is in some kind of jeopardy. When it comes down to it, our self-interest is at stake. So our first prayers are basically selfish. “God, I am in trouble. Help!” As we’ve stated before, God isn’t moved by our circumstances but by our faith, and our faith should compel us to seek the will of God for answered prayer.
The Will of God
So what is the will of God for us? An exhaustive study of this subject would result in a book itself, so for our study, we’ll confine it to the purpose of prayer.
Since your God, the one true God, has revealed Himself in three distinct persons, His will for us is threefold as well. The concept of a triune God (one God in three persons) is easily understood by this illustration. Take an egg or an atom: they come in three parts—yoke, white, and shell. The three parts are distinct from one another, yet it is still one egg. The chicken doesn’t lay a yoke, then a white, followed by a shell. That would be messy, to say the least. But rather, it comes out as one perfect unit all encased in a shell to be used and distributed accordingly when the time is right. Similarly, the atom, made up of neutrons and protons, and surrounded by electrons, are invisible to the naked eye but form and bond together to make mass that can be seen and used like a chair or table. God is One yet three distinct persons, each having a will that is in perfect agreement with the other.
The will of God is always aligned and in agreement with His Word, and it always, always magnifies Jesus. It is the Father’s will that we believe in Jesus. It is Jesus’s will that we believe the Father sent Him, and it is the Holy Spirit’s will to reveal this truth to us. Let’s look at this illustration. John 11:38–44 says,
Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Jesus’s prayer to the Father wasn’t the act of raising Lazarus from the dead. It was for the people to believe that the Father had sent Jesus. The answer came as the Holy Spirit revived Lazarus’s dead body and breathed life back into it. The result was that the people believed. John 11:45 says, “Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.”
If we want answered prayer, we must seek the will of God. His will for us is not hidden but revealed in the Scriptures. For example, 1 Thessalonians 4:1–8 says,
Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
Sanctification means to be set apart for God’s work. We are to be set apart or visibly distinguishable from the rest of the world by our conduct. So when we trust God enough to ask Him to start removing the garbage out of our lives, other miracles start to happen so we might believe that God is real.
Matthew 6:31–34 says, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Here we see that it’s God’s will and command that we shouldn’t worry, but rather we should put our trust in Him to meet our needs and expend our energy, seeking after the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The kingdom of God is the economy from which we draw our strength and provision. It makes sense then that we should worship the King who rules this eternal kingdom, and His name is Jesus. Jesus is called “the righteousness of God” because His death satisfied the righteous requirement of God’s law that says, “The penalty of sin is death.” Jesus died for us. He sacrificed Himself on our behalf so we didn’t have to die in our sins, but we have eternal life through Him. Proof that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father was His resurrection. His resurrection justifies us in the sight of God and allows us into God’s kingdom complete with all the benefits and legal rights of a citizen of that kingdom.
In summary, the will of God for us pertaining to prayer is that our requests and petitions would align with His Word and ultimately magnify Jesus. God simply wants us to come to Him. He desires a working relationship with us. He wants to provide for us and loves to give us things and watch our eyes grow wide in wonderment like a child at Christmas. He truly is our Father, and He acts like one, not a forgetful, neglectful father but a loving, thoughtful, gracious, giving Father who loves His children all equally and loves to lavish His love on us. Amen.
An example of a prayer with the wrong heart attitude is “God, I can’t stand my cellie. He or she is always doing things to make me mad. Make something bad happened to him or her so my cellie will learn his or her lesson. Amen.” The heart attitude here is all wrong. It is focused on self. Maybe you need to learn compassion and patience. God uses circumstances and other people to reveal to us the shortcomings in our lives because He wants to remove them and make us better.
Perhaps the prayer could say, “Lord, I don’t know why my cellie bothers me so much. Help me to see my own faults and teach me how to better understand and connect with my cellie. Draw us both into a relationship with You and perfect Your character in both of us so we might please and glorify You. Amen.” Do you see the difference? This prayer focuses on God’s will, and the result will be an answered prayer that glorifies Jesus and draws you both into a life-changing relationship with Him.
The next element concerning answered prayer is faith. This is the hardest concept for the human mind to grasp. It relies on complete and total trust in something we cannot see. The soul resists faith, and the flesh plain rejects it. The thoughts of the soul have to be pulled into subjection by the spirit for faith to overcome circumstances.
In Luke 17:5, the apostles said to Jesus, “Lord, increase our faith.” Jesus responded by saying, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, be pulled by the roots and be planted in the sea. And it would obey you.”
A mustard seed is very small indeed, about the size of the head on a straight pin. Some are as small as flecks of pepper. When the seed is contrasted next to the tree it grows into, we see the potential of our faith. Our faith starts out as a teeny, tiny seed. Then, when it is planted in fertile soil and watered, it grows into a towering tree with widespread branches and a healthy root system. The soil is our heart, and the water is our use of faith. The more we exercise and use our faith, the more it’s watered and thereby grows bigger.
The mulberry tree is the object of faith in this illustration, and we are the subject. There is an action that happens to the object as the subject acts on it. The term “you can say to this mulberry tree” is translated by the Greek word lego, which means “to command.” The subject commands the object. What is it commanded to do? The term “be pulled up by the roots” or “be uprooted” is translated by the Greek words ek and rhizoo to form the word ekrizoo. Ek has a two-layered meaning, “out from and to,” which is translated “the outcome.” It also means “out from within.” Rhizoo means “to establish.” So then we command our faith to come out from within so that the outcome may be established.[i]
Faith is simple, but we make it complex because we can’t see, smell, taste, hear, or touch it. God asks only two things of us concerning our faith in prayer: (1) that we command our faith to go forth and (2) that we expect an answer with thanksgiving.
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. (1 Cor. 16:13)
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. (Eph. 6:18)
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Finally, concerning our faith in prayer, let us consider the whole parable in context. (Col. 4:2 KJV).
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Luke 17:5–10)
By finishing the parable, we see that we are commanded to use the faith we have been given. The size of our faith grows by our willingness to use it. But God can take a tiny amount of faith and establish His purpose. How much more could be done to expand the kingdom and purpose of God by having and using big faith?
An Abiding Relationship with Jesus
The third element necessary for answered prayer is an abiding relationship with Jesus. To “abide” means to take up residence. This is not a static (unmoving) relationship but a dynamic one. When you move into a house or apartment that has a leaking roof or plumbing issues, you don’t just sit there and let the dripping water continue to damage the rest of the house: you get up and fix it. It’s the same with our relationship with Jesus. Jesus moves into His new house, which is our hearts, and begins to clean house. He repairs the roof, replaces the faucet, puts in a new carpet, and fixes the broken windows. He doesn’t just sit there, doing nothing.
Jesus is revealed as “The Image of the Invisible God” and as “the Express Image of His [God the Father] person.” Jesus’s character is ultimately expressed by His obedience to the Father. Jesus obeyed all of God’s commandments, even the one that led Him to the cross. Jesus requires that we obey Him. If we obey Him, then we act like Him, talk like Him, and walk like Him.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Col. 2:6–7)
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Rom. 13:11–14)
“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Judas [not Iscariot] said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:19–24)
As I’ve stated, Jesus wants an abiding relationship with us, a dynamic residence where broken things are getting repaired for proper service. Jesus is known as “the Word of God.” So when the Word of God takes up residence in us, our broken lives are mended. The dripping faucet of addiction is stopped. The leaky roof of doubt is re-shingled so the elements don’t get in and the heat doesn’t get out. The broken floor boards of pornography are replaced with new ones so we don’t fall into its trap and break a leg or the hearts of our loved ones.
When we allow Jesus to take up residence in us, our lives get straightened out and start making sense. The Word of God now governs us, and we are thereby in and aligned with the will of God, and prayers are answered in Jesus’s name. Amen.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Col. 3:12–17)
The Name of Jesus
The fourth element necessary for answered prayer is the name of Jesus.
Matthew 28:18–20 says, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Amen
The Exalted Name
Philippians 2:9–11 says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The Legal Name
Acts 4:12 says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Sovereign and Strikes Fear in the Enemy
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:13–20)
The exalted name of Jesus carries the full legal weight and authority of almighty God. His name is sovereign, and when it is invoked, the power of heaven is unleashed. The Devil trembles at His name and will do anything to prevent you from using it. In our warfare against the Devil, we have three mighty weapons for our dispensation: the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, and the Word of God. When these three are combined together and mixed with faith, mountains will be cast into the sea, the dead will rise, and the power of darkness over you will be broken forever. Amen.
I hope that this article gives some perspective on prayer and its dynamics. God wants us to pray and He loves to answer prayer. Won’t you join me in Kingdom work and enjoy the privilege that is, to be, partakers of The Divine Nature and help usher in “Thy Kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven! God bless,