Brothers, let me pose a scenario to begin our time
together this month. You're out in the yard washing the family car, when
your 16 year-old son or daughter comes up to you and asks for the keys
to do a little running around town with their friends. You may hesitate,
but you toss your offspring the keys, give them the traditional lecture
of being careful behind the wheel, and remind them to fill the gas tank
when they bring the car home.
Now, let's replay the same situation: Only THIS time,
a 16 year-old stranger comes up to you, and asks for the keys to the family
car. What is YOUR reaction going to be? Right! You would tell them to
skip on home, and ask THEIR OWN PARENTS to provide them with transportation.
Even though we've been bombed with 'It takes a village to raise a child';
when it comes to another teen asking for your car keys, you would politely,
but firmly draw a line in the sand. That teen is not your responsibility.
I've been hearing a lot about 'The Prayer Of Jabez'
lately, and it certainly has sparked a lot of public discussion about
the issue of prayer; just like the TV show 'Touched By An Angel' sparked
a lot of interesting public discussion about angelic beings, once it hit
the air. Personally, I am MORE excited about what Jesus has done for mankind,
rather than Jabez--but I digress!
While its nice that prayer is becoming 'hip' to talk
about in the public arena once again; brothers, I'd like to warn us about
believing someone, or something too quickly, based merely upon appearances
and 'public acceptability'. The very person in whom you are attempting
to place your faith could lead you into being played for a sucker, in
more ways than one.
Plus, we have to look at prayer from a biblical,
and practical viewpoint, and not OUR viewpoint. Unless the person praying
has a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, they are not part of
God's family, nor are they God's responsibility. I hate to be cold, brothers,
but God is not obligated to give the keys of His kingdom to non-family
members. This also includes answers to prayer, no matter how eloquently
the prayers are prayed.
THE TRUTH ABOUT PRAYER:
Follow my point as we head out for a prayer safari.
If one expects to use their stove, they must have made a commitment to,
and established a relationship with either their local Gas or Electric
utility. If one expects to be considered married, they must have a commitment
to, and established a relationship with either their husband or wife.
If one expects to have their prayers heard and acted upon, the individual
must have made a commitment to, and established a relationship with God.
Otherwise, one can 'pray all day' and still wind up doing little more
than exercising their lungs.
I hate to break more than a few hearts, but the truth
has to be told. Just because someone can pray a prayer, hold a rosary,
face Mecca, howl at the moon, or wear a clerical collar DOES
that they have a right relationship with God. Just because someone can
name the name of the Lord, fill a stadium or conference center, or
flip a few Tarot Cards does not mean that the person is a student of
OTHER OLD TESTAMENT PRAYERS MORE POWERFUL:
Any Bible student knows that there are other Old
Testament figures who prayed prayers that are better, and more powerful
than the Prayer of Jabez. Moses prayed, and was able to part the Red
Abraham prayed, and Lot's life was spared before Sodom and Gomorrah were
destroyed. Elijah prayed and fire came out of the sky. Job prayed and
the lives of his friends were spared AFTER they gave him bad advice.
Esther fasted and prayed and the lives of her people were spared. Hannah
prayed and received an answer in the form of a baby. Ruth prayed
and later married Boaz. Naomi prayed and the joy returned to an otherwise
However, ALL these individuals realized that
God had the right to answer their prayers as HE saw fit. In fact,
the three Hebrew men, prior to their being cast into the fiery furnace
in Daniel, Chapter Three, gave God the right to either answer their prayer--or
NOT. They still refused to bow their knees to a wicked king. One has
recognize the sovereign nature of God, in answering prayer. How many
best-selling books on prayer have been written about them? None, because
of these individuals from the Old Testament (and others) were based in
firm reliance on God and His timetable; not the timetable of men and
CHECK OUT THE RELATIONSHIP:
Some of the best con-men and con-women can sound
'Holy' when in front of a crowd. Over the past few decades, society has
witnessed men and women who sound good, smell good, and look good, but
have led hundreds to their deaths all in the name of fame, money, or public
visibility. They sought to have people to 'bow their knees' to them, instead
of God. Their followers wound up dead, in many cases. Many of the 'cons'
sounded great when they prayed in public. Brothers, don't fall for the
'sucker play'. You have the right to check out ANYONE who steps
forward to pray for you, with you, or about you. Don't be the victim
of a 'sucker play' when it comes to your spiritual health, or the spiritual
health of your family.
Put another way: If someone were going to operate
on you, you'd want to see some credentials to make sure that the surgeon
were actually qualified--OR, if the surgeon were just masquerading
as a surgeon to get some on-the-job experience by cutting on YOU!
America has long been the land of the rising dollar
sign. Anything to make a buck, regardless of the outcome, or consequences.
We have two things in abundance in this nation; 'schemes' to make money,
and 'experts' to put forth the best 'scheme of the day' to make money.
Unfortunately, the field of religion is not exempt from 'sucker plays'.
Don't YOU become a victim.
THE TRUTH CONCERNING EFFECTIVE PRAYER:
We now live in New Testament times, thanks to the
birth, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When it comes
to prayer, God uses the New Testament standard in the Bible. His creation,
no matter how good they may look, how good their intentions, or how great
they sound while praying can set the standard, nor the timetable God uses
to respond to prayer. What are some of the New Testament rules of prayer
as contained within the Scriptures? Here are a few of them:
*Avoid using prayers for public show.
*Avoid using repetitive prayers as a 'good luck charm'.
*Avoid using prayers as a means of building individual prestige.
*Avoid using prayers as a means of forcing someone(s) to do your will.
Wow! That knocks out the Prayer of Jabez,
as far as the way SOME people have been putting it forth as a 'catch
all' to ‘get’ answers from God! By the way, here are a few things that
will block prayers from being heard:
*Mistreatment of your wife.
*Sin in one's life.
*Prayer outside of God's will.
*Praying for things over people.
*Praying with the wrong motives.
*Not praying in secret.
*Being fearful while praying.
BUT WAIT: THERE'S MORE:
If I may proceed, the Lord's Prayer, as Christ taught
His followers to pray, is more important than the Prayer of Jabez. In
fact, it is held to be the Model Prayer, as Christ came to fulfill the
law, and was better than the prophets who came before Him. Let's look
at how HE taught prayer:
*Giving tribute to His relationship with God.
*Asking for His daily bread.
*Deliverance from evil people.
*Pray expecting an answer from God.
*Acknowledging the Kingdom of God.
Further, the New Testament urges that we have a relationship
with God, through Jesus Christ in order to have our prayers HEARD.
In the name of Jesus, we can pray about anything, no matter how big or
small. PLUS we are commanded to pray without ceasing, and to pray
with others and FOR others, including our leaders, family members,
and our country. Yes, even pray for strangers. But, we have to pray with
the right attitude, and the right relationship with God, if we expect
our prayers to be heard. We also have to
realize that God answers on His timetable; and not
MERCHANTS A-PLENTY TO TAKE YOUR MONEY:
As I mentioned before, God is not obligated to listen
to the prayers of non-family members UNLESS they pray the prayer
of Salvation to get INTO HIS family. Then, they are considered by God
as being part of HIS family. And, HE does
If you are serious about prayer, don't waste your
money for this scheme or that 'formula' book. God is not bound by formulas,
nor begging, nor pleading. God is bound by His word. Instead of throwing
your money at someone who 'claims' to have a relationship with God, via
the Psychic Hotline, the Horoscope, or even the Prayer of Jabez; invest
your money in a good, KJV Bible, and read what IT has to say about prayer.
Then, just DO it!
Prayer is a full-contact sport! Either you do it,
or you don't. Sometimes, I think that many people enjoy talking about
doing, rather than actually doing! Thus, the reason why the 'Self-help'
racks of the bookstore is always full. Sadly, this trend even surfaces
in 'Christian' bookstores. God's Word never needs an 'assist' from a book
by men or women. Yes, there are great Commentaries out there; great resource
material out there; but the BOTTOM LINE concerning the walk of
a Christian is going to be based on the
Word of God. We will EACH have to give an account--before
God--about our activities, time, and yes, even reading material, when
all is said and done.
Now, it is up to each individual to determine their
reading material. However, if you REALLY want to see the accomplishments
of prayer, I would urge anyone to get a copy of 'Foxe's Book Of Martyrs'.
Contained within the covers of this book is what ultimately happens to
men and women who have prayed without ceasing; they ultimately are blessed,
but not in the ways one may think.
Think of the Bible as being God's way of tossing
you the keys to His mode of transportation. All you have to do is turn
on the ignition, by opening your Bible.
All you need to know about prayer is contained within that book.
Don't become a financial victim of those who want
to get into your pockets, by trying to 'manipulate' your spiritual life.
If you want to learn how to pray, read the New Testament. Yes, the Bible
holds that both testaments are important; but we are under the New Covenant.
True prayer liberates the individual; not enslaves them, nor robs them.
Just like the Model Prayer, as the Master intended it to be.