Why Develop our Faith and Prayer?
WHY DEVELOP OUR FAITH & PRAYER?
Revelation 5:8 “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.”
“Full of odours” or rather full of fragrant incense as the Greek Word for “odours” suggests. These “odours” are the prayers of saints. Compare this thought to Psalm 141:2, “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” The meaning is that incense was a proper symbol for the prayer of the saints. They are acceptable to God, incense produces an agreeable fragrance; and it’s being wafted towards heaven, ascending towards the eternal throne. The prayers of the saints which were offered on earth are being presented before the throne of God. This could be an allusion to the temple service, and to the fact that incense was offered by the priest in the temple itself at the time that prayer was offered by the people in the courts of the temple (Luke 1:9-10 – According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.) The idea here is, that the representatives of the church in heaven, the elders spoken of as “priests,” in Revelation 5:10, are described as officiating in the temple above in behalf of the church still below. The impression which this should leave on our minds should be that our prayers are presented before the throne of God, and are acceptable, precious and sweet to Him.
INTRODUCTION: Why develop our faith and prayer life? – Our prayers are precious to the Lord. He desires and cherishes fellowship with us. Prayer is how we talk to God it is how we share our feelings, our needs and our concerns. The Lord wants you to tell Him about your day. He wants you to bring all things to Him in prayer. (Philippians 4:6 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.) He wants us to pour our heart out to Him when we need to in our prayers. (Psalm 62:8 – Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah).We should not take our prayer life for granted. We need to pray, we need to be praying always for everything.
We need to understand some things about prayer though. God answers our prayers; sometimes the answer might be “not yet”, or even “no”, but He will answer. We might not see the answer or understand the answer but our prayers will be answered. There are promises in the Bible about answered prayer, but there are some reasons for what appears as unanswered prayers in the Bible too. There are reasons for when it seems like God is not hearing us or answering the way we know or think to be best. We will not always understand God’s answers because we have finite minds and cannot comprehend all the ways of God. (Isaiah 55:8 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.) We need to also understand that faith and trust are a great and significant aspect of successful prayer. We also should understand that mans sin nature is another aspect to why it may seem our prayers are going unanswered; remember God gave man a free will.
PROMISES OF ANSWERED PRAYER
- Psalm 91:15 – “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.”
- Isaiah 65:24 – “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
- Luke 11:9 – “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
- John 15:7 – “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
REASONS FOR UNANSWERED PRAYERS
- Secret Sin (Psalm 66:18 – If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me)
- Indifference (Proverbs 1:28-29 – Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD)
- Iniquity (Isaiah 59:2 – But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.)
- Stubbornness (Zechariah 7:12-13 – Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts)
- Self-indulgence (James 4:3 – Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.)
WHEN FAITH QUITS PRAYING, FAITH HAS FAILED. (Luke 22:32 – But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.)
- Never quit, never give up on your faith in God. Faith tested is faith that is strengthened. God will not always answer right away. We need to stay faithful in the waiting. Stay faithful while the Lord is stretching your faith. (James 1:3-4 – Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.)
- Remember only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer can move God to move the mountains. (Mark 11:24 – For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.)
- Jesus is saying here that we have access to His omnipotent power and that if we fear God, with a full confidence of faith, without any doubt, when we attempt even the greatest difficultly we can assuredly believe that through the power of God in Christ it shall be done.
- But this is to be undertaken by us, (Mark 11:24) not upon confidence of our own strength, but by humble prayers to God and believing that it will, according to His promise, be granted unto us and we shall undoubtedly receive it from Him.
FAITH IS THE FOUNDATION OF PRAYER AND OUR CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. (II Timothy 2:14 – That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.)
- All things in our life, including our prayers should be built upon faith.
- Faith is the security of our soul. (Romans 5:1 – Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ)
“The faith which creates powerful praying is the faith which centers itself on a powerful person. Faith in Christ’s ability to do, and to do greatly is the faith which prays greatly.” E.M. Bounds
FAITH IS PATIENT; FAITH TAKES GOD AT HIS WORD.
- Faith knows there will be delays. Faith accepts God’s conditions and timing. Faith considers the delays and times of testing, while waiting on answers to prayer, a privilege because the Lord trusts you enough that He wants to increase your faith in Him. (James 1:12 – Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (trial): for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.)
- If faith is exercised and holds fast through the waiting, the delays, and the trials – the answer to our prayer, when it comes, will be that much sweeter and miraculous. Mary and Martha were praying for their brother Lazarus to be healed. They were praying earnestly for his healing. Their prayers went unanswered, or so they thought, he was not healed he died; Jesus delayed his arrival, the answer to their prayers was being delayed, but then Jesus came and answered their prayers in a way they did not ask, expect or think even possible. For Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the dead! (John 11:43-45 – And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.)
- A delay in the answer to your prayer could mean God has something bigger and better in mind for you than just what you are praying for.
- A delay could also be because God is using the trial you are going through and your eventual answer to your prayer to give you a testimony and experience to use and share with others going through a similar difficulty.
- A delay to an answer to prayer could also be used by God to bring those around, when the prayer is finally answered, to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” Thomas Aquinas
FAITH MUST BE FREE OF DOUBT. (Romans 14:23 – And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.)
- Faith prays specifically because faith will expect specific answers to prayer.
- Faith in prayer is more than just naming and claiming, you have to qualify that statement with; is that prayer in God’s will? And are you truly praying in full faith?
“Faith is not believing just anything; it is believing God, resting in Him, trusting His word.” E.M. Bounds
- Faith is taking your eyes off of self, not trusting in your own abilities, and placing your gaze exclusively on God and totally trusting in Him. (Philippians 4:6-8 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.)
- Guard against doubt and unbelief. Ask God for help with your unbelief. He will help strengthen your faith. Just be honest with Him and just say I don’t believe like I should, I need my faith and trust in you Lord to increase. He will help you. (Mark 9:24 – And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.)
“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” Martin Luther
PRAYER IS DEPENDENT ON FAITH. (Hebrews 11:6 – But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.)
- It takes more than faith; it takes prayer exercised through and as a result of faith to receive the rewards of answered prayers. “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”
- You still need to seek Him; you need to earnestly and diligently seek Him out. Faith is what starts prayers to be answered. You cannot please God in your prayer without first having faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him”
- Notice this verse says “diligently seek him”, not just pray every once in awhile, or pray once and think it is enough. No, it says to be diligently praying, get on your knees in all faith and humbleness before your Lord seeking and begging for the answer to your prayer.
IN CONCLUSION: So why develop our faith and our prayer life? – Because our prayers are precious to the Lord. He wants us to bring all things to Him in prayer. (Philippians 4:6a – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication). We should not take our prayer life for granted. We need to pray, we need to be praying always for everything. God answers our prayers; sometimes the answer might be “not yet”, or even “no”, but He will answer. We might not see the answer or understand the answer but our prayers will be answered. We need to also understand that faith is a great and significant aspect of successful prayer. Mans sin nature is also an aspect in the answering of prayers.
Never quit, never give up on your faith in God. Faith tested is faith that is strengthened. Remember only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer can move God to move the mountains. (Mark 11:24).All things in our life, including our prayers should be built upon faith. Faith knows there will be delays. Faith accepts God’s conditions and timing. If faith is exercised and holds fast through the waiting, the delays, and the trials – the answer to our prayer, when it comes, will be that much sweeter and miraculous. Faith in prayer is more than just naming and claiming, you have to qualify that statement with – is that prayer in God’s will and are you truly praying in full faith? Faith is taking your eyes off of self, not trusting in your own abilities, and placing your gaze exclusively on God and totally trusting in Him. Faith is foundational to a successful prayer life and a successful Christian walk. Prayer exercised through a true and strong faith in Christ is true fellowship with God and that fellowship with Him and dependence on Him is what God desires of us.