In this day and age, the ignorance of God is great all over the world. It is said that the Westminster Smaller Catechism was taught to Sunday school children during the days of the Protestant Reformation but today it is taught to adults in Seminary. I have so often heard people say that God is not hearing their prayer, which to me sounds like “we are asking but God is not giving us what we want”. Very often I feel people discreetly fear saying “God willing”, it’s as though people are insecure of submitting their lives to the will of God. The truth is, all our lives are subject to the will of God but it is our faith in Christ that establishes our eternal security in God, who is good.
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”
14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
Though many may claim to believe in God and Jesus Christ (Jn14:1), the very fact that they are insecure of God’s Sovereign will over their own lives, dictating every event, says that these do not truly trust/believe in God. The consequences of unbelief is death but faith is a gift of God; having said that, faith is not measure of how strongly you expect what you ask for from God, rather faith is measure of whether you trust God enough to surrender your life to Him in any particular situation, while your heart seeks the Lord Jesus to sustain you through that fiery trial, as He did with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Dan3:8-18). For such is the will of God in sanctifying His people into His image, which was tarnished in the fall of Adam.
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
The problem with people who pray fruitlessly is that true religion has no bearing in their lives (James1:26-27), they are unrepentant in their dealings with their neighbour out of covetousness, adultery, thievery, bearing false witness or murder. The only reason they are capable of this is because God is not first in their lives. These people have simply put themselves first, such is the natural implication from the fall of Adam. Take a look at the Ten Commandments (Ex20:3-17) where the first four commandments are man’s moral duty unto God, while the next six are man’s moral duty unto his neighbour. The Satanic counterfeit of these commandments from the fall of Adam is therefore where the individual’s first onus is unto himself, which then influences his relationship with his neighbour from vested self-interest. Such a person, in truth does not believe God exists and that is how he/she goes about their lives. Hence it is that people’s prayer are not answered because such petitions are made from absolute unbelief and for most times bear the audacity of testing the Lord God Almighty (Mat4:7).
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
37 And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.
39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’
40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Imagine if you were to walk into the Office of the Commissioner of Police, what would be your demeanour. I have often heard of Charismatics who have said that they have fought with God in prayer over their life’s circumstances and what comes to my mind are the Israelites who grumbled and murmured against Moses and God, wanting to go back to Egypt and slavery. If we are truly born from above and believe in Jesus Christ (Jn3:3,16), then we ought to realize the price Jesus paid, that we may have access to the throne of grace with confidence (2Cor5:21) in prayer unto the God Almighty in all His Majesty and Holiness. This confidence in prayer we have is in knowing that whatever particular situation we are in, is what God has set for us in that time from His Omniscience and Omnipotence, such is the faith He requires of the believer in prayer.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
If you believe you don’t have such faith, then you ought to consistently seek the Lord Jesus in prayer and ask him to bless you with such a saving faith (Jn6:37). It is very important when you pray that you honestly acknowledge your own moral disposition before God (Luke18:9-14), do not leverage the good person you consider yourself to be, as the reason for which God should hear your prayer because your self-righteousness before God is no better than being clothed in rags before his Majesty (Is64:6). Yes, God does hear the prayer of the righteous, a righteousness which is defined in God not of those who are righteous in their own eyes (Is5:20-23).
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
The above once seemed absolutely impossible to me but God blessed me with the desire to seek the Lord Jesus in my trials and the impossible became possible (Lk18:27), thanks be to God. If you have such a calling from God then such a capacity will be given to you too in the Lord Jesus Christ because the demeanour of your heart unto God matters most when you prayer. Now let us take a look at the manner in which Jesus taught us to pray.
9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
One of the privileges of the Christian is that he bears the name of God (1Pet4:14) and is conformed each day into the image (moral character) of God. So when we pray to God, who is in heaven, we must ask God to help us lead holy lives in being conformed to his image, for such is the will of God that we ought to be holy as He is holy (1Pet1:15-16). It is very important that our prayer fall in line with His will for us because in prayer when we ask, it’s important that we ask from the right motive (James4:2-3).
When we say “thy kingdom come”, we are praying for God’s righteousness to reign in on the earth through the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom5:17-21), who propitiates the sins of men from self-righteousness unto the righteousness of God (1Jn2:2). You see it is not that God’s will is not done on earth, it’s just that unlike in heaven, here on earth people either glorify God’s mercy offered in Jesus Christ or they glorify His justice from unbelief (Jn3:18), while in heaven God’s will is carried out holistically unto God’s good pleasure but here on earth God doesn’t delight in the punishment of wicked (Ezek18:23).
In asking God for our daily bread, we acknowledge God’s providence in our lives that it is he who sustains us, despite being sinners by nature and poor stewards over this world, which we are to subdue in Christ. Such is the forgiveness we have from God in Jesus Christ, for our sins were imputed to Him who had no sin and His righteous was credited to us in our helpless/sinful estate (2Cor5:21). Hence we are a new creation in Christ (2Cor5:17), forgiving those who have sinned against us because we realize the immense debt God forgave us of from no deserving nature of our own, for such is the grace of God in the Salvation He offers us in Jesus Christ.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
In asking God not to lead us into temptation, we are asking God to safeguard us from our fallen nature from Adam that we may humbly acknowledge the truth about ourselves as sinners before God Almighty, and in doing so is our spiritual prostration aka repentance. For in the Lord Jesus is our Salvation (Mat1:21), for all things are of God and from God, for His own glory (Col1:16-20), such is the might of God (Phil4:13).
On studying the “Our Father”, which is what this payer is often called, we realize what Jesus is teaching here is not merely some words to be learned by rote but He is also schooling us on a moral and spiritual mind-set from which we are to pray because the worshipers the Lord seeks are those who worship in Spirit and Truth (Jn4:23-24).
John 15 (Jesus says)
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
To conclude unlike the gamut of religions out there in the world which requires the individual to follow a whole lot of ritualistically outward religiosity for such is their scheme of prayer, the Christian prayer on the other hand requires a genuine spiritual disposition as over anything outward because God looks at the heart (1Sam16:7). So remember the first thing you ought to do in prayer is be intellectually honest concerning where you stand before God and then follow the trail as the Holy Spirit leads you in always seeking the Lord Jesus Christ.