The Protocol For Asking
The Prayer That Avails Much
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Psalms 37:23; James 5:16
Sunday 2nd June 2013
I begin a series today titled 'The Prayer That Avails Much'. It is probably safe to assume that at one point or another, each one of us as believers would have prayed. In fact, most of us would have prayed this morning, and would possibly pray at different times of the day. Today, I would like to go to the basics and share a message titled 'The Protocol for Asking'. It is important that we get it right. Isn't it intriguing that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray? (Luke 11:1).
There are certain principles that we often overlook, and tend to violate when praying that needs to be addressed. God adheres to and respect those principles - without fail, these principles are synonymous with His word. From our foundation scripture in James 5:16, we read these words 'The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]' (Amplified). As we embark on a journey throughout this month, seeking God's will in prayer and fasting, it is vital that we are equipped to maximise every moment.
I have discovered that it is possible to engage in the whole procedure and activity of prayer and still not get God's attention. Prayers will work only if its principles are obeyed. God is no respecter of persons but He always respect His principles. It is only when our prayers are in line with God's principles, would we experience results.
Firstly, referring to the text in James 5:16, it is assumed that righteous men and women will pray. Putting it another way, our lives depends on prayer, hence we must pray. We cannot do without it, as it is the lifeline that connects us to Omnipotence. Prayer works, irrespective of our past experiences with some unanswered prayers.
Secondly, nothing happens until we pray - Heaven will not move until men and women pray, and ask for God's intervention, because mankind has been placed in charge on earth (Psalm 115:16).
God gave dominion to man right from the Garden of Eden, as recorded in Genesis. If God will move and act on earth, He must be invited to do so. It is for this same reason that God had to become a man, in the person of Jesus Christ before He could redeem mankind. Inviting God to intervene on earth is simply what prayer is all about. Several passages in scriptures highlight this truth - Psalm 2:8 reads 'Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth, your possession'. Other scriptures include Matthew 7:7, Zechariah 10:1, John 14:13.
Man's prayers puts God back in charge on earth, and each success on earth is as a result of an effective prayer, in collaboration with a divine intervention from Heaven. So, the most important lesson you could ever learn is how to pray effectively. So again, if Heaven will not respond to our heart cries until earth gives permission to move on its behalf, is it not vital that we learn the protocol for praying effectually?
From the book of James 4:1-3, he highlights two reasons why some prayers are not answered; (1) Non-request from God. (2) Requesting with the wrong motives. If a request will not enhance God's purpose for your life, it is unlikely that the request will be granted.
To receive answers to our request then, it is important that we adhere to the protocol that undergird effective prayers. If we can get this right, then it is certain that every time the throne of grace is approached with a request, it will be granted.
Let me share with you some of the hindrances to prayer:
(i) Sin: Psalm 66:18 reads 'If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear'. If a person harbours sin or practices sin as a lifestyle, then God will not grant answers to such an individual's request. Hence, we must examine our hearts. Sin separates us and hinders our communication with God; it is therefore necessary that we rid our hearts of sin (Isaiah 59:2, Psalm 51).
God desires our friendship, and He is eager to forgive us, if we confess our sins and repent (1 John 1:9). Such was the experience of the Israelites each time in scriptures, they turned to God.
(ii) Unforgiveness: Another hindrance to answered prayers is unforgiveness. Matthew 6:14 reads “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses". If there are any unresolved issues and unforgiveness as a result in your heart, let go of them to ensure the answers to your requests from God are granted. (Mark 11:25).
(iii) Doubt: Doubt also hinders effective prayers. James 1:5-7 discusses asking God in faith without doubting, rounding up this way - Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way (Message). God wants to partner with those who are dependent and trusting.
(iv) Unresolved Marital Conflict: Unanswered prayers could also be as a result of a marital conflict. Men are encouraged to live peaceably and in harmony with their wives, treating them with honour and understanding. Although described as 'weaker vessels', women are 'equal partners in God's gift of new life' (1 Peter 3:7 NLT). Likewise, women should avoid provoking their husbands.
(v) The Lack of the Knowledge of God's Will: As a matter of priority, God's will for your life must be known. James 4:3 reads 'You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss'. When God's word and your request are in sync, you can be rest assured of a positive response from God.
(vi) The Lack of the Knowledge of God: When you are confronted with a seemingly impossible task or a difficult issue, it is then that your dependence on God is critical. Limiting God could be an hinderance to answered prayers. Abraham believed in the omnipotence of God, and declared 'He is able' (Romans 4:21).
(vii) Fainting (Weariness): Fainting is synonymous to giving up. Unless you follow through, you may never realise the power of your prayer. Regardless of how long it takes, hold on. God has promised to answer, leaving out details of when. Nevertheless, it behooves Him to grant your request, if you do not give up.
(viii) Prayerlessness: If you do not pray, you will not receive answers. You may go around worrying yourself about a situation, but until you pray, heaven will not respond. Nothing will happen until you ask.
Here are three things you need to do to receive answers to your prayers:
(i) Walk in Faith: Asking God for an answer must be done in faith (James 1:6). This is how Mark 11:24 puts it; Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Right at the moment when praying, believe that it will happen and it will be established. Each prayer time must be backed up with faith for the expected result.
(ii) Knowledge of God's Will: God's word is His will. So when you ingest God's word, you are learning and knowing God's will, which you need to inform your prayers.
(iii) Love: Ensure that your prayers 'stand' upon the platform of love. God is love, and scriptures encourages us to be rooted and grounded in love. Let your faith begin to work by love (Ephesians 3:17).
God delights in answering prayers, but there is a protocol that must be adhered to. As you embrace and obey these principles, you will begin to enjoy the blessings of heaven as your requests are granted (Amen).
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