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Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Wasted prayer.

Anyone who truly knows me, might be more than a little surprised at the title of this post.   I am always encouraging people to pray and, of course, I pray regularly myself!    

However, there is such a thing as "wasted prayer"!  Indeed, it could be argued that useless, senseless, prayer is one of the greatest dangers in the life of the disciple of Jesus.  What I mean by that is that we constantly ask for things that the Lord, Himself, has already promised in His written Word.  Now, if I have told one of my children that I am going to provide her with some item or other, is it not a waste of time and effort for her to keep coming back to me to ask for it?!   Yet this is what so many of us do with Father God.  Instead of thanking Him for what He has declared He will do, we act as if we don't actually believe His Word.

The Bible is a book that contains thousands of promises.  Each one may be seen as a blank cheque signed by the Saviour Himself!  When you come across one that is directed to the members of His Body, and that meets your particular need, please don't ask God to keep His word - as if He was unwilling, and had to be coerced and urged to do so!  Sometimes I have heard Jesus' parable about the persistent widow (Lk 18: 1-5) used as an example of how we have to "wear God down" with our prayers.  That is, of course, utter nonsense!  The point of the parable is made by Jesus in the following verses.  It is a parable of comparison - if an unwilling judge can, indeed, be "worn down" by the persistency of a poor widow, to grant her her petition, "... will not God vindicate His elect, who cry to Him day and night?" (Luke 18:7).  The unspoken answer is "Of course He will!"

Don't ever ask God to keep His own promises!  If we think about it for a moment, that is really just an insult to His integrity!  Rather, pray according to His will, and praise Him for the blessing that He has already promised to provide, and that you know is on the way!  Perhaps if we were to approach our personal prayer-time like that, there might be less petition - and more adoration!

An example of this may be seen in these familiar words from the book of the prophet Isaiah: "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isa 55:10-11).  This, surely, is an unconditional promise that God's Word will never return to Him empty, or unfulfilled.  Yet how often have I stood on a platform, or in a pulpit, and prayed that the Lord would bless His Word as I preach it?!  Hasn't He said He would?  Of course He has - so my prayer before preaching should be one of thanksgiving for that promise!  I may then preach in confidence, and full assurance, that He will fulfil that promise!

Whether it is in a preaching situation before a gathering of people, or in personal evangelism to a friend, workmate, or family member, I may be certain that, if I am faithful in sending forth the truth, I can happily leave the results to Him.  That's one reason why we should study the written Word of God - that we may pray properly, and with full power and assured results.

Someone has said that we need not twist God's arm to remind Him to keep the promises He has made!  Let's cease from "wasted prayer"!

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