Monday, January 28, 2013

No Matter How Many People Pray, There is Only One God

Last week on Facebook there was a heartbreaking post about a girl looking for 30,000 prayer warriors for her cancer treatment.  I am not sure of the validity of the story, but if true it is truly heartbreaking.  I myself had a family emergency this week and sent out requests for prayer.  This is something we have all done and this is something that is good for all of us to do.  There is nothing wrong whatsoever about asking others to pray for you.  I am also not saying that we should not pray for this girl.  We absolutely should.  The problem, though, is that we sometimes take more comfort or put more emphasis on the amount of people praying than we do the One that we are praying too.  In the end, God is not moved by the quantity of prayers, but the faith of the one praying. 

Confess [your] trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16 NKJV

This passage is clear.  We should pray for one another.  This is important for several reasons.  First of all, it helps us not go through whatever it is we are going through alone.  It also opens up avenues for others to be able to minister to our needs.  I know it can be humbling to ask for prayer, but it is essential that we do.  We were never meant to go through the trials of life alone.  God has made us into one body so that we can come together as a body to meet the needs of one who is hurting.  I am guilty of this myself, but sometimes it is easier to minister to others than to allow others to minister to you. 

That said, we need to be careful that we do not put our faith in who or how many others are praying for us and put all our faith in the One to whom we are praying.  Listen to the words of James "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."  James does not say that the effectual fervent prayer of a group of people avails much nor did James say that the repeated prayers of however many people we can get paying avails much.  What James does say is that the prayer of a righteous man avails much.  Of course, this begs the question, who is a righteous man? 

You see, we may think of ourselves as righteous.  Not one of us is completely without sin.  I would be hard-pressed to find someone who is without sin just today.  We may not ever feel particularly righteous, but the Bible says differently.  The Bible says that through our faith in Jesus Christ, we are righteous.  In other words, if we have faith in Jesus, we have righteousness.  This is not because of any righteousness in our own lives, but because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is imparted to us upon our salvation.   This means that what is required for God to answer our prayers if faith in Jesus Christ. 

Faith is the key to our prayer.  We often think of needing many people to pray for whatever is going in our lives, but how many people did it take for the greatest miracle in your life to happen?  How many people had to pray for your salvation for you to ultimately be saved?  Don't get me wrong, I know that many believers probably prayed for your salvation for quite some time, but none of their prayers saved you.  They merely brought you to point of decision, but ultimately it was your decision to make.  Ultimately, salvation was achieved in your life because you made that prayer of faith to receive Jesus Christ.  Just as God answered that one simple prayer of faith to come into your life and heal your heart, God will answer the prayers of faith you lift up to Him now.  He may not always answer in the way you would have chosen them to be answered, but they will always be answered in best way, that is God's way. 

Jesus tells us in several parables the importance of our own prayers, and for us to be persistent in prayer.  These parables are the Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Parable of the Late Night Guest.  Both involved people persistently asking until they received a response.  The solution for their problem was for them to keep asking.  The answer was not to give up their own prayers and start a Facebook prayer campaign, send out a press release, or a Twitter message, or even to call the town crier.  The answer was being persistent in their own prayers and we must do the same.  We must not give up on our own prayers thinking that the prayers of others will have more of an effect than our own prayers.  We must have faith that God hears our prayers and that God wants us to be persistent in our prayers until God gives us an answer. 

The solution for our prayers lives is not in the quantity of people we have asking for us but in the faith in which we ask.  Not that our faith should be in our faith, but our faith should always be on the One answering and not on those asking.  Our faith should not be in hoping that someone extra holy or just by shear numbers that God is moved to respond.  Our faith needs to be in God and His promise to each of us individually to answer our prayers and give us the desires of our hearts (that is hearts turned to Jesus).  If God is not giving is what we think is the right answer, the response is to accept that answer and not get a gang of people to try and change God's mind.  Quite honestly, if He does and gives you what you think you want, you may very well end up regretting it.  In the end, it is about faith.  The same faith that God used to answer that first prayer to come into your heart is the same faith that will move God to answer the desires of the new heart He created in you. 

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!   Matthew 7:7-11 NKJV

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