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WHAT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU PRAY?

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What do you do when you and your nation are in serious trouble? When you are in bondage and there seems no way of escape? When you are surrounded by wickedness and evil? When the people of God are in the minority? And, when God’s children themselves are unresponsive, sinful, and unrevived?

You PRAY.

Nehemiah, David, Daniel ... go right down the list and you will find their first response was prayer. And their prayers are similar, giving us a model for how we would pray.

FASTING AND PRAYING

Daniel fasted and prayed for 21 days, recorded in Daniel, Chapter 9-10. He read his Bible, which stirred and convicted him and prompted him to pray (9:2). His prayer was a prayer of confession of his sin and the sins of the people and a cry for mercy.

Read Daniel 9:4-19 and then read Nehemiah, Chapter 1 and you will see that these are almost identical prayers. And God heard and answered both.

And, it was not a momentary prayer. “I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people, pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem, his holy mountain,” Daniel said (9:20). It was a continual intercession flowing from a burdened heart.

GOD HEARS PRAYER

"The moment you began praying, a command was given," said Gabriel when he came to speak to Daniel (9:22). God send a messenger to tell Daniel that he was precious to God (repeated 3 times) and that God had heard his prayers and--at a time in the future--was going to redeem Israel and send the Messiah. 

After Daniel prayed God...

  • revealed His will, giving Daniel everything he needed to know about everything that was ahead
  • encouraged and strengthened Daniel's heart
  • gave him insight and understanding to lead others

Amazing things happen when you pray...and only when you pray. The man who will not give himself to prayer, of course, will not be able to see what Daniel saw nor lead in the way Daniel led. They will not have heard from heaven.

NOW WHAT?

So, what should we be doing right now? The same as Daniel, Nehemiah, David and all the great saints who have gone before us.

We must pray. We must confess our sins and the sins of the people.

And we must never, never give up.

Posted by Bill Elliff with

STRAIGHT UP

I love that the Bible, and Bible writers under God's inspiration, are straightforward. Here's an illustration from the Apostle who Jesus loved, John.

The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. (1 John 2:4-5)

Alllriiighty, then. A "liar." There you go. Straight up.

AN EPIDEMIC OF DISOBEDIENCE

... is raging in our land and, sadly, even in many churches. We are masters at rationalizing and redefining sin. We describe people who are in immorality as simple "living together." It sounds nice and harmless, even good. What’s wrong with “living” and doesn’t everyone want to “live together” with someone?

Perversions of the worst kind are labeled "sexual misconduct." Sounds fairly sterile. And, people who have had a lifetime of "slips" with no intention of repentance often loudly proclaim that they are Christians.

Anger and unforgiveness become, “He’s a little upset (you know he’s been under a lot of stress”). Polygamy is choices, rebellion is freedom, and gluttony is just a big appetite. And on and on. Nothing like a redefinition to pacify our conscience.

NOBODY’S PERFECT

John has dealt in his first chapter of 1 John with the fact that everyone sins—even followers of Christ. But, here is the point of the whole book: If you know Christ, there is a foundational change. You cannot continue to live a life of rebellion against God. In fact, you don’t even want too. You may fall, but you will repent and return to Him in time.

I've often said to folks that if you put a true believer’s life on a graph, you would see constant highs and lows; periods of victory and failure. But, if you look across the course of their life through the years since they were born again, you would see the "mean average" trending upward, heading towards God. Followers of Christ follow Christ.

That is not because of their power, or goodness, but is a testimony to the fact that they are new creatures with Christ's Spirit living on the inside. And that changes everything.

Christians obey Christ's commandments. Not perfectly, but increasingly across the course of their lives. They have "besetting sins" they struggle with, some for a long time. But they love and long for Christ and are pursuing Him and a life of holiness because it's in their nature.

LET’S GET REAL

If you have no intention of really following Christ, don't fool yourself, which would be a tragic, eternal mistake. You probably are not a Christian. Hopefully, this straight up, no-nonsense understanding, and the prospect of spending eternity in one of two places, will awaken you to your need of Christ.

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord (like a drowning man who recognizes his total inability to save Himself and cries out in desperation and faith) will be saved (Romans 10:13).

And that's the good, straight up news.

Posted by Bill Elliff with

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