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Friday, February 29, 2008

Building a Foundation For Answered Prayer - Part I

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14)

There is a reason why Prayer College has primarily focused on our personal intimacy with God rather than on intercession. It's not because praying for our world and its people is unimportant. On the contrary, as a Royal Priesthood we have an obligation to the stand in the gap on behalf of those who need the Lord's intervention in their lives. However, ability to intercede successfully is dependant on the quality of our personal relationship with Jesus.

Conditions For Answered Prayer
Whilst, as God's children we have every right to approach Him boldly, we can't expect to rush into the Throne Room, make our demands and rush out again. 2 Chron 7:14 begins with "if" - a very small but vitally important word. It implies there are conditions we must adhere to in order to have effective prayer lives. Of course, the Lord is very gracious and sometimes answers prayer despite our failure to comply with His ways. But if we want ongoing significant and powerful answers to prayer we need to take heed of His instructions.

My People Who Are Called By My Name
This may seem blindingly obvious but it is worth some consideration. God was originally talking to Solomon about the people of Israel, the people He had chosen from amongst the nations to be His treasured possession and to be a light to the world to reveal what He is like. The privilege of having prayers heard and answered by God is dependent on us being His people and being known as such.

This isn't just about being saved, but recognising, as I heard Paul Miller say last week, that the Lord has paid the price to own us. We no longer have the right to authority over our own lives. We are to become the living sacrifices that Paul urges us to be in Rom 12:1. If our prayers are to have power then all the forces in the heavenly realms (both good and evil) need to know that we have accepted our place under the authority of our Father.

Will Humble Themselves
Humility is NOT part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). On the contrary, it is something we are expected to work on for ourselves. James 4:10 says, "humble yourselves before the Lord." It takes an act of the will to humble yourself before God. But it is what is required and it's much more comfortable to humble yourself than to wait for God to bring you to humility against your will.

Humility is really no more than recognising our own poverty before Almighty God. That is what worship is about. We cannot truly worship without being humble before God. As we declare His great and awesome power and might, His holiness, perfection and beauty, His wisdom, justice and understanding, His compassion and tender care, we cannot help but recognise the vast difference between the Creator and us, His creatures.

Prayer College Assignment
In order to be effective intercessors we need to accept God's authority over our lives and humble ourselves before Him. Who is in charge of your life, you or your Saviour? Whose will matters most to you, yours or the Lord's? Consider whether your prayer life springs from a desire to receive what you want or to bring His plans to fulfilment.

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