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Friday, March 07, 2008

Building a Foundation For Answered Prayer - Part II

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)

Last week we began thinking about this verse and how it sets out conditions for answered prayer. We noted that we have to be God's people and be recognised as such by all the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms. We also considered the vital importance of humbling ourselves before God, acknowledging that we are His, bought with a price, and that He has the right to full authority over us. Our desire should not be to pray according to our will but His.

We will now continue through this vitally important verse.

And Pray
"Why pray when you can worry?" Sometimes prayer is our last resort. We exhaust every other option first. We worry, analyse, discuss, strategise, try a few things. Then, when nothing else works we decide all that is left is prayer so we turn to the Lord and say, "I've run out of options, please will You intervene." We need to completely change our direction so that prayer is the first item on the agenda.

Failure to prioritise prayer is an indication that we have not yet learned the lesson of humility. When prayer isn't our first thought we are effectively saying to the Lord, "I don't need You, I can find a way to do this on my own." That is pride, the kind of pride that began the building of the tower at Babel. But 2 Chron 7:14 shows us that prayer is essential to God's intervention and without it we won't see the changes in the world around us which we long for. Activity is great but if it isn't preceded by prayer it will not have the kind of productivity which is an indication of God's blessing.

And Seek My Face
This is what Prayer College is primarily about - seeking God's face. So often prayer becomes a matter of seeking God's hand for His blessing. There is nothing wrong with asking the Lord to supply our needs. Indeed, the Lord Jesus taught us to pray for our needs to be met. But seeking God's face, seeking Him for who He is, must precede our requests for help.

When we love someone we enjoy being with them. We want to be around them just for the pleasure of their company and with no ulterior motives. If we seek God's face simply because we think it's a step towards getting our prayers answered we will fail miserably. If we are in a love relationship with the Lord Jesus then we should desire to seek His face with all our heart. It is on a foundation of love, not a set of procedures that we will build a prayer life that is productive.

Prayer College Assignment
It's a hard question to ask ourselves, but one which we should be examining regularly. Am I praying to get my needs met or to seek the face of the Lord? It is vital to do both, but the effectiveness of intercession and supplication will be dependent on the extent to which our prayer life is an expression of our love for God.

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