Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Our God is a faith God. The world says seeing is believing. God says believing is seeing. Everyone has needs. God does not respond to needs. He responds to faith. Often, people would come to Jesus and say, “If you can” or “If you will,” then “Do such and such.” Jesus replied, “If you can believe….” Let us not question God’s ability or willingness to answer our prayers as these people did; rather, let us look at the frequent doubt and unbelief that Jesus refers to in our own lives. We are not to sit in judgment of God. His Word is eternal truth. If something’s amiss, it’s on our end - not His. Does something need fixin’? It ain’t God.
The Bible lists different qualifications in order to receive answers to prayer. These are not works of the law (earning to obtain from God), but rather, works of faith (learning to receive, in God‘s way, what God has already given). The first of these is: 1. We must believe He exists (Heb 11:6). I know, it seems obvious - but Paul felt like he needed to make sure people understood this. None of this, “God, if You’re out there… if You’re real… then do such and such” drivel. Believe He is - or don’t waste your time praying.
2. We must fear God (Ps 145:19). He fulfills the desires of those that reverence, respect, honor, and stand in awe of Almighty God. Holy is His Name. His is the kingdom and power and glory forever (Mt 6). Yes, God is our loving Father; Jesus is our friend and brother; the Holy Spirit is our comforter - but they are Almighty God, and to be revered and feared.
3. We must know God is good (He rewards) Heb 11:6, Jer 29:11, Mt 7:11. God rewards us. God gives us good things. God thinks good thoughts towards us. That is not “Prosperity name it -claim it doctrine”. That is just Scripture. Sure, it’s been abused, misapplied, and twisted by some. However, the other side of that lie is another lie - the poverty gospel. Poor is holy. Earthly comforts are of the devil. Money is evil, etc., etc. The poverty gospel is as bad - or worse - than the name it-claim it gospel. There is a balance that’s not very hard to find.
4. We must ask (Mt 7:7-10, Jam 1:5, 4:2-3). Again, this is pretty basic, but we can’t think or wish for something. We have to voice it. We have to ask God. He says if we will ask, we will receive. Thinking is not asking. He will give abundantly and not rebuke us for asking. We don’t have because we don’t ask.
5. We must ask in Jesus’ name (Jn 14:13-14, 15:7, 16, 16:23-24). Jesus is the Name above all names. It is only by His Name and through His Name, that we have the right to receive anything from The Father. All of our covenant blessings, rights, privileges, and inheritance - it all comes through Jesus’ name. The New Testament, will, contract - it is signed in blood by Jesus Christ. We come to The Father with that contract in hand. In Jesus’ Name!
6. We must believe God hears us (Prv 15:29, Ps 34:15, 1Pt 3:12). Do you just flippantly throw prayers out there - wondering if God even hears you? Then you won’t receive. That is not faith. Faith says, “I know He hears me. I know I have the petitions I ask.” Do you know God hears you? I wouldn’t waste my time praying again, until you know that for a fact.
7. We must seek God with all of our heart (Heb 11:6, Jer 29:12-13, Ps 119:2, 10, 58). Is the extent of your prayer life asking God through a half-asleep yawn to bless everybody? The heart - the whole heart - must be engaged in prayer. Thoughtless, idle wishes are not prayer. I am not saying you must pray for x amount of minutes or hours for it to be real. The Bible doesn’t give us a time clock. Yet, some sort of time must be taken in order to slow down your busy schedule (and brain), and engage in heartfelt prayer. Only God knows what “All your heart” is. Be honest with Him and with yourself.
I have just laid the ground work for answered prayer this week. Next week, I trust to lay out the necessity of heart faith, why God answers prayer; and reasons for unanswered prayer. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!