INTRO: Imagine praying to a god that cannot save! Well, that is what millions of people, past and present, have done. They prostrate themselves before idols of stone, wood or metal, and they pray to those lifeless deities. And we know those deities cannot hear their prayers ... much less answer them. What a vivid example of powerless praying! The Bible speaks of people who worship the true God praying powerless prayers. We need to think for a few minutes about that subject ... powerless prayers.
I PRAYERS OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS
A. This is, it would seem, an obvious thing
1. Prov 15:29; Prov 28:9; 1 Pet 3:12 - people who choose to live a life of unrighteousness (ignoring Gods will) will have no prayer power
2. their prayers are abomination, disgusting, to God
3. Mt 23:14 an example of religious, but unrighteous, praying
B. Now, there is a matter needing clarification here
1. what about childrens prayers - before they are Christians
2. what about one who is seeking the truth?
3. obviously, childrens prayers, because they are not yet in sin, will be heard - and of one who is seeking the truth notice Acts 9:11,12 and 10:2,31
II PRAYERS CONTRARY TO GODS WILL
A. Here is qualification to all the New Testament teaches about prayer
1. 1 Jno 5:14 - according to his will
2. several things seem necessary here:
a. there are wrong things for which one might pray
b. there are times when a right thing must wait
c. there is the need to cultivate a oneness with God which learns to know what Gods will is
3. Mt 6:10 - Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven
B. 1 Jno 3:22 - suggests another direction here, too
1. one who is neither keeping Gods commandment nor is seeking to please God has no power in prayer
2. prayer is not a grab bag for people living to themselves
3. prayer is privileged communion ... for Gods people
III PRAYERS THAT ARE FAITHLESS
A. Here, I believe, is a serious prayer problem
1. Jas 1:6,7 - let him ask in faith, nothing doubting
2. we absolutely must believe God hears and answers prayers
3. Mt 21:21,22 - certainly, with qualification of acceptable prayer but this is praying in faith!
B. An example of faith, nothing wavering
1. Dan 3:15-18 - yes, they would seek deliverance from the fiery furnace
2. but if that was not forthcoming, their faith was not shaken - for God might need to answer in a different way!
3. doubting prayers are futile, powerless prayers
IV PRAYERS THAT ARE SELFISH
A. What is the motive of/in our prayers?
1. Jas 4:3 - that ye may spend it in your pleasures (ASV)
2. Hos 7:14 - such prayers are mere howls to God!
B. This was a prayer problem of the hypocrites of Jesus day
1. Mt 6:5 - motive? certainly not to commune with God
2. their motive was gratification of self in seeking applause of others God knows if our prayer purpose is to please Him, or self
V PRAYERS THAT COME UP FROM CONTENTION
A. Here is a seldom noted prayer problem
1. 1 Pet 3:7 - that your prayers be not hindered
2. husband & wife who do not honor/respect/love each other and whose lives are filled with contention have no prayer power
3. squabbling, fighting come from a spirit alien to God
B. Is not this a fact extending into all human relationships
1. when we are filled with contentious, fighting spirit, how dwells the God of peace in us?
2. how can we feud with brother while praying to God for His loving favor
3. human disharmony upsets spiritual growth
CLOSE: If we are dealing with concerns about unanswered prayers, is it possible that we are caught up in a prayer problem? Do our prayers lack the power they should have? We may need to do some honest soul searching in order to develop real prayer power in our lives.
Cecil A. Hutson
22 February 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “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.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)