Praying Lesson 8: Pray-ers that Pleases God

Lesson 8: Pray-ers that Pleases God

God is gracious in answering prayer. He does not demand perfection from the person offering the prayer. God is well aware of our failures, weaknesses, and sin. Because Jesus is our “great high priest,” we can approach God “boldly” to “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:14-16). Nevertheless, several passages in the Bible relate certain personal characteristics that should be evident in the life of one who approaches God in prayer.

  1. Righteousness  James 5:16

Qualities of a righteous person:

  1. Saved  Rom 1:17, 5:1
  2. Sincere (“not as the hypocrites” Mt 6:5; “effectual fervent” [lit “energetic, earnest”])
  3. Humble  James 4:6
  4. Obedient  John 15:7
  5. Overt, unrepentant sin in the life of a believer may hinder one’s prayers or even render them without effect.  Ps 66:18; Prov 15:29: Isa 1:15
  6. Faith Mark 11:23-24;James 1:5-7
    1. This does not suggest that prayer has no effect unless all doubt is removed from our hearts. We often have doubts concerning God’s will for us.
    2. This does not suggest that merely believing something means that God is obligated to grant our requests. Our personal desires and expectations are not the measure by which God acts. The fact that we may have convinced ourselves that we believe something does not compel God. We do not know the mind of God where he has not revealed it. We cannot manipulate God.

What would happen if God granted every request from everyone who truly believed that his request was God’s will?

  1. Faith does not eliminate other considerations; faith is not the only condition for answered prayer. Faith operates in conjunction with other requirements for effective prayer.
  2. Faith must have the right object—God. We have faith that God loves us, has wisdom to grant what is best for us, and is able to provide what we need.
  3. Submission 1 John 5:14-15
    1. Praying according to God’s will is not simply asking for biblical things.
      1. In one sense, we can count on God’s promises to do what he said he’d do. E.g., Rom 10:9; 1 John 1:9. We can and should trust God to do what he said.
      2. However, we should realize that what God wants people to do is not necessarily what people will do. People often violate his will. In other words, we recognize a difference between God’s prescriptive will (what he has commanded—his moral will) and his decretive will (what he has decreed to happen—his sovereign will). John is not guaranteeing that God will grant every request for people to obey his word. If that were the case, we could pray once and everyone would be saved and stop sinning!
    2. Praying according to God’s will means that we ask God to grant the requests that please him and conform to his eternal purposes. We don’t know God’s secret counsels, so we pray, “If it be your will.”

Quote: We pray, expressing our heartfelt desire, all the while subordinating our will … to the wise and providential Lord of life and history who is working all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph 1:11).[1]

  1. Good example: Daniel 3:17-18. The young men did not know if God would save them; they did not presume on God’s will. They were submissive to God’s purpose for them, whether it meant life or death. Whatever God allowed, they remained loyal to God. Their loyalty God’s prescriptive will (“no other gods before me”) meant that they were willing to accept whatever might be in God’s decretive will for them.
  2. Essentially, prayer for God’s will means that we pray for what God has already determined to do. This does not imply that prayer does nothing. God accomplishes his ends by means of the prayers of his people. God works through means (although he’s never limited/constrained by human activity or non-activity). God decrees both the ends and the means. Prayer is only one means God uses to attain his ends, not the only one (contra the idea that God does nothing except through prayer).
  3. Reverence Ps 145:17-19
    1. The “fear of God” describes a broad array of virtues. Fear of God is reverence, awe, honor, and worship in response to the transcendent holiness of God (cf. Isa 6:5). We may approach God boldly, yet with proper respect and decorum.
    2. The fear of God prevents us from approaching God with a frivolous, casual, overly-familiar attitude. Likewise, prayer is not merely getting from God what we want for ourselves. The focus of prayer is God and his will, not ourselves.
    3. The fear of God reflects a desire not to offend God. Those who fear God do not want to grieve him or provoke his anger.

The exercise of these virtues does not guarantee that God will grant our every request. But if they are present, but we can be confident that God is not declining our requests because of our own sin. Further, no one possesses these virtues perfectly. We should see consistent evidence of them but not expect faultless perfection. God is gracious and understands our weaknesses.


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