Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ten Qualities of Mountain-moving Prayer

1. Rooted in Worship

Because this was discussed in Chapter 2 it will be explained here only briefly. We enter into God's presence with praise and thanksgiving. The psalmist wrote, "Come before His presence with singing ... Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, / And into His courts with praise" (Ps. 100:2b, 4a). Our arms are outstretched in adoration of Him rather than open hands in expectation of a request fulfilled. Prayer is more than running down a list of "I wants."

Beginning with worship enables us to align our perspectives with God's. When Jesus instructed his disciples how to pray, He told them to begin by saying, "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name." Hallowed means simply, "holy, complete, and set apart." God doesn't need to be reminded He is holy. But we do.

Prayer that moves mountains is rooted in worship.

2. Unfettered Through Confession of Sin

Jesus died on the cross to cleanse us from every sin. However, unconfessed sin can stand between us and an unhindered relationship with God. James 5:16 reminds us, "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed." James wasn't writing to the unsaved, he was writing to the saved.

Unconfessed sin in the life of the believer and to a much greater extent in the life of the unbeliever-places a wall of separation between God and us. But true confession of sin tears it down. The prayers listed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 are designed to aid you in entering God's presence with a pure and clean heart.

Prayer that moves mountains is unfettered through confession of sin.

3. Expressed in Specifics

Did you ever stop to consider that every day God gives us new insights into His mercy? Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us that God's mercies are new every morning. A beautiful sunset, a quick recovery from a head cold, or an unexpected compliment from your boss are just a few examples of God's mercies that are new every morning. In response we should return the favor to God by blessing Him in new ways. Every day, try to find some new means of expressing your love to Him. Just as He is specific in showing us His new mercies, so should we be specific in giving Him our praise. If you love Him, don't just tell Him you love Him, tell Him why you love Him.

The same principle is true when coming to Him with our requests One day as Jesus was departing Jericho, the cries of two blind men could be heard over the din of the accompanying crowd. Walking to their side of the road, Jesus asked them a very important question "What do you want Me to do for you?" (Matt. 20:32 NKJV). They didn't give some generic catchall answer like, "We want You to be with us.' No They replied, "We want our eyes to be opened."

Jesus asks us the same question in prayer: "What do you want Me to do for you?" Nothing is more uninspiring in prayer than something like, "God, I pray that you will be with Sally." In all reality, that prayer is answered because God already is with Sally. What Sally really needs is victory over depression. For this reason, Chapters 5 through 10 are designed to aid you in praying specifically for stressful feelings, marriages and families, children, relationships, jobs and career, and sickness and disease.

Prayer that moves mountains is expressed in specifics.

4. Focused on the Kingdom

Twice in the Lord's Prayer, the disciples were exhorted to "pray in" the coming kingdom: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done" (Matt. 6:10 KJV) and "For Thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory" (Matt. 6:13 KJV). The ultimate goal of prayer is to see the kingdom of this world transformed into the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev. 11:15).

Focusing first on the kingdom of God addresses the thoughts and intents of our innermost motives. Whose kingdom are we building anyway? God's or ours? James addressed the issue of motivation and unanswered prayer this way:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:3 NKJV)

God promises to supply all of our needs (Phil. 4:19), but meeting our desires and wants is secondary in importance.

Praying for the coming kingdom is our opportunity to pray for those items that are foremost on God's heart. Chapter 11 will aid you toward that end.

Prayer that moves mountains is ultimately focused on the kingdom.

5. Conveyed from the Heart

Effective prayer reflects who we really are inside. Merely reciting a prayer from a book without lending our true thoughts and feelings is akin to playing a tape of prerecorded prayers. For this reason Jesus urged His disciples against praying with vain repetition (Matt. 6:7).

The Bible was written in the common language of the people. Psalms, the original prayer book, reflects the most heartfelt and transparent emotions of its various writers. What makes the Psalms profound is not its sophisticated language, but the fact that it communicates what is common among every class of people

The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, the language of the common people, not classical Greek used by the aristocracy and writers of that time. So why do we hear so many prayers offered in church filled with language we hardly understand? True prayer isn't filled with flowery words, it is expressed from the heart. John Knox, the Scottish Reformer, got right to the point in his prayer: "Give me Scotland or I die."

Prayer that moves mountains is conveyed from the heart.

6. Empowered by the Word of God

Just as important as praying from the heart is praying the anointed, inspired, Word of God. The moment Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He picked up His sword of the Spirit and fought Satan with the Word of God (Matt. 4; Luke 4).

If, according to Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God is "living and active," then when we pray using Scripture, the Word of God works on our behalf-even after we are finished praying! just like a nuclear reaction that keeps radiating into eternity.

Through Scripture we learn what God's will is. When our prayers come into line with His will, they are accomplished. If all God's promises-which we find in His Word-are "yes" and "amen" (2 Cor. 1:20), then we would be remiss by not beginning with them.

Prayer that moves mountains is empowered by The Word of God.

7. Asks in Jesus' Name

Prayer that moves mountains isn't hesitant to ask. The most commonly used Greek word for prayer in the Bible, proseuche, means literally "to wish" or "ask." However, it doesn't mean "to demand." Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (NIV). Through prayer we are given opportunity to present our requests to God.

Notice in this same verse that we are encouraged to bring any¬thing and everything before the throne. There is no request too small or too great that God isn't willing to answer.

When we ask, we ask in Jesus' name. We don't have to implore the great saints of the past or even Mary, the mother of Jesus, to go before the Father on our behalf. Jesus is our advocate before the Father. Jesus said, "until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24 NKJV, italics added).

Prayer that moves mountains asks in Jesus' name.

8. Prays with Faith

Without faith, it is impossible for us to please God (Heb. 11:6). We must believe not only that God has the power to move our mountains through prayer, but we must also believe He has made His power available to us and that He desires to do it!

John Calvin once said, "The principal work of the Spirit is faith ... the principal exercise of faith is prayer." The main ingredient in mountain-moving prayer is faith. Let's look at what Jesus said about mountains in Mark 11:22-24:

Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, "Be removed and be cast into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (NKJV, italics added)

Notice how often the words faith and believe are used. Faith isn't something we muster up on our own, it is nurtured through God's Word and in prayer. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17 NKJV).

Here's how the cycle of prayer and faith works: We give ourselves to God in prayer; we grow deeper in our relationship with Him; we know better what are the issues on His heart; we see clearer what His desires are for us; we pray for them; our prayers are answered because they line up with His will; God builds more faith in our lives. And the more faith God builds in our lives, the more inclined we are to spend time with Him. As we spend more time with Him, the cycle repeats.

Prayer that moves mountains prays with faith.

9. Borne out of a Relationship

Jesus said in John 15:7, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (NIV). An important key to answered prayer lies in remaining in Christ-to seek Him, wait for Him, listen to Him, and allow Him to guide your prayers. Remaining in Christ implies a prior relationship.

Every salesperson worth his salt knows that the hardest sell is the cold call. But when the salesperson is able to establish a relationship with the client, the likelihood of a sale greatly increases¬partially because a relationship of trust is established, but also because the seller is able to sell according to the client's needs.

The same is true in our walk with God. Asking God to answer our prayer when we have had little or nothing to do with Him beforehand is like going on a cold call. A mutual relationship of trust hasn't been established, and we are completely unaware of what the issues on His heart are.

Every relationship is based on a mutual give and take. All too often we call out to God, "Oh God, please give me direction for the future," and yet we give Him no room to speak to us. Once we've had our say, we get up off our knees and go along our way. It's no wonder so many people find their prayers going unanswered and have no sense of God's direction!

Although there is some question concerning its meaning, many Bible scholars believe the word selah, frequently mentioned in the Psalms (Psalm 3, for example), refers to a pause for reflection and waiting upon God.

We should all expect somewhere along the way to receive divine direction. In Scripture, not hearing from God was a sign of the removal of God's blessing (2 Chron. 7:14). But somewhere in the midst of the dialogue between God and us, mountain¬moving prayer happens.

Prayer that moves mountains is borne out of a relationship.

10. Refuses to Give Up

Wedded to our faith we must add perseverance. Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

Prayer is more a marathon than a sprint. All long-distance runners know that at some point in their run they will "hit the wall" when their will is tested. Everything within their mortal body screams to give up, but they know they must continue if they want to finish the race and win the prize.

Answers are rarely won in the first ten minutes of prayer. But as we cling to God's promises with a tenacious grip when we "hit the wall," He will either answer our prayer or change it to conform to His will. All too often, however, we give up right at the point we should really begin pressing in.

In an instant society that expects speedier computers, quicker meals, and fast-paced television programming, this essential requirement of prayer has been lost. If a prayer request isn't answered immediately, we lose interest and move on.

Jesus told the story of a widow who sought justice from an unrighteous judge. She pestered Him repeatedly until He finally gave in and answered her request. Jesus concluded the parable with these words:

And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"(Luke 18:6-8 NIV)

The good news is, our God is not an unjust judge! He desires to bless His children with good things! If we serve a God who is good, how much more will He answer us when we pray relentlessly? Once again, we also see the relationship between faith and perseverance. Perseverance is faith in action.

Prayer that moves mountains refuses to give up.

Extracted from Prayer to Move Your Mountains by Michael Klassen & Thomas Freling

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