YOUNG PEOPLE: RELIGION IS GOOD FOR YOU

I published the results of this research under the post – GOD LOVES YOU, DO YOU LOVE GOD? with a different message but this post is aimed at young people with the message on the CBN video.

Dr. Josh Packard, executive director of Springtide Research Institute, told CBN’s Faithwire about his extensive research into 13-to-25-year-olds, noting studies have long found “religion is good for you.”

“Faith and spirituality are good for you,” Packard said. “If you’re a person who believes in some kind of higher power and has a connection to that higher power, you’re generally flourishing more than your peers.”

He continued, “Those who pray more tend to be flourishing more in all areas, including their mental health.”

Packard’s comments are particularly stunning when America faces an “epidemic of mental health [crises] among young people.” Meanwhile, there’s also a massive rise in the proportion of “nones” who no longer affiliate with a specific faith or religion.

Data pointing to increased wellness among the faithful is particularly pertinent in the midst of these dynamics, pointing to a potential solution to cultural conundrums.

Packard said there are lessons in Springtide Research Institute’s findings that can inform the culture and churches alike, especially in an era in which faith is being downplayed or diminished.

“Young people would be … better off if more of them had a connection to something bigger than themselves,” he said. “But also, I think a lot of religious institutions and leaders would do well to take mental health into account, so that like faith and belief could be appropriately part of somebody’s overall approach to health.”

While young people might not be aligning with Christianity at rates they once were, Packard said many still see themselves as spiritual, and more than half pray.

While the separation from biblical truth is undoubtedly troubling for Christians, these realities show at least openness to a higher power. And that intrigue could lead to receptive Gospel introductions.

“We see lots of desire from Gen Z to embark on these conversations and explorations of meaning and purpose and, ‘Why am I here on this Earth?’” he said. “So, the desire hasn’t gone away. The exploration hasn’t gone away.”

As Faithwire has extensively reported, countless surveys and studies show the benefits of faith.

Recent research has found Christians are exceptional at giving, fare better in relationships, church attendees are happier and more content, and churchgoers have better mental health. Read more about these findings.

WHAT DOES PRAYER DO?

One of the genuine marks of the Christian faith is that we do not worship a distant God. He isn’t some distant being with no care or interest in His people. Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the third person of the Trinity to indwell our spirit. Our spirit is the lamp of the Lord and before The Fall was indwelt by the Holy Spirit which is the oil needed for God’s lamp to function.

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” Proverbs 20:27

The Holy Spirit indwells those whom He has redeemed.  He is the one that produces the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. He is the one that provides the gifts of the Spirit for ministry. He is our counsellor, teacher, and comforter. He is the one that enables us to live a Christian life. That’s why Paul was able to write  “rejoice in the Lord, again I will say rejoice. The Lord is at hand. And we know that is the reality for a believer because He has “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9). Before the ages began God had a personal plan for all of His people; He doesn’t orchestrate this from a distance, He is within His people.

Not only is He present, but He also wants to hear from His people. God desires believers to communicate with Him through prayer, and He doesn’t just want some highlights. He calls the saints to bring everything to Him “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 

At any moment, by the merit of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians have the divinely given right to approach God with anything through prayer. The One who created and sustains the universe not only can hear your prayers, He wants to answer those prayers. Prayer is absolutely amazing because Christians have a more challenging time getting in touch with their utilities provider than directly communicating with the Lord and creator of the entire universe. If that fact about prayer doesn’t excite you, nothing will. Note also the Holy Spirit will help you pray.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.Philippians 4:4-7

Through Christ we have the opportunity to pray, but what does prayer do in and to a believer? This Scripture reveals four things.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

“Do not be anxious about anything” – That’s a bold statement. But it’s true because if “God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We know God is for us because He wants to hear our prayers and take a personal interest in what’s going on in our lives. He knows all things but still wants us to approach the throne with all things.

“But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” – Praying to God and bringing our needs to Him reminds us that he has already supplied the greatest need of all, His Son (James 1:17, Romans 6:23) which is why we pray in His name.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Prayer isn’t always answered in the manner we desire, but it is always answered.

Prayer connects us to God and each other as we live as God’s people in this fallen world. In a word, it’s hard to be at each other’s throats while we’re on our knees together in prayer.

Adapted from a post by David Chambers “Four things Paul teaches us about prayer” http://www.patheos.com

PRAYER CONNECTS YOU TO THE SOURCE OF LIFE

God’s Word clearly tells us to ‘pray about everything.’

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-21

What an important Scripture read it often and practice what it teaches and you will know the truth about God and His desire to be in a relationship with you.

Today, science is beginning to recognize the value and the power of prayer. Researchers investigating the role of faith in health are discovering evidence that’s hard to refute.

THE MIND HEALTH REPORT (Secrets to Unlocking Your Mind for Work, Love, and Life) produced by Newsmax: A 2014 study confirmed that people who engage in private prayer, intercessory prayer, and church activities are healthier and live longer.

FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY: Researchers found that praying for somebody increases your readiness to forgive them. When a group of men and women prayed for the well-being of a close friend every day for four weeks, they were more willing to forgive not only the friend but people in general. Forgiveness is associated with better overall health and satisfaction with life.

UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: Their researchers discovered that prayer and religious practices improve your ability to pursue and achieve long-term goals. Prayer affects regions in your brain that improve self-control, and people who view their goals as sacred are more determined to attain them.

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON: A research study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison concluded that victims of abusive relationships recovered a positive self-image and reduced their emotional pain when their lives included prayer.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Columbia University researchers found that people who value religion and regularly attend church are 90 percent less likely to suffer from depression than their non-religious peers.

If you pray according to the will of God expect to receive a response as did Isaiah

As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you.Isaiah 7:16

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” Isaiah 29:7

That’s pretty strong evidence in favour of prayer, wouldn’t you say?

Source: The Word for Today

WHAT FAITH IS AND IS NOT

Randy Alcorn lost his wife Nanci recently due to cancer. Obviously Nanci and Randy prayed for healing when they first learned the bad news. Fortunately, both learned a great deal about God through the experience and as a result, their trust and faith in God increased. Moreover, we are benefiting now from Randy sharing their story with us

Nanci Alcorn, wife to best-selling author Randy Alcorn has passed away on March 28th after a long batter with colon cancer.

On November 14, 2019, Nanci wrote the following in her journal:

Today I am thinking about “faith.” I have learned so much about faith.

What faith is not:

Trying to gather as much hope and “possibilities” in my own mind to reach a certain level.

Believing in that level of possibilities as hard as I can.

Presenting that package of my own hopes and dreams to God as my personal qualification to receive my hopes and dreams

God weighing the level of that package in order to determine the level of His answer to my prayers If I work up enough hope on my own, God will answer my prayers according to my wishes

What faith is:

A deep and continued study of the character and work of God Almighty

A deep and continued discipline of prayer—listening to the Holy Spirit—praying Scripture—seeking forgiveness—asking for enlightenment—praising Him for His character and works

Then, based upon the above, submit your requests to God Almighty—placing your well-grounded knowledge of His character and works into each request, always asking His will be done

Faith is being assured that God Almighty always acts according to His character and works. He never waivers. You can trust in God Almighty to always do the right thing. Nothing slips through His grid. God has everything planned, and all His plans will succeed.

The more I understand God’s character and works, the stronger my faith will be, and the more I want His will to be done knowing God does all things well.

The more I understand God’s: – Omniscience, Omnipotence, Grace, Mercy, Justice/Worth, Immanence, Immutability, Faithfulness, Love, Unity, Trinity, Holiness. The more my faith in Him will calm my soul.

Randy adds the following:

Some people hold tenaciously to a faith that their child will not die, that their cancer will disappear, and that their spouse will recover from a stroke. Do they have faith in God or is their faith in what they desperately want God to do?

If we base our faith on lack of affliction, our faith lives on the brink of extinction and will fall apart at any moment because of a frightening diagnosis or a shattering phone call. Token faith will not survive suffering, nor should it. Only when we jettison ungrounded and untrue faith can we replace it with valid faith in the true God—faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.

God tells us that trials in which evil and suffering come upon us “have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). Paul Tournier wrote, “If healing through faith is striking, how much more so are spiritual victories without healing.”

Several years ago, before Nanci was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote this in a blog titled “If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?”:

We should pray for ourselves and our suffering loved ones, not simply try to pray away suffering. ‘God, please heal this cancer is appropriate. ‘God, please use for your glory this cancer, so long as I have it’ is equally appropriate.

Let me be clear: God can and sometimes does heal presently, and whenever He does we should celebrate His mercy! I have often prayed for healing and sometimes I have witnessed it, and it’s a wonderful thing to behold and celebrate. But ultimately, all healing in this world is temporary, since people’s bodies inevitably deteriorate and die (after Lazarus died and was risen in his mortal body, eventually he had to die again) Resurrection healing will be permanent. For that our hearts should overflow with praise to our gracious God.

Nanci and I have long known that prosperity theology, or the health and wealth gospel, is a deception, not the true gospel. So we did not even once cling to the “certainty” that God would heal her in this world under the Curse.

Nanci’s journals overflow with the promises of God, and many quotes from Spurgeon and the Puritans, people who died long ago (some of whom she probably already met—if there is a line for those waiting to meet Spurgeon, she’s probably in it having delightful conversations). Nanci never quoted from aging and dying prosperity preachers, who will all die of something and daily get closer to death even as they promise “It’s always God’s will to heal you,” typically adding “send us your prayer requests for healing, along with a love offering [money].”

Though we prayed for it every night for four years, we understood that healing was never a certainty, and also knowing full well that sometimes He chooses to heal and sometimes He doesn’t, and even when He does the healing is temporary, and death always comes. “For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). When doctors told us Nanci was going to die, she told me, “We always knew that, we just didn’t know when, and we still don’t.”

But of course, God promises the death of death. He will not let it die a natural death, He will decisively “swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8). Death will not have the last word. God will.

Jesus said to Martha, mourning the death of her brother Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).

Answering the question Jesus asked Martha, Nanci and I both said yes—we DO believe you, Jesus. We believe that even when we die, we will live, and in the sense of final death, we will never die at all. We will depart a cursed earth to live with Him in the present Heaven, from which He will one day bring our spirits down to join our bodies in resurrection, and we will then live forever on God’s New Earth.

Randy, God does not bring our spirits down to join our bodies in the resurrection. God raises the dead first and then raptures the living Saints and they meet Jesus in the air in their new bodies (changed in an instant). Later, they come down from heaven in their resurrected bodies to rule and reign with Jesus during His Millennial reign on this earth.

For the Lord, himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.1 Corinthians 15:52-53

GOD APPOINTMENTS ARE POSSIBLE

Make prayer the steering wheel of your life as do Alex and Stephen Kendrick but you also need to get out of the driver’s seat and let the Holy Spirit take control.

Brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, who have created iconic Christian films like “Facing the Giants,” “Courageous,” “Fireproof,” “War Room,” and “Overcomer,” are gearing up for a unique, new project they believe is a “divine appointment” for the times in which we’re living. “Lifemark,” which releases in select theaters nationwide on September 9 with Fathom Events, tells the true story of an adopted young man’s journey to meet his birth parents. The film comes as society boisterously debates the life issue and as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that codified nationalized abortion. The Kendricks, who partnered with actor Kirk Cameron to create the powerful adoption story, know the timing isn’t a coincidence.

This movie is a result of prayer and letting God direct the Kendrick brother’s actions.

Watch this video and be inspired. If you live in the USA watch out for the movie, Lifemark in September.

DAVID’S PRAYER WAS ALSO AN AMAZING PROPHECY

Thank goodness we have the Psalms: how helpful they are in our Christian walk, they explore the full range of human experience in a very personal and practical way. However, one psalm, Psalm 22 stands out because Jesus quotes verse 1 as His last words from the Cross. Why did Jesus take us to this psalm? It is obvious when we read the rest of the psalm, the psalm is a prophecy of what Jesus was experiencing on The Cross at the time He spoke it.

David had no understanding God was using Him to deliver a prophecy that provides incredible detail about what Jesus would experience on The Cross one thousand years later. David was obviously going through a terrible time in his life to have expressed the words he did in this prayer but consider that God gave David the words to pray so that His prayer could be used by Jesus to prove He is who He said He was, the promised Redeemer of not only Israel but the World.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you, they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet— I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots..
. ” Psalms 22:1-8

Note how Psalm 22 ends, David understood that regardless of whether God answered his prayer, God is still in control of His universe and this scripture will come to pass:

As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God.Romans 14:11

Moreover, it reveals that King Jesus will rule over the nations from Jerusalem in His soon coming Millennial Kingdom.

I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation, I will praise you: You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him but has heard when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. Psalms 22:22-28

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4-6

A lot of bad theology inevitably surfaces when we face suffering. When people lose their faith because of suffering, it suggests a weak or nominal faith that didn’t account for or prepare them for evil and suffering. Any faith not based on the truth needs to be lost—the sooner, the better.

Suffering and evil exert a force that either pushes us away from God or pulls us toward Him. But if personal suffering gives sufficient evidence that God doesn’t exist, then surely I shouldn’t wait until suffer to conclude He’s a myth. If my suffering would one day justify denying God, then I should deny Him now in light of other people’s suffering.

Believing that God exists is not the same as trusting the God who exists. A nominal Christian often discovers in suffering that his faith has been in his church, family, career, or social network, but not Christ. As he faces evil and suffering, he may find his beliefs shaken or even destroyed. But genuine faith—trusting God even when we don’t understand—will be made stronger and purer.

The last three paras have been excerpted from Randy Alcorn’s book “90 Days of God’s Goodness”.

DENZEL WASHINGTON’S RESPONSE TO WILL SMITH’S SLAP

Denzel Washington’s instant reaction to Will Smith’s Slap Is a convicting reminder to us all: ‘The Only Solution Was Prayer’

The actor knew the importance of turning to the Lord in the heat of the moment. Rather than join in panic, ignore the problem or take another worldly approach, Washington decided to act upon our Ephesians 6:18 mandate.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”

Like the others around him, he could have remained seated in shock and awe. He could have whispered and wondered while disengaging from what was happening around him.

But Washington took a different route and decided to pray alongside Smith.

In reality, it was a simple act of obedience. But, in practice, Washington’s immediate, level-headed, and God-focused response to the crisis now poses a convicting reminder to us all.

As he explained: “The vast majority of us will never behave in a manner that garners international rebuke nor will we be witness to one, yet we all face trials, tribulations, and problems in our everyday lives. And when we do, what’s our first response?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s often much easier to rage, judge, yell, ignore, or flee. Yet we’re called to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” We’re called to seek the Lord not only when we face these situations but when others, too, are in the midst of turmoil.”

PROPHESIED END TIMES CATASTROPHES

As chaos reigns in Ukraine, Christians and Jews around the world are turning to God in prayer. History demonstrates God uses catastrophes for His purposes.

Faithwire has reported prayer gatherings between Christians and Jews, of Ukrainians coming together in public squares to seek God’s guidance, and of religious and political leaders invoking the sovereignty of God. Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, the chief rabbi of Kyiv, reportedly invited Christian leaders to join the Jewish community in praying Psalm 31, a hymn of protection, over the evolving situation in Ukraine, according to Eternity News.

Others, still, are calling for a day dedicated to prayer for a nation under assault by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Pro-Ukraine demonstrators carry signs and Ukrainian flags near Russia’s UN Mission, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in New York. World leaders Thursday condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “barbaric” and moved to slap unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow and those close to President Vladimir Putin.

“In these days of uncertainty and fear, we pray that each of us might again turn to the Lord and receive God’s gift of peace, work for God’s justice, know God’s reconciliation and love, and choose paths, not of hatred or destruction, of violence or retribution, but God’s way of justice, mercy, and peace,” Archbishop of Canterbury, Just Welby wrote in a pastoral letter published Thursday.

CBN News senior international correspondent George Thomas echoed the archbishop’s words, urging Christians to come together to pray for Ukraine this Sunday, Feb. 27. “Will you join them?” Thomas asked from the balcony of his hotel room in Lviv, Ukraine. “And will you join us, the entire world, in this prayer?”

All over the world Christian leaders and politicians are calling for prayer. Sadly, it required a catastrophe of this dimension to get Christians to unite in prayer.

WANT HELP ON HOW TO PRAY?

Want help on how to pray then look no further than the seven (really six) important prayer points that Paul gives us:

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

2 Chronicles 7;14

1. Paul primarily prays that the Gospel will go forth speedily so this needs to be our priority in prayer as well. We are to pray that God’s glorious Gospel would keep going forward unhindered. Not only that the Gospel would go forward, but it would “be honored.” Paul has in mind here that the Gospel would be accepted and respected as saving truth. He reminds the Church that this is how the Gospel was received among them. It was joyously received.

2. Paul asks that we pray to be delivered from the evil/wicked ones. There are several aspects of deliverance that are in mind here.

Deliverance from those that are wicked. In the context of the local church, those that attend are a mixed crop of wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30). Simply put, some are Christians and some are not. Sometimes those non-believers are major sources of conflict, luring others away to sin, and doctrinal perversity

Deliverance from those that are evil – those actively and aggressively promoting sin, bringing hardships, and conflicts.

3. We need to ask God to make us stable/strong in Him. This encompasses faith, doctrine, trust, and other issues relating to God strengthening His people.

4. He will guard us against the wiles of Satan and his demons.

5. He will teach us to be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading and to His Word. That our minds would be renewed by His Word.

6. Pray that God would direct our hearts. Here, Paul prays that Christian hearts would be directed specifically into the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ.

To the love of God – this could involve both being directed to God’s love as well as the believer loving God more. Either case would have a major impact on a believer’s sanctification. A deep love for God and dwelling on God’s deep love for the believer drowns out lesser loves and affections.

To the steadfastness (patience) of Christ – How often do you reflect on the patience of Christ? Specifically, why He is patient with his children? There is divine patience that the believer experiences because of who they are in Christ. There is rest and peace that is found in the completed work of Christ and is a reminder that there is no more condemnation for the believer. This prayer could also be for Christlike patience. Which of us couldn’t use more of that?

7. In conclusion, there is no better thing for us to regularly pray for ourselves, our pastors and for each other than successful delivery of the Gospel, deliverance from evil men, for the Lord to make us stable, protect us from evil, and guide us into obedience. Along with those things, we should pray that our love and endurance would blossom as we look at Christ.

POWERLESS PRAYER

‘‘Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. James 5:14-15

The clearly expected outcome –the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.’ In verses 17-18, James continues to assert the miraculous power of prayers, offered in faith:

‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.’ James 5:17-18

Clearly, James believed that prayers offered in faith would result in the physical, miraculous intervention of God. When we look at the life of Jesus, and the amount of time and energy he devoted to healing the sick, which was an expression of his deep compassion for the suffering, it is easy to see that James was closer to the truth than most Christians are today.

Jesus relied on miracles to confirm his words, moreover, He told us that those that believe in Him will do even greater works than He did. Do we really believe Him?

I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.John 14:12-14

Powerless prayers have been rendered as such by the long, slow erosion of faith among God’s people, and that erosion has been made possible by the embracing of false traditions. For example, the kind of prayers that close with ‘not my will but yours, be done’. This is not stated in faith, in expectation of an outcome, but more as a catch-all – ‘please ignore everything I just asked for, if it doesn’t suit you.’

This is not the model of discipleship we are to follow and teach, where we are completely unaware of the will of God, and our prayers are at best guesswork. Paul urges us to walk ever more closely with God, and increasingly understand his will.

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12:1-2

As we yield to God’s mercy and walk closely with him, our ideas are changed. We jettison old ways of thinking, as healthier, more life-giving inspiration arises in His company, and as our minds are renewed, we become more attuned to Him and to His will. Only then, in our closeness with God, where His good, pleasing and perfect will is known, can we pray effectively.

In the early church, the lived experience of the Christian faith was far greater than it is today. There is much we have lost and must seek to restore. Back to the church as God intended as revealed in the Book of Acts.

Praying effectively: James sums it up well:

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.’ James 1:6-8

 Adapted from the excellent article "The Prayer God Can’t Answer" by Duncan Edward Pile Patheos Nov. 23rd 2021