Monday, December 3, 2018

Losing our Religion: Dare to Pray Bold and Powerful Prayers

having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:5 NKJV 

 We've begun a series of study exposing the traditions of men. We've seen the necessity of dropping religious tradition and the great benefits that accompany that decision. We've seen how religion weaponizes shame. Today, I want to address an issue of great importance.

 What is vital in our walk with God, is hearing the truth that affects our daily lives. We all want to hear something that is practical. Something we can put into practice in our daily lives. As believers, the subject of prayer is of great importance. Prayer is not a religious exercise. It isn't some spiritual chore that needs to be completed or we won't get our proverbial gold star. 

 Prayer isn't a religious duty or obligation. Prayer is communion with our good Father. Prayer is fellowship time with God. Prayer is a conversation with the One who cares for you the most, is interested in all aspects of your life, and rejoices in time spent with you. 

 More than likely, the reason prayer seems dull, unfulfilling, like a chore, we must complete, a duty that must be fulfilled, an obligation that must be met, is due to the fact that prayer doesn't seem to produce anything in our life. We pray and it seems nothing happens. We find prayer to be more disappointing and hopeless, seeing we rarely see answers to what we pray about. 

 So how do we get from dull, monotonous, tedious and uneventful prayer to seeing answered prayers? How do we go from mere obligatory religious duty to actually sense the presence of God more and more as we fellowship with God? What's the key?

Righteousness: the Key to Powerful Prayers

 We must change our thinking about prayer. We must stop being timid and seeing ourselves as unworthy sinners in God's eyes. We must stop seeing ourselves as a mere pauper begging for crumbs, leftovers, and scraps from the Master's table. 

16 Admit your faults to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results. James 5:16 TLB

 The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. They're bold prayers. They are prayers prayed with confident assurance of our good Father. They are not silent, timid, powerless prayers.

 What makes the prayer of the righteous so powerful? So effective? What causes the Lord to hear the prayer of the righteous? 

 Sadly, religion twists the passage we just shared into a performance-based standard. That when we live up to a certain standard we will then qualify for the answer. We will somehow be found worthy enough for God to hear us. 

 What makes the prayer of the righteous so powerful is whose righteousness we are walking in. The Finished Work was the great exchange. When we believed we partook of that exchange. We exchanged our spiritually dead sinful nature for a new nature, Eternal life, His very life, and nature. We exchanged our filthy rags righteousness for His perfect righteousness. If it's His righteousness we received, then we are just as righteous as Jesus.

 The power behind this prayer is not our goodness or ability to perform well or our perfect obedience. The power rests in Christ and what He has already accomplished and fulfilled in the Finished Work. Think, what is the basis of your asking God anything? Are you desiring to receive based upon your goodness? Your obedience? Your behavior? Or are you coming to God based on Christ's goodness and not your own?

 You can ask him for anything, using my name, and I will do it, for this will bring praise to the Father because of what I, the Son, will do for you. 14 Yes, ask anything, using my name, and I will do it! John 14:13-14 TLB

 Our Father blesses us because He is good not because we are good. Too often we try to qualify for the gift. We try to qualify or be found worthy to receive by our actions. Is this how Jesus said to pray?

 Put your faith and trust in Jesus' faithfulness and obedience, not yours. Now some tradition-minded become highly agitated when we suggest this. They cry foul. They say no, we are to become faithful and obedient and then and only then will God bless us.

 Let me illustrate this trusting in Christ's goodness and not our own. Suppose you were seeking a home loan, a mortgage. Now suppose the bank just told you that you don't qualify for the loan, what do you do? Work hard, be more diligent at becoming more qualified? That's the only option for you. Now suppose a billionaire philanthropist happened to be there at the bank and decided to intervene in your situation? What if they said, put the loan in my name, I will make the payments monthly, and any charges incurred over the life of the loan I will pay? 

 In the future, would you be going to the bank concerning the loan, in your name or the philanthropist's name? If the bank sought to charge you whose name would you invoke? Of course, you would operate in the authority, and resource and good name of the philanthropist and not your own. Your financial state would have no bearing on your standing with the bank concerning this loan. 

 A performance driven mindset would have us still seeking ways of receiving approval for the loan. Even as the loan has been approved by another on our behalf, the one trying to qualify in their own goodness, and faithfulness would look for ways to earn this approval. This is religion. Trying to earn, what is already purchased on our behalf. 

 This is what it means to be the righteousness of God in Christ. This is what it means to pray, asking in His name. It's coming to God, based on Jesus' goodness, obedience, and supply. It is asking of the Father based upon the perfect obedience, holiness, and right standing of the Son. It is never approaching God based on our good deeds, faithfulness or righteousness.

 What does it mean to ask in Jesus name? For so long many thought this meant simply we ask because of the authority of His name. Though there are power and authority in His name, we must go deeper in understanding what that means. Asking in Jesus name is saying He is my representative. That I am asking based on His right standing, His supply, His goodness, and His obedience and never my own worthiness, or faithfulness or behavior. 

 When tradition says we must be faithful and obedience to receive. That our behavior determines whether or not God will bless us we have removed Christ and His perfect Finished Work out of the equation. In truth, we are no longer asking in Jesus name. All we are left with is our own track record. When we are basing our receiving on our own faithfulness and obedience we are in reality asking in our own name;

"Father I have been faithful and obedient, and am therefore asking for this answer in Jerry's name, in Freddie's name, in Ken's name, in John's name, in Mike's name, in Rodney's name I pray amen."
 In summation, if you would like to see your prayer life transformed, realize that prayer is intimate fellowship with your Father who is always overjoyed with gladness to fellowship with you. See all that His Finished Work procured for you. Know who you are in Him. Then dare to come boldly before Him and pray as if Jesus Himself was asking. No more feasting on crumbs, but dare to take your place as His righteous, perfectly accepted child and sit at the King's table and partake of all He has prepared and provided. 
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at