Importance of prayer: Without Him we can not; without us He will not!

Prayer is one of the most misunderstood subjects. Even well-­meaning believers some times come up with a question, “God is Almighty, Loving and all-­knowing. Then what is the need for prayer?” That indeed is a very good question.

How are we to answer that question? When we realize how God made man, all our doubts would be vanished. To begin with, God has made us as dependent beings. Man has to depend on air that he breaths, water he drinks and food he eats to maintain his physical body. Then man has to depend on his fellow humans to maintain his mind healthy and happy. We depend on our parents, siblings, friends, teachers and the society around us. Imagine our life with out them! The Bible tells us that man is much more than just body and mind. We are told that we have a spirit (1Thes.5:23) and the spirit in man is the God­-element in man (Pro.20:27). And God in His grace has permitted us to depend on Him to maintain our spirits. In other words, the one who does not pray, does not have spiritual life. He is spiritually dead as all in Adam. While the Bible says, “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31), the Bible also declares that only those who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom.10:13). It is by prayer that faith becomes saving faith. Faith would be dead faith, otherwise. Thus we conclude that prayer is the vital breath of a Christian. Is prayer all that important? Well, without prayer, we would be living a subhuman existence like that of the animals! In other words without Him we can not live a spiritual life at all.

Let us look at the Scriptures again. What is the role of man here on earth? We are told very clearly that Adam was created to rule over the earth (Gen.1:28). And Adam was to work in the garden and to keep it (Gen.2:15). In other words, man was to be God’s representative here on earth, looking after it and taking care of it. While in the first chapter of Genesis we are told repeatedly that God named things (vv.5,8,10), after Adam was created it was Adam who named animals and NOT God (Gen.2:19,20). Even though Satan claims to have authority over this earth and the world is under the Evil One (Lk.4:6;1Jn.5:19), in God’s eyes it is man who still has that authority here (Ps.115:16). God, as creator and sustain-er of the universe, sends His rain and sun upon the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt.5:45), but God would NEVER interfere in the life of any one unless request is made (Psa.50:15). Is prayer important? Absolutely important. Unless we pray, God wont interfere in our lives. If you want to see God’s work in your life or God working for you, you must pray. There is no history of God running after people to save them unless someone else prayed for them. See Gen. 19:29.

Now we need to look at the vital relationship between God’s promises and prayer.
This is a foggy area as far as many are concerned. They think that God will just fulfill His promises with out any human interference. But the Scriptures teach us just the opposite. God just delights to fulfill His promises only in answer to the prayers of His people! This is a big mystery. Should we pray so that God’s promises would be fulfilled? It looks rather strange that this is so. Let us look at a few scriptures to see how it works. First example is Gen. 25:21. Here was Isaac born to Abraham as the promised son after waiting for quarter of a century! Truly, Isaac brought a lot of laughter to the family; yitschâq, Isaac’s Hebrew form, means laughter. God’s promise to Abraham was that his descendants would be like the sand of the sea and like the stars in the sky (Gen.22:17). But our verse above tells us of a tragic situation; that Rebekah was barren! And the verse goes on to say what the solution was. And Isaac prayed and the Lord opened her womb and she became pregnant. Here is that solemn truth brought before us in all clarity. God delights to fulfill His promises only in answer to the prayers of His people. There seems to be no exception to this rule! Look at the life of Jacob. It was at Bethel that he received the promises of God (Gen.28:10­17). But only after Peniel his name was changed and the promises were fulfilled in his life (Gen.32:22­30). Again look at Dan.9:2­3. Daniel was now living at the time he learned from Scripture that the time of the captivity for Israel was over. See what he does in response to his knowledge. He turns to God in fasting and prayer. Daniel knew the solemn truth that God would fulfill His promises only in answer to the prayers of His saints. And now let us look the last promise of our Lord to His beloved disciple John in Patmos. “Behold, I come quickly” and what was his response? “Amen, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev.22:20). Is prayer important? Well, if you wish to see God’s promises fulfilled, you need to pray! Without us, He will not!

Now, let us go on and see the relationship between the will of God and prayer. This, again, is another area where many are confused. They think all that happens around them is God’s will. Tragically, that is NOT true. We, in India, live in a society dominated by the Hindu concept of fate. But the Bible is against fate. Where is fate when the Bible says, “nothing shall be impossible to you” (Mt.17:21)? But we need to conceive God’s will at three different levels. At the first level, there is the sovereign will of God by which He decides who is to be born where and what the DNA factor of each person is. None could question it or change it (Acts.17:26). Then there is the permissive will of God. God lets every one live as he/she likes. God does NOT force His ways upon any one any time (Eccl. 11:9). Sure, there will be a judgment at the end. But when some one commits something wrong, God is not there to punish that person immediately (Eccl.8:11). Each one has the freedom of choice. This is the permissive will of God. Lastly, there is what is known as the perfect will of God for every one born on earth (Rom.12:2). God has revealed that perfect will in His Word. God wills that every one be saved (1Tim.2:4; 2Pet.3:9). God wills that all saved ones live in holiness (1Thes. 4:3). It is God’s will that every child of God should live a thankfull life, pray without ceasing and rejoice in every situation (1Thes.5:17,18). But if this should happen, it is impossible without prayer. Is prayer important? Absolutely important. Without prayer God’s perfect will can not be achieved in our personal lives, in the life of the assembly and in the world around us. That is why in the so called “Lord’s prayer” our Lord taught His disciples to pray, “Heavenly Father, … Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt.6:10). His perfect will is accomplished in heaven. But if that should happen here on earth, His people must pray. Is prayer all that important? Absolutely so. Unless we pray, God’s perfect will can not be achieved here on earth. Without us, He will not!

Now let us have a look at the ultimate purpose of the Church here on earth.
The epistle to Ephesians deals with the Church Universal. Paul talks about the purpose of God from eternity past to the coming eternity. We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and in the ages to come we are told that God is going to unite all things in Christ (Eph.1:4, 10). Now we are made to sit in the heavelies in Christ Jesus (2:7). But still we are here on earth, are we not? Why did He leave His body here on earth today? Answer is found in 6:10,11 of our epistle. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil”. It is clear from these verses that the ultimate purpose (indicated by the word “finally”) of the church on earth is to stand against the wiles of the devil. We are given details in vv.12-17 about the armor which we should put on. And the only activity of the armored soldier of Christ is to pray, pray, pray and pray as found in v.18. Just look at that verse and see the repetition of the words used about prayer in that one verse. Is prayer important? Well, without prayer Satan will be victorious and we will be guilty of failing God in our generation.

Now let us have a look at 1Sam.12:23 which states, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, …”. Here is Samuel making a most solemn statement. In that chapter Samuel lists all that God would want to do for Israel as a nation. But at the end Samuel says that God is going to do it all in response to his prayers. Ask and receive is one of the spiritual laws which can not be broken! James in his epistle puts it the other way around and says, “you have not, because you have not asked” (Jas.4:2). Read also Eze.36:37 in different versions. By not praying for others and for the world around us, we are binding the hands of God as God will not do any thing spiritual except in answer to prayers of His people. We, as believers, sin against the Lord if we stop praying. Is prayer important? Now let the reader decide the importance of prayer as God will not do any thing spiritual in this world except in answer to prayer! Without our prayers, God remains defeated in our generation. Study the history of revivals. Before every mighty revival that swept the earth, there was a praying church, mightily praying through till the revival came. There is NO exception. This once again confirms the fact that without us, He will NOT!

Finally, look at all the commands in the Scriptures about prayer. For example, “when you pray, go into a room and close the doors… (Mt.6:6). How many of us spend time alone with God every day in prayer? “Pray and faint not” (Lk.18:1). How many of us are consistent in our prayer life? “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Col.4:2). Do we have the right priority when it comes to prayer or prayer has found a back seat in our lives? “… strive together with me in prayer …” (Rom.15:30). We do pray. But how many of us strive in prayer? How many of us are guilty of being disobedient to these and other plain commands about prayer? Why did God give so much importance to prayer? Simple reason is: Without us, He will Not do any thing spiritual. Let us order our lives and set our priorities right that we may not be ashamed at His coming. Remember that the desire to pray is given by Him but the decision must be taken by us. May we be given grace to devote ourselves to prayer that we might be the instruments through whom God would carry out His eternal purposes here on earth. To His name be all glory. Amen.

Pray or Perish; Intercede or Let Others Perish!

God created the world and He runs it by unchangeable laws (Psa.148:5,6). We know that there are physical laws which govern the universe. For example the Law of gravity. No one could ever imagine jumping from a high rise building and go without getting hurt. If we break the physical laws of life we get hurt physically. Thankfully, the Lord has permitted great scientists in different generations to discover some of these physical laws and that makes life much easier. Scientists who do further experiments base all their investigations on these known physical laws.
Likewise, there are immutable spiritual laws at work as well. Because no man could ever discover these spiritual laws, it pleased the almighty to reveal these laws to His people (Psa.147:19,20). If one wants to be familiar with the spiritual laws which are operative, one needs to turn to the revealed Word of God which is the Bible. From no where else we could learn these spiritual laws!
Validity of the Old Testament could never be challenged any time. We read in Psa.119:89 “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens”. So we are dealing with eternal truths and we are thankful that God has NOT left us in darkness in this area.

One of the unchanging spiritual laws is “Ask and you shall receive” (Mat.7:7) and it is put the other way around in Js.4:2 where we read, “you do not have, because you do not ask”.

Prayer is one of the most misunderstood subjects in the Bible. There are many promises in the Bible. It looks they are given without any conditions attatched to them. For example, look at Mat. 7:8. It says, “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened”. Could this be true when we pray for material things? Will every one who ever asks for any thing receive it every time? Of course, not. If so, what does this promise mean?

Many have become infidles because they found this and such other Bible promises do not work in real life. Tragically they have misunderstood the Word of God!

What did our Lord actually mean when He made that promise in Mt.7:7? The very next verse is the key to understanding Mt.7:7. When He said that every one receives what is asked for, it obviously means the Lord is talking about spiritual things only.

Come to think of it this way. Have you ever found some one who prayed in faith trusting the word of the Lord who did NOT get forgiveness from the Lord? It could never happen. Could it?

From this we learn a great spiritual truth. Prayer is ordained by the Lord primarily for spiritual things. First thing we ever need to pray for is forgiveness and we need to make sure that we are forgiven before we go on to ask for any thing else in life.

We are clearly told in Psa 66:18 “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”.

Any sinner, praying in true repentance and faith, could confidently pray a prayer for forgiveness and he could be absolutely sure that God would not reject him. Once forgiveness is experienced, then all other prayers, done in the will of God, would surely have an answer as well (1Jn.5:14).

But have you ever come across any one who experienced God’s forgivenss without praying? We are told that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son that every one who believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (Jn.3:16). The only condition is believing. And, indeed, true faith would express itself as believing prayer! We are told in Rom.10:13 that every one who calls upon the name of the Lord would be saved. That means any one who would not do the believing prayer would be damned for ever. Thus we come to the conclusion “Pray or perish”. And there is no exception to this rule ever!

While what is said so far is abundantly clear, a few, at least, would raise their eye brows at the next phrase in our caption, “interced or let others perish”! Is there scriptual warrant for that statement? Or is it the truth that the eternity of every one born in this world is fixed by the Lord before the foundation of the world?!

We need to study the scripture clearly to find out what is being taught in this regard. Doctrines of predestination and eternal security are two of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Bible. This misunderstanding has led to callousness in the lives of many well-meaning believers. I believe that these two doctrines are clearly taught in the scriptures. And if I do not believe them, I am not a Bible believer! We are clearly taught that God does every thing based on His foreknowledge (1Pet.1:2).

Having said that, we need to investigate further the role of a believer in the eternal plan of God. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). Indeed, what does the Lord expect from each believer?

We might begin with Eze.3:17-21. Clearly this passage teaches that Ezekiel is fully responsible for his generation and that the blood of the wicked shall be required of his hands if he was not to warn them!

Now turn to Psa 106:23 where it says, “Therefore he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them”. Again in this verse the Lord’s action toward the ungodly and the wicked was based on Moses’s intercession. God changed His decision because Moses interceded for them!

We know about the intercession of Abraham for Sodom and Gomorah. And we are told that the Lord saved Lot because He remembered Abraham (Gen.19:29). Again we read that God did NOT punish Aaraon when the golden calf was made because Moses prayed for him (Dt.9:20)!

This truth of the Scripture is cemented when we read Eze 22:30 where we read, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none”.

Come to the New Testament and see what it says. Paul tells in 1Tim. 2:1 to pray for all men and he goes on to tell the fundamental reason for this in v. 4 where we read that it is God’s will that all men be saved. Again we are told in 2Pt.3:9 that He is delaying His coming because He is not willing that any should perish and we are asked to hasten His coming by our holy lives!

Obviously, these and other scripture portions clearly teach us that the punishment of the wicked would be averted if there was an intercessor standing in the gap for them.
God’s justice demands the punishment of the wicked. But God’s grace longs to save the wicked if they would turn from their wickedness. And those of of us who enjoy the grace of God need to be the media through which God’s grace would reach the wicked.

How are we to understand the doctrine of predestination in the light of these scriptures? The most important thing is that there is no NEGATIVE predestination taught in the New Testament. By that I mean, God has NOT destined any one to go to hell. In fact, hell is created for the devil and his angels (Mt.25:41). In the Old Testament we read of God choosing Jacob and rejecting Easaw even before they were born (Gen.25:23; cf Rom. 9:11-13). In the OT God did that. That was because in the Old Testamet God wanted just ONE nation through whom He would carry out His plan of salvation for the human race.

While God knew what each man would choose, because He is all-knowing, He has NOT determined what each one would choose! That would be interfering with the freedom of human will. Each one has the freedom to choose good or evil. But man by nature is corrupt now and he is inclined to choose only evil. That is because of the total depravity of the human heart due to the sin of Adam. But praise God, God would change His mind about punishing sinners if there was some one who would intercede for them and as a result they would turn to God in repentance.

Our Lord said Joh 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”. Thus it becomes the duty and privilege of each intercessor to ask the Father to draw men to Christ so that they too would be saved.
Be sure of one thing that all prayers done in the will of God would never go unanswered (1Jn.5:14) and we know it is God’s will that all should be saved (1Tim.2:4).

Sure, we are entering into real spiritual warfare here. The devil has trapped millions in various fortresses (2Cor.10:3,4) and also blinded the eyes of unbelievers so that they can not see the light of the gospel (2Cor.4:4). We need to strive in prayer that the will of God might be accomplished in the lives of our loved ones (Rom.15:30-32). There is no other option.

Brethren, let us be men on our knees interceding for our neigbhors and friends who are unsaved and let us be instruments in the hands of God to snatch a few from fire (Jud.v.24). Be sure of this truth that unless we become mighty intercessors, we are letting the unsaved around us to be perished for ever! And thus we will be guilty of failing God in our generation. History is replete with examples of mighty intercessors who moved the heart of God to save millions in their generations. When ever, where ever there was a praying church, there were mighty movements of the Spirit of God when millions turned to Christ. When the church was slack in prayer, there was prportionate dearth in the work of God as well. May the Lord give us grace to be mighty intercessors and may millions in our generation turn to the Lord in true repentance and faith and thus be saved from eternal damnation. May His name be glorified through us. Amen.

Prayer – A Big Mystery!

Prayer – A Big Mystery!

Could you imagine living without breathing?
You might say, “What a silly question to ask?”! It is obvious that no man could live even for seconds without breathing. Breathing is so vital to life that some one who is not breathing is not living.

God has made us as dependent creatures. We depend on the air that we breath, the water that we drink and the food that we eat. If we want to have a healthy life, we need to depend on unpolluted air, water and food. Likewise, we need to depend on people around us to have a healthy, strong and a happy mind. Imagine our lives without what we learned from our parents, teachers and friends! Imagine how miserable our lives would have been if we never had the privilege to be literates!

We know that man is much more than body and mind. The Bible teaches that man is created in God’s image and that man has a spirit in him (1Thes.5:23). The spirit in man is that which makes him different from the rest of the animal world. Just as our body and mind, our spirits too can not survive on its on. Graciously, God has permitted us that we depend on Him for the survival of our spirits.

Prayer is the vital breath of a Christian. If you are not a praying person, that means that you are spiritually dead. When we call upon God through Christ our Lord, His grace and power flow to us and make us alive spiritually. A prayer-less person is a spiritually dead person. And a person who spends less time in prayer is a spiritually powerless person!

The first thing that any one should get from God through prayer is forgiveness.
Prayer for forgiveness must be accompanied by repentance and faith (Mk.10:15). There are many who pray and believe with out repentance. Such prayer has no value. Repentance is a total turning around. Man basically lives for himself and for his loved ones. Repentance is a total turning around to live for God. Faith without repentance is like the faith of the devil (James 2:15). It is dead faith and it has no value. Prayer accompanied by repentance makes faith into saving faith. Thus all who call on Him will be saved (Rom.10:13).

There are many who go to God in prayer for material things. God is a generous giver and He gives generously. Such people are able to narrate stories about how God answered their prayers and how they got healing, or other material benefits. It is a trick of the devil to see that they stand short of the full blessings from God which is spiritual son-ship and forgiveness. If you are some one who knows that God answers prayers, and if you do not know that you are a forgiven child of God, you are missing the greatest gift from God!

In fact, God has ordained prayer basically for spiritual purposes. That is why Jesus said, “every one who asks receives” (Mt.7:8). Every one who asks in true repentance and faith for forgiveness and for son-ship surely receives it. If you are not a saved person, call upon Him right now and be saved. Use and pray that prayer at the end of the page now and be a child of God.

Now you may be a forgiven person. That is not the end of your spiritual life. Prayer is meant that we might be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph.3:19). If you have only received forgiveness and son-ship alone, you are enjoying far less than what God expects to give you through this mystery which is prayer. A prayerful person is able to move the hands of God which move the universe. Thus prayer becomes the mightiest weapon that any man can wield in this life. May the Lord make us men and women of prayer for His glory. Amen!

Promises of God and Prayer.

Key verse: “Because Rebeca had no children, Isaac prayed to the LORD for her. The LORD answered his prayer, and Rebeca became pregnant” (Gen.25:21).

This verse here gives us a clear insight into the relationship between God’s promises and our prayers. This is a totally misunderstood subject as many well meaning believers think that God’s promises will automatically come true. They wait impatiently for God to fulfill His promises and some times even find fault with God for His callousness about His promises.

This verse here tells us the secret about the many unfulfilled promises of God. We know that God promised Abraham seed like the sand of the sea and like the stars of heaven (Gen.22:17). Yet it took quarter of a century before Abraham had the joy of seeing his promised son. There was a time when Abraham was willing to make a compromise and he was willing to accept Ishmael as his heir (Gen.17:18). We can imagine Abraham being fed up with waiting for the son of his promise. And in his conversation (prayer) with the Lord, Abraham was now making a negative suggestion; that he was willing to accept the seed of his flesh as the promised seed! But God would NOT compromise on His promise to Abraham. God said “No” to that suggestion of Abraham and God wanted Abraham to wait patiently for His promise to be fulfilled. We can well imagine Abraham asking God when that glorious day was going to be! Abraham was obviously waiting and praying that God would fulfill His promise soon. And at last Isaac was born as promised by God, in answer to long and patient wait and believing prayers of Abraham.

This truth is confirmed in the incident that followed. Now that Isaac is married, there is yet another problem for the promise to be fulfilled. We are told that Rebeca was barren! It was indeed the least expected thing. But this situation teaches us the fact that the promises of God would not come true in our lives in a natural process. It is absolutely true that God promised seed like the sand of the sea and that not one of the promises will ever fail either. It is also true that God will fulfill all His promises right in time (Acts.7:17). God is faithful and He will surely fulfill His promise with out fail. But the amazing truth is that God fulfills His promises ONLY in answer to the prayers of His people!

All the promises are written down for us in His Word (Rom.1:2) and all promises are for all who believe (Gal.3:22). We are told that the promises of God are to be obtained by faith and patience (Heb.6:12,15). And we are asked to perfect holiness since we have these promises (2Cor.7:1). With all the above, if we do NOT continue in fervent prayers, the promises of God will never come true in our lives. This truth is expressed through out the scriptures and we need to take heed to it to see that we obtain the promises of God in our lives.

Let us look at the life of Jacob as a clear example of this truth exemplified for us. Jacob comes to Bethel and there he receives the promises of God (Gen.28:10-22). Then in the life of Jacob there was that long gap of twenty years where he seeks all short cuts to make His life a blessing. But alas! Twenty years later, though he became a big number physically, yet he was more a miserable person than ever before. But at Peniel he wrestles the whole night and there he became the heir of his promises. His name was changed and he became a new person altogether. We see that though he got promises at Bethel, only after his Peniel experience, the promises got fulfilled in his life.

From Dan. 9:2-3 we learn that Daniel knew this truth as well. When Daniel learnt that the captivity was going to be for seventy years, knowing that he was living at the time when the promise is to be fulfilled, he turns to God in prayer and in supplication. And God reveals to Daniel the mystery behind seventy year captivity. In that most solemn passage of Scripture we have the exact date of the crucifixion of our Lord predicted (Dan.9:26)! Daniel was able to get that truth because he was willing to spend time praying that God would indeed fulfill His promise made by His prophet.

We often wonder why God is slack in fulfilling His many wonderful promises of His Precious Word. Once we get the grip of this truth, we know the real reason for this situation. It is not God rather we, His people, who are responsible for God’s promises not being fulfilled.

Does that mean that God’s promises will never come true in its appointed time? Read what the Lord says about His promises. ”The LORD gave me this answer: “Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed” (Hab.2-3). And to Jeremiah the Lord said, “‘You are right’, the LORD said, ‘and I am watching to see that my words come true’” (Jer.1:12).

Surely God will fulfill all His promises in time with out fail. But because He does it ONLY in answer to prayers of His people, unless we pray, God will raise others who will pray and in answer to their prayers God will fulfill His promises in time! We can see this truth exemplified in history of the church again and again. Where ever there was a praying church, there was a mighty movement of the Spirit of God. If ever there was slackness in the Lord’s work, it is because the people of God failed to call on Him in prevailing prayers. Also we can see that before God begins to do a mighty work, He gets His people praying. Zechariah the prophet sees that in future there is going to be a mighty turning of the people of Israel to God. And before that happens the prophet says that God would pour on them the spirit of grace and supplication (Zech.12:10ff).

So, if there is an urge within us to pray, it is an indication that God’s grace is at work within us. When we feel an urge to pray let us put aside every thing else and be at His feet discerning His will and praying that He would accomplish His will for His glory. If we fail to do that, God will raise others who will pray and in answer to their prayers He will fulfill His promises. And we will be the ones who are the losers. We would have lost the privilege of being co-workers with the Almighty in bringing about His purposes on earth! May we be sensitive to the call of the Spirit of God and may we bring glory to His Holy Name by seeing that all His promises are fulfilled for His glory.

The Bible ends with last the promise of our Lord and John’s response to that promise in Rev.22:20. May we also make it our prayer as we wait for His coming in these very last days of the age of grace.

Let us always remember that the key to get a positive answer to our prayers is to take hold of the promise of God and make it our prayer. Once we know some thing is the will of God, we need to pray in perseverance till we receive our answer. May the Lord give us grace and may His name be glorified. Amen.

Living in the Perfect Will of God.

God reveals His will for us through His Word.  But please do NOT imagine that it is going to take place automatically.    That is the place where many good believers make mistake.    They know what is God’s will for them.  God has confirmed it through many wonderful promises form the Scriptures as well. Yet those promises of God remain only as promises and never get materialized it in their lives.  Do you know why is it like that? There is a great misunderstanding about the will of God.   Many people think that all that is happening to us are His perfect will for our lives.  That is NOT true.  Let us see what the Bible teaches about the Will of God.

 God has a SOVEREIGN will by which He decides where we will be born and what our DNA code will be. He decides it without consulting any one.   This He does according to His good pleasure (Eph.1:11).   “From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live”  (Act 17:26).   “The Most High assigned nations their lands; he determined where peoples should live. He assigned to each nation a heavenly being” (Deu 32:8). 

 Then He has a perfect will for each man alive on this earth.  This PERFECT will of God for us is revealed to us through His Word.  God makes His Perfect will clear to us as we study His Word regularly.     There will be that peace of God KNOWING that this is what God wants me to do when we know it.  Now it is OUR duty to pray till that takes place takes place in our lives.  It does NOT happen automatically.  That would be fatalism.  The Bible does NOT teach fatalism.  The Bible does NOT teach that all that happen to us so happen because that is decreed by God.   God only tells us what He expects of us.  He never forces any one to His will in their lives.  We must choose to do His will and we can do it only by His help by praying to Him for His grace.  We must also remember that Satan is always against us to enjoy God’s perfect will for us.   That makes prayer as the only means of reaching God’s perfect will for our lives. 

 We read about the perfect will in Rom.12:2 and once we know some thing is God’s will it is for us to PRAY THROUGH and see that it is accomplished in our lives

Let us look at Elijah on the top of Mount Carmel in 1 Kgs.18:40 ff   the Lord told him that it was going to rain after they destroyed all priests of Baal.  Our natural reaction would be,  “ well, any way the Lord promised and His promises can never fail”  and we go and sleep expecting God to fulfill His plan.  But look at what Elijah did.   He put his head between his knees and he was praying.   What is the significance of his head between his knees?   We know that women among the Hebrews those days gave birth to children sitting (cf.Ex.1:16 and note the reference to stool in that verse).  They had some thing before them to which the child would fall as it comes to the world.  That is the position in which they could exert maximum energy to push the child out of their bodies.   We call it agony of child birth.  Elijah, as he put his head between his head, he was agonizing in prayer that God’ will MUST be accomplished as God promised.  read v. 44   how long he had to pray like that.   He prayed   till answer came. 

Look again at Dan.9:2,3 where this truth is once again illustraved.

`Now read Rom.15:30-32   where Paul talks about striving with him in prayer that the will of God may be accomplished  The word translated “strive” here is translated in Lk.22:44 as “agony”.  So “strive with me in prayer” can well be put as “agonize with me in prayer”.  Look at what Jesus did in His life when He prayed (Heb.5:7).   Read Mt.6:10 where our Lord taught us to pray  “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”.    In heaven God’s perfect will is accomplished automatically   but here on earth now, if Perfect will of God must be accomplished,  WE MUST PRAY TILL IT HAPPENS

So,  many believers today are NOT living IN THE PERFECT WILL OF GOD.

Time to accomplish God’s perfect will for us depends upon the fervency of our prayer

Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man avails much in its working.  (Jas 5:16)
 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  (Rom 12:2)

 Then there is the permissive will of God where God permits to live all who do not reach His perfect will.  Tragically majority in the world and in the church are living in the permissive will of God.  If we do that, we suffer ourselves and we let God suffer as well.  God watches helplessly asking “why should you die?” (Eze.18:31).

Silence of God

Have you ever wondered about the silence of God? Did it bother you any time when God seemed to be absolutely silent and heaven was like an impenetrable brazen vault above the earth? How can we understand the silence of God?

The first thing to remember is that God is silent towards anyone who is silent towards Him. There are billions in the world today who have never had the privilege to know and experience God in their lives. God is Omnipotent and loving. But tragically they do not know Him. God is Omnipresent and also knows all the human plights. But He seems to be unconcerned. He seems to remain far from all human predicaments. When a tragedy occurs, people shout: “Where is God?”, “Is there a God out there?”, “If God is there, what is He doing?” The Bible tells us that God intervenes in human lives only when man calls upon Him. If a person ignores God, God will ignore him. If some one rejects Him, He will be rejected by God (Hos.4:6). If any one calls upon God, God will answer him. “God is near to all who call upon Him; who call upon Him in truth”(Ps. 145:18). “Ask and receive; ask not, receive not” is the Biblical conditioning (Mt.7:7; Js.4:2). God never forces His way into the life of any one. If any one reading these lines has not had an opportunity to know and experience God, may be that person has never called upon God in sincerity and in truth. Such a person is advised to pause for a minute kneel down and call upon God through Christ our Lord for pardon and for peace, and it will work like magic; a flow of God’s grace will flood into such a life bringing pardon and peace. These are available just for the asking. Avail it and give glory to God to whom alone belongs all glory and honour. Amen.

But there are occasions in the lives of well meaning believers when God seems to be silent and it often perplexes people. Some are dejected and become despondent. Others are tempted to quit praying; and therefore we need to look in to the word of God to get an explanation about such occasions.

The classical example of the silence of God is found in the life of our Lord Himself. We know that Jesus our Lord always lived close to the Father while here on earth and He could boldly say at the tomb of Lazurus “And I know that Thou hearest Me always” (Jn. 11:42). What a confidence! Truly this can be the confidence of every child of God who lives and prays in the will of God. But then, look at our Lord when He was crying on that cruel cross. Heaven was silent. There was no response from the side of God the Father. Of course, we know the reason. There on that cross Jesus the sinless Son of God was representing the sinful humanity. Until the sin problem was dealt with, Heaven was silent. But thanks be to God. On the third day He rose again victorious. And the sin problem was once and for all dealt with. To day heaven is open to any repenting sinner!

In the life of a believer it is possible that sin can block the way to God. Listen to what the prophet has to say. “Behold the Lord’s hand is not short that it cannot save; neither is His ear dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear (Is.59:1,2). There are ever so many besetting sins (Heb.12:l) and presumptuous sins (Ps.19:13) which might creep into our lives unawares and block the way to God. If a praying believer experiences the silence of God, it is high time for such a person to let the spirit of God search our hearts to see if there be any wicked way in us and let Him lead us to everlasting ways (Ps.139:23,24). Silence of God will be broken and God will become once again active in our lives. But sin has to be identified, confessed and rejected before this can happen.

The people of Israel were witnessing mighty acts of God until they reached the small city of Ai. There they experienced a lamentable failure. Achan had sinned. Listen to what the Lord said to a praying Joshua. “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned…“(Josh.7:lO,ll). No amount of praying can rectify the situation. Sin has to be identified and dealt with before God can act again on our behalf.   Just one disobedience and Adam lost the garden.  Just one sin and Saul lost his kingship. Just one sin Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives! Remember: God takes sin seriously and He cannot be a partner where sin is concealed. Has God been silent in your life in spite of the many prayers you have been praying? Search your heart to see if any sin blockage is in your life. Confess and reject it. Make restitution if necessary (cf Lk.19:8; Phile.v. 18) and see how God will become once again active in your life. Listen to the prophetic word. “I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face” (Hos.5:15).

Another conspicuous silence of God is witnessed in Acts 7 where the first martyr of the Christian church witnessed martyrdom. Here was Stephen mightily defending his faith before a furious crowd. Should we not expect God to defend His servant on such an occasion? Where is the God of the book of Daniel? Is He not any more at work in that fashion? We are told in Acts 7 that as Stephen looked up he saw the son of man standing at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:56). Why was He a silent spectator this time? Three times in the book of Acts prison doors were opened miraculously; twice for Peter and once for Paul (Acts 5:19; 12:10; 16:26). But the book of Acts closes with a closed prison door. What happened now?  Are we to think like some that the age of miracles slowly came to an end towards the end of the book of Acts? God forbid. If the age of miracles were to come to an end, how are to understand the reference to Elijah in Js.5:17? Any student of scripture will agree that the passage teaches that if one prayed like Elijah miracles will indeed take place to-day. If that is so, how are we to understand the many martyrdoms in the history of the church? Truly, our question is: “Why was God silent when the Staines were burnt alive?

Thanks be to God for the scriptural revelation. Scriptures tell us that these are occasions when God is giving a higher calling to the ones concerned. Suffering for Christ is seen in the scripture as a gift to the believer (Phil. 1:29). Suffering is the only path to glory. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Tim.2: 12). In other words our Lord is preparing a set of bureaucrats to rule with Him in His eternal kingdom. Those who qualify themselves are the ones who suffer for Christ now here on earth. To categorize every suffering of a believer as the result of sin is one of the tricks of the devil so that believers will shudder and refrain from suffering for Christ. The greatest saint of India is Sadhu Sunder Singh. He is also called “the apostle of the bleeding feet”. Yes, indeed, the greatest saints are the ones who suffered the most. To day we need men and women who will choose the path of suffering and who will bear their crosses daily knowing that big dividends await them. An aptly given title of a book is “Peril by choice”. It is the biography of a western missionary who went into one of the remotest tribes of Amazon.

We need to remember when we suffer we are not alone. Listen to what the prophet says. “In all their afflictions, he was afflicted…” (Isa. 63.9). Yes, indeed, there is a new dimension in the sufferings of a believer in Christ. Paul graphically pictures the same in Col. 1:24 when he says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ”. So when a believer suffers it has eternal repercussions. Remember what the prophet Zephaniah says in 3: 17b. “He is silently planning for you in His love” (a paraphrase). Silence of God is a welcome thing on such occasions and one must be able to rejoice over it.

There is yet another kind of apparent silence of God. We read about it in the 10th chapter of the book of Daniel. In vv.2 & 3 Daniel was in deep waters for twenty one days. He was not able to eat properly and we may surmise he was not sleeping properly either. He went to God in prayer and there seemed to be an absolute silence on the part of God. It was quite unusual for a person like Daniel. To Him answers to prayers came instantly almost every time. But this time it was different! He was able to sense it immediately. After twenty one long days the silence was broken. Daniel was told what went on behind the scene. Here we have a great insight into what is happening in the spiritual world to day. Daniel was told in vv.12 & 13 that there was a satanic hindrance blocking the way that answer could not reach him.

This is happening even to day. When ever a saint of God who lives and prays in the will of God is praying, God sends His angels with answers. It is recorded for us twice in the book of Acts in relation to Peter’s imprisonment (Acts 5:19; 12:7). But if there is satanic blockage angels cannot come through.

One of the greatest secrets about the spiritual warfare is that God cannot fight with the devil! God cannot; because God and Satan are not equals. While God is infinite and almighty, Satan is finite and is a creature .If God would fight him, the next moment he is destroyed. When God became man in Christ our Lord, He taught us to love our enemies. Would He Himself destroy His enemy? Satan knows that God is infinitely good and that is why he is behaving the way he does to day. Satan has free access into the presence of God to day (Job 1 :6;2:1; Zech.3:1). To day the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 Jn.5:19).

While God cannot fight with the devil, we can. We too are created beings. And with the power of God in us, we can indeed fight and defeat the devil. In fact we are asked to do so (Js.4:7). Christ by His death defeated and disarmed the devil (Col.2:15). But he has not accepted defeat as yet. He is still fighting (1 Pet.4:8). In Eph.6 where we have the teaching on spiritual warfare, we are told that we wrestle against principalities and powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places (v.12). Unless we wrestle, Satan has the victory. We are told in v.18 of Eph. 6 that the only activity of a spiritual warrior is prayer. After having put on the whole armor of God, the only activity the spiritual warrior is involved in is persevering prayer; praying with all prayers and supplications. If we fail here, we fail in our responsibility. Imagine well uniformed nurses standing in a busy casualty ward doing nothing! This is what a non-praying believer does to day. But look at Daniel. He was striving in prayer for all those twenty one days. If Daniel had not persevered for those three weeks in instant prayers, answer would not have reached him.

Of course, a day is coming when Satan will be chained (Rev.20: 1,2) and later sent to His eternal destiny (Rev.20: 10). Till then Satan will hinder God’s work here on earth (cf 1 Thes.2:18).

Satanic hindrance is usually found when we begin to pray for spiritual things; salvation of souls for example. Satan is not very much bothered when God answers our prayers for physical and material needs. After all, it is the Lord who fills the bellies of the people of the world with His treasures (Ps.17:14). The author of these lines started his life as a Bible Translator in a remote village in the Nilgiis and the family simply trusted God day to day for their physical needs. Though far removed from all contacts with fellow believers, the family never ever lacked anything needed for their survival there. It was indeed re-living the life of Elijah being fed by crow. There in the mission station stands a three storied concrete building, two stories of which is 700 sft., and was completed in just thirty days! It has a granite inscription on it which reads “This building stands witnessing the fact that God of Elijah lives”. No information was sent out about the building project. No prayer request was shared among close friends. In that isolated village, unknown to any man any where, the concrete building came just as a direct, tangible, undeniable answer to prayer; praying eight to ten hours daily for over six months for this, fruition came just in one month, April 1986. Promises from the Word were converted into a concrete building! It was meant to be a hostel building for the tribal children. All that the author wanted to do was to prove that the God who fed Elijah is still very much alive and active in this world to day.  Sixteen years back a viral fever left the author semi-paralyzed, being unable to walk or to do any strenuous work, in which condition he remains to day away from the mission field. With five children of his own, all studying at that time, the family was fed literally by manna every day. (Manna means “What!”). Now the youngest one completed BE in May. They never needed to shed a drop of tear before God or before man to meet their physical needs even though huge medical bills came in between.   But when it comes to praying for souls, situation is different. There is struggle. There is agony. There are tears. Answers are not easy to come. Satanic hindrance is heavy. The strong man has to be bound before he can be plundered (Mt 12:29).

Many of us reading these lines would have experienced marvelous answers to prayer, praying for mundane things. That is the way the Lord teaches us to pray. But if our prayers are limited to things pertaining to this earth only, we have missed the mark. Paul says, “of all the people we are to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19). Unless we enter into spiritual warfare we are not being obedient to the voice of the spirit of God as found in Rom.15:30 &31 where Paul says, “strive with me in prayer” Striving in prayer means agonizing in prayer. That is how the same word is translated in Lk.22:44. This is something which the spirit of God will teach a believer who has committed his/her life to prayer. When we realize that it is a command to be obeyed regularly, how many of us stand guilty before God as disobedient children! Not entering into conscious spiritual warfare is the greatest sin of well meaning believers to day (1 Sam. 12:23). And God seems to be silent. May we take heed to the voice of the Lord through the prophet. “You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves. And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Is.62:6,7).

In Lk.18:7 our Lord expressly told us that He expects His elect to call on Him night and day. If only our leaders had read this verse! If only they taught the people and obeyed this! Listen to what the psalmist has to say. “Oh that my people would listen to Me. That Israel would walk in My ways! I would quickly subdue their enemies, and turn My hands against their adversaries. Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him”(ps. 81:13-15). Like the Moravians of old, let all well meaning churches in our nation start chain prayers and all-night prayers. Let us call upon Him until He rends heaven and comes down (Isa.64:1). Which He surely will! He is a God who hides Himself (Isa.45:15). But He acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him (Isa.64:4b).  We discuss “Why Christ hasn’t won India?” The answer is not found else where! Let us accept the fact that we failed God in India. Let us devote ourselves to prayer (Col.4:2). Let us encourage others to pray. What happened in S .Korea during the last century can and must happen in India now. Work of the Lord can only progress if we remove satanic hindrances by our agonizing prayers like that of Daniel. Biographies of great prayer warriors illustrate this truth very clearly. All our evangelistic activities without this kind of prayer is cultivation without water! May we strive in prayer and see that satanic hindrances are removed that God can freely work His will out in our lives and in the lives of our countrymen whose salvation He desires(2 Pet.3:9). To His name be all glory. Amen.