How can you expect answers to your prayers? Four imperatives must be followed: abide, ask, believe, and receive. Let's look at each of these for a moment:
Jesus says abiding is the key to successful praying. "If you abide in me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you." in other words, if you are abiding in Christ -- if your life is totally yielded to Him and His Word is abiding in you so that you know His will -- you can ask anything you want because your will is to do His will.
Abiding, then, is simply living a life of faith and obedience in the fullness for the Holy Spirit, surrendered to the Lordship for Christ with no unconfessed sin, and being totally available to God.
If you expect answers to your prayers, you must ask. James says: "You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."
Jesus says, "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seek finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
The unsolved problems in the world are so great they are almost without number. People are still sick; souls are yet unreached for Christ; evil people still wield ungodly political and financial power; and many injustices continue -- largely because the children of God do not ask!
Jesus promises in Matthew 21:22, "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Believing is at the heart of answered prayer. But how do you get this faith to believe? Should you try to work up some kind of state of mind that will in some way equal faith? Of course not.
God does not require you to have great faith. You simply are to have faith in a great God. Jesus says:
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
James instructs you to "ask in faith without any doubting" for the double-minded person cannot expect God to answer His prayers.
You see, it's the quality, not the quantity, of the faith that is important.
Faith comes from God. It is not something you try to muster on your own. A life of faith is experienced only by those who walk in obedience. You cannot be on the throne for your life and still pray in faith. You will never meet a person who has great faith in a great God who refuses to obey the God in whom he is commanded to place his trust.
The Holy Spirit uses 3 basic means to produce faith in the one praying.
First, He uses the Word of God. As you study the Scriptures you learn more and more about the character of God -- His love, His wisdom, his power, his works, His sovereignty. The more you know of God, the more you trust Him. "Faith," Paul writes, "comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."
Second, He uses fellowship with other Christians and various circumstances and experiences. For example your faith in God grows as you observe a friend being used of God to introduce others to Christ. When he shares his experience with you, this encourages you to believe that God can use you, too.
Third, He uses strong impressions or convictions. Paul recorded in Philippians 2:13, "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
For example, five young high school students began to sense their responsibility to God according to Matthew 28:18-20. Each of these students felt impressed to make a list of three friends whom he wanted to claim for Christ. The first week they met daily to pray that these friends would sense their need of God. The second week they prayed to be instruments of God. The third week they prayed for opportunities to speak to their friends about Christ. That week fifteen students received the Savior.
By faith, claim the answer to your request. If you know you are abiding in Christ and are controlled by the Holy Spirit and are praying according to the Word and will of God, you can expect God to answer your prayer. So be prepared to receive the answer. Imagine right now that you are receiving the answer to your request, and begin to thank God for it.
In 1954 Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile. It had never been broken in all the centuries of recorded history, but Bannister believed it could be done. He developed a mental picture of himself breaking the four-minute mile record, and he did it. Since 1954, several hundred other athletes have broken the four-minute mile, simply because Roger Bannister proved that it could be done.
If an individual with only human resources is able to accomplish outstanding success, how much more can you accomplish when you place your faith in the omnipotent God and draw upon His supernatural, inexhaustible resources?
It is a simple fact that whatever you vividly envision, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass -- assuming, of course, that there is scriptural authority for it.
Consider, for example, the Great Commission. For many years since that memorable moment when God gave me the vision for his ministry and for the world, I have been strongly impressed that the Holy Spirit wants the Great Commission fulfilled in our generation. Since that original deep impression in 1951, the Great Commission has been my number one priority as an expression of my love for our Lord and my desire to obey Him.
I have a vivid mental picture of what fulfilling the Great Commission will involve -- saturating a world of more than 6 billion people; discipling tens of millions; training key leader representatives in every one of the 210 nations and protectorates of the world; and using every modern means of technology -- science, radio, television, satellites, jet travel, high-speed presses and audio-visuals in all forms -- to communicate God's love worldwide.
Our strategy of accomplishing this goal was called New Life 2000. Christians from North America, Europe and more than 150 nations around the world were a part of this comprehensive plan for world evangelism. Millions of believers within thousands of churches, denominations, organizations and mission agencies united to make New Life 2000 a priority for their evangelism and discipleship ministries at home and abroad.
I see clearly with my mind's eye a day in the immediate future when billions of people on earth will become aware of the great truths concerning God's love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ and will crown Him Lord of lords. I know that the fulfillment of the Great Commission is the will of God because it is His command and the desire of His heart, and I ardently long to have it come to pass.
Furthermore, I sincerely believe that the Great Commission will be fulfilled because it is God's idea, not man's. It is inconceivable to me that our Lord would have given us the command without giving us the needed resources with which to fulfill his command.
And finally, because I so vividly imagine, ardently desire, and sincerely believe in the fulfillment of the Great Commission in my generation, I can enthusiastically act upon it by giving myself completely to the task and helping to mobilize millions of others toward its fulfillment.
In your own life -- your own home, community, state, nation and the world where you personally are concerned -- determine, on a clearly scriptural basis, what God would have you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe, and enthusiastically act upon to help fulfill the Great Commission.
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Love By Faith How You Can Pray with Confidence, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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