The TREE OF LIFE weekly teaching summary from THE WEEK ENDING:
July 26, 1999
Tree of Life 07/26/99
Tree of Life for 7/26/99 The doctrine of prayer is our seventh item of spiritual military equipment which the apostle Paul uses as a metaphor for the believer involved with spiritual warfare. Point 7, in our study deals with Why the Believer's Prayers Are Not Answered. First of all, general reasons for failure in prayer are related to carnality or being out of fellowship with God or residence in the cosmic system.
Cosmic one is the center for all arrogant function, and the principle behind our Lord's statement in MAT 16:24-26"Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" In cosmic two the believer quenches the Spirit, 1TH 5:19, and again, your prayers cannot be heard,1TH 5:19 "Do not quench the Spirit;" The only prayer which can be heard is rebound, which is the private confession of your sins to God; and in that sense, it is a prayer. The general reason for malfunction of prayer is always related to the believer's rejection of Bible doctrine. Whatever your reason for rejecting doctrine, it means you have no understanding of the mechanics of prayer. This produces three categories of ignorance which guarantee the malfunction of your prayer life.
Ignorance because of indifference to doctrine.
Ignorance because of wrong priorities.
Ignorance because of the arrogance complex of sins: Jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, implacability, hatred, self-pity, inordinate ambition, inordinate competition, slander, maligning, judging, and revenge motivation.
Prayer is part of your fulfillment of the PPOG and the execution of the Christian way of life, prayer becomes more and more effective as we execute His mandates. To become a great prayer warrior demands your daily intake of doctrine and the daily use of the problem-solving devices you have learned. You don't depend on others to solve your problems, but you handle your own problems from the doctrinal techniques you've been taught. One of the least known of all reasons for unanswered prayer is malfunction in marriage or lack of domestic tranquility, 1PE 3:7. "Likewise you husbands, live with your wives on the basis of knowledge as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman, and show her respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered." Note that when there is a domestic problem, the husband is not commanded to love (as he is elsewhere in scripture where no problem exists), but he is commanded to live with his wife on the basis of knowledge, that is, knowledge of pertinent doctrine. And from this, we can conclude that personal love for people is not a problem solving device. "Only knowledge of doctrine and resultant virtue can solve domestic problems." The application is that an uncontrolled woman is an unhappy woman. An uncontrolled woman also becomes a troublemaker, whether she wants to or not.
Of all the categories of sin and carnality which hinder effective prayer, arrogance is the number one cause of failure, not only in prayer, but in the spiritual life. It is the number one reason why people are not teachable, not receptive, and why people do not profit from suffering. We produce our own arrogance without any help from anyone else, for we all have an old sin nature which daily knocks at the door and says, "how about a little arrogance?" Prayer is also not answered because of lust, criminality, jealousy, and false motivation, which neutralize prayer. JAM 4:2-3 is addressed to believers. In JAM 4:2, jealousy is also a wrong motive for prayer.
Malfunction of the faith-rest drill in prayer means the malfunction of effective prayer, MAR 11:24 "I say to you, all things for which you ask and pray, believe that you shall receive them, and you shall be given them." With the malfunction of faith-rest drill and prayer, your life eventually malfunctions. Another of the problems related to prayer is concentration. In fact, all forms of worship are a concentration test. This test can be divided into three categories. Concentration on the teaching of doctrine. This reflects your values, your motivation, your spiritual condition, and your spiritual status quo. Bible doctrine should have number one priority. Concentration in the communion service. The communion service is a reflection of the person and work of Christ. Concentration in your personal and private prayers, During public prayers when others are praying, and in your petitions and intercessions. Prayer is a challenge to concentration. If you can concentrate on Bible doctrine in time of stress, adversity, or even in time of prosperity, then you can concentrate in prayer. prayer under the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The Mechanics of Prayer. Public prayer should be short and should avoid repetition, MAT 6:7 "And when you are praying [publicly], do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they assume that they will be heard for their many words." God is not impressed with verbiage or many words! In public prayer, you always add the principles of impersonal love, flexibility and thoughtfulness of others. Under this point, there is an agenda or an itinerary for your private prayer. Confession of sin (rebound), If necessary, 1Jo 1:9. This is to ensure the filling of the Spirit and residence in the PPOG. Only prayer offered in the status quo of the filling of the Spirit will be heard. Thanksgiving 1TH 5:18 "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Capacity for thanksgiving comes from your personal love for God and your impersonal love for others. Capacity for thanksgiving increases as you grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Intercession which is praying for others, EPH 6:18; 1Ki 18; Jam 5:16-18. EPH 6:18 "With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints," Petition which is praying for your own needs and situations where many times you are confused and have not yet learned a problem-solving device for that situation. Secial Prayers Found in the Word of God. The sanctification of food or saying "grace" before meals is a special prayer, 1TI 4:4-5. This is a mandate for all believers. Grace before meals has a two-fold purpose. The expression of gratitude to God for His logistical grace support, and Sanctification of that food to eliminate any potential, harmful effects.
Prayer for those in authority over us. This refers to the physical realm and the spiritual realm. As citizens of a client nation to God, this is a very important function for believers. 1TI 2:1-2 When you reach spiritual autonomy, impersonal love toward all mankind, this prayer really becomes effective. Prayer for the sick, JAM 5:15 "And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him." Prayer for the unsaved ROM 10:1 "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation." Although you cannot pray that their volition will be coerced, you can pray that they will be exposed to the gospel and have the opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ.
Prayer for your enemies MAT 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies [impersonal love], and pray for those who persecute you." Prayer for spiritual adulthood PHI 1:9 "And this I pray, that your virtue-love may abound still more and more in metabolized doctrine and all discernment."
Prayer for spiritual adulthood is not a prayer which violates the volition of others. Prayer for the communication and communicators of Bible doctrine for pastor-teachers, missionaries, evangelists. Prayer of widows Ladies who become single either by the death, divorce, or abandonment of their husbands. 1TI 5:5 "Now she who is a widow indeed, and who has been left alone has fixed her hope on God, and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day."
Point 10 Prayer and the Principle of Precise Correct Procedure. There is no place for sloppiness in prayer. Yet, that's exactly what we have today among believers: emotion, ignorance, stupidity, and sloppiness because we've ignored the biblical principles that mandate precisely correct procedure. All prayer is directed to God the Father. You never pray to God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. Under the principle of precise correct procedure, all prayer is offered through the channel of our great High Priest, in the name of the Son, JOH 14:13-14. JOH 14:14 "If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it. You can begin your prayer with the approach, "Heavenly Father, I'm coming in the name of the Son;" or you can conclude your prayer with "in Christ's name, Amen." Whichever, you must go through channels, for this is the precise correct procedure.
Prayer originates from the equal privilege of election. You are a royal priest; this gives you additional ability in prayer. There is nothing for which you cannot ask God on your own as a priest under the principles and restrictions noted, and in accordance with His will. Under your invisible assets, effective prayer is a part of the production of the Christian life. Even all answered prayer is a part of the divine decrees programmed by the omniscience of God the Father in eternity past. Therefore, accurate and effective prayer is one of the most powerful weapons in history. Point 11. The Four Categories of Petition in Prayer. The four categories that follow show that God views both parts of your prayer as separate, and answers each part either positively or negatively.
Petition : Desire
--------------------------- 1. Positive - Negative
2. Negative - Positive
3. Positive - Positive
4. Negative - Negative
The first one where the petition is positive but the desire is negative. Your petition is answered yes, but your desire behind it is answered no. For example, you pray to make a million dollars; yes, you'll make a million dollars, but no, you will not be happy. Biblical illustration would be 1Sa 8, where the Jews wanted to have a human king they could see (petition), so they could be like other nations (desire to be happy). We also have another account where the Lord answered the prayer but the desire behind the prayer was not fulfilled. PSA 106:13-15, the Jews were tired of the great divine provision of manna, the greatest health food ever. And so they requested for another type of food that they thought would satisfy them. And the Lord may allow the petition to be answered even though the desire will not be met.
The second category that follows which shows that God views both parts of your prayer as separate, and answers each part either positively or negatively is category number 2, petition-negative, desire positive. This means that the answer to the petition or to the request is no, but the desire behind the petition is answered yes.
For example: no, you will not make a million dollars, but yes, you will be happy. Recall that the petition to spare Sodom was answered no; the desire that Lot and his two daughters be preserved was answered yes.
The third category is the one most common. Petition positive and the desire positive. Both the petition and desire are answered yes. For example, in Judges 16:28, Samson was blinded and tied up in the Temple of Dagan. Both his petition, to strike the Philistines, and his desire, revenge, were answered yes. The fourth category is negative - negative. The answer is no to both the petition and the desire; in other words, God doesn't answer either one. Point 12, Principle of Grace in Prayer.
In his prayer approach, the believer must be compatible with the name where prayer is received, the throne of grace. Prayer is a privilege, the function of the Royal Priesthood, therefore, it is a powerful weapon in the hands of the believer in the PPOG. Since grace is the principle of prayer, no believer can petition for himself or make intercession on the basis of human merit, ability, morality, production, service or spiritual gift. God does not answer prayer because the believer is "good, moral, sincere, benevolent, religious, concerned, altruistic, talented or possesses a pleasing personality. Answer to prayer is a divine decision. Therefore the believer's popularity with others is never a factor in answered prayer.
Point 14. The Importance of Time and Method Concerning Prayer. One of the greatest mistakes that a Christian can make is to imagine that increased social or spiritual activity can be any compensation for the lack of secret communion with God. A prayerful life is always a powerful life; and a prayerless life is always a powerless life. Two of the most im-portant of these are: Time and Method Without time for prayer, nothing can be accomplished and yet frequently men excuse or explain their lack of prayerfulness by saying they don't have the time.
The manner or method of prayer is very important to understand. Without time for prayer, very little will be accomplished in your spiritual walk. Yet many excuse their praylessness by saying they have no time and just simply are too busy. There's always; time for business, pleasure, eat, sleep, even time for Bible study. But there seems to be no time for the one thing that would give all these power and effect, which is prayer. The simple fact is that we must find time for prayer if we desire to have God's highest and best for our life. Therefore, for everyone of us some "time" each day must be reserved for private communion with God. We are better off dropping anything in the day's program rather than that. Now, when it comes to this subject of prayer, there are two errors that we are in danger of: 1) Knowing the Bible intellectually without being concerned with application and experience. 2) Striving after the experience in prayer without knowing how to intellectually and biblically pray. In prayer, many people look for the Spirit to illuminate them with some message, some vision or some emotion. And this can result in our thoughts becoming scattered. We become weary, disappointed, and discouraged. this is what happens when our prayer life becomes forced and unnatural.
Point 15. The Most Important Fundamental Truth about Prayer Is the Idea of Worship.
Adoring God is one of the keys to prayer, worship, honor, and admiration which will lead to a devoted prayer life. Because of this, many have a difficult time in worshipping someone they cannot perceive through their natural senses. But God has not left us to ourselves, instead He has given us a way whereby we may know Him. God for example reveals Himself through nature, MAT 6:26-30. Think of how powerful the one is who created all things.
Think of His goodness revealed in providing for all. Think of the stars and the heavens which in Psa 8 David said in verse 3. PSA 8:3 "When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;" We may also know God through man. Man was made in God's image and after His likeness, Gen 1:27. And man's heart has eternity placed within it as we have noted before in ECC 3:11. Therefore, all man's desires, aims, hopes, and goals, insofar as they are good and true, have their source in God. All tenderness, affection, nobility, courage, and virtue found in man has its origin in God. When we see these qualities in one another, it gives us another reason to glorify God. In fact, that's the true meaning of MAT 5:16. /MAT 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."\ We can also know God through history, ACT 17:26 And he made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth,
/having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation,\ And of course, God may be known chiefly through Christ.\ HEB 1:1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, HEB 1:2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. HEB 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; /COL 2:9 For in Him all the fulness of deity dwells in bodily form,\ However, God can be fully known only through Christ! When we worship Christ, we worship God, for He represents God, and of course is God. Remember in JOH 14:6, TLJC said, "No one comes to the Father, but through Me." Therefore, there can be no acceptable worship of God which rejects the deity of TLJC. Christ is the only way of access to God and therefore, God is worshipped when Christ is worshipped. Finally under the subject of adoration there are two means of worship:
1) The subjective or inward means.
2) The objective or outward means.
During prayer, the heart, the mind and the will all must function properly. Our heart must be set upon God without distractions. Our mind is to concentrate upon the facts and methods of prayer. Our will chooses to keep both the heart and the mind focused in on our Lord. The worship of God deserves and demands all three, the heart, the mind and the will. When we implement these principals we will find our difficulties in prayer disintegrating. Then there is the objective or the outward means of prayer. In worship, we need to focus in on Christ. We cannot know more of God than what Christ reveals to us. He is both the limit and the goal of our communion with God. Then of course there is the Bible. The Bible is the soil in which our faith must take root and out of which our prayers must grow. Finally there's the Spirit who illuminates us and shows us the hidden meanings and power revealed in the word.