I want to look at EFFECTUAL PRAYER this evening, because I believe our READINESS is as important as our WILLINGNESS and our KNOWLEDGE as to HOW TO pray.
Praying effectively is more than praying “ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD” is more than simply praying STUFF THAT GOD LIKES and is inline w His word. That is good, of course. But there’s more. There is something to be said about THE FOUNTAIN as much as what comes out of it.
One of the great things about scripture is that, because it is alive and not dead, our looking into it and discussing it activates the process itself, so we can believe God that He will be doing in us what we are discussing this evening. We’re YEARNING along w the LEARNING.
THIS, IN FACT, confirms that statement and also describes the CUTTING WORK we will be looking into this evening:
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest (that SHABBAT of covenant obedience), lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
THE ACTIVE HOPE
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
WE READ THIS earlier but once again, w a stronger lens:
16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
17 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.
RIGHTEOUS MAN – his prayers accomplish much.
James is speaking about a lifestyle of cleanliness here – not an accumulation of sin or a failure to “TAKE THE GARBAGE OUT” of our own lives.
WE WON’T READ IT ALL – but it has that anointing of truth:
Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout – would not take the garbage out.
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She’d scour the pots and scrape the pans, Candy the yams and spice the hams,
5 And though her daddy would scream and shout, She simply would not take the garbage out. And so it piled up to the ceiling:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas, 10 Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door With bacon rinds and chicken bones, Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
15 Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, Pizza crusts and withered greens, Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
20 Gristly bits of beefy roasts…
The garbage rolled on down the hall, It raised the roof, it broke the wall… Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs, Globs of gooey bubblegum,
25 Cellophane from green baloney, Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry, Curdled milk and crusts of pie, Moldy melons, dried up mustard,
30 Eggshells mixed with lemon custard, Cold french fries and rancid meat, Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat. At last the garbage reached so high That finally it touched the sky.
35 And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play. And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
“OK, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course, it was too late
40 The garbage reached across the state, From New York to the Golden Gate And there, in the garbage she did hate, Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot right now relate
45 Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout And always take the garbage out!
“Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out”
Thank you, Shel Silverstein!
There is something we need to learn and press into, in the way of our lives always being His, and that place will keep us anointed and ready for prayer-purpose.
I typically recite this favorite psalm, concentrating on the front end of the refinement process of God towards His saints. THAT PROCESS, btw, is PREPARATION.
Let’s look at the back end of Ps 66 – spoken by a man who has been through the front end of the Psalm and understands:
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
And I will declare what He has done for my soul.
17 I cried to Him with my mouth,
And He was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
19 But certainly God has heard me;
He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer,
Nor His mercy from me!
One of the things we want to do, in preparing to pray, is to be PREPARED, as vessels of the Lord, to pray.
Sounds like word play, but it is not.
The scriptures call us to be PREPARED PEOPLE.
ONCE AGAIN – THE PERSONAL DISCLAIMER – this is something I am working at. It has by no means been mastered (this past weekend….)
The word “prepare” shows up many times in scripture, and it is English for several different Hebrew words, three of which are:
ASA H6213 – to do or make, to accomplish
and KUN – to make ready, to make, to prepare,
AZAR – gird up,
KUN – prepare, fix, ordain, render sure, to be proper or erect = as in PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD.
Interestingly ( I mentioned this briefly on FB) – the English word PREPARE has some amazing roots of origin. I often chuckle when I see etymology take us back to Greek or Latin, simply because it appears evident that many of their words have roots going back to Hebrew, which may well have been THE original language.
Nonetheless, here’s PREPARE traced back to Latin and Greek:
- :to carefully cut off the outside or the ends of (something)
- :to make (something) smaller : to reduce (something) in size, amount, or number
- transitive verb
- 1 : to trim off an outside, excess, or irregular part of <pare apples><paring his nails>
- 2 : to diminish or reduce by or as if by paring <pare expenses> <the novel was pared down to 200 pages>
Other forms: pared; par·ing
- par·er noun
- The company has to find a way to pare
- paredthe stray branches on the tree
Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French parer to make, prepare, pare, from Latin parare to prepare, acquire; akin to Latin parere to give birth to, produce, Greek porein to give, present, Sanskrit pṛṇātihe gives.
- :to make (someone or something) ready for some activity, purpose, use, etc.
- :to make yourself ready for something that you will be doing, something that you expect to happen, etc.
- :to make or create (something) so that it is ready for use
- transitive verb
- 1 a : to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity<prepare food for dinner> b : to put in a proper state of mind <is prepared to listen>
- 2 : to work out the details of : plan in advance <preparing a campaign strategy>
- 3 a : to put together : compound <prepare a prescription> b : to put into written form <prepare a report>intransitive verb
- :to get ready <preparing for a career>
Other forms: pre·pared; pre·par·ing
- pre·par·er noun
- The teacher preparedthe students for the test.
- Your room is being preparednow and should be ready soon.
- The nurses preparedthe patient for surgery.
Origin: Middle English, from Middle French preparer, from Latinpraeparare, from prae- pre- + parare to procure, prepare — more at pare.
There appears to be a magical correlation between the concept of the CUT and PREPARATION.
That ties in perfectly w the Hebraic concept of circumcision – NOT the outward cutting away of flesh (which is symbolic) but the inward context of a cut heart.
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
That is the PRE-PARED heart. The CUT heart of covenant.
In the past I’ve spoken about the letter SHIN and its being the root for some powerful Hebrew words:
SHALOM – peace
SHABBAT – rest
SHABA – oath or vow.
And we’ve looked at Isa 28:12 where we are told the REST of God came in the place of doing things in His order, according to His purposes.
The point to this is PRE-PARING – PRE-CUTTING the foreskin of your heart, so that you are PREPARED to be praying effectively.
16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.
17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.
18 He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.
19 Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
20 You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.
WANTING TO LEARN FROM THE KINGS – and remembering we’re called into the place of kingship in Him – Learning from kingly failure:
2 Chronicles 12:1-14
1 Now it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel along with him.
2 And it happened in the fifth year of King Rehoboam that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, because they had transgressed against the Lord, ……
5 Then Shemaiah the prophet came to Rehoboam and the leaders of Judah, who were gathered together in Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord: ‘You have forsaken Me, and therefore I also have left you in the hand of Shishak.’ ”
6 So the leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, “The Lord is righteous.”
12 When he humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord turned from him, so as not to destroy him completely; and things also went well in Judah.
THE RECAP OF REHOBOAM’S REIGN:
13 Thus King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned. Now Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king; and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess.
14 And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.
Sadly there are way too many examples of failure to succeed because the people of God failed to be holy and in that failure they experienced rejection by God:
The disastrous example of prayers and worship and fasting not working
because of compromised living
Isaiah 1:12-15 (PRAYER NOT WORKING)
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?
13 Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Amos 5:23-27 (WORSHIP NOT WORKING)
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
24 But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream.
25 “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings
In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?
26 You also carried Sikkuth your king
And Chiun, your idols,
The star of your gods,
Which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,”
Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.
Here’s the famous complaint of Isa 58, and the answer to the complaint:
Isaiah 58:1-4 (FASTING NOT WORKING)
1 “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?
Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’
‘In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure,
And exploit all your laborers.
4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate,
And to strike with the fist of wickedness.
You will not fast as you do this day,
To make your voice heard on high.
HERE’S GOD GREAT MERCY AND GREAT RESPONSIVE PROMISE TO OUR COMING BACK TO HIS WAYS:
VERSE 8 – THEN THEY ARE INSTRUCTED HOW TO BEHAVE, and here’s the promise:
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.’
AND WE HAVE JOB challenging God, and then God challenging Job
6 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
7 “Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me:
8 “Would you indeed annul My judgment?
Would you condemn Me that you may be justified?
9 Have you an arm like God?
Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
Here’s REALLY GREAT NEWS – that God will work WITH us and IN us when we present ourselves before Him and begin spending time with Him.
17 Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear,
18 To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
AND YET HERE’S ALSO OUR INVESTMENT IN THE PROCESS – like why we are here right now….
1 The preparations of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
Our call to action
3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Above is our CALL to PREPARE for the coming of the Lord – be it FOR HIS IMMINENT RETURN, or for His showing up at anytime prior to that.
The Christian Bible has the prophet Malachi positioned as the last book. I do believe this is fitting, given what we now know this side of Calvary – that the accumulation of Hebrew writings are pointing to the imminent APPEARANCE(S) of the Lord Messiah – first in gentle birth for sacrifice, and then in violent appearance for judgment and redemption.
Here’s God recognizing the importance of preparation, and then declaring what His coming will accomplish in preparing His people for proper service
1 “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
2 “But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap.
3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver;
He will purify the sons of Levi,
And purge them as gold and silver,
That they may offer to the Lord
An offering in righteousness.
4 “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem
Will be pleasant to the Lord,
As in the days of old,
As in former years.
5 And I will come near you for judgment;
I will be a swift witness
Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans,
And against those who turn away an alien—
Because they do not fear Me,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
THE MERCY – but also the revelation that the NEW COVENANT does not present to us a NEW GOD (who thinks any differently about sin and its price)
6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
This of course in interesting in that it is proclaimed as being a declaration of the ministry of John The Baptist, coming in the spirit of Elijah, and yet we are also told this same “ELIJAH ANOINTING” will be prominent prior to the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” – which definitely was NOT His birth in a stable in Bethlehem – so we would do well to see these verses as PREGNANT for activation in our own lives.
1 “For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
3 You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
4 “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant,
Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,
With the statutes and judgments.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
6 And he will turn (“SUB” h7725 – break build, circumcise, do anything….)
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
PREPARATION AS BEING PART OF OUR PROMISE FOR REWARD:
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
The life and death covenant – Revelation of the requirement, the blessing and the jeopardy
EARLY-TEXT MENTION OF THE PRE-PARED HEART – both willing work of our own will and also a work of the Lord
Deuteronomy 10:12-20 – OF OUR OWN FREE WILL
12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.
15 The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.
THE CUTTING PREPARATION FOR THE OUTPOURING
16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.
Deuteronomy 30:4-6 – A WORK OF THE LORD
4 If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.
5 Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
WE’RE TO ESTABLISH OUR HEARTS IN ADVANCE, in preparation, in faith – not simply in response to Him showing up (that in fact, could be likened to the 5 virgins scrambling to get the oil for the lamps, but it was too late. They were not prepared.
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
2 Peter 3:10-11 – the rhetorical question asked last week…..
The Day of the Lord
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
A GREAT VERSE to end on, and pray into
2 I will behave wisely in a perfect way.
Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me.
All scripture NKJV