One of my favorite scriptures is 1 John 5:14-15. Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
I discovered this passage more than 40 years ago and have been preaching and teaching it’s truth ever since. It is an incredible promise. To receive whatever we want, all we have to do is find out what His will is for any situation, and then agree with Him concerning it. Wow! Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
But there is a catch. What is His will? Yes, His will is spelled out in the Bible. But many of His instructions are general in nature. For example . . . . Isaiah 53:5 – He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Is this verse true? Yes. Does it apply any time, any where, all the time? Yes, of course. Then why, do we not see healing every time we apply this verse to a sick individual?
A study of the miracles of Jesus gives us a clue. It doesn’t take much insight to see that every one of them is different. Sometimes He laid hands on people. Sometimes He just looked at them and pronounced them healed. Sometimes He gave a Word of Knowledge and they were healed. Other times He told them it was their faith that healed them. Sometimes He healed through His compassion. One time He spit in the dirt to make mud and put the mud on a guy. I know of people and groups that have made hard and fast doctrines out of every one of His healing “methods” – except the spit.
Why do we do this sort of thing? Is it because we’re more comfortable with non-emotional laws than we are relationship? Because we don’t want to take the necessary time to spend with God, wait on Him and actually listen? I think so. We live in such a hurry-up-and-get-er-done world that we often don’t know how to slow down. When given the opportunity to do so, we can’t.
When it comes to healing, I think I/we need to be more careful to ask God how to pray before we do.
Example #1 – After teaching in a women’s conference in India, a pastor brought a woman to me who wanted prayer. She was a very tiny lady who had a big, round, hurting tummy which made her look pregnant. And she was shaking with fear. I closed my eyes and prayed in tongues, asking God to show me how to pray. Instead of words, I had a vision of a little baby girl. I told the pastor who immediately shook his head. “She doesn’t have a little girl,” he said. So I closed my eyes again and prayed but got the same vision. The pastor shook his head but told the woman what I’d seen. Unknown to him, she told him yes, she had a little girl who died before she’d become a Christian so she was afraid her daughter had gone to hell. I prayed for her again and God gave me a wonderful vision of a little girl playing with Jesus. When she heard this, relief flooded her face. I laid my fingers gently on her forehead, prayed in tongues and she fell backward as she received tremendous emotional healing that needed to be dealt with before she was delivered of that big tummy. The pastor and I didn’t know that. But God did. And He graciously let us know. Because we asked.
Example #2 – A man visited our little church. As the morning progressed, the man revealed that he was in pain from kidney stones. As some began to gather around him to pray for him, my husband sought the Lord as to how to pray. Instead of a prayer or declaration, God told him if he would blow the shofar over the guy, the kidney stones would break up. So he blew. The pain left and, according to his doctor later, the kidney stones were no longer there.
Are you getting the point? Even with all the verses and stories in scripture, we need to always ask God how to pray.
Here’s another thing that is prayed on a regular basis. . . .”Father, forgive for they know not what they do.” Jesus said this while on the cross. While this prayer was particular to the situation, can and should we pray this also?
Is this prayer one that the children of Israel should have prayed for Pharaoh? We know that they didn’t understand that God was not only coming against all the gods of Egypt but that He was also pushing Pharaoh to the limit. Are we ever in the same position of not seeing the big picture or of not knowing or understanding what God is doing?
Could David have prayed it for Saul? He didn’t.
How did the early Christians pray for Saul of Tarsus?
Scripturally, it is possible for a person to become so hardened against God that they reach the point of no return – before they die.
Proverbs 29:1 – He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
2 Chronicles 36:11-16 is the story of Zedekiah who “did evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and did not humble himself.” Instead, “he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the Lord God of Israel.” As a consequence of his rebellion, the religious leaders and common people committed all kinds of abominations also. God continued to send warnings “because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place but they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets.” Doesn’t this sound like our country today? So what happened back then?
“The wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” In other words, no amount of prayers, tears or regret changed the outcome. Because of how similar the U.S. of A. is to this biblical story, we need to pay attention to it. Because Zedekiah and the people DID know exactly what they were doing even after repeated prophetic words and warnings. Has America reached the point of no return yet? No, I don’t think so because I know for a fact that there is a growing remnant of faithful believers who are coming together to seek the Lord.
That said, are there individuals who have hardened their hearts to the point that Zedekiah and Pharaoh did? Scripture is very clear that in the last days there will be many who will follow the wicked example of these two men, knowing EXACTLY what they are doing. For me, a few years ago God impressed upon me in a very strong manner that we have now reached that point in history and that I was to be very careful to get direction from Him before asking God to forgive someone because “they know not what they do.” Why? Because they do know what they are doing. Slapping this phrase on such a person is obviously not what God wants us to do.
There is also the possibility that we aren’t even supposed to pray for them!!! You may have trouble with that so I encourage you to check out Jeremiah 7:16-18 and Jeremiah 44:15-25. If you’re brave enough and teachable enough to do so, you will then want to do research into exactly who the “queen of heaven” is, where she is today and how she manifests herself. But that gets into another subject full of even more questions which is not relevant to this paper.
Jesus’ words on the cross were spoken in reference to those who crucified Him. Like Him, we are to forgive anyone and everyone for anything and everything because if we don’t God won’t forgive us. And, forgiveness keeps bitterness and resentment at bay. But it is not our job to judge why another person sins like Jesus did on the cross. From the scriptures and examples given above, it is clear that there is such a thing as “intentional” sin which is much more serious than unintentional sin. And if, according to 1 John 5:14-15 we want our prayers to be answered, we need to pray accurately, according to Truth. So the question then becomes. . . .
How do we know if or when a person has reached the point of hardening their heart so much that they reach a point of no forgiveness?
And, if you are at all like me, I don’t really want to know because not knowing makes it easier for me to walk in love.
So, how can we pray for the people of the world who are behaving wickedly and be accurate? Instead of assuming that they don’t know what they are doing, ASK GOD how to pray. God does, after all, place great importance on our need to hear Him. Consider the following verses.
Mat_10:27 What I tell you in darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear, proclaim on the housetops.
Mat_11:15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Mat_13:9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Mar_4:9 And He said to them, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Mar_4:23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.
Mar_7:16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
Mar_9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son. Hear Him.
Luk_8:8 And other fell on good ground and sprang up, and bore fruit a hundredfold. And when He had said these things, He cried, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Luk_9:35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved, hear Him.
Luk_14:35 It is not fit for the land, nor for manure, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Joh_5:30 I can do nothing of My own self. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who has sent Me.
Joh_10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
So, how do we pray when, for whatever reason, we don’t hear specific instruction? I suggest we simply ask God to manifest Himself to the sinning person. That way, if they need correction or even punishment, God will give it. If they need mercy or forgiveness, God will surely supply that. These kinds of prayers have had dramatic and wonderful results as people have prayed for Moslems because God has indeed manifested Himself to many of them to the extent that Christianity is growing fast in the Middle East. Others have turned away and in spite of God showing Himself to them, have hardened their hearts.
Bottom line: In these last days, it is IMPERATIVE that God’s people give God time to give insight as to how to pray. Assumption, presumption and judgment must be cast aside. We must be able to instantly recognize His voice and distinguish between His voice and our own. Yes, this is Prayer 101. But generally speaking, the Body of Christ is too bent on pulling out our favorite scriptural phrases and slapping them on every situation. This article is a plea for us all to do what my husband says, “Slow down and listen.”