The Prayer That Creates Miracles
By Bayo Ogunmupe
Jesus once told a story which ought to be the primer on prayer (Luke 11:1-13).
That story tells us that God wants us to pray, to ask Him freely and boldly for whatever we need.
Ironically, that original intention has been seriously distorted. The principal reason for this is one word: importunity (Luke 11:8). Persistence is the unfortunate translation of importunity in most modern versions.
What Jesus is saying is:
“Your first barrier isn’t God. It is your own hesitance to ask freely. You need to learn the boldness that isn’t afraid to ask --- whatever the need or circumstance”.
Another point of confusion lies in misunderstanding the word “ask”. Its tense in Greek conveys the idea of continual asking. But the continuality Jesus wants is in ceaseless petitioning. In other words, you need never hesitate to ask for something just because you asked for something else earlier. Any hint that heaven gets too busy with earlier requests to have either time or supply for the next is pure folly. Here is the message of the Jesus parable.
One, you have a friend in the heavenly Father. He is on your side and available any time and in every circumstance. Two, boldness is your privilege. Your assignment is to ask. God’s commitment is to give as much as you need.
Jesus strikes the death blow to hesitancy when he said ask. Ask with unabashed forwardness; ask with shameless boldness! Christ really teaches, “Your friend, my father, will rise to the occasion, and see that everything you need is provided.”
But there are many hindrances to prayer. Aside our adversary, Satan’s workings against us, there is the self- inflicted turmoil we heap upon ourselves by ignorance, of rebellion against spiritual laws. The law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7-8) is as certain as the law of gravity. Much of that for which mankind indicts God as unkind is the simple harvest of man’s own folly.
The whole purpose of God’s commands is to warn against the destructive power of sin, not to badger man with a land-locking set of rules which would take the wind out of full-sail living. “For this the love of God, that we keep his commandments are not grievous”( 1 John 5:3). Carnal violation of Jehovah’s order produces confusion and failure. Sin and Satan produce disorder and destruction. Allah shows the way to surmount our own propensity for failure and heart break. God shows us the way to overcome the slings of satanic fury bent on destruction.
Indeed, prayer is the determining factor in our success. But the problem is that too few of us want to accept the fact that if we don’t pray, God won’t do anything.
This is much more than a problem. It breeds the controversy, indeed a long-standing debate between human responsibility and divine sovereignty. To some, an emphasis on the responsibility of man suggests that eternal issues are sacrificed on the altar of man’s imperfection. To others, an emphasis on divine sovereignty suggests a deterministic universe in which God’s will irresistibly makes everything happen. Too much of human responsibility produces an erratic world; too much of divine sovereignty a fatalistic one. Knowledge is the only armour against fate.
But man is disinclined to accept responsibility for his life on earth. However, God did has given man charge of this planet. And the current disorder in the world is man’s making. The only people who can change our bleak circumstances and reverse, the tide of evil wherever it rises are those who pray to God. But sloth is the mark of the sons of Adam. We have been made poor by ignorance, timidity and laziness. If we will only pray, our problems would be solved. Christ solemnly charged us; “it’s up to you. If heaven’s will and power are to be worked on earth, you have to ask for it”. He removed the guesswork from man’s questioning: man is responsible. If hell or failing flesh wins, it is because no one withstands the fire or the foolishness. Jesus instructs you to “Ask…… seek…. Knock.” The combination is intended to unlock the shackles of helplessness. Ask-call on Yahweh to work in the midst of those circumstances where sin or Satan is succeeding. Seek-pursue the path God opens (i.e. pray) knowing God will lead you to discover the underlying structure of the problem. Knock – strike the obstacle, like the friend knocking at the door who overcome the only obstacle between him and provision for his need (Luke 11:5-10); like the widow who stayed at the unjust judge’s door, striking the object that was shut up against justice being served (Luke 18:1-8); like the apostle who directed the church to pray in order that hindrances to effective ministry be crumbled (Colossians 4:2, 3).
John Wesley put it clearly: “God will do nothing in earth except in other believing prayer.” Thus God holds to his original preposition: “man is in charge on earth. If hell is let loose, it is man’s duty to call upon me for the remedy. If he doesn’t call – if prayer isn’t uttered, I have bound myself not to be involved. If prayer is extended, I have bound myself to conquer everything that would destroy or diminish my beloved creature- man. There it is, prayer can change anything. The impossible doesn’t exist with prayer. To God belongs power, our duty is to pray. Without God, we cannot triumph or overcome our problems. But without asking, God will not do anything.
“The Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear,” (Isaiah 59:1). That ought to settle the case for necessity for prayer. If the question arises, “is it okay to pray?” let the answer be settled, “Yes it is okay.” You can be sure God won’t mock or criticize you for asking anything. “If any man lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, and doesn’t rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5).
However, there is a battery of scriptures that make clear that some prayers will not be answered (James 4:3). Presumptuous attitudes in prayer will not be honoured (Luke 9.51). Prayer offered by a disobedient person or sinner will not be heard by God (Psalm 66:18). Intolerance and unforgiveness towards others blocks the provision of even our most basic needs (Mathew 6:11, 12). But if you want to win with prayer, you must be honest with God. You don’t have to be all-knowing. You don’t need any level of holiness. But you must be open. “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you,” (John 15:7). “For the lord God is a sun and shield: the lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly,” (psalms 84:1).
Prayer is the only instrument that can function in the fight against evil. But even when we actually move into prayer, we seldom hit the mark. Often, we pray desperately about the adversary’s workings than joining together to declare the destruction of the enemy. So, for success, we must abandon a fatalistic attitude to life. We must commit ourselves to intercessory prayer for triumph, because nothing happens for the blessing of mankind without a struggle. So, we need to pray as a team for safety. God deals in words. We must verbalize our needs for His answer. Prayers prevail by over- throwing evil; the keys to successful prayer are humidity and patience. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” (Peter 5: 6, 7).