Increasing Your Passion to Pray (Dan 9:1-19)

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Increasing Your Passion to Pray

Daniel 9

For Daniel, prayer was so important.  He’d rather be ripped apart by lions than not pray.  Remember Daniel chapter 6–the decree went out for no one to worship anyone but the king.  Daniel ignored the command, continued to do what he’d always been doing, and prayed three times a day.  Daniel wouldn’t stop praying, even though it meant he’d be thrown into a den of hungry lions.  That’s not a pleasant way to die.  How important is prayer to you?

Remember those little boys who’d ring your doorbell, then run away?  Maybe you were one of them–ding dong ditch-em.  That is how a lot of us approach prayer.  “Hey, I need something, God–ding dong.”  But when God actually invites us to come on in for a nice heart-to-heart chat, we run away.

Why don’t we pray very much?  Today, would you allow the Lord to impassion your prayer life through the example of Daniel?  Open your Bibles to Daniel 9, and take your outline to follow along, continuing in our rapid study through this great prophetic letter as Daniel shows us how to pray for those you love.

Some of you have children who have walked away from Christ.  Others of you have parents who have given up on Christ–even if they haven’t walked away, it just seems like their hearts have dried up.  Sometimes your children are compliant, but you’re uncertain they’d follow Christ if you were not around–you don’t know if they’re saved.  Others of you have close friends who live in a way that causes you to doubt their salvation.  Some of you have students in discipleship, or men or women in D-group who deeply concern you, where they are at with Christ.

For those you love, for those you know at work, that needy family in your neighborhood, for your friends at school, and those friends you hang out with—how do you pray for them?  Daniel shows us in chapter 9, which records his prayer and God’s answer.  Israel is in captivity in Babylon, which now is the Medo-Persian Empire, and the Jews are still not home.

Daniel reads the letter of Jeremiah, who prophesies that their captivity will only be seventy years, and he knows the seventy years is almost up.  So Daniel prays and God answers him with a shocking answer in the rest of the chapter, which we’ll study soon.  Daniel is burdened over his people–they have been torn from the land of Israel and the city of their God, Jerusalem.  Remember, they had to have a temple to worship–and now that temple, the city and its walls are destroyed.  This is desperate.  It’s so bad in 8:27, Daniel is physically sick over what is going to happen to those he loves.  So in chapter 9 he shows us what to do—pray.

#1  No matter who you are or where you are, pray

Daniel not only lived through the Babylonian Empire, he thrived, remaining a trusted counselor of several Babylonian kings.  But what is even more remarkable is that Daniel kept his high position even after the Medes and Persians took over, which is what verses 1 to 2 say.  “In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign.”

Right about the time of the lions’ den test, we find Daniel as an older man now, ready to go to prayer, even though prayer may cost him his life.  Do you realize what Daniel has been through?  Daniel is a Jew who has been ripped from his home, and has lived almost his entire life separated from friends and family.  He is enslaved in captivity, far from home, possibly made a eunuch with no possibility of having a family of his own.  Yet there is no bitterness against His God–so he prays.

Daniel is also a man of great position and influence, politically at the top of the pile among all the king’s counselors, yet shows no pride, but selflessly prays for His people in humility.  Daniel is also a man of great spiritual ability, dreaming dreams and visions, interpreting them as God intended, yet doesn’t exult in that gift in such a way as to feel above prayer, but pleads with God for His people.  Daniel is at least 80-years-old.  He is very wise, and revered by many, having maintained his high position, even though the empire has changed from one people group to another—yet he is led to dependently go before God in prayer continually.  It didn’t matter–there were no circumstances that kept Daniel from prayer.

The Bible is filled with exhortations and examples for us to pray for each other.

Colossians 1:9, “we have not ceased to pray for you”

1 Timothy 2:8, “I want the men in every place to pray”

James 5:16, “pray for one another”

1 Thessalonians 5:25, “Brethren, pray for us”

What is keeping you from prayer?  Four main reasons:

1 You do not have a new born again heart, meaning you’re not saved

2 You’ve given your heart away to something else–person or item/idol

3 You’ve adopted some bad thinking or theology over prayer

4 You have not developed a workable system of prayer

You will find the Bible teaches, and Daniel models, to not let anything stop you from praying, no matter who you are, or where you are—pray.

#2 The Word of God is the best stimulus to make you pray

Apparently the Jews in exile had acquired the scrolls of the Old Testament.  Perhaps they’d even made careful copies of the Scripture while in exile.  So as Daniel is reading God’s Word–I love this–reading a portion of the Old Testament that was written by a recent contemporary, a man he might have heard as a young man before the exile, the prophet Jeremiah, a man of God who was set apart by God to record the Word of God, just like Daniel was Himself.  And as he reads, look at verse 2, “In the first year of his reign I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was revealed as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.”

The two passages Daniel could have been reading from were Jeremiah 25:11 to 12, “’And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.’”  Or more likely, Jeremiah 29:10, “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.’”

Can you picture it?  Daniel is reading along and comes to this specific personal prophecy about the captivity lasting only seventy years.  Daniel does the math and knows that no matter how you figure it, the return back to the land of Israel is coming very soon.  God promised, and God always keeps His Word.  But Daniel doesn’t know when the start date for the seventy years was.  It could be that the seventy-year captivity is measured by the first deportation when Daniel was taken to Babylon in 605 BC, or it could be counted from the second deportation when Ezekiel was taken in 597 BC.  Or even possibly from the third and final deportation when all of Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC, which is also the time Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations.

Daniel is so moved by what the Scripture says, I believe he prays to our God, asking that the seventy years will be measured from the first deportation, so that the return will begin as soon as possible–within a few years.  But it’s the Word of God that stimulates and guides Daniel’s prayers.  John MacArthur says unless we understand God’s Word, we cannot understand the purposes and plans of God in order to govern and guide our prayers.  To impassion your prayer life, read or study God’s Word each day until God speaks to your heart personally and intimately–then you will find yourself praying all day long.

Recently I was at the beach with our daughter Danielle’s family, and the Dearies were there.  Master Chief was trying to light some eighty-year-old charcoal for Disa to cook dinner.  I, being a man (a word which is synonymous with pyromaniac), came over to lend assistance, and I began to stupidly squirt lighter fluid in the flames to get the coals started.  (I have done this for years now.)  We both knew no matter how much flame I could create with the lighter fluid, it would only be the coals that would cook dinner–and they eventually did.

The coals of the Christian life are the Word of God–and the Word must be alive/hot in your life in order for there to be passion in prayer.  It is the Word of God that heats up our prayer life.  A lot of Christians are weak in prayer because they don’t go to a church where they teach through the Scriptures, or they don’t read or study the Word themselves so that it speaks to them daily.  When you hear God speak through His Word, you can’t help but pray.  When the Word speaks of God, we long to commune with Him.  When the Bible speaks of blessing, we long to praise.

When GOD’S WORD speaks of glory, we long to give it

When the SCRIPTURE speaks of promises, we long to receive them

When the WORD OF GOD speaks of sin, we long to confess it

When the BIBLE speaks of judgment, we long to avoid it

When the WORD speaks of hell, we want to pray for the lost who are headed there

The Word of God is the cause for a passion to pray

#3 Submission to God’s will gives you the heart to pray

Read the end of verse 2 again for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem–namely, seventy years.  Completion means certain, an event that will transpire, it will happen.  In other words, this is not an uncertainty, but an absolute.  God’s will is going to be accomplished.  And Daniel acknowledges this–God’s Word states it, therefore it will come to pass.  And this actually moves Daniel to pray.

First time we had room service was on our honeymoon–we had a breakfast brought to our room, so now every time we get away for an anniversary trip, we try to have a breakfast room service, especially if we can sit on a patio and see the ocean.  Room service is so cool–pick whatever you want, put the order on the door, and voila–the next morning at the appointed time, they bring you exactly what you want.  I love that.

But sadly, that’s how a lot of church goers view prayer.  Just pray the right formula, and voila–you get what you want.  But prayer is actually you asking for God to get what He wants.  Why? Because He always wants what is best.

Daniel knows God is sovereign.  God has already revealed to Daniel that there will be four great kingdoms who will rule over Israel in the future, and Daniel said it is God (Daniel 2:21)–it is He who changes the times and the epochs.  He removes kings and establishes kings.

Daniel helped Nebuchadnezzar write out his testimony in Daniel 4, where he declares (verse 35b), “But He does according to His will in the host of heaven. And among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’”  Daniel knows God is in total control, but he prays anyway.  He prays according to the will of God.

Like Jesus prayed in the garden, found in Luke 22:42, “’Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done.’”  The apostle John adds in 1 John 5:14 to 15, “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

God is sovereign, yet our prayers make a difference, our prayers do change outcomes–otherwise God’s Word in James could not be true.  James 1:5, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”  And James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

What a minute, God is sovereign, but prayer changes outcomes?  Sure

Do you live the Christian life, or does God live it through you?  Yes

Did God chose you, or did you choose Him?  Yes

Does God accomplish His will, or do your prayers play a part?  Yes

God is sovereign in control, but we are responsible to pray.

There are some who say or think, since God is sovereign, why pray?  Daniel says, “God is sovereign, therefore we must pray.”  Daniel does not say, “This is cut and dry, its gonna be seventy years, God is going to do it, what’s the big deal, why should I pray?”  No!  Daniel doesn’t get fatalistic about prayer, he gets motivated to pray, knowing God is in control, praying for God to accomplish His purposes.  We are made to pray, because our prayers align us with God’s will–prayer is for us to link up with what God is doing.

Daniel prays, and he gets an answer that blows him (and us) away.  It’s still God’s will, yet the angel comes in chapter 9 in response to his prayer.  When you throw a boat hook out to the shore, and begin to reel yourself in, are you pulling the shore to you, or are you pulling the boat to shore?  Does the boat move, or do you move?  In a way, prayer is pulling ourselves to God’s shore.

What if I don’t know God’s will?  What if what I am praying about isn’t clearly stated in the Word of God?  Then how do I pray?  When you study the will of God in the Scripture, you will find that God’s will is for you to be saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, saying thanks, and willing to suffer–that’s His will.  Then if the subject for prayer does not fit into one of those categories, the Bible says the Holy Spirit will help you pray–even pray for you when you don’t know God’s will.  And there are a lot of times we don’t know what God wants.

So Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  We ask what we think is best, but God only and always gives us what He knows is best.  Submission to God’s will gives us the heart to pray.  Pray for God’s will, long for it, because it is always best.

#4  Knowing who you are gives you fervency to pray

Look what Daniel does in verse 3, “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.”  Did your young children ever turn your face so that you would look at them when they were talking to you?  One time, one of my boys grabbed my head, and turned my face toward him and said to me, “Let me see you face,” when he wanted my full attention.

This is what Daniel does–the phrase in verse 3, “give my attention,” means to turn your face toward your Lord God and pursue His attention.  It is to fix your gaze upon the Lord–it is to focus on God 24/7.  The word “seek” should be seeking–this was continual for Daniel.  And the words “prayer and supplications” is literally asking for mercy and requesting kindness.  Daniel is continually pleading with His loving Father to be merciful and kind to Israel.

And Daniel prays in complete humility, total abandonment, and absolute brokenness–notice verse 3, “with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.”  Get this:  basic provision in the Scripture is indicated by having enough food, proper clothing and some shelter.  You are rich if you have it, and poor if you don’t.  In Daniel’s fervency, he denies himself those basic provisions.  Fasting is to abstain from food.  Sackcloth is uncomfortable clothing, worn or sat upon while mourning someone’s death.  And ashes, typically smeared on the face, are still today an indicator of someone who spent the night by a fire to stay warm–they had no shelter, like a homeless person or a runaway orphan, someone who is destitute.

Daniel is not behaving like the chief advisor to the king of the world, but like someone who is impoverished, who has absolutely nothing–no food, no clothes and no shelter.  He’s humbled himself as low as he can go.  He is recognizing who he is, compared to who God is.  This is crucial to prayer–if you ever want to be impassioned to pray, you must remember who you are.

When you forget how incredibly sinful you are, how utterly defiled you are, how you are unable to do anything acceptable to God except that He’d do it through you . . .

When you forget that you can’t live everyday life without Him, when you forget that you can’t think or speak without Him . . .

When you forget you can’t work, or maintain friendships without Him . . .

When you start thinking you can parent or maintain your marriage, provide for your family, do your job, or just get by on your own without Him . . .

Then you will not be passionate to pray–you won’t pray.  But daily remembering who you are without Christ will cause you to be fervent in prayer.

Prayer is not a twitter update, a short e-mail, nor a thank you card sent by snail mail–prayer is (verse 3) fixing your eyes on the one true God and with a broken heart of humility, continually coming before the Lord of all and asking for mercy and kindness to be shown to you and the people you love, every single moment of every single day.  The Bible tells us those men and women who are fervent in prayer may also smite their chest, cry, tear their garments, sigh, groan, sweat blood, make an oath and pour out their heart.  Like James 5:16 in the KJV says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  When you remember who you are without Christ, and how much you need Christ every single moment of the day for everything, you will grow passionate in prayer–you will become fervent.

#5  Celebrating God’s character fires you up to pray

Also throughout this prayer, Daniel remembers who he is speaking to, who God is, and what He is like.  As Daniel prays for those he loves, he gets fired up by the reminder of the person of God Himself.  Look at verse 4, “And I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said,Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments.’”

God is great, beyond what we can imagine, and awesome–someone so high, so important it causes us to have profound respect.  Plus God shows lovingkindness, steadfast faithful love–not like us, but His love is unfailing.  His love never falters, and His love never gives up, even when ignored.  His own love Him and keep His commandments, but they also fail to love–yet God never does.

Look at verse 7, “Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord.”  Righteousness is the highest standard of perfection–God never does anything wrong, or evil or is imperfect in any way.

Look at verse 9, “To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him.”  Thankfully, God has compassion, which here is pity and favor.  He reaches out to those who are broken with a heart of pity.  And forgiveness, which is someone who removes guilt and pardons wrongdoing, even erasing the memory of sinfulness.

Look at verse 16, “O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain.”  God is also a God of anger–the word here refers to the nose, and the picture is one you are familiar with.  In a cartoon, when a person is mad and blows their stack, air explodes out of their nose, ears, head and a whistle sounds–like steam from a tea kettle.  God gets angry at sin, and He is a God of wrath–the root word is a snake venom which causes death, later meaning a strong displeasure, which is directed at wrongs done, especially sins done against the weak.

When we see God for who He is, we will be fired up to pray . . .

When we remember we are talking to our Father who is in heaven

When we recall that we are praying in Jesus name, meaning on the basis of who Jesus Christ is, and what He has done for us . . .

When we are praying not on our own, but in the power of the sovereign Holy Spirit who indwells us, we will want to pray more.

#6  Confession of sin aligns you correctly to pray

The vast majority of this prayer is confession, and it is humbling to read from such a godly man as Daniel.  In fact, had Daniel not confessed his sin in these verses, we would have no recorded admission or example of his own sin.  So I am glad for this reminder that all of us, even the best of us, are super sinful.  And you know Daniel is not lying or exaggerating, because this is Scripture written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit–so all these admissions are true, and not embellished in any way.  Daniel sees himself as a horrific sinner.  Just like the Apostle Paul, who called himself (present tense) the chief of sinners, each of us in this room are saints who sin a lot.

For most of us here, it is only because God was gracious to us and sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment we deserve for our sin, took our sin upon Himself on the cross, gave us His perfect righteousness in exchange, so that we can stand before our God now and in eternity on the basis of the work of Christ alone that we have any hope.  But like Daniel, in this life, we still battle with sin.  And the more mature we get, the more we become aware that we ourselves are the worst sinners we know.  Notice some elements of confession as Daniel agrees with God about his sin and the sin of Israel that has led to their captivity.  Verse 5, “We have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances.”

First  Confession is agreeing with God you were wrong

When Daniel says we have sinned in verse 5, he is admitting to his guilt, and owning the blame of His wrongdoing.  Confession literally means to agree with God that you did wrong and God did not.  And by saying we have sinned, Daniel is interceding for the people he loves, God’s people.  And he prays intently, knowing that not only have they sinned, but he himself is a sinner in need of God’s mercy.

Second  Confession is over sins of commission and omission

In verse 5, Daniel says they committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, meaning sins contrary to God’s standard, doing evil and going their own way, commission–sinning against what God has forbidden.  But Daniel also says in verse 5, “even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances”–we ignored what God told us to do.  We committed sins of omission–He told us to love, but we didn’t.  He told us to forgive, but we didn’t.  He told us to give, but we didn’t.  He told us to serve, and we sat back and waited to be asked.

Third  Confession admits to a failure to listen to God

Christians often don’t listen to God’s Word or God’s servant–and Daniel says Israel did the same in verse 6, “Moreover, we have not listened to Thy servants the prophets, who spoke in Thy name to our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land.”  Not listened is literally “we went deaf”–we ignored them, we didn’t pay attention and got really distracted with unimportant things.  When is the last time you worked at life-change from God’s Word in a sermon?  When is the last time you took Godly counsel and applied it to your life?

Fourth  Confession owns the consequences of sin

Look at verse 7 and 8, “‘Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day–to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which Thou hast driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against Thee. 8 Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee.’”

As a nation, we are in open shame in captivity, literally disgraced.  And as a nation, we have been scattered all over the world, which is also a disgrace–not that God didn’t keep His Word, but we did not keep our promises to Him.  Verse 7 says we were unfaithful–that word literally says, “we committed adultery, we loved another.”  Daniel says God’s people had lost their first love and loved other things or people first, above God Himself–the idol of pleasure, or children, or marriage, or getting a spouse, or a job–anything that has our heart.

Fifth  Confession admits to violating the Scripture and the dishonoring of God’s character

Verses 9 to 15 tell us confession admits to disobeying God’s direct commands, as Daniel says at the end of verses 10 and 11, “Nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets.  Indeed all Israel has transgressed Thy law and turned aside, not obeying Thy voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him.”  And verse 13, “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Thy truth.”

Daniel says they violated the clear teaching of the Scripture.  Plus notice the dishonoring of God’s character in verse 9, “To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him.”  And verse 14, “Therefore, the Lord has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.”

Like Jesus said to Peter, if you are God’s genuine children, you don’t need a bath, you already have been washed clean, your sins are forgiven–but as you walk in this world, you need your feet washed, you need to confess your sin, admit your need.  In the same way we exercised faith the first day we were saved, we continue to live by faith.  So at our conversion, we admitted our sin, we confessed we were guilty, had violated God’s law and dishonored His character–and so we continue to do that until that day we are home with Him.

I like how one commentator put it—confession is . . .

Verse 5, the disobedience of departing

Verse 6, the failure to follow

Verse 7 and 8, the shame over sin

Verse 10, the refusal to respond

Verse 11, the recognition of responsibility

Verse 12, the consequence of captivity

Verse 13, the indifference to instruction

Verse 14, the retribution of righteousness

Verse 15, the guilt before God

Confession reminds us of who we are and who God is

Confession keeps us dependent and humble

Confession helps us keep our pride in check

Confession of sin aligns us correctly as we pray, and

Finally to pray for those we love.

#7  Focusing on God’s glory makes you zealous to pray

Read verses 16 to 19, “’O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us. 17 So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Thy servant and to his supplications, and for Thy sake, O Lord, let Thy face shine on Thy desolate sanctuary. 18 O my God, incline Thine ear and hear!  Open Thine eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Thy name; for we are not presenting our supplications before Thee on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Thy great compassion. 19 O Lord, hear!  O Lord, forgive!  O Lord, listen and take action!  For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.’”

Because the captivity of Judah for seventy years, and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by Nebuchadnezzar was interpreted by the nations around Judah to indicate that Judah’s God was either powerless or non-existent, Daniel cried out for God to vindicate His name.  Don’t let Your name be slandered because of us–don’t let our sin corrupt Your reputation.  Now that’s a great prayer–forgive us for Your sake, God.

How much of your prayer life sounds like that–it’s all about You, God, and not me.  I want Your name honored, Your purposes accomplished, Your glory displayed, Your character seen, and Your reputation solid.  When you begin to pray about God’s glory, you will become zealous.  When you pray about what God is doing, what God can do, and what God is like, you will become more passionate in prayer.

Are you going to pray more?  Prayer motivated by the Word of God, grounded in the will of God, characterized by fervency, saturated in God’s character, based on honest confession, and bent toward the glory of God is prayer that God answers.  Why don’t we pray very much?

1 You don’t know Christ personally

You don’t have a new heart that longs to commune with the God who made you and redeemed you–you need to turn to Christ in repentance and faith.

2 You have lost your first love to some idol

What is it–your children, your job, your comfort, your home, your sports, your recreation, your potential guy or gal?  Which one is it?  It is that person(s) or thing which occupies your affections, delights, concerns, discussions, thoughts and attentions more than Christ Himself.  If Christ isn’t your first love, then someone or something else is.  But when Christ is your first love, you’ll pray to Him.  When He isn’t your first love, you won’t pray as much.  Why else don’t we pray very much?

3 You have wrong thinking or bad theology about God

You have allowed your understanding of God’s sovereignty to distort your joy, your delight and your responsibility to pray.  You have forgotten that you need to pray every moment for everything.  You have forgotten you can’t do anything without Him, and you don’t do anything with Him unless you are praying to Him.  I just had the most impactful on-the-road ministry season of my life, and there are only two possible reasons for it—1) I may die soon, that could be.  Or 2) I have a prayer team here who diligently prayed for me.  If you believe God and His Word, you will pray.

4 You don’t have a system to encourage prayer

Whether it’s a morning routine, a sheet of paper with names, writing on your hand a letter to remind you, cultivating the habit of praying every time you go through a doorway, or a stack of 3×5 cards with prayer items on them that you pray about all throughout the day–develop a system that keeps you praying.

The Bible is very direct about why we don’t see answers to prayer:

First  Unbelief or doubting God

James 1:5 and 6, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”  Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

Second  Asking for the wrong reason

James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Third  Not understanding or honoring your wife

1 Peter 3:7. “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Fourth  Failure to forgive others

Mark 11:25 and 26, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”  James 2:13, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”  Luke 6:37, “And do not judge and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.”

Fifth  Self-exaltation

Luke 18:9 to 14, “And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, “God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, [those parents who send their students to public school, those families that have expensive cars, that guy who wears a tie to church] or even like this tax-gatherer. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.” 13 But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.’”

The Bible gives us these New Testament reasons why God may not answer your prayers–are any of them true of you?

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.