TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL (Friday 18th December 2020)
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18 NKJV
WELCOME TO THE 352ND DAY OF OUR YEAR OF REJOICING
Can you believe that we have been traveling through this year for 352 days now? We have just 12 more days to complete the journey. God has graciously helped us to successfully these distance. To Him belongs all the glory forever and ever. Amen!
I believe that whatever the LORD has done in our lives these 352 days is a shadow of what He will do in our lives in the years to come. My confidence is rooted in the scripture that says the path of the just is like a shining light, that shines brighter and brighter unto a perfect day!
Now to our devotional word for the day!
Have you ever prayed a prayer earnestly and an answer refused to come? Do you have any issue in your life right now that you are trying to tackle in prayers even engaging anointed men and women to join you and yet things seem the same?
Answer to prayers this end time will not be dependent on a number of things that worked previously; namely, asking for prayers recklessly, going on lengthy fasting, engaging in all night prayers, sacrificial financial giving, and all other things we do, or are told to do by ‘prophets.’ Answers to prayer this end time will be based strictly on righteousness because the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination in the sight of God (Proverbs 15:8).
It is one’s personal right standing with God that will give efficacy to his or her prayer these season. Elijah’s right standing gave efficacy to his prayers. Esther’s right standing gave efficacy to her three days dry fast. Joshua’s right standing gave efficacy to his twelve hour fasting and prayer in Joshua chapter seven.
Jesus’ right standing with God as man, gave efficacy to His 40-day prayer and fasting. Moses’ right standing with God also gave efficacy to his 40-day fast.
All these tells us it’s not about the length of the fast or the shout in the prayer but about how our hearts are before the LORD.
RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE STRONGEST KEY TO ANSWERED PRAYERS. IT GIVES EFFICACY OR STRENGTH TO OUR PRAYERS.
Our devotional text said the righteous cry out, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of their trouble. The Bible did not say the wicked cry out and the LORD hears and delivers them. The Bible says “the righteous cry out.”
The Bible says God does not hear the prayer of the wicked because He is angry with the wicked everyday (Psalm 7:11). The wicked includes those whose hearts are not right before the LORD. The heart must be in order before the prayer can attract Heaven’s attention.
Even wicked Ahab got heaven’s attention when he changed his heart position towards God and His word. The tax collector in the story of Jesus, got Heaven’s attention in prayer, because of his heart position. But the Pharisee did not.
The life of the tax collector was full of sin and that of the Pharisee unrighteousness. But when they both entered the presence of God, the tax collector took a proper heart position – the position of humility and repentance. But the Pharisee did not. He was full of spiritual pride and arrogance, displaying his righteousness before God. He forgets what Isaiah said about our religious righteousness; he calls it a filthy rag.
The righteousness that gives efficacy to our prayers is not a religious righteousness. It is not all the good works we do with un-regenerated hearts; in other words, with hearts that are not right before the LORD. That is why we must understand a simple definition of righteousness.
Righteousness has been simply defined as “right standing with God!” The righteous is therefore one whose heart is in right standing with God.
When a heart is in right standing with God, we will see it in deeds. The right standing does not begin from the outside, it begins from the inside. It begins from an internal work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. If it begins from the outside, it is called hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy can be defined as doing the right things with a wrong heart! When we pray with hearts that are not right before God, we are doing the prayer of the hypocrite.
IT IS WHEN WE PRAY WITH HEARTS THAT ARE RIGHT BEFORE GOD THAT WE PRAY PRAYERS OF THE RIGHTEOUS!
If you are therefore saying a prayer while you heart is not in right standing with God, the prayer will be an abomination in His sight. That is the reason why many of our prayers have been going un answered.
Now, let’s get practical. If you are living in sin and engaging in any type of prayer, instead of repenting first like the tax collector, your prayers will be an abomination in God’s sight. We live in sin when our hearts are not in right standing with God. Sinful living shuts down power in prayer. That is why we must first repent of our sins before opening our mouths to ask anything from the LORD.
If you are in a pseudo marriage that is going down, and you are praying that God should make it right, your prayers will be an abomination to God because you are not in right standing with Him so long as His marital principles are concerned. God will not rush in to preserve any structure that is not founded in His will and ways when it comes under attack. He has never done it before; He will not start it with you.
Whatever is not established in God’s will and ways will never attract God’s help when it comes under attack. It is all about order in our lives. You could even be in a right marriage but doing very wrong things; not running it in God’s will and ways, yet praying that He make things work when the marriage come under attack. God will never intervene to save it except there is repentance!
If you are a rebellious Christian, or one who do not care about what God thinks, or how He wants you to run your life, yet praying that He helps you, your prayers will always be an abomination to Him! Prayers are efficacious when coming from people whose hearts are established in God’s will and ways!
The Bible is very clear on the only prayer that should come out of the mouth of a sinner; the prayer of repentance. Any other prayers will not attract Heaven’s attention. If you want to know how the prayer of repentance look like, read Psalm 51 and other relevant scriptures.
IT FLOWS FROM A HEART THAT HAS GENUINELY ACKNOWLEDGED ITS SIN AND IS READY TO FOLLOW GOD’S WILL AND WAYS IF SHOWN MERCY.
Many of us are yet to understand that genuine repentance is the only key that puts our sinful and wicked hearts in right standing with God. We do not know that we must first lift up our voices to genuinely repent of all sins before lifting them up to request anything from the LORD.
Genuine repentance is the only force that gets the ears of God stuck to the prayer of a sinner.
The only prayer God expects from a Christian who is living in sin is a prayer from a heart that has genuinely repented from sin. It is righteous prayer if it is coming from a heart that genuinely repented.
But many of us assume righteousness and then storm the gates of heaven making our request known, and hoping God will hear us. You find Christians willfully living in sin, without any sign of repentance, praying even intercessory prayers, and sometimes warfare prayers, or other form of prayers to receive blessings from God. We forget that the state of our hearts is defiling the prayers we are praying and rendering them unanswerable.
Genuine repentance is the only force that puts a sinner in right standing with God. And if our repentance is genuine, it will involve four basic things.
The first is ADMITTING of our sins, the second is CONFESSION of our sins to the right ears, the third HATING our sin, and the fourth TURNING AWAY from it and embracing new way of life. Any repentance that lacks these four ingredients is not genuine before God, and will take efficacy away from our prayers or fasting.
Genuine repentance is the only force that can erase the consequences of sins and makes prayers acceptable. The first way to be in right standing with God in prayer is to genuinely repent from sin and wickedness. The next is to be in God’s will and ways while praying.
When we are not standing in God’s revealed ways and praying in the knowledge of His will, our prayers will not be answered. We could be living right, but if we do not know the immediate present will of God concerning whatever we may be praying about, our prayers will still not be answered.
ONE OF THE GREATEST KNOWLEDGE YOU WILL NEED AS A CHILD OF GOD IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S WILL AND WAYS!
People who understand God’s will and ways do not pray unanswered prayers. They always pray prayers that unlock answers. When we pray, standing in God’s will and ways, we get answers from God. When we pray in ignorance of His will concerning the situation or His way of doing things, we will get frustrated by how things will turn out.
The story of David comes to mind here.
Because of the critical role he was marked to play in God’s redemptive plans, David’s Child with Beersheba was seen as a reward of iniquity, rendering the baby unfit to live. But not understanding the will of God concerning the Child, David sought the LORD to save him.
After seven days of intense fasting and prayer, the Child died (2 Samuel 12:12-23). It never felt good. Have you ever said a prayer with full confidence that God will hear you and end up not seeing answers from God? I have prayed them so many times. It does not feel good at all.
To understand the gravity of what happened to David, let’s check spiritual profile in the word.
First, he was known as a man after God’s heart. He prayed in Psalm 18 and eternity invaded time, smoke went out of God’s nostrils, GOD tore the heaven and came down, snatching David from the grips of a hellish situation. But here was the same man, with the same spiritual credentials, praying for a Child for seven days without eating, and yet not securing divine attention.
Friend, that thought me that it is not our spiritual profiles that determine answers to our prayer but our being in the will of God at an immediate present as of the time we are praying those prayers. The will of God has said the Child will die, and yet David went on to ask the same God to change the verdict. It does not work that way. God is no respecter of persons!
David was a man who dearly loved the LORD and sacrificed greatly to His holy name. But on this matter, Heaven said, “No, David. You are not in my will. So I will not answer you”
Sometimes like the Pharisee, we can display our work before God and force Him to answer us. We think we can intimidate God with our titles or sacrificial giving to answer our prayers. Many of us do not know that things do not work that way.
We do not know that we cannot neither intimidate Him with our spiritual or Biological age to answer our prayers. He is the ancient of days so no one age can intimidate Him! If our requests are not coming from righteous heart; that is in God’s will and ways, there will be no answer to our prayers. If you did not pick anything from this devotional, just pick that!
May this day be a blessing to you even as we all use these words to align our ways for effective and result oriented prayers!
LET THIS SCRIPTURE BE AN ADDITIONAL MEDITATION FOR US TODAY!
“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.” 1 John 5:14-15 NKJV