If not, why not?
I could ask a thousand believers that question, and most of them would just shake their heads bewildered. “I don’t know, Brother Copeland,” they’d say. “No matter what I do this illness, these financial problems, these awful circumstances keep dragging on. I’m just waiting on God to do something about it.”
That’s tragic! Because while they’re waiting on God, He’s waiting on them!
The Book of James says, “You have not because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss.” In other words, if your needs just keep on not being taken care of, it’s either because you’re not praying at all or because you think you’re praying and you’re not!
That news may come as a shock to you. Especially if you’re among those who’ve used prayer as a kind of spiritual wishbone, going through the motions but not really expecting results. If that’s been your attitude, then change it! The time has come for you to get serious about prayer. You need to stop praying just because it’s proper. You need to stop praying just because you always pray at this point in the church service. You need to start praying to get results!
In Luke 18, the bible says, He [Jesus] spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. A version that really speaks my language puts it this way, Men ought to always pray and not cave in and give up. I like that!
If there ever was a time we needed to pray, it is now. We are facing an extremely critical hour. Satan is literally killing people with disease, drugs, depression, and every other weapon he can get his hands on. At the same time, he is stirring up strife and dissension, trying to disarm the Body of Christ who has the power and authority to stop him.
We’re being pressured from every side. But don’t cave in and give up. Pray! Pray accurately. Pray expecting results, and you’ll come out on top!
Did you notice what I just said? I said, “Pray accurately."
You can’t just toss any old prayer God’s way and expect Him to answer it. You must pray according to the guidelines He’s given you in His Word.
Now don’t get the wrong idea. You don’t have to sit around tongue-tied, terrified of saying the wrong thing to God. He loves you. He’s for you, not against you. He isn’t looking for you to be perfect before He’ll answer your prayers. But He does expect you to pray according to His instructions. Not because He wants to make it tough for you to get an answer, but because He wants to make it tough for Satan to get in and mess things up.
Think of it as a security system designed to keep the devil out of the powerhouse of prayer. God has given you the secret code. So, don’t just stand around outside bellowing about your problems, use the code and go on in!
Am I saying that if you pray and pray accurately, you can expect to receive what you ask for every single time? Yes! Isn’t that a little presumptuous? No, but it is bold! And you have got a scriptural right to be bold.
According to the Word of God, you have a standing invitation from your heavenly Father to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in your time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). That word obtain is a word of certainty. The dictionary says it means “to get possession of.” Pray, expecting to get possession of what you need–not just once in a while, but every time!
In years past, you may have actually had that kind of confidence in prayer. But, if you’re like most people, you suffered some disappointments. You have seen some of your prayers go unanswered. And instead of tackling the problem and wrestling with it in prayer and in the Word until it was solved, you simply wandered away saying, “I guess you never know what God’s going to do….”
Well, let me tell you something. You DO know what God’s going to do when you go to Him in accurate Word of God, Spirit-inspired prayer. He’s going to answer you! He’s going to do exactly what you’ve asked Him to do. How can I be so sure? He’s given us three guarantees!
Guarantee 1 - The Name of Jesus
In John 16:23, Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
Look at that verse again. How did Jesus say we should address the Father? In Jesus’ name. His name is one of the guarantees we have that our prayers will be answered.
If you’ll look in Philippians 2:5-11, you’ll see why. There, the apostle Paul tells us, God also hath highly exalted him [Jesus], and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The name of Jesus carries authority over all other names! It is one of the most powerful guarantees you have that your prayer will be answered. Use the influence that name carries every time you pray. Then expect every circumstance in your life to bow its knee to the name of Jesus!
Beware of religious slang that robs you of this guarantee. I’ve heard many a well-meaning believer end his prayer with the phrase, “for Jesus’ sake.” But Jesus didn’t say to pray for “His sake.” He said to pray in His name.
I used to make that mistake myself. One night I was praying because I was suffering from a stomachache. “Oh, for Jesus’ sake,” I prayed, “heal my stomach.”
After I’d said that a few times, the Lord spoke up on the inside of me. “Wait a minute,” He said. “Whose stomach is hurting here–Mine or yours?”
“Mine!” I answered.
And very plainly, He said, “Then pray in My name over your stomach.”
GUARANTEE 2 - The Word of God
In John 15:7, Jesus gives us another guarantee. He says, If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
So many believers wring their hands and worry about whether or not they’re praying according to God’s will. “Oh dear me,” they say, “I certainly can’t expect God to do something for me that’s outside His will.” And they’re absolutely right.
But they don’t need to waste time standing around looking puzzled! They need to grab their Bibles and find out what the will of God is! God’s Word IS His Will.
My friend, God has made us some very specific promises in His Word. And it’s His will to fulfill every one of them in your life. In fact, those promises are divinely guaranteed by a contract that’s been signed in the blood of Jesus.
Think of it this way. Your Bible is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ. It is a record of your inheritance. Everything that belongs to you has been written down in that book. And the smartest thing you can do is to use it. You sure don’t want to leave it up on the mantle and just hit the floor crying, “Oh, God! Oh, God! I’m searching for the truth.”
The Lord would just say, “Well, it’s right there on your mantle!”
Get your Bible off the mantle, find out what it says about your particular problem, and then base your prayer on it. Don’t just base your prayer on what you rememberthe Word of God says. Read it–even if you’ve read that promise a hundred times–read it again.
Let me explain why that’s so important. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus says, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.TheWord of God is to your spirit as bread is to the body. Can you feed on the memory of a steak?
Try this. Close your eyes and see yourself slicing a lemon. Now stick that lemon slice between your teeth and when I say three, bite down on it so hard that the juice squirts into your mouth. One. Two. Three. Bite!
Chances are, you have such a vivid memory of what it’s like to bite on a lemon that your mouth is watering right now. But let me ask you this. Have you received any nourishment from that memory? No!
Remembering the Word of God isn’t enough. Feed on what it says again and again. Get it out and read it. Go to church and hear it preached.
One day, you’ll read a familiar verse–a verse you’ve read thousands of times before–and suddenly God will give you the greatest revelation you’ve ever had in your life. A completely fresh revelation from that old familiar verse! And it’s likely to be exactly what you needed to know to pray effectively about your current situation.
Yes, prayer can be prayed on the spur of the moment. Yes, it can be prayed from memory. Yes, it can be prayed from the Word that is on deposit in your spirit as you’re walking down the street. But I dare say this: You won’t get results from the prayer you pray while you’re walking down the street if you haven’t spent some time on your knees in front of the Word of God allowing the Spirit to develop your prayer life. If you haven’t taken the time to put any Word in–none will come out!
If I pray over something any length of time and sense in the spirit that I’m not getting any results, I go to the Word of God and see how I need to change. That sounds logical, doesn’t it? But there are a lot of folks who don’t do that.
Instead of going to the Word and seeing how they need to change, they try to change God. You’ve probably heard some of them pray. They’ll go on and on trying to convince God just how badly they hurt or how poor they are. They’ll beg and plead and wheedle, all the while acting as though they had to somehow change God’s mind about the situation. Unfortunately, those folks are in for a long wait.
God is never going to change. The Bible says, “He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.” And if you’re having problems getting your prayers answered, it’s not because He’s holding out on you, it’s because you’ve somehow gotten out of line with His Word.
A few years ago, this ministry was over a million dollars behind. I prayed about it, but the situation failed to improve. In fact, it just kept getting worse.
I went to God in prayer and said, “Lord, I need a million dollars!”
Finally, I went to the Word. I did my homework and prayed as accurately as I could. That’s when the Lord answered me. But He didn’t answer me by giving me a million dollars. Instead, He said, “I told you in My Word I’d meet all your needs, right?”
I said, “Yes, that’s what You promised, and I need a million dollars.”
“No you don’t,” He answered. That shocked me. “I don’t?”
“No,” He said. “You need to make some changes in the way you’re operating your ministry because you’re out of line with My Word in an area of your finances and you have been for a number of years.”
My mouth fell open when I heard that. I had no idea. But I got into the Word, found out what He was talking about, and made the changes I needed to make. That’s when the money I’d been asking for started to come in.
The same thing will happen in your life when you get serious about prayer, when you get yourself in line with the Word, and start expecting results. God will begin dealing with the root problems in your life. He doesn’t just waste His time fiddling with the leaves like we do, He goes right to the root of the problem.
I John 5:14,15 says, This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If you pray in line with the Word, you can be sure you’re praying according to God’s will. And you’re guaranteed–the answer is on the way.
GUARANTEE 3 - The Holy Spirit
The effectiveness of your prayer life depends on the degree of confidence you place in the Holy Spirit. He is God’s power arm. He’s the One who’s going to guarantee that the work gets done.
If you want to see how the Holy Spirit operates, just look in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. Read verses 1-3.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”
The Holy Spirit was present, moving on the face of the waters, before creation. But the simple fact of His presence didn’t accomplish anything. It was when Godspoke and said, “Let there be light!” that the Holy Spirit exploded into action. He brought forth the light with such vigor that it’s still radiating through the universe, devouring the darkness at a rate of 186,000 miles per second!
The next time you start to pray about a seemingly impossible problem–think about that.
If you’re a born-again believer, the Holy Ghost is present inside you, just as He was present on the day of creation. And He responds to God’s Word today just as powerfully as He did then.
The more faith you have in Him, the more confidence you place in Him, the more awesome the results will be. Just think about that! The power that created the universe, the power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead, is activated in your life when you speak the Word of God in prayer. Hallelujah, what a guarantee!
I urge you from this day forward to make prayer the bedrock of your life. Build your marriage, your career, and your ministry on it. If you don’t, you’ll be ensuring your own failure. If you do, God will guarantee your success!