January 24: Learning to pray from simple Manoah

Manoah was a simple man. In Judges 13, we read he was of the tribe of Dan. Unlike the other tribes that stopped fighting and dwelt among the native Canaanites, the tribe of Dan was almost held hostage by the Amorites (Judges 1:34). And that was in spite of being the second largest tribe. David came from Judah, Saul came from Benjamin. Not too many famous people came from Dan – they had a bit of an inferiority complex.

But an Angel came to Manoah’s wife!

But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

Judges 13:7

Manoah was scared – he was given a tremendous responsibility thru an Angel who visited his wife. So he prayed to ask for instruction.

Then Manoah intreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.

Judges 13:8

God answered his prayer (Judges 13:9), the Angel came again to his wife. His wife went to get Manoah. Even though his wife said it was the same One (Judges 13:10), he asked the Angel to confirm it (Judges 13:11). Manoah asked the Angel his question again of how to raise the child (Judges 13:12), and the Angel said basically, I already told your wife (Judges 13:13).

Manoah didn’t recognize that this was the angel of the LORD (Judges 13:16), and thought he would die (Judges 13:22), but his wife had more sense than he did (Judges 13:23). In spite of how simple Manoah was, God still listened to his prayer! (Judges 13:9).

And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.

Judges 13:9

You may not be the brightest one in the land, or the most theologically astute, or even just a little dense – but God still can hear your prayers!

January 23: Joshua on adjusting your prayers

Joshua was leading the armies of Israel into Canaan. They had wiped out Jericho – the fortified gateway city. Now they were doing a mop-up operation on the tiny city of Ai. The 3,000 man force they sent to Ai was defeated – 36 men died and the people panicked (Joshua 7:5). Joshua had spent enough time with Moses to know the dangers of the people panicking and murmuring. Joshua knew that God had promised this land to Israel so he prayed, complaining to God about the defeat.

File:Book of Joshua Chapter 7-2 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media).jpg

And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads.
And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!
O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies!
For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name

Joshua 7:6-9

The LORD redirected the course of Joshua’s prayers immediately. The problem wasn’t the LORD’s – it was Joshua’s!

10 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?
11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.

Joshua 7:10-11

If we’re asking the LORD for something – instead of complaining that He isn’t providing it – we need to check to see if we’re not obeying.

January 22: Paul on how to start praying

If you struggle with praying – we’re going to look for the next few days at some of the simpler prayer requests of the Bible.

When Paul was on the road to Damascus – the LORD Jesus interrupted the journey. Paul prayed 12 words that we can pray as well when we’re struggling.

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Acts 9:5-6

Paul was misguided in his desire to persecute Christians, to say the least. When we feel lost – it’s often because we’ve forgotten who Jesus is. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he could walk on water. But once he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink.

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me

Matthew 14:30

Ask God to reveal Himself to you, and then ask Him what He would have you to do. Know your God and know His Will!

January 21: James on Unheard Prayer

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

James 4:3

This is our seventh day looking at unheard prayers in the Bible. What makes God ignore your prayer requests? “That ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

What kind of prayer requests are these that people make that will not be fulfilled? From John MacArthur:

They’re not searching for God, they’re searching for all the things that God gives, like joy, peace, happiness, meaning, value, hope, fulfillment. Everyone looking for that, everybody is. But they don’t want God, they just want that, and they think that’s available through their worldly loves. And so he says you have not because you ask not. All that you really would desire to have of true joy, true satisfaction, true happiness, true hope, true meaning, true purpose is available from God if you would ask.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/59-23/the-danger-in-being-a-friend-of-the-world-part-2

Are you seeking the benefits, or the Source of the benefits?

If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/143049-the-critical-question-for-our-generation-and-for-every-generation-is

Randy Alcorn quotes Samuel Rutherford, a 17th Century Scottish Presbyterian Pastor:

O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without thee, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have thee still, it would be a heaven to me, for thou art all the heaven I want.

Samuel Rutherford, in Heaven, by Randy Alcorn

January 20: Jeremiah on Unheard Prayer

Thus saith the Lord unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the Lord doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry…

Jeremiah 14:10-12

As Robert Robinson wrote, “Prone to wander, Lord I fear it, Prone to leave the God I love.”

https://youtu.be/w3nqvM6w74I?t=160

If you haven’t noticed by now, God is serious about sin. Take some time to browse these sins pointed out in the Bible and see if God is convicting you about any of these:

  • The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) – Idolatry, Blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, Disobedience, Murder, Adultery, Theft, Lying, and Covetousness.
  • The Works of the Flesh (Galatians 5) – “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings”
  • Put Off (Colossians 3:8) – “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
  • Not inheritors (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) – “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

In addition to the “lists” there are the individual sins – pornography, or trusting in riches, for example.

I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? 

Job 31:1

 If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence;

Job 31:24

Job 31 is a good review of the “disciplines of a godly patriarch.” Browse thru the lists and pray for God to reveal to you where you have sinned, but also to keep your heart tender to His conviction.

January 19: Zechariah on Unheard Prayer

Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts:

Zechariah 7:13

Peter, Solomon, David, and Isaiah have warned us about unheard prayers, now we go to Zechariah.

As we read from David, we can’t “regard iniquity” – we must repent from sin for God to hear us. However Zechariah intensifies it – if we don’t listen to God’s conviction about sin, God may not listen to us.

Zechariah outlines what led to this:

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

Zechariah 7:11

Because they refused to hearken, “they made their hearts as an adamant stone” (Zechariah 7:12). In Hebrews we’re warned about hardening our hearts:

Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

Hebrews 3:8

The time to repent is today! 

Ben Sutherland

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 3:13

Don’t put it off and let your heart be hardened. Whenever God convicts you of sin – be quick to repent!

January 18: Peter’s Warning on Unheard Prayer

7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

1 Peter 3:7

If you are married (as I recently became), there’s a special concern for you in regards to prayer. How we treat our spouses affects our prayer life!

1 Corinthians 11:3 points out a “chain of command” that illustrates the effect on prayer:

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

1 Corinthians 11:3

How a husband treats his wife is how he is asking God to treat him.

Let’s look at the Unforgiving Debtor to see this illustrated. The lord was
“was moved with compassion” (Matthew 18:27) and treated the unforgiving servant kindly. Until the unforgiving servant cast the other servant into prison until that debt was paid (Matthew 18:30). That action changed the attitude of the lord towards the unforgiving servant (sent him “to the tormentors”) for the same length of time as the unforgiving servant was to the other servant (til the debt was paid) (Matthew 18:34).

If I want God’s blessing – how should I treat my wife?

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Luke 16:38

Piper notes that Peter is teaching “not that praying helps us live right, but that living right helps us pray.”

MacArthur gives 3 practical tips on how to care for your wife: Be Considerate, Be Chivalrous, and Be a Companion.

January 17: Solomon on Prayers that are Unheard

Gustav Doré’s English Bible

Solomon was the wisest man in the world. Let’s see what he has to say about making sure your prayer is heard!

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

Proverbs 28:9

In Hebrew, the word for “law” is תּוֹרָ֑ה , but we pronounce it “Torah.”

How much time do you spend reading the Bible? If you haven’t read thru the Bible from cover to cover yet – please join us at the Bible Reading Challenge

As we saw yesterday we need to be cleansed from sin. The Psalmist shows us that the Word keeps us clean!

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Psalm 119:9

Staying in the Word is essential to knowing God is hearing your prayers (as well as to knowing who we’re talking to!)

January 16: Isaiah and Unheard Prayers

Yesterday we looked at Psalm 66:18 and David’s recognition of unheard prayers. Let’s go to Isaiah and see what the great prophet says about unheard prayer.

And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

Isaiah 1:15-16

Blood! I’ve never murdered anyone! We’ve all done wrong, but murder – never!

But Jesus said being angry with your brother is just as bad (Matthew 5:22), and 1 John 3:15 explicitly tells us that hatred is equal to murder.

Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

1 John 3:15

Is there anyone that you are harboring resentment against? Anyone that you feel disgusted by when you see them? Anyone who has offended you that you need to make things right with?

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

Isaiah 59:2-3

John says hatred is equal to murder, and Isaiah says bloody hands will separate you from God. Let’s make relationships right with our fellow man and then God will hear us!

January 15: David on Preventing Unheard Prayers

So far this year:

  • We’ve set reminders to pray throughout the day to break up our routine so we can remember our LORD!
  • We’ve looked at the shortest prayers in the Bible
  • We’ve set up a mnemonic to help organize our prayer requests

Now – let’s make sure we have a clear path to God! As the old song goes, there should be nothing between my soul and the Savior!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gRtrUxyxTk

How can we make sure there’s nothing between? Let’s repent of sin that we’re keeping in our heart.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

Psalm 66:18

Has God pointed out some sin in your life? How can you deal with it? David’s Psalm 51 points out three key truths:

Admittance – God already knows about it. God knew Adam sinned, He just wanted to let Adam respond. (Genesis 3:8-13). Don’t blame others – just admit what you did.

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Psalm 51:3

Brokenness – You didn’t make a mistake. You didn’t offend your neighbor. You sinned against God. You disobeyed the King of the Universe. Too often we try to minimize our sin and maximize ourselves. But God wants us to be broken.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Psalm 51:17

Cleansing – We got into the mess, but we need someone to get us out of the mess. Ask God to cleanse you from your sins. Ask Him to redirect your thoughts!

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:2

Take some time to repent of whatever sin God is bringing to your mind.