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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Prayers Not Answered? Why?

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Personal Prayers - Part I

Prayers can be like diamonds, both cut and uncut. Cut diamonds are of truly beautiful quality and treasured by all who possess them. Uncut diamonds are much like human beings; their present value is hidden in what they may become. They may become like jewels fit for a king’s crown, or they may be so flawed or uncut that are of no more worth than gravel under your feet. Prayers may be answered from heaven because they are cut and polished by a humble heart; prayers may go unanswered and fall dully into uselessness as only a prideful offering.

First of all, prayers like diamonds find their value according to who possesses and uses them. In the hands of legitimate owners, they find their full value. In the hands of thieves or ignorant owners, prayer is depreciated. Prayers may only find their value in their observable beauty. Written or liturgical prayers can be admired for linguistic beauty of thought and grammar, but until offered to God with heart meaning and passion their beauty is only on the written page or in oratory. When a king wears his diamond studded crown, he is glorified as the nation’s sovereign. So are worshipful prayers to God…that is prayers from the person that truly desires to lift up God’s worth.

“You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” (Ps. 22:3 NASU).

Secondly, prayers, like diamonds, when used purposefully to get desirable and honorable results find their greatest value. Diamonds have found their usefulness when put into tools or instruments. There they can fashion tools that in turn find multiplied benefits or in instruments that communicate useful messages. The heart felt prayer that seeks forgiveness and exercises faith that changes the sinner from condemnation to being a son of God with eternal and earthly blessing finds its value in its eternal usefulness. Prayers that bring the assurances of a know so salvation (1 John 5:13) are like the beautiful engagement or wedding ring upon a bride’s finger showing that she belongs to a husband that loves her as himself. How beautiful is the assurance that Jesus is mine and I am his and will live with him in the glories of heaven!

Thirdly, prayer like diamonds can be used in ways that never taps the power of the great Answer Giver, so their value is not realized. When someone prays as a substitute for doing what they already know is God’s revealed will through Holy Scripture, they become depreciated. They even serve to deceive and dishonor those that use them. For example, the woman who prays with her husband and children, but refuses to give up an adulterous relationship deceives herself into believing God understands her human needs and weaknesses, while dishonoring her commitments to both her husband and children with her deceit and disobedience to God’s instructions in the Holy Bible. Also, the man who leads worship in his church and home, but lives an irreligious lifestyle at work, thinking that no one will discover his double life, denies his own sinfulness and undermines the value of his “religious” activities.

As diamonds given to a thief forfeit their value to their rightful owner, so prayers offered to the wrong personage present deceitful value; they become a rhinestone or zircon substitute because the object receiving the prayers is a substitute for the true God. God the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth made man to be inherently religious. “…Because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:19, 20 NASU). However, Paul continues in the letter to the Romans to say personages, images, and even oneself when lifted up as somehow divine are idols, mere replacements for the One True God rejected by those who pray to them. Prayer sticks thrown at the foot of Buddha, candles lit as a prayer to a saint, or the kisses of a shrine bride of Krishna have no value because they are offered to a man’s imagined and devised divinities. Likewise the person who exalts himself…as a person…when he prays, places himself as a substitute by self-worship.

The Pharisee in Luke 18 prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get” (verses 11-12 NASU). He is the only one honored. This man bragged on himself and his prayers will not be answered prayer for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled” (verse 14 NASU). Yet, the tax collector prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” and Jesus declared him justified because of his humility before the Holy God (verse 13).

Related reading:  The Lieutenant's Godly Prayer; Praying the Psalms

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