BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8, NKJV).
One cannot address the subject of prayer without making reference to the parable of the persistent widow which Jesus told in the scripture above to illustrate importunity in prayer.
While it is important for you to pray, it is equally important that you avoid weariness in prayer which may occur as a result of prolonged prayer on an issue without manifestation of answer yet. Don’t listen to the devil’s lie that God doesn’t answer prayers. Don’t replace God with man in your life because it looks as if God won’t answer you. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited” (Jer 17:5-6, NKJV).
A mother’s mistake
Direct your request to God and not man. A woman made a mistake in this regard during a severe famine in Israel after Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, had laid a siege on Samaria as a result of which women were donating their children to be killed and eaten one after the other. “Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, ‘Help, my lord, O king!’ And he said, ‘If the LORD does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?’” (2 Kings 6:26-27, NKJV). What I want to point out here relevant to this message is the truth the king told this woman. The problem at hand was beyond the king so the woman was addressing the wrong person though her plea and explanation allowed the king to appreciate the magnitude of the problem the nation was facing. Make your request known to God.
Daniel prayed to God
Daniel prayed three times a day giving thanks to God (Dan 6:10). He refused to pray to the king, Darius, despite the decree he had signed that nobody should pray to anyone divine or human except the king for the next thirty days. Defaulters would be thrown to the lions. But Daniel defied the king’s decree, and prayed to God following which the king threw him into the lion’s den but God delivered him (Dan 6:3-24).
Rachel made a mistake asking man, her husband, for what only God could give and the husband gave her the correct answer. Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (NLT). No husband can give her wife a child. It is God who gives children. But Rachel without a child and envious of her sister and rival, Leah, who already had children desperately cried to her husband to give her what only God could give. “Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die!’ And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’” (Gen 30:1-2, NKJV).
Jacob was correct. Husbands don’t give children; God does, and He eventually gave Rachel a child, Joseph. Unfortunately, Rachel died during the birth of her second child, Benjamin.
Keep on praying
1Thess 5:17 says pray without ceasing – keep on praying. Don’t let discouragement from delayed answers or unchanged situations cause you to stop praying. God answers prayers. Be like that widow that we read earlier in Luke 18; be persistent.
King David said, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud” (Psalm 55:17, NKJV). He was persistent in prayer because he knew God would answer him though it might not be the exact time he had thought. God’s time may be different from yours – God’s time is the best. His method may not agree with your expectations but it’s the best; His ways are perfect. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV).
Keep praying to God; don’t be weary. The Bible says we should not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not (Gal 6:9). Even though you feel like giving up, you must never. You must endure to the end; only those who endure to the end shall be saved (shall get the reward for all their praying and waiting) (Matt 6:22, 24:13 Mark 13:13).
Seven things to note
As you keep praying, please note the following:
1. God will answer you but be sure your prayer is not from a wrong motive. Let your motive be right. God knows the motive of everyone coming to Him in prayer. Prov 20:27says, “The LORD’s searchlight penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive” (NLT). Purge yourself of wrong motives before you approach the throne of God in prayer. Wrong motives hinder answers to prayer. “And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong — you want only what will give you pleasure” (James 4:3, NLT).
2. Be sure your prayer is consistent with His will. The only prayer that has the possibility of being answered is the prayer consistent with His will, and God’s Word is God’s will. Therefore let your prayer agree with the Word of God. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “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” (NKJV).
3. Be sure you are asking in faith not doubting. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23). Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Ask in faith; don’t doubt. Doubt will rob you of your answer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8, NKJV). This truth is not limited to asking for wisdom; it is true of anything we want to pray to God about.
4. Be sure you are not living a sinful life. Sin is a major obstacle to answer to prayer. Isa 59:1-3 says, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you,So that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity” (KJV).
A sinful life will not allow God to answer your prayer. Confess and forsake every known sin because sin puts God off – His eyes cannot behold sin. Ps 66:18 says, “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, my Lord would not have listened” (NLT). God’s ears are open to the righteous but His face is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12). John 15:7 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (NKJV).
Unforgiveness is a major sin that hinders prayers (Matt 18:35, 5:24). Forgive others if you want your prayers to be answered. The Lord Jesus Christ said if you don’t forgive others, your Father won’t forgive your sin (Mark 11:26, Matt 6:15).
5. Be sure to confront demonic delay. A man, apparently an angel, told Daniel, “Then he said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia” (Dan 10:12-13 NKJV). The answer to Daniel’s prayer was delayed for twenty-one days because the angel who was supposed to deliver the answer was hindered by the prince of the kingdom of Persia representing the power of darkness.
It was Angel Michael that came to the rescue of the other angel sent with the answer. As you make your request known to God, don’t be ignorant of the devices of the devil to try to delay manifestation of the answer. So confront the devil; come against any power that may want to delay your answer. Don’t hold your hands and say whatever will be, will be. The devil profits from such lackadaisical attitude.
6. You need patience. Sometimes it is not the devil that is delaying answers to our prayers; it is God that does not allow the answer to manifest immediately we pray. It is not that God cannot do it immediately but God has His set time. Sometimes He is preparing his children for the manifestation of the answer. God uses the period between when we pray and when the answer manifests to work in us. But we don’t like that; we want the answer immediately. But sometimes that is not what God wants. He wants His children to patiently wait, and during this period of waiting God is building their character; He’s putting some things in us such that by the time the answer comes, we’re a remarkably different person – positively different from what we were when we began to pray. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4, NKJV).
If you have avoided all the hindrances to prayer I have discussed and you are yet to see the manifestation of answer to your prayer, you need patience. Faith is not enough; you need patience. Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb 6:12). “Patient endurance is what you need now, so you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised” (Heb 10:36, NLT).
7. Never query or accuse God. You must avoid the temptation to query, question or accuse God as you trust Him for answers to your prayers. The devil will always want you to do this when the answers to your prayers are yet to manifest. The devil will often tell you that God is not good, that God is insensitive to your negative condition, that God is callous, etc. These are all lies of the devil you must reject as soon as they come up in your mind or whenever any of his spokespersons tells you something like that.
Remember that was how the serpent told Eve that the commandment of God to Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden was against their interest. The serpent gave Eve the impression that he loved them more than God who put them in the beautiful garden. “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” the serpent said (Gen 3:4-5, NKJV). If only Eve had shut the serpent’s mouth immediately, Adam and Eve wouldn’t have fallen for his temptation. But he believed the serpent’s lie, and man fell.
Reject any temptation to query, question or accuse God even when you don’t understand what is happening. When Job, in his trial, queried God, he regretted it later. God asked Job, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them” (Job 38:2-3, NLT). By the time God finished answering Job, he replied God, “I am nothing — how could I ever find the answers? I will put my hand over my mouth in silence. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say” (Job 40:3-5, NLT).
Don’t query or accuse God. God knows everything. Whatever you know is fractional! You can only know in part and prophesy in part (1 Cor 13:9). You can only know in part and prophesy in part (1 Cor 13:9). “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Rom 11:33, NKJV). He knows the end from the beginning, and He has your interest at heart. God isn’t against you; He’s in your favour no matter what you’re going through. As I have said, be patient.
Conclusion: Keep praying for yourself and for others. Let not your prayer focus on yourself and your immediate family alone. Paul said that he didn’t cease to pray for the Colossian Christians. “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Col 1:9-12, NKJV).
Night and day he also prayed exceedingly for the Thessalonians to see their face so as to perfect what was lacking or missing in their faith (1 Thess 3:10). Paul also wrote to Timothy, his son in ministry and companion, telling him that without ceasing he remembered him in his prayers night and day (2 Tim 1:3).
Paul did not only describe Epaphras as a fellow servant, a faithful minister of Christ (Col 1:7), he did not only describe him as his fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus (Philemon 23) because he visited him in Rome while he was a prisoner there and stayed with him, he also described him as someone who continuously prayed for his fellow Colossian Christians. “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col 4:12, NKJV).
Epaphras wasn’t praying for himself only; he was praying fervently for the church. Who are you praying for fervently and continually? Are you faithful in praying for others?
Samuel regarded it a sin to cease praying for the Israelites. “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Sam 12:23-24, NKJV). It is a sin to fail to pray for someone who actually needs your prayer. His life may depend on your prayer, and indeed depend on your continued prayer. So be faithful in praying for others. This is an unselfish labour, and God will reward you abundantly.
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God”
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523