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With our busy lives, scheduling appointments, setting reminders, and recording voice memos to remind ourselves about important events and priorities have become part of our normal routine. Usually, the appointments we set are the most important and we want to make sure we don’t forget them. In other words, what’s important to us, we schedule it in — appointments with our physicians, business partners, lunch dates, anyone and anything of importance. I’m sure you know the direction I’m headed by now…
How important is spending time with God to you? Is it a priority? It’s so easy to rush through the day and not MAKE time to pray.
Here are three suggestions to help you develop good prayer habits?
- Plan to pray. Set an appointment to meet with your heavenly Father. He desires to spend time with you. “Quickie” prayers have their place, but quality time talking and meditating in the Presence of God is like having a satisfying, full-course meal of your favorite foods.
- Choose the best time (You may even want to consult with Him about your appointment time). Select a specific time of the day, and commit personal prayer.
Personally, I am not a “morning” person, which simply means I don’t like to get up early, especially that I’m retired and don’t have to share freeway space in traffic jams. I’m a night owl! However, you may be just the opposite…an early morning person. So choose the best time for you. Ideally, morning is the best because we have been refreshed after the previous night’s rest. Early morning time is an excellent way to start your day with a fresh outlook, and the Holy Spirit can prepare you to meet the demands of the day. Also, early morning prayer time is an opportunity to present your plans for the day to the Lord.
- Be consistent. Whatever, time you choose, make a commitment to keep the appointment. Respect the time you’ve set as valuable as if you were going to your doctor appointment or a business meeting. Being consistent helps you to become disciplined. If you’re a Christian, and spending time with God is not your highest priority, your relationship with Him will suffer. I should warn you, if you set an appointment to meet God, He expects you to keep the appointment.
Ultimately, be intentional about pursuing God. If you want to grow spiritually, be strong in the Lord, grow in the knowledge of God the Father, and have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, spending regular and consistent time with Him, is absolutely essential.
Is prayer like having a “blank check” to ask God for anything we want and expect to receive it?
22 And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly].
23 Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him.
24 For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].
25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop. Mark 11:22—24, Amplified).
I recall how Mark 11:22-25 became alive in me years ago; it changed my perception on prayer. It was the “seed” that produced the faith I needed to rise up and pursue a consistent and fervent life of prayer. This shifted my prayer life to a higher dimension for which we have been called. Believe it and put into practice so that you will know that God still does answer prayer.
Sure it may appear to be a blank check, but it is not. There are two prerequisites in these passages that are essential to answered prayer. They are: Faith and Forgiveness.
First, let’s recap the scenario and circumstances surrounding this lesson on prayer. After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He and the disciples went out to Bethany. The next day upon leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry and saw a fig tree with leaves from a distance, which ordinarily meant there were figs on the tree. However, when He reached the tree there were no figs only leaves because “it was not the season for figs.” However, there should have been edible buds on the tree since leaves were on it.Since there were no edible buds, it was the indication that the tree would be fruitless that year.
Throughout Old Testament history and prophecies, the fig tree and its fruit (fig) were associated with God’s promises of prosperity and carried prophetic warnings. The fig tree was a symbol of long-continued well-being and prosperity. Therefore, for the tree to have leaves but no edible buds, which was a sign that there would be no figs, means it was out of divine order, and unproductive in accordance with God’s purpose and promises. Also, note this was the condition of the Jewish leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes) at that time—unproductive and out of alignment with God’s purpose and promises. This tree represented creative deception (false advertisement, if you will). So Jesus made a prophetic declaration in faith against the tree (He cursed the tree). He said to the tree, “No one ever again shall eat fruit from you” (Mark 11:14).
At this point, it was an object lesson for the apostles, and an impartation that released the power of the spoken word (prophetic declaration). This is just as relevant for us today. However, please note that EVERYTHING declared must align with the order of God, and anything that personifies deception, or opposes God’s promises and the productivity that He has ordained must not be allowed to remain.
The next day Peter observed the fig tree and pointed out to Jesus that the tree He cursed was withered. Jesus’ reply to Peter’s observation appears unrelated and definitely unexpected. He said, “Have faith in God.” What does a withered fig tree have to do with faith in God? I’m glad you ask. The withered tree is the manifestation of a declaration of faith that was in agreement with the will, design and order of God.
This kind of faith is supernatural and progressive—faith in the power of God so much so that what you say is aligned with what you know to be His purpose will come to pass. Your faith must be evident by what you say and do. Jesus demonstrated the “power” of the spoken word against something that is not aligned with the will of God. Specifically, the tree was planted to bear fruit for food (Genesis 2:9a). If there were leaves on the tree there should have been fruit. Having leaves and no fruit was deceptive in nature and against God’s divine order. Again, this was an object lesson for the disciples because they didn’t have that level of faith yet. However, Jesus imparted this knowledge unto them—a key to prayers being answered is having faith in God and speaking. Believing that what you say will happen, it will be done for you as long as it is in agreement with God’s will, way and word. Wow!
“…whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident0 that is granted to you, and you will [get it]” Mark 11:24, Amplified).
Have you prayed for anything? Do you believe you will receive it, or do you believe you have already received it? To believe you have received it is to believe your request has been granted in the Spirit realm before it’s manifested in the natural.
This is why many of our prayers are not answered, or should I say not being manifested in the natural. We don’t make faith declarations; neither do we believe until we see the manifestation in the natural. NOW faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]” Hebrew 11:, Amplified.
At the moment Jesus spoke to the tree, he knew his prayer was heard and answered by God the Father and would be manifested in the natural. Another example is in John 11:41-42. Jesus’ prayer for the resurrection of Lazarus had already been answered. How do we know? “And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard Me. Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [and You have made Me Your Messenger].”
When you pray with confidence that your prayer is already answered, the manifestation of it is for the benefit of others so that they will believe. Therefore, your petition or requests should always be aligned with God’s will. Lazarus being raised from the dead was already God’s desire (John 11:4). When we pray for what we know is God’s will, we should also expect our prayer to be answered simply for the purpose of bringing glory to God through our faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
“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.” I John 5:14-15
The second prerequisite is forgiveness. Jesus makes it clear to the disciples that forgiveness is a necessity for answered prayer. Forgiveness is a fundamental principle in the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:21-35). After all, forgiveness is central to the plan of salvation. Because the Father forgives us, we must forgive others. Forgiveness is a matter of the heart, and the condition of our heart determines the truth about our relationship with the Lord as well as others. Basically, our relationship with others is just as important as our relationship with the Lord when it comes to answered prayer.
Therefore, if we want our prayers answered, we must keep our hearts pure. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive you your [own] failings and shortcomings and let them drop” (Mark 11:25, Amplified).
Ultimately, not only does unforgiveness hinder answers to prayer, it severs our connection with the Father. There can be no bitterness or resentment to block the lines of communication and fellowship with God.
What assurance to know that our prayers are answered because of our faith in God. However, to live with the assurance of answered prayer, we must guard our heart from the pollutions of the world and the lustful desires of our sin nature. We must rely on the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and the cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus to purify our heart that we may be able to freely forgive others and receive forgiveness from our Father.
The good news is God still answers prayer today! Don’t give up! What are you praying for? Do you believe your prayer will be answered, or is already answered and you’re waiting on the manifestation? If you believe it’s already answered and you’re just waiting for the manifestation, then you should be saying as Jesus said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard me…”
Will you confess any unforgiveness that has hindered your prayers from being answered? If so, repent; ask God for forgiveness and start fresh in faith believing the Word of God.
After reading and meditating on this, how will you change your approach when going to God in prayer?
Will you pray with greater expectation, and yet wait patiently for the manifestation of your answer?
©2007, ©2012 Queen E. F. Phillips