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The spirit of error
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(1 Tim. 2:1-4 NKJV)
The occasion and context of the passage of scripture quoted above is very interesting. Paul, who is recognized by most biblical scholars as the author of this epistle addressed to Timothy, is writing, among other things, to encourage his son Timothy in his extremely difficult task of dealing with various doctrinal errors and practices taking place at the church at Ephesus.
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Read more: The Technology of Prayer Pt. 4
God’s divine requirements
The prophet Isaiah, when confronting similar religious issues during his time, makes a powerful prophetic proclamation that critically exposes, identifies and condemns these key issues which we have discussed up to this point. He then proceeds to make known God’s divine requirements regarding prayer and fasting.
Even though the context of what is written in this portion of the book of Isaiah refers more specifically to fasting, we will apply it in this context to prayer since both exercises were performed simultaneously and prayer is clearly being implied here as well. The entire chapter will be quoted here so that you are able to get the full context and content of God’s message, and I would encourage you to take the time and slowly read the entire text.
Read more: The Technology of Prayer Pt. 3
The epistle of James, which happens to be chock-full of very profound and important principles regarding the Kingdom, especially as it relates to faith and prayer, attributes the lack of answers and failure of prayer to inaccurate internal architecture.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. (Jam. 4:3 NKJV)
I actually like how the KJV translates the last part of that verse, “…that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” In other words, our prayers are misdirected and doomed to fail because our focus is skewed and/or corrupted by self-indulgence.
The word translated as amiss in the text above is translated from the Greek word kakṓs, meaning bad, evil, improper or just plain wrong. It can also be applied in certain contexts to something that is diseased or sick. This is not just a case of sincerely uttered prayers emanating from well-intentioned hearts that just happen to miss the mark. What James is confronting here are prayers that are inherently wrong, evil and corrupt because they stem from a diseased and perverse preoccupation with self.
Read more: The Technology of Prayer Pt. 2
There are very few topics in the realm of religion – especially Christianity – to which has been devoted more time, focus and attention than the topic of prayer. Countless sermons have been preached, lessons taught, books and articles written, and seminars or conferences held on the subject of prayer. The abundance of information that one can find just by doing a basic search on this topic is mind-boggling. Yet, in spite of all that I just mentioned above, prayer is – in my opinion – one of the most misunderstood, misapplied and misappropriated biblical practices among believers today. This observation is, in itself, very puzzling; because prayer is supposed to be a very fundamental and elementary principle in the Body of Christ.
Due in part to the self-centered teaching that plagues churches today, as well as the narcissistic mentality that has become the spirit of this age, there are many believers today who think and act like prayer operates in some kind of spiritual vacuum, void of any sense of personal responsibility. And even though most of us would deny it, we have equated prayer with some sort of magic which attempts to control or manipulate the divine will in order to induce it to grant one’s wishes. We take the promises of God regarding answered prayer (Matt. 7:7-11, Mrk. 11:24) and try to use or quote them as a spell for immediate results.
Read more: The Technology of Prayer
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