Ask Your Preacher
Does prayer really work??? I pray for situations to change in my life, and they don't. I do the best I can to try to get ahead, but it seems like more frustrating things end up in my path. Furthermore, it seems as a slap in the face to my faith. I watch those around me who barely believe in God live fulfilling lives. What does God want me to do?
Up In Arms
Dear Up In Arms,
Prayers do work, but God still has veto power. We are told to pray that “if the Lord wills, we will do this or that” (Jas 4:15). Jesus taught His disciples to pray for the Lord’s will to be done (Matt 6:10). Part of prayer is that we need to learn to trust that God knows what He is doing. We are entreating the Creator of the Universe with our problems, and just like any loving father, our Heavenly Father sometimes says, “No” to our requests. As every parent knows, children sometimes ask for things that aren’t in their best interest, or they ask things unaware of the bigger picture. God wants to give us good gifts (Matt 7:11)… sometimes that means that He answers our prayers by giving us something different than what we expected.
Now, let’s talk about those prosperous unbelievers that you are seeing. Your frustration is valid, and David had the same frustration. In Psalm 73, David talked about his animosity toward the success of the ungodly… he said it made him so mad that he almost fell away from God (Ps 73:2). However, David finally concluded that the ungodly were not blessed because their entire existence was slippery and dependent upon their physical prosperity (Ps 73:18). Only God’s people have an eternal hope that gives us comfort regardless of how life goes here (Ps 73:27-28).
Does God listen to everyone's prayers or just really faithful people's prayers? How faithful do you have to be for your prayer to be heard? Do you get heard more often the more faithful you are?
Wondering How It Works
Dear Wondering How It Works,
In short, who is praying and how they pray matters. God says that a righteous man's prayers do a great deal of good (Jas 5:16). That would by default mean that an unrighteous man's prayers wouldn't do much, if any, good at all. God told Israel that their ungodly lifestyles meant that He wouldn't hear their prayers at all! (Isa 1:15) There are other things that will stop your prayers from being heard:
- Treating your spouse badly (1 Pet 3:7)
- Praying for "show" (Lk 20:47)
- Praying selfishly (Jas 4:3)
- Praying without gratitude (Col 4:2)
There is no doubt that the Bible teaches that we should examine ourselves before approaching God in prayer. A wrong attitude or lifestyle can seriously jeopardize our prayers effectiveness. The flip is also true though! Proper attitudes and behavior are rewarded:
- Asking for wisdom (Jas 1:5)
- Consistency (1 Thess 5:17)
- Godly living (Jas 5:16)
- Asking without doubt (Jas 1:6)
When we are constantly praying, trusting in God's strength to answer, humbly seeking his wisdom, and living lives that befit God's servants, we can expect powerful results! Prayer is perhaps one of the greatest tools in a Christian's arsenal (perhaps also one of the least utilized). The Bible is how God speaks to us; prayer is how we speak to Him. Just like a child asking their parent for a privilege - how we approach God makes all the difference.
Hi. I have a huge longing to repent and change my life. One of the things holding me back is that I am afraid that if I take this new road that I will have to admit to people (that I love dearly) all the injustices I committed towards them, and this will hurt them dearly and for sure cause our relationships to deteriorate. Is this part of the forgiveness process? Is it a question of forgiving myself and asking God for forgiveness, or will I have to admit my sin to those that it might hurt?
Thank you and I hope that you can help.
We must confess all of our sins to God (1 Jn 1:9) and be prepared to get help with our faults from other christians (Jas 5:16). When James talks about confessing sins to each other, he is talking in the context of prayer. His point is that when someone prays for you as you struggle with sin, that prayer will make an immense difference. He is not stating that you have to announce every single sin you have ever committed to each and every christian you meet.
There are definitely times to tell another person about your sin.
- If you have sinned against them, you must admit it and ask for forgiveness (Lk 17:3-4).
- If you believe the knowledge of your previous sin will help them (1 Tim 1:15-16).
- If you are struggling with a sin and need help (Jas 5:16, Eccl 4:9).
- If it would be deceptive to not reveal the sin (1 Jhn 1:8).
All of those situations constitute an appropriate time to confess your sins to another person. God doesn’t call us to parade our past sins before all we meet, but there is a time to own up to our faults before both man and God. Now, it is also important to remember that confessing your sins is only part of the process of becoming a christian – if you have not yet done the five steps God gives us to become a christian, we recommend you read "Five Steps To Salvation".
Is there a difference between baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit and baptism in the name of Jesus?
Name That Difference
Dear Name That Difference,
There is no difference between being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; both phrases are used in the New Testament (Acts 2:38, Matt 28:19).
Why am I so numb to Jesus' love?
It is impossible to say why you (or anyone else) feel a certain way. Emotions are fickle and can be deceiving. Some people feel that they are saved when, in fact, they are lost (Matt 7:21-23), but whether our heart condemns us or not isn’t what saves us (1 Jn 3:19-21). It is our adherence to God’s Word that saves us (Rom 1:16). If you are doing what God says you must do to be saved, then you can have confidence regardless of how you feel (see “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” for further details). Serving God is often an issue of doing what is right without regard to our emotions… showing bravery when we are afraid, working when we are tired, praying when we feel we aren’t heard, and persevering when we are discouraged. One of Satan’s greatest tools to destroy us is that we often don’t feel as we ought, and sin has a way of numbing us to the truth of God’s Word (Heb 3:13). The only way to combat the callusing effect of sin is to choose that which is right and reject that which is wrong. Do that, and we guarantee you will see your heart begin to soften.