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God has been communicating with humans and humans have been communicating with God since the creation of Adam; however, it has always been God's prerogative if communication between himself and people will be conducted and how, when, and where this communication takes place.
It is evident from the many scriptures that speak about the need to communicate with God and the many different methods through which communication with him is established and maintained that communication between God the Father and his elect children is extremely important to one's spiritual survival. It is through one's conversations with the Father that one establishes and maintains a personal and ongoing relationship with him and is able to praise him, petition him for things that one needs, give him gratitude for his many blessings, and ask him for forgiveness of sin.
There are obviously many extremely important things to know about the subject of communicating with God; however, this study will only deal with foundational information that one can use to build on in order to come to greater and more detailed knowledge and understanding of communication with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, through one's own personal study and meditation.
PERMISSION TO COMMUNICATE
The first communications between God and humanity recorded in the Bible are the conversations between Adam and Eve and the Creator God. After these face-to-face conversations, there are several conversations recorded between the Creator God and people. On one occasion, God personally spoke to the whole nation of Israel (Ex.19:1-19). Although the Creator God occasionally personally spoke to people, he most often communicated with them through a third party such as an angel, a priest, a prophet or through other methods of communication such as the ephod, the casting of lots or the cloud above the mercy seat within the tabernacle.
From the time of Adam until the advent of the Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ, the Creator God also allowed his chosen people and specific other individuals to communicate with him through private personal prayer. However, after the advent of Jesus Christ, communication with the Creator God ceased, because the old covenant between the Creator God and national Israel was discontinued and replaced with a new covenant between God the Father and national Israel, which will be ratified after the return of Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
Before the advent of Jesus Christ and during God's first covenant with national Israel, most people did not know of the existence of the Sovereign God of all that exists nor did anyone have access to him. However, today, during the gospel age of salvation, God the Father is known and there exists a covenant between him and the first-born children of his new creation. This covenant was ratified through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ and provides for personal communication with him and his son Jesus Christ (the Creator God).
Although many people think that anyone can communicate with God the Father, this is untrue. The scriptures clearly show that the only humans that are permitted to personally speak with God the Father, at this time, are his elect children through the authority of Jesus Christ who is their high priest, intercessor, and mediator and sits at the right hand of the Sovereign Father.
It was an enormous privilege, honor, and responsibility for the high priest of ancient Israel to be able to come into the presence of the Creator God and communicate with him once a year on the Day of Atonement. Additionally, it was a great privilege for all the individuals who were allowed to personally speak to the Creator God in prayer in order to praise him and make requests of him. Today, God the Father who is the Sovereign of all that exists has given his elect children an even greater privilege, because he allows his children to personally speak to him anytime they want and as often as they want.
WHERE TO COMMUNICATE
The Creator God continued to communicate with certain individuals, such as Moses and later the prophets in order to give them specific instructions and tasks to perform for him after the establishment of national Israel and the temple worship system. Moreover, he continued to permit his chosen people and specific other individuals to communicate with him through private personal prayer. However, after the establishment of national Israel, all formal access to God in order to worship and praise him was only permitted to be done at the tabernacle through the worship system that was administered by his priesthood.
Today, the Father's children do not need to travel to a central temple to gain an audience with him or to worship, praise, or communicate with him, because his elect children are his earthly temples in which his personal spirit, his holy spirit, and his Son's personal spirit presence dwells. This is what Jesus was talking about to the woman in Samaria:
"Believe me that an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem . . . But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. For the Father seeks such ones that worship him. God is a spirit, and the ones that worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (Jn.4:21, 23-24 Para.).
Today, the Father's elect children are always in his temples, because they are his temples. It is because they are his temples and have a personal covenant with him that permits Jesus Christ as their high priest in heaven to authorize them to communicate with him and speak with him anytime they want and as often as they want.
BOLDLY GO BEFORE THE FATHER
The writer to the Hebrews encouraged the elect to boldly go before the Father to seek mercy and favor from him:
"Seeing that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched by our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb.4:14-16 KJV). See also Heb.2:14-18; 9:7-25.
How can the Father's children boldly go before him in his heavenly temple? Remember that, in order for an Israelite to formally worship the Creator God under the old covenant with national Israel, they had to present themselves at the temple, because the temple was where the presence of God resided. Moreover, Jesus promised that the day would come when this would no longer be necessary, because there would be a change in the place where one could worship God.
"For through him (Jesus Christ) we both have access by one spirit (the holy spirit) to the Father. Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph.2:18-19 KJV). See also Heb.4:14-16.
Today, when the Father's elect children who are his priests want to speak to him, all they have to do is request to be heard through the authority of Jesus Christ and proceed to speak to him as one would speak with one's parent.
How to Approach the Father
When one approaches the Father to speak to him, one should do so with the proper love and respect that is due him from one who owes him their very existence. The Father expects his children to approach him in this way with a sincere desire to please and obey him:
"The Lord is near to them that are of a broken heart; and saves those who have a contrite spirit" (Psa.34:18 KJV para.).
This is the kind of attitude that the Father wants to see in someone he has called to become one of his first-born sons.
"The Lord is near to them that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he will also hear their cry and save them. The Lord will preserve those who love him; but he will destroy the wicked" (Psa.145:18-20 Para.).
"For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, says the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word" (Isa.66:2 KJV).
Being fearful of the Father and approaching him with a contrite spirit while trembling at his word does not mean that the Father wants his children to be afraid of him or what he says. He does not want his children to live in terror of him. Being fearful, having a contrite spirit, and trembling at his word means to have a humble attitude before him and the proper respect for what he says. The Father is pleased with the person who has great reverence and respect for him and his words and seriously considers the consequences of violating his laws, precepts, and principles.
WHEN, WHY, AND HOW
When, why, and how often to communicate with the Father can only be understood in the context of the Father's purpose for creating humanity, his plan for humanity's salvation, his sending the Creator God to become a sacrifice for the sins of humanity, one's part in the Father's purpose for humanity, and one's particular circumstances.
The scriptures clearly show that the reason humans exist is that the Father is expanding his family and the reason for the Father personally selecting and calling specific individuals during this age is so that they can help him fulfill his plan to expand his family (Jn.6:44,65).
In order for those whom the Father calls during this age to successfully obtain salvation and perform the tasks for which they have been called, each person needs spiritual help that can only be obtained from the Father and his son Jesus Christ. Therefore, ongoing personal communication and the building of a loving and harmonious relationship between the Father, Jesus Christ, and those called to salvation is essential.
The apostle James was inspired to say, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you" (Jms.4:8 KJV). One of the best ways to draw near to the Father is to communicate with him, because it is through speaking to him on a personal level that one can discuss one's needs, concerns, and frustrations and allow him to know and understand one in a more personal way.
Toward Spiritual Maturity and Perfection
On the path toward spiritual maturity and perfection and in the performance of one's functions and responsibilities as a child of God, each person will experience various obstacles in the form of temptations, trials, and tests. Concerning the frustration and discouragement that sometimes comes with various temptations, trials, and tests and the effort of living a godly life, the apostle Paul says the following:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything through prayer and petition, with thanksgivings, let your requests be known to God" (Phil.4:6 Para.). See also Rom.12:11-12.
People who are serious about their salvation and the responsibilities that they must perform as a citizen of the Father's holy nation and as a member of his royal family will have many things to speak to him about on an ongoing basis. The following are very important things that a child of God should speak to him about:
"Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man" (Lk.21:36 KJV).
"Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2.Thes.1:11-12 KJV).
There are many questions that need to be answered about specific promises concerning being granted requests made to the Father. Once these questions are answered, one should be able to communicate with the Father with a higher degree of confidence; therefore, we will review some of the scriptures that seem to say that whatever one requests of the Father will be granted.
Ask and it Shall Be Given
Matthew and Luke record the following promise about the granting of requests that is very difficult to understand and explain, because a casual reading of this promise seems to say that whatever a person requests from the Father will be given to them, but is this what this promise really says?:
"And I say to you, ask and It shall be given you: seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks is shall be opened to you" (Matt.7:7-8; Lk.11:9-10 Para.).
Here, Jesus reveals the keys that guarantee the Father will fulfill this promise:
Immediately following the promise to give to those who ask, seek, and knock, both Matthew and Luke record Jesus' explanation of what will be given through this promise:
"Is there a father that will give his son a stone, when his son asks for bread? If a son shall ask bread of you who is a father, will you give him a stone? or if he asks for a fish, will his father give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will his father offer him a scorpion?" (Matt.7:9-10; Lk.11:11-12 Para.).
When asked for food, will a father who truly loves his child give them harmful things instead of the food that they need to sustain their life? Of course not! If it is within his power to do so, a loving father will give what is needed and more:
"If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy spirit and good things to them that ask him" (Matt.7:11; Lk.11:13). See also Matt.7:7-8; Jn.14:4; 15:7; Lk.12:6-7, 23-31.
Remember that it is our spiritual welfare, growth, and eternal salvation that most concerns the Father in granting or denying our request to him. The Father is more than willing to give his children spiritual attributes, power, knowledge, understanding, wisdom, discernment, and many other gifts for their spiritual development and success. He wants to give us the spiritual nourishment and the tools that we need in order to grow spiritually and perform his will in our life. The Father knows what we need, but he requires us to show that we are serious about our calling and request them from him, and then make a sincere effort to obtain them through study and meditation and perfect them through application in our daily lives—ask, seek, and knock.
Whatever You Ask Shall Be Given
The following two promises seem to say that all one has to do in order to have the Father grant any request is ask him in the name of Jesus. But, is this really what Jesus meant?:
"And whatsoever you ask in my name that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it" (Jn.14:13-14 KJV).
"Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now, you have asked nothing in my name: now ask and you shall receive, so that you may be full of joy" (Jn.16:23-24 Para.).
These two promises are valid and will be honored by the Father and Jesus Christ and they do seem to indicate that whatever one asks of the Father through the authority of Jesus Christ will be granted. However, these promises must be understood in the overall context of the Father's purpose for humanity, the things that are legitimate to ask for, and his purpose for people he is calling to salvation during this age. In the following promises about requests made to the Father, we clearly see that there are prerequisites that must be fulfilled by everyone who makes a request to the Father before he will hear or grant a request:
"All things, whatsoever you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive" (Matt.21:22 KJV).
"But let a person ask in faith, without doubting. For one who doubts is like a wave driven and tossed about by the wind. Do not think that this kind of person will receive anything from the Lord, because this kind of person is double-minded and undependable" (Jms.1:6-8 Para.).
"This is the confidence we have in making requests of the Father. If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us (hears whatever we ask), we know that he will give us what we asked of him" (1.Jn.5:141-5 Para).
There are two primary prerequisites noted in these promises that must be fulfilled before a request to the Father is granted:
1. Ask believing that the request will be granted.
Although the promises to the elect clearly show that the Father wants to impart benefits to his children (See Matt.7:7-11; 1.Cor.12:8-10; 2.Pet.1:3-8), asking with belief (faith) means more than just believing that the Father hears and has the power to grant one's request. The kind of belief necessary to get one's requests granted also includes knowing that one's request is legitimate and conforms to the Father's laws and his plan and purpose for humanity and his elect children.
2. Ask According to His Will.
It is clear that if we ask anything according to his will, he will do it. However, in order to ask according to his will, we must first know what his will is in a given situation. If we do not know what his will is in a given situation, we should ask that he respond to our request in accordance to his will. See Matt.6:9-11.
Because the Father and Jesus Christ are working out a plan for the salvation of humanity and for those whom the Father has called to serve him in this age, they have insights that we do not have about what is or is not prudent to allow or cause to happen. Because the Father and Jesus Christ see beyond the moment and into the future and know our innermost thoughts, our physical and spiritual needs, and the purpose for calling us to salvation at this time, they will do what is in our best interest as well as the best interest of all concerned.
The Father will not grant a request that is in opposition to his plan and purpose for humanity and his elect children. Therefore, asking according to the Father's will is one of the keys to getting his attention and having a request granted.
The Father's Will According to Jesus
Following the acknowledgment of the greatness of the Sovereign God (God the Father) in Matthew 13:9-13, the Kingdom of God was given the most prominent place in Jesus' model prayer. At least thirty of Jesus' parables are devoted to the Kingdom of God, its establishment on earth, and its relationship to the spiritual and physical realms of existence:
"Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt.6:10 KJV).See also Matt.9:35.
For centuries people have been repeating the words of Matthew 6:10 without having the slightest understanding of the awesome implications of what they are saying. It is truly remarkable that Jesus spoke so much about the Kingdom of God and his Father's will (i.e. purpose) for humanity, yet so little has been taught about this world altering doctrine.
One of the reasons that this model is to be the basis for one's communication with the Father is that it is a reminder that the purpose for one's existence and call to salvation in this age is to become a part of the Father's spiritual Family and Kingdom and to be among those who will rule over his future kingdom on earth in order to help fulfill his will (i.e., purpose) for the creation of humanity.
Understanding the purpose for one's existence and calling not only helps one to understand what is important to the Father but also it helps one to prioritize one's life and know what kind of communications and requests are pleasing to the Father.
After leaving the place where the Passover meal had been eaten, Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives to a place called Gethsemane where he asked eight of them to wait while he took Peter, James, and John with him to stand by while he prayed:
"And he [Jesus] withdrew from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done. And he came to the disciples, and found them asleep, and said to Peter, What, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, your will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words" (Lk.22:41-46; Matt.26:40-36 Para.).
Jesus asked his Father three times to stop the events that would lead to his death. But why would Jesus ask his Father to abandon what had been planned before the creation of the earth? The answer is that, if there were another way to accomplish his mission, Jesus did not want to experience the agony and pain of the torturous death that he knew was just hours away. However, Jesus was in total submission to God the Father's authority and purpose and was willing to do what he knew was the Father's purpose for his life.
Jesus' example shows us that we should not only know the Father's will (his purpose) for our lives, but we should also be subservient to his will and do the things that are expected of us as his elect children.
THE FATHER KNOWS OUR NEEDS
"But when you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly, and your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you. Don't recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think prayers are heard by repeating them again and again. Remember, your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him" (Matt.6:6-8 LBP). See also Psa.91:14-15; Isa.41:17; 58:9; 65:24; Matt.6:25-33; 6:28-31; 18:10; Heb.1:14.
There are three important lessons taught through these scriptures pertaining to the Father's will for our lives:
1. Personal communication with the Father in which one's innermost concerns, desires, and needs are expressed is to be conducted in private.
2. The Father knows everything about us, which includes our innermost thoughts and our past and present physical and spiritual condition. 3. Communication with the Father is not to be a ritual with meaningless words and phrases repeated over and over. Communication with the Father is to be a thoughtful expression of one's own thoughts, emotions, and concerns.
One function of the holy spirit is to help a child of God toward spiritual success through its advocacy and help in communicating our thoughts, emotions, desires, frustrations, and needs to the Father and Christ:
"And likewise the spirit also joins in to help our weakness. For we do not always know exactly what we should pray for or exactly how to ask, but the spirit pleads our case for our groaning that cannot be uttered. But the One searching the hearts knows what is the mind of the spirit because it intercedes for the saints according to God [according to God's will]" (Rom.8:26-27 Para.). See Isa.65:24.
Clearly there are times when one does not know exactly what one needs or how to express these needs in words. One of the functions of holy spirit is to act as an information gathering and communication system between the Father's elect children and the God family. This function of the holy spirit allows the Father and Christ to be constantly aware of the innermost emotions, thoughts, desires, and needs of those called to salvation:
"But when you pray, go away by yourself, all alone, and shut the door behind you and pray to your Father secretly, and your Father, who knows your secrets, will reward you. Don't recite the same prayer over and over as the heathen do, who think prayers are answered by repeating them again and again. Remember, your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!" (Matt.6:6-8 LBP). See also Matt.6:25-33; 7:28-31; 18:10; Heb.1:14.
Because the spirit communicates one's true physical and spiritual condition to the Father and Christ, one can always have the assurance that, even before asking anything of the Father, he already knows what is needed:
"A man's conscience [spirit] is the Lord's searchlight exposing his hidden motives" (Pro.20:27 LBP).
The King James translation renders this scripture: "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly."
ASK FOR THE RIGHT THINGS
Another key to having one's requests granted is to ask for things that the Father wants to give us. Although we live in a physical world and have physical needs that are extremely important to our physical survival, the things that are most important are the things that will ensure our spiritual survival and entry into the Family and Kingdom of God:
"But if anyone lacks wisdom, let them ask God for it and it will be given to them, because God gives freely to all without reprimanding" (Jms.1:5 Para.).
"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience goodness; and to goodness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity" (2.Pet.1:5-7).
Although the holy spirit resides within the Father's children and imparts spiritual knowledge, understanding, discernment, and wisdom, a person must still ask the Father for these things and follow through with study and meditation. If one is unwilling to make the effort to ask for help and to follow through with the appropriate effort, one will not gain these spiritual insights.
In Paul's letter to the Colossians, he speaks of the prayers he and others are making on their behalf and the importance of spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to one's spiritual life.
"For this cause also, from the day in which we heard, (heard about the Colossians' faith and love) we do not cease praying for you, that you might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that you might walk worthy of the Lord and please him in every way and bear fruit in every good work while growing into the full knowledge of God; being empowered with all power according to the might of his glory, to all patience and long-suffering with joy" (Col.1:9-11 Para.). See also Psa.119:33-4; 1.Cor.14:1; 2.Pet.1:5-10.
The following are some things that should and should not be requested of the Father when one is speaking to him:
Some things that should be requested:
Some things that should not be requested:
GRANTING AND DENYING REQUESTS
Within the Bible are many detailed explanations and instructions concerning attitudes, procedures, circumstances, physical positions, and surroundings that have to do with communicating with the Father and making requests of him. Although there is much said in the Bible about communicating with the Father and requesting things from him, the two following questions about the granting of request by the Father are difficult to answer:
1. Why are some requests granted?
2. Why are some requests not granted?
The answers to these two questions are extremely important, because the answers can affect one's spiritual growth, peace of mind, and personal relationship with God the Father and his Son.
Although most of the elect truly believe that God the Father listens to their prayers and have faith in his promises to grant their requests; many of the elect have great difficulty resolving these promises with the reality that many of their requests are not granted. When one receives what is asked for, there seems to be little reason to understand why the request is granted; however, it is important to know why a request is granted because this knowledge will help in understanding why some requests are not granted.
THE FATHER DOES HEAR PRAYER
The Creator God (Christ) inspired the following to be written about the access that people at that time could have to him and the access that the Father's elect children can have to him today through prayer:
"Call upon me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know" (Jer.33:3 KJV).
It was clearly the desire and intent of the Creator God to tell those who lived according to his righteous laws, precepts and principles many great and wonderful things that they could only come to know through his instruction. Today, God the Father is just as willing to reveal great and wonderful things to his elect children if they will ask him.
"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us: And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him" (1.Jn.5:14-15 KJV).
The Father is more than willing to give good things to his children; however, in order for one to have confidence that one will receive what one asks for and to know that the Father is listening to one's request with interest, one must know that what is being asked for is within the Father's will.
"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are opened to their prayers. . ." (1.Pet.3:12 KJV). See also Psa.34:15; Isa.66:2; Dan.10:12; Mk.11:24; Jn.16:24; Acts 10:1-4; Rom.12:12; Col.4:2; Rev.5:8; 8:3-4.
The Father always listens to and answers the prayers of those who approach him correctly and in the right attitude. However, just because the Father has promised to hear and answer, does not mean that one's request will be granted. And if a request is granted, it may not be granted in the way one expects.
Answered and Unanswered Prayer
Some of the most perplexing questions about prayer concern why some prayers are answered and some seem to go without an answer. When something comes to pass that one has asked the Father to grant, a logical person assumes that the request was granted. However, when one does not receive a positive answer in the form of a tangible result, most people have difficulty resolving the promises of the Father to grant their request with the reality that their request is not granted.
Although God the Father promises to listen to the prayers of his elect children who have faith in his promises to grant their requests, does this mean that the Father always listens to and answers prayer? No, it does not. There are prerequisites for his hearing and answering prayers. God the Father will not listen to the following people: people who are not authorized to speak to him, incorrigible sinners (people who willfully live in violation of his law), people who are unwilling to repent of their sins, and people who harbor wrong attitudes and motives.
Barriers to Answered Prayer
Not only are there prerequisites that must be fulfilled before a person can gain an audience with the Father but also barriers that must be removed between the Father and his elect children before he will grant an audience with them or grant their request. The following are some of the things that prevent one from gaining an audience with the Father and prevent him from granting one's requests:
"Your lawlessness have caused a separation between you and your God, and your sins have caused his face to be hid from you, so that he will not hear you" (Isa.59:2 Para.).
"Now we know that God does not hear sinners: but if any man truly worships God, and does his will, God hears this man" (Jn.9:31 Para.)
"You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, that you may fulfill your lusts" (Jms.4:3 Para).
"God sets himself against people filled with pride, but he gives grace to people that are humble; therefore, be subject to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you double minded" (Jms.4:6-8 Para.).
The above scriptures are self explanatory. If a person is one of the Father's elect children and wants to communicate with him and receive blessings from him, that person must be living in a way that is pleasing to him:
"For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments, and do the things that are pleasing to him" (1.Jn.3:20-22 Para.).
SINCERITY, PATIENCE, AND PERSISTENCE
The following examples show the importance of sincerity, persistence, and patience when making a request to the Father:
King Hezekiah became ill and was told by the prophet Isaiah that God had said he would soon die. When Hezekiah heard this, he immediately went to the Creator God in prayer and tearfully reminded him of his many good deeds and righteous attitude and life. In reply to this heartfelt prayer, God changed his mind about the impending death of Hezekiah and sent Isaiah the prophet to tell him that he would be allowed to live another 15 years. See Isa.38:1-8.
Through a sincere heartfelt prayer, Hezekiah was able to influence the Creator God to change his mind. Allowing Hezekiah to live another 15 years changed many future events. However, because God made a momentary change in direction did not mean that he changed his overall goal or purpose. He had to adjust future events in order to accomplish his purpose for humanity and specific individuals in order to have mercy on a person who loved him and his ways.
Jesus told his disciples two stories to illustrate the need for constant prayer, and that one should not stop asking God to act on one's behalf just because there is no immediate answer to a request.
"There was a judge in a city, who did not fear God and had contempt for everyone. A widow of that city frequently came to him and asked him to bring judgment against a man who had wronged her. The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she began to be bothersome. He said to himself, I fear neither God nor man, but this woman's persistence is getting on my nerves, I will see that she gets justice, because I am tired of listening to her constant complaining. Jesus said, Notice what the unrighteous judge did. Don't you think that God will give justice to his children who plead with him day and night. Yes! God will give them justice quickly. But when the Son of man comes will he find faith on earth?" (Lk.18:1-8 Para.). See also Matt.20:29-34; Gen. 32:24-29.
"Suppose you went to a friend's house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You would shout up to him, 'A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit and I've nothing to give him to eat'. He would call down from his bedroom, Please don't ask me to get up. The door is locked for the night and we are all in bed. I just can't help you this time. But I tell you this—though he won't do it for a friend, if you keep knocking long enough he will get up and give you everything you want—just because of your persistence (vs.5-9 LBP). For everyone who asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks the door shall be opened" (Lk.11:5-10 KJV Para.).
The prophet Daniel was a person that God had great love for because of his righteousness. One time, as Daniel was making a request to God, he answered before Daniel could complete his prayer (Dan.9:18-21). Another time he had to wait twenty-one days for an answer.
"O Daniel, a man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright: because I am sent to you. And when he had spoken this to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, Don't be afraid, Daniel: because from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to fast before your God, your words were heard, and because of your words I am here. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia stopped me from coming twenty-one days: but, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me" (Dan.10:11-13 KJV).
These three lessons are easily understood. A sincere, righteous person's prayers are heard and if something is worth asking for the first time, it is worth asking for again and again until one of the following things happens: the request is granted; the need has passed; circumstances have changed, which make the request invalid or unnecessary; it becomes obvious that the request is not within God's will at that time. See 2.Sam.12:1-23.
THE PROMISE OF HEALING
Many wonder why the elect do not always receive relief from ongoing or life threatening illnesses and sometimes die from these afflictions when it has been requested the Father to heal them. This is a valid concern because of what the apostle James says about how the elect should request relief from sickness if they are associated with a congregation having elders:
"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (Jms.5:14-15 KJV).
Although this instruction is easily understood and this promise was fulfilled to those to whom it was given (the early church), this specific promise is no longer valid, because the conditions surrounding it no longer exists for the following reasons:
The healing process recorded by the apostle James was for a specific people and age. This does not mean that God the Father will not intervene to heal people who cry out to him. There have been and will continue to be many people who are healed by the power of God as individual acts of mercy in accordance to his will at that point in time. Moreover, it does not mean that this healing process will never again be used. However, if it is again used as recorded by James, God must reestablish the eldership and make an anointing oil available for use in the healing process.
The healing of the physical body of a child of God must also be understood in the context of the plan of God for humanity and the need for people to die in order to fulfill this plan: "It is appointed to men to die once and then the judgment" (Heb.9:27 KJV)
THE APOSTLE PAUL—REQUEST DENIED
"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these tremendous revelations God has given me. He gave me a thorn in the flesh (a messenger from Satan) to torment me. Three times I pleaded with him to take it away from me. But each time he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, because my power is made perfect in weakness. . ." (2.Cor.12:7-9 Para).
It is unclear from the scriptures what the exact nature of the problem that was confronting Paul; however, what is clear is that the Father did not grant his request to remove it.
It is logical to assume that whatever Paul requested was a legitimate request and that it was not beyond the ability of the Father to do what Paul had asked of him. So, why did the Father refuse to grant Paul's request? Some answers to this question are found in verse nine: "But each time he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, because my power is made perfect in weakness."
The denial of Paul's request is an excellent example of a person asking for something that would not be good for them or does not fit within the plan and purpose of God for them at that time.
The problem that Paul was experiencing was an opportunity for spiritual growth. Through this experience, Paul was to become more reliant on the Father's grace toward him and experience the Father's power being perfected in him through this ongoing experience. Because of this ongoing problem, Paul was constantly reminded of his calling, his mission, and the importance of a close harmonious relationship with the Father.
It is through successfully overcoming various trials and tests that we can acquire greater spiritual maturity and perfection and a deeper love and appreciation for God the Father and Jesus Christ.
There are many scriptures that show prayer as an extremely powerful communication link between the Sovereign God of all that exists and his elect children. Through prayer, we can go directly to the throne of the Sovereign of all that exists and as his children, we can bring him our needs, desires, frustrations, and thoughts before him for him to consider and take action upon.
The scriptures clearly show that the Father wants his elect children to use this communication tool in order to help them in their growth toward spiritual maturity and perfection and in the performance of their various functions and responsibilities within his holy nation and royal family. Moreover, it is through speaking to the Father that we can acknowledge him as our Sovereign and our Father, give him our gratitude for the many benefits and opportunities that he bestows on us, and ask him for help with our needs, desires, and frustrations.
One of the primary reasons that the Father wants his elect children to talk to him is so that he can help them obtain eternal and immortal life and enter his spiritual family and kingdom; therefore, in order to not disappoint the Father and succeed in one's calling, a person must maintain communications with him. Moreover, in order for this communication to be effective, a person must be sincere, persistent, patient, and consistent in its use.