Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1982
NUMBER 12, PAGE 1,12-13a

Conditions Of Acceptable Prayer

Bill Cavender

Prayer is perhaps the most useful and necessary privilege granted by the Father to His children. We need to pray. We cannot live correctly and serve God acceptably without praying. Prayer is necessary to the cultivation of the spiritual mind and the subsequent production of the fruits of the Spirit in our lives. All faithful Christians pray. No Christian can be called faithful who does not pray. To neglect prayer is to deny ourselves the intimacy of the relationship that God desires between Himself and His children. In His word He speaks to us and instructs us. In prayer we speak to Him and petition Him for all our needs.

Our Lord prayed. He taught us to pray. The Apostles prayed. The Spirit through them taught us to pray. Faithful men and women have always prayed. We need to pray constantly. In sickness and in health, we need to pray. In prosperity and adversity, we need to pray. We need to ask of our Father, and we need to thank Him for blessings bestowed. For the saved and for the lost, for ourselves and for others, we need to pray. Jesus said, "..that men ought to pray, and not to faint." (Lk. 18:1) Paul said, "....continue instant in prayer," and "Pray without ceasing." (Rom. 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:15) Again, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." (Col. 4:2) Peter said, "But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." (1 Peter 4:7) Therefore, not to pray is disobedience, and the disobedient — even a disobedient child of God — is unfit and unprepared to live with God. Those who live with the Father and the Saviour through eternity will be those who in this life, among other things, learned to pray.

Prayer is the privilege of a child of God. God has not taught disobedient sinners to pray. Always prayer is taught as being a privilege extended to one who has entered covenant relationship with God by prior obedience to His will. Solomon said, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." (Prov. 28:9) The former blind man, understanding this true principle of God's dealings with men, said, "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth." (John 9:31) Peter expressed this same principle when he said, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." (1 Peter 3:12) So one should first obey the gospel of Christ from the heart. (Rom. 6: 16-18) Thus becoming a child of God by faith (Gal. 3:26-27), we have the privilege of addressing God as our Father for we have obeyed His gospel and become His children in His family. (Matt. 6:9; Heb. 3:6) One does not become a Christian, a child of God, through prayer. The alien sinner does not obtain remission of sins through prayer, regardless of the teachings of denominationalists to the contrary. We must first obey, then pray.

Prayers of God's children which arise before Him and are accepted of Him are based upon certain conditions. These conditions are stated and implied in the will of God, the New Testament. I now state some of these conditions, but not all of them. These conditions of acceptable prayer now stated are not here fully developed by this writer, but the reader may take his New Testament and complete these various points.


FAITH. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is...." (Heb. 11:6) Faith, which comes by the hearing and understanding of the word of God, is that basic and necessary ingredient of all acceptable service to God. Prayer therefore must be offered and spoken in faith. We must believe that God is, that He can hear our prayer, that He will hear our prayer, and that He is able to answer it. No need to pray if there is no God or if there is doubt in our mind as to His character, nature, power and ability. No need to pray if we doubt that He hears us. No need to pray if we believe not that He can and will answer our prayer. Every prayer will be heard and will be answered. If we doubt this, we cannot pray. We might not understand all that's involved in how, when, where and in what manner God will answer our prayer, but we can rely upon Him A child does not understand all that is involved in the love that his parents have for him, but he relies upon that love, depends upon it, and believes in it. So it is in our prayers to our Father. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him'," (Matt. 7:11) Faith, therefore, is the beginning of acceptable prayer to God from His child. God is, God is interested, God is powerful and able to do according to the good pleasure of His own will. He will hear and bless the prayers of His children offered in faith.


HUMILITY. God despises arrogance, haughtiness, and a high head. God hates a haughty spirit. "A proud look" is abomination to God. (Prov. 6:17) "....him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer." (Psa. 101:5) "....the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit." (Ecc. 7:8) "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:5-6) Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matt. 5:5) God Is the all-powerful One. We are so weak and frail. A prayer is not an order to God demanding action. God cannot be ordered about. We must develop the attitude and disposition of humility and approach God with such a lowliness of mind. When the Pharisee and the publican went up to the temple to pray, it was the humble mien and modesty of the sin-stricken publican that availed with God, not the vain, pompous, self-exalted pride of the Pharisee. (Luke 18:9-14) Humility is of great price in God's sight and it will be found of great price in man's sight. People who strut about do not impress men as do the truly humble. We need to learn this lesson. None of us have too much to be proud about if we will examine Ourselves carefully and objectively. Especially will we be aware of this more and more as we cultivate humility in our hearts before God.


SINCERITY. Sincerity means true, genuine, without guile. It means honesty of mind, purpose or intention. It means that the mind is free from a hidden or ulterior motive. Jesus said, "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." (Matt. 6:5-8) We should be suspicious of too much outward piety. Such generally denotes hypocrisy. Any effort to please or appeal to men as we strive to serve God denotes insincerity. We must always, in everything, be prompted by motives pure and true. Paul said. "....that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." (Phil. 1:10) Our prayers must be in sincerity. Our Father who sees our hearts and knows our motives will then reward us accordingly.


WE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT PRAYER IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR OBEDIENCE. We must first learn to reverence and respect God enough to do what He tells us. If I will not obey Him, my prayers are vain and useless. If I expect Him to do something for me or others that I am unwilling to do and which He has taught me to do, I offer an abominable prayer. Solomon said, "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Samuel told Saul of this eternal principle of God's dealings with men when he said, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." (1 Sam. 15:22-23) Jesus said, "If a man love me, he will keep my words." (John 14:23) Obedience on our part precedes the answering of our prayers on God's part. If I ask God to bless the sick, I should be willing to visit and help them. If I ask God to bless the widows and the orphans, I should be willing to aid and assist them. If I ask God to bless the lost and preserve them to hear the truth, I should be willing to go and teach them the truth. If I ask God to bless our country, I should be subject to the overruling providence of our share of its taxes. If I ask God to bless my enemies, I should be willing to be kind to them and try to bring about reconciliation if at all possible. What I can do for myself or must do for myself, I should nat ask God to do it for me. When I have done my duty and have given my best, then God will bless my effort and do what I am unable to do. Prayer is no order to God to do anything and is no substitute for my obedience to His will.


"IF IT BE THY WILL. We must ever pray with this idea in mind. All of our plans are subject to change without notice. I do not know the future. We do not really know what is best for us. All things therefore should be subject to the ever-ruling providence of our Father. We should ask Him to choose our changes for us and guide our way aright. Solomon said, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not upon thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Prov. 3:5-6) John said, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us; And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (1 John 5:14-15) Jesus said, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42) If the prayers of my Lord and Saviour were subject to the will of the Father, then mine must be also. Let His will rule supreme. Let His will be done on earth among men as it is obeyed among the heavenly host. (Matt. 6:10) Let His will prevail in our hearts and lives, and let all our affairs be subject to it. Our prayers must be in accordance with His will and all of our petitions conditioned upon His will in granting them to us.

Let us pray. Let us pray continually. Let us pray fervently. Let us enforce our prayers with righteousness of life. Let us pray!

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