The first local church (10)

Bible Reading 1 Peter 3:8~17

Called to Blessing

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender hearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Suffering for Right and Wrong

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

We are considering the apostolic teaching in "PRAYER." In our last study we dealt with Scriptures teaching us "How to Pray." we continue on the theme of praying, looking at the

2) Requisites for Prayer

a) Faith

James 1:5-7 (JBP) - "If any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God — who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty - and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in SINCERE FAITH without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God's help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next, That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn."

Prayer is based on the revelation of the nature of God, God has clearly revealed His willingness to answer prayers properly presented, wisdom for daily living is promised without qualification. For a believer to ask God for wisdom and doubt that God is going to give it to him is to insult God and break the line of communication which is faith. "To doubt is to have a divided mind that draws us two ways, like the poor donkey that starved because he could not choose between two stacks of hay."

b) Rightly directed desire

James. 4:2-3 (JBP) — "You crave for something and don't get it; you are murderously jealous of what others have got and which you can't possess yourselves; you struggle and fight with one another. You don't get what you want because you don't ask God for it. And when you do ask he doesn't give it to you, for YOU ASK IN QUITE THE WRONG SPIRIT - you only want to satisfy YOUR OWN DESIRES."

Right desire is a requisite to answered prayer. Uncontrolled passion and appetite will stop at nothing to gain their ends." A carnal Christian will even try to "use" God to get what he wants. If your wants were disciplined by truth, then God would answer. But when your "own (unholy) desires" dictate your prayers, God will not answer. Our motives must be judged and purified by the Word and Spirit when we pray. "The use of the name of Jesus does not cause the door of grace to spring open for us unless we first put ourselves under the rule of Jesus."

c) Domestic agreement

1 Pet. 3:7 (JBP) - "You husbands should try to understand the wives you live with, honouring them as physically weaker yet equally heirs with you of the grace of life. If you don’t do this, YOU WILL FIND IT IMPOSSIBLE TO PRAY PROPERLY."

1 Cor. 7:5 (Amp.) - "Do not refuse and deprave and defraud each other (of your due marital right), except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, that you may devote yourselves UNHINDERED TO PRAYER. But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you (to sin) through your lack of restraint of sexual desire."

These two Scriptures teach that right husband and wife relationships are essential to a sound prayer life. Disobedient Christians do not get their prayers answered! The "apostolic doctrine" is very clear on the necessity of right domestic relationships. The Bible teaches that husband and wife are "one flesh" (Eph. 5:31). It also gives much instruction as to how this God-ordained union is to be maintained and protected. Any violation of the true nature of marriage involves also disobedience to God's Word. This brings guilt, disrupted fellowship, and hindered praying. This is assuming of course, that both husband and wife are Christians and mutually desirous of walking in obedience to God's will.

d) Sobriety

1 Pet. 4:7 (JBP) ~ "We are near the end of all things now, and you should therefore be calm, SELF CONTROLLED men of prayer."


Moff.— "Steady then, KEEP COOL and pray!"

An instructed Christian conducts his life with a view to "the end," whether that be his going "to be with the Lord," or the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not knowing when either might occur, he is urged to be a "calm, self-controlled man of prayer." "It is a warning against all kinds of intoxication." A Christian should be soundly instructed in the Word of God, enabling him to think soundly. His conduct should then be "self-controlled and temperate" and free of all excesses which would keep him from focused praying. "Don’t give way to any excitement which will make life grotesque and foolish! We are to wait the coming of the King with mind and heart delivered from the distractions of panic, from the taint of corruption, and from a feverish sensationalism which is destructive of the higher ministries of fellowship and prayer."

e) Obedience

1 John 3:22 (Amp.) ~ "and we receive from Him whatever we ask because we [carefully and consistently] keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight [habitually seeking to follow His plan for us]"

JBP - "We receive whatever we ask for, because WE ARE OBEYING HIS ORDERS AND following His plans."

Implicit obedience is absolutely essential to successful praying. Jesus could say, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me" (John 11:41-42). Jesus could also say, "I do always THOSE THINGS THAT PLEASE HIM" (John 8:29). The prayers that are heard and answered are the prayers that proceed from hearts that are living in unbroken fellowship with God. Such prayers are "prophecies of what God will do."

f) "Holy hands" and holy attitudes

1 Tim. 2:8 - "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;"

Wey. — "...lifting heavenward UNSULLIED HANDS, nursing the while NO SECRET GRUDGE, harbouring no LURKING SCEPTICISM."

"It was the Jewish habit in prayer to lift the hands, palms upward, as if to receive the answer." A fit symbol of utter dependence on God and of humble dependency. The hands must be "holy". They must be "unsullied," "Hands" in the Bible, when referred to symbolically, speak of work, or the things men do. Hands raised in prayer and worship must be hands that have been kept free from unholy activities. Not only must we be free from external uncleanness, but also from internal contamination. We are to be "without wrath," "Wrath" is "settled indignation against a brother," a "secret grudge," "Doubting" means "an evil deliberation of any kind." "The word used in the original is related to our English word 'dialogue'

The soul of man is so constituted that it can carry on a dialogue with itself. Thus a man can debate within himself whether he shall do this to his neighbour or that, balancing one thought against another." when such a dialogue is evil, whether the subject be God or man, prayer is ineffective and hypocritical.

g) Righteousness

James 5:16 (Amp.) - "The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]"

JBP - "Tremendous power is made available through A GOOD MAN'S earnest prayer."

Wey. — "The heartfelt ('inwardly prompted' by the Holy Spirit) supplications of a RIGHTEOUS man exert a mighty influence."

1 Pet. 3:12 (Amp.) - "For the eyes of the Lord are [looking favourably] upon the righteous (the upright), And His ears are attentive to their prayer (eager to answer)"

The simple meaning of "righteousness" is "rightness." A righteous man is a right man. He is "right" with God through Jesus Christ and "right" in all his human relationships through the enlightenment of the word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter describes the "righteous man" in verse 10 and 11 just preceding his statement about prayer. "The one who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not], Must keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from speaking guile(treachery, deceit). “He must turn away from wickedness and do what is right. He must search for peace [with God, with self, with others] and pursue it eagerly [actively—not merely desiring it]."

- Do not merely desire peaceful relations (with God, with your fellow men, and with yourself), but pursue, go after them!