7 January 2011 (Sheshi/Kippur)|
Day #297, 5934 AM
Striving in Prayer
Don't Imitate the Prophets of Baal
A brother in the USA, Asher, recently drew my attention to this passage and remarked how similar modern believers often are to the prophets of Baal in their attitude to prayer. He said:
"So [the prophets of Baal] took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, 'O Baal, hear us!' But there was no voice; no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they had made. And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, 'Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.' So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention" (1 Kings 18:25-29, NKJV).
Have you ever prayed fervently in the belief that the more emotion you poured into your prayer that the greater likelihood would be that Yahweh would hear you and grant your petition? Have you ever wondered why you've been suffering for so long and why your prayers yield very little results? The atheist, of course, has a ready answer for you for he believes that really the problem is a simple dichotomy: if God exists then He should hear and responds to your prayer, but if He doesn't, then that's adequate proof that He doesn't actually exist.
"Many preachers and people who teach say, in essence, that you have to 'pray' like Baal's prophets in order to get an answer from [Yahweh]. However, it's quite outstanding to me that in all the 'Baalish prayers' upwards for revival to fall, and other like-minded prayers that His Presence come, there has been little more than a trickle of His Approval on people's works".
We must carefully beware of false dichotomies, though. Not every issue is an 'either/or' one. In the story of the man born blind, Yah'shua's talmidim or disciples presented Him with a false dichotomy, asking whether the reason the man had been born blind was because the man had sinned or his patents had sinned (Jn.9:2). But the truth was that there was a third option they had not even considered, namely, that this man had been ordained to be blind so that the glorious works of the Father could be manifested in him (v.3). And sure enough, he was healed, giving glory to Yahweh and building the faith of many.
Don't present yourself or Yahweh with a false dichotomy when it comes to prayer. Consider that you may be praying for the wrong thing let alone in the wrong way. In something as complex as life and Yahweh's will, there are often many alternatives. But one thing is clear: Yahweh does not respect or respond to Baalish prayers. You can't force Him to do what you want and you can't bribe Him either. So what should you do? Consider Elijah.
What did Elijah do? How was his praying different from the prophets of Baal's? For one thing, he didn't strive. He was in no hurry. He even councelled those indulging in Baalish prayers to try different things to show them that they were wasting their time. My friend observed:
This is a hard but necessary lesson to learn. If fighting were needed in the prayer life then the Cross would not have been necessary. What was Elijah's way of prayer? How did his way differ from the prophets of Baal? Having made the necessary physical preparations, including dousing his sacrifice in copious quantities of water so that there would be no doubt in the minds of the onlookers that Yahweh would be behind the expected miracle and that no trickery was involved, Elijah prayed:
"I don't know why I've been suffering so long and why my many prayers have yielded very little results; however, I learned for sure yesterday what won't get me any answers from [Yahweh], and it's striving with 'Baalish prayers' (the very thing that desperate situations prod you to 'offer up'). I never liked the admonition to 'wait on [Yahweh]', because everything went wrong when I did what I thought was waiting. (Once, I slept outside for about two weeks or more as I waited on [Yahweh].) I only experienced any hope of life when I was 'striving forward', because if I didn't strive, no one would strive for me.
"But if there's anything I now know about prayers for help, it's that striving won't do it. In my opinion, many Christians are 'slain on mountains of striving'. With vehemence and sincerity, people offer up prayers for God to intervene in their lives or situations in some way... and nothing. Disillusionment isn't far behind, even for the ones who continue to go to church and go through the motions. If someone asked me, 'Why are your prayers of need not yet answered', I couldn't answer him; but if someone asks me how one can pray and get results in times of need, I can answer that prayers of striving certainly won't effect any results. When satan is constantly saying that one must 'have faith' (i.e. strive in prayer, etc.) and no amount of faith and years of praying is having an effect, the only result is condemnation and disillusionment. As much as I hate the term 'wait', I now at least know that the Bible doesn't agree with doctrines that say you must 'fight' for what belongs to you (needs)."
Have you considered that Yahweh might want to use your distress as He did that of the blind man so that His glory might be manifest through you for the building up of faith in others and for His glory? Or have you solely been focussed on your need? Have you considered the bigger picture? Elijah's prayer was a prayer not only of a prophet but of an evangelist and every believer is an evangelist for Yah'shua (Jesus)! Yah'shua, the Bridegroom of the Uniplural Bride, wants blessings to be shared. He didn't part the Red Sea just for Moses but for all of Israel. Have you considered that what you ask for - your deliverance - might be also for the benefit of others? Or do you want to keep His miracles to yourself behind closed doors in your closet? If that is your attitude, then it is more than conceivable that you are not praying for deliverance in His will but in yours.
"Yahweh-Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are Elohim in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Yahweh, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Yahweh-Elohim, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again" (1 Kings 18:36-38, NKJV).
We are, as talmidim or disciples, public witnesses. You may, like me, be someone who doesn't like to be in the spotlight but are a private sort of person. Consider that Yahweh might want you to be a public witness! You may love the public gaze in which case He may put you in a situation where you can't possibly be in order to get you to see yourself rightly and to get you into a proper frame of humility.
If your distress is caused by rebellion, then Yahweh isn't going to fix the distress until you have first fixed the rebellion. If your prayers aren't being heard because you're in rebellion, then you know what to do, don't you? And no amount of Baalish striving is going to make a bit of difference. If, then, you become disillusioned with Yahweh, whose fault is it then? Once the attitude is fixed, then the blessings come forth:
"Elohim sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land" (Ps.68:6, NIV).
Elijah prepared his sacrifice, according to Yahweh's tavnith or pattern, prayed a very short, simple prayer, asking for a witness of His greatness for others and just waited. That's how we're supposed to do it too if we're really serious about following Him.
"You gave abundant showers, O Elohim; You refreshed your weary inheritance. Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, O Elohim, you provided for the poor" (Ps.68:9-10, NIV).
Comments from Readers
"Why should a person come to the cross? Why should a person embrace death with Christ? Why should a person be willing to go, in identification, down to the cross and into the tomb and up again? I’ll tell you why! BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY WAY THAT GOD CAN GET GLORY OUT OF A HUMAN BEING!!! Paris Reidhead" (SW, Germany, 7 January 2011).
"We know lawlessness can't get past the 'Door' that is hung to enter into the tabernacle. Though we enter in by the garment put on us by our savior in Unconditional Yes to Him on His terms. That examination to know if we've Heard Yahushua and have said Yes to all He has spoken to us of our individual issues of our life can be the difference between life or death of even the physical body. Examination by the Foundation Laid of Truth can find Great Relief in our communications with Father YHWH and Son Yahushua our Master. Could be said of a contrite Heart and He knows what we need before we even ask. There is POWER in the Blood of the Lamb and that is the LIFE of it! And does provide if we do what He said to seek first in all things His Righteousness, to Know Yahushua and all of His Parts within the Foundation, the Truth, His Interpretation in Life is so Good! And that leads us on our journey upon this path to finding total rest and peace where the Power is, and absolutely nothing is Impossible with YHWH!! Gets sweeter day by day! Even in the trials and tribulations of life or upon the mountain top, the ROCK will never fail. And we shall all meet our Savior Face to Face on the Sea of Glass once the things of this Dust are done, the HOPE!! Been through that in younger days even of 'wearing out the knees' but not saying that is bad in any way but there is a better way! I look back and know all that begging and what not is useless without becoming aligned to the Truth of the Spirit of Life! And we know the things we are overlooking and have not dealt with before our King! ... Reminded me also of that song by Dallas Holm many years ago, Jesus I'm an Open Book... wonderful!!"
"What a wonderful day this has been. Times of refreshing!! The Power of our Savior, He Is So Near to Us All! Even in our Mouth just like He told by Moses in Deuteronomy... the Fire of His Love is so Near and flows like a Powerful River to overflowing! Fifteen hours later my head is still burning like fire from being blessed so much where these thoughts led me to look into. A confirmation of something so profound that I could not even begin to put in words here. The Love of our Savior is so real, so near, so awesome, right within us is the DOOR even of our Tent where we visit with Him there. How the whole world needs Him so. To experience that Love and Mercy, to KNOW ABSOLUTE that HE IS I AM, RIGHT HERE! and OUR FATHER IS YHWH YahuwaH and HE SAYS, SAY IT! The Name!! I AM THE WAY, I WILL SHOW THIS AT THE END OF THE AGE!! (RDR, USA. 8 January 2011).