Measuring According to Truth
Just taking a quick look at what the Bible has to say about prayer we see a number of requirements that must be met and steps that must be taken if our prayer is to produce the results prayed for.
And the Lord said, If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say unto this sycamine tree, Be plucked up by the root, and be planted in the sea; and it should obey you. (Luke 17:6)
What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11:24)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraids not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. (James 1:5-6)
If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you will say to this mountain, be removed, and be cast into the sea, it will be done. And all things, whatsoever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. (Matthew 21:21)
Faith works through love. (Galatians 5:6)
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 hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. (1 John 5:14-15)
Whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (1 John 3:22)
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
Just from these few verses we see the following requirements to be met:
If you have faith (Luke 17:6, James 1:5-6, Matthew 21:21)
If you doubt not (Matthew 21:21)
If you do not waver (James 1:5-6)
If we ask according to his will (1 John 5:14-15)
Keep his commandments (1 John 3:22)
Do those things that are pleasing in his sight (1 John 3:22)
Humility (James 4:6)
Not proud (James 4:6)
Love (Galatians 5:6)
We also see the following steps to be taken:
When you pray (Mark 11:24)
Ask (James 1:5-6, 1 John 3:22, 1 John 5:14-15)
Believe (Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:24)
Say to ____, be removed, and be cast into the sea
How will we know we have met the requirements and taken the steps? How do we measure this? What are faith, doubt, pride, humility, and love? What is prayer and what does it mean to pray? What is the will of God and what are the things that are pleasing in his sight? How do we know we are doing them?
We have two options. We can measure the steps and requirements according to what we understand them to be, or we can measure them according to what God says they are. We can try to meet the requirements and follow the steps by what we think is right, or we can do according to what God says is required. Not too surprisingly, measuring according to what God says leads to prayer that produces results and measuring according to our understanding does not.
Consider an example. Suppose we were trying to bake a loaf of cinnamon bread. Cinnamon bread requires cinnamon. If we use cumin, paprika, nutmeg, red pepper, or cloves instead of cinnamon we won’t end up with cinnamon bread. If we put the ingredients into the oven and set it to broil we won’t end up with a baked loaf of cinnamon bread. We will produce results, but they may not be edible. Likewise, all effort in prayer, even that which is not according to truth will produce results - but the fruit of the effort that is not according to truth will likely be undesirable. It could even be fatal.
Being fruitful in all parts of life, prayer included, requires that we measure all things according to truth - according to what God shows us by his word and by his spirit.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
They measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
The success of our prayer is one reason to submit ourselves to God to measure according to what he shows us is truth. There is another. If we love others, we want their prayer to be successful and we want to be available to help them. What we learn as we seek God to measure according to truth in our own prayer we can share with others. Like the recipe for cinnamon bread. If we have no idea what we put into it, not only do we have difficulty repeating a successful loaf, but we aren’t much help to someone else trying to make one.