“Prayer – A Powerful Placebo?”

Posted: November 7, 2014 in Christian Life, Giving, God's Will, Gospel, James, Salvation

Prayer is nothing but a powerful placebo. We’d all be better off accepting that.” So says one man who claims to be an atheist. If he were an honest man, he’d claim to be an agnostic, not an atheist. Do you know what the Scriptures call atheists (Psalm 14:1)? What two things can we learn by observing nature that makes everyone without excuse (Romans 1:20)?

Was Christ’s half brother James wrong when he wrote these words that are a part of the Scriptures: The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16)? Was he merely giving people a placebo?

Jesus. When Jesus Christ, as the God-man, prayed all night to His Father (Luke 6:12), was it a waste of His time? Why did He pray if He Himself was indeed God manifested in human flesh (John 1:1-18)? In what realm was He operating – His human or divine consciousness (Matthew 24:36; John 2:24. 25)? How many natures did/does He still have? How is He different from the other two persons in the Godhead and from us? What bodily form does He have in heaven today (Luke 24:33-43; 1 Timothy 6:16)? What kind of bodies will the believers in heaven have (1 Corinthians 15:49-54; 1 John 3:2) and what kind of bodies will the believers on earth have in the future (Daniel 12:2, 3)? How are they different? Will all the unbelievers be annihilated or suffer forever in a real body in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:30, 41, 46; Luke 16:22-31; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8)? Is reincarnation Scriptural (Hebrews 9:27)?

You. Do you ever engage in prayer? When? Where? Why? How? To whom? What do you say when you pray? How important is it for families to pray together? Does prayer change things? Are your prayers limited to asking and receiving? Have you been disappointed when you didn’t get what you asked God for? Is God your Father or is the Devil your real father (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10)? Unbelievers shouldn’t be asking God for favors. Satan has attractive offers that he makes (Matthew 4:9). Does God answer your prayers with a yes, no, or wait?

Prayer. This word (proseuche) in the Greek language (in which the New Testament was written) is often inappropriately used by many people to cover all eight forms of communication with God. But it has the primary idea of worship. True worship of God (John 4:24) involves the use of the believer’s spirit (that belongs to the mind – Ephesians 4:23) and truth about God that is found in the Scriptures (John 17:17). We don’t truly worship God without thinking about His attributes. How many of them do you know? We can/should engage in true worship at all times in all places (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It seems that most people who attend church these days have the idea that worship primarily involves the soul (emotions). They don’t think that they have worshiped God unless they come away with a “good feeling.” Did you know that the soul of the believer is the last thing to be saved (1 Peter 1:9)? When will this happen (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52)? When will the believer’s body be saved (1 John 3:2; Romans 8:23)?

Effective. Obviously, not everyone’s prayers to God are effective. Many requests are denied because they aren’t according to the will and plan of God. God has a “determinative will” that will be carried out no matter what anyone else tries to do to oppose it (Acts 2:23; 4:28; Ephesians 1:11). It involves, among other things, God the Father’s determination to make God the Son (The Lord Jesus Christ) King of kings and Lord of lords (Psalm 2:6-9; Revelation 19:16). Do you know when this will happen? The Scriptures also identify 12 things that are said to be God’s “desirous will” for us that we may or may not carry out. This involves the use of our wills. When our prayers line up with God’s plan, He says “Yes.” We’re told to Ask [as though Christ were standing in our place asking for us] , and [we] will receive, that [our] joy may be full” (John 16:24). Sometimes [We] ask and do not receive, because  [we] ask amiss, that [we] may spend it on our pleasures” (James 4:2). What do you want and why do you want it (1 Corinthians 10:31)?

Fervent. Are you easily dissuaded by the colorful attractions of this world (1 John 2:15-17). Is God your refuge and strength, your very present help in trouble? Do you know that He alone is God and that He (Jesus Christ) will be exalted in the earth one of these days? Do you know that He is with/in you if you’re a Christian (Psalm 46:1, 10; John 14:17)? Do you believe that He is able to do far above all that you ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)? Are you willing to ask God for favors from a humble heart (James 4:6)?

Elijah. This prophet of God was used to bring on a drought that lasted for 3 ½ years during the days of wicked King Ahab and his wife Jezebel (1 Kings 17, 18). God had made it clear to the Jews that if they obeyed His laws they would be blessed but if they disobeyed them, they would be cursed (Deuteronomy 28). Elijah simply asked God to keep His word and bring judgment on the wicked king and Israelites of that day. Later God prompted him to pray for rain (1 Kings 18:1; James 5:18). But first he had to challenge the 450 prophets of Baal and demonstrate to them and the Israelites that there was only one true and living God. The prophets of Baal called on their god to bring down fire on their sacrifice but to no avail. But when Elijah prayed, God answered by sending fire from heaven to consume his water soaked sacrifice. Then the false prophets were put to death for misleading God’s people (Deuteronomy 13:5). Beware of the false prophets and teachers of our time (2 Peter 2:1).

Righteous. Obviously, only God is totally righteous. God the Son (the Lord Jesus Christ) is righteous (2 Timothy 4:8). He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).  We, unlike God, are unrighteous and sinners (Romans 3:10-23). We deserve to be separated from God forever in the lake of fire (Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:41, 46). So, how can we be forgiven and become righteous people. God puts to a believer’s account Christ’s righteousness (Romans 4:22; James 2:23) when we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins…and rose again bodily from the dead on the third day (Acts 16:31; 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4). In other words, God says we did the right thing by dying for our own sins in the person of our Substitute, Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). This is known as “positional truth” or what God considers to be true in His mind. But “practical righteousness” is displayed when we act right by doing the things that God wants us to do as revealed in His Word. While all the Bible is to be believed, not all of it is to be believed and practiced (Titus 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:15). Without a clear understanding of “Dispensational Truth” a believer can easily end up trying to do what God may not have intended for him/her to do. Example: God doesn’t expect Christians to live by the Mosaic code of conduct today (Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:11-14; 5:1ff). We are to live by grace principles. Do you know where they can be found? If not, ask. We don’t bring bloody animal sacrifices to God today (Hebrews 10:4) nor are we required to give a 23% tithe today as the Jews did under the Mosaic Law (Numbers 18:20-32; Deuteronomy 14:23-29). They gave to be blessed (Malachi 3:8-12); we give because we have been blessed (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). Are you a Christian who is living by the wrong set of rules that are found in the Bible? Would you like to receive our FREE “Dispensational Chart” that can help clarify this? If so, ask for one.

Faith/Works. To the believers in the church at Ephesus the Apostle Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Ask us about “Spiritual Gifts” (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:11-16). Which were temporary and which are extant gifts?

Formula.  Correct: Grace + Faith = Salvation + Works. Incorrect: Grace + Faith + Works = Salvation. Whatever you do, don’t get this wrong or you will regret it forever. Don’t believe in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2; Matthew 7:21-23).  Believe on Christ through the Gospel.*

Help! If you have questions/comments about this article, contact us at 805-238-3549 or visit our website at www.kelseypeach.com. If you’d like to receive future articles as they come out, click on “Follow.”  If you’ve been helped or encouraged by reading this article, pass it on to someone else. Thanks for helping us get God’s Word out to people who need it. 

*Gospel in 30 languages:  http://www.cleargospel.org/    http://www.davidpietsch.com/the-gospel/ 

“God’s Simple Plan Of Salvation” in 24 languages: http://www.kelseypeach.com/goodnews.htm

(Pass these links on to others so they can be saved.)

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