God Knows Hearts; We Don’t

I would like to ask a question for your consideration and study. After a sermon or Bible study or even a conversation with someone have you ever said, “that lesson or sermon was great, a very good presentation,” when really we thought the sermon or lesson was not as good as we indicated? Don’t we express our thoughts sometimes as positive when in reality our thinking about them may be more or less negative? We can voice our opinion about the matter and the person hearing it will think that is exactly what we meant when it really wasn’t. Will they know that what we said was not really what we meant? No, of course not. We are not given the ability to know the thinking of others. Our thoughts are our own, unless we reveal them.

I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about my prayers to the God of Heaven, trying to search my mind and select the proper words as I approach Him in prayer, are they too long, too short or repetitive in content. Do we sometimes listen to the prayers of others and ask the same questions?

May we consider Prov. 23:7? “For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” I cannot know what is in a man’s heart; neither can I judge a man by his prayers. Notice with me what these Scriptures say. In Luke 24:38, Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” He knew the disciples thoughts. They didn’t tell Him; He knew their mind without them even speaking. In Matthew 9:4, “Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” These Scriptures tell us that God knows our mind before we even express it.

Romans 8:26-27 is very comforting to us when we think of how we express ourselves in our prayers. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” As we pray, choosing words that we feel are appropriate for praying to the God of Heaven, it is a great comfort to be assured that the Spirit speaks to God words that cannot even be uttered by us.

May we search the Bible and apply the teaching that it contains to our daily lives. 

–Jimmy Frasier

 

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Praying in Faith

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22, ESV).

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24, ESV).

These verses cause modern pray-ers all kinds of problems. We pray for something and it doesn’t happen, perhaps the healing of an illness, the finding of a job, the salvation of a friend. Then either we start to beat ourselves up for lack of faith, we think prayer is broken, or we think God doesn’t care. In any event, we often simply quit praying. The real problem is we don’t actually understand the point of these verses.

We think they simply mean if we believe something strongly enough, God will do it for us. Some have erroneously taken this to the extreme of teaching the “name it and claim it,” saying we can name that we will have one million dollars and claim it to be so if we have faith.

What do these passages mean within the biblical context? Do not forget Romans 10:17. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (ESV). Faith is not simply belief within a vacuum. The biblical faith is one based on the testimony of scripture. We are not told if we simply think something is going to happen, God will do it. Rather, when we can pray with the full faith and credit of God’s promise in His word, then we can know we will have it.

Consider one of the great examples. James 5:17-18 tells of Elijah praying that the rain would stop and then praying again that it would start. This is not an example of a man simply asking for something. Rather, he prayed this in faith based on God’s word. Read God’s promise in Deuteronomy 11:16-17: “Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you.”

Elijah did not pray this because it was something he  thought up willy-nilly. Elijah prayed this based on God’s promise. Elijah could pray this in faith because he knew and believed God’s word.

When we pray with the backing of God’s Word, we can pray in faith. Of course, this brings up one of the greatest mistakes we have with prayer. Some who are reading this are upset and saying, “What’s the point of praying if it is to be about God’s will?” Sadly, too many Christians mistakenly believe prayer is the means to bend God to our will. That is not so. Prayer is the means we are broken to God’s will. Only when our will is broken in favor of His will can our prayers be effective and prayed in faith. Let’s work on that this week.

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