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-- © GodSpeak International 2003 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>
Editor: Elvi Glass

Prayer-School Course #22

Creating A Culture For Answered Prayer

Lesson 1

Why We Need This Sort of Culture

By Teresa Seputis

I once heard a supposedly "true story" of an elderly woman who lived in poverty ever since her husband died. She was unable to make ends meet and did not have enough money to pay her doctor bills. She developed a very treatable medical condition, all it required was to be on strong antibiotics for some prolonged period of time and good nutrition. But the antibiotics were expensive and she was unable to afford to pay for the prescription. In fact, she could not even afford vitamins and healthy food. She ended up dieing a few months later. Since she had no relatives that came to take care of her meager estate, her tiny home eventually went to the city. A clerk from the city offices was sent to clean it up and to remove her personal items, to get it ready to auction off in exchange for unpaid property taxes.

As the clerk went in to clean it, she found a drawer filled with all sorts of large quantities of stock certificates -- 10,000 shares of IBM, 100,000 shares of Intel, etc. There were enough stocks there to make that elderly lady a millionaire many times over. But the elderly lady obviously had no idea of the value of the resources she had in that drawer, so she never cashed any of them in. She could have gotten the medical treatment she needed and then proceeded to live in luxury for the rest of her life if she only cashed in a small portion of the stocks she had in that drawer. Yet she lived in poverty, undernourished and died for lack of funds to purchase some antibiotics.

What a tragedy that could have been avoided if she merely understood the value of the resources she possessed. But she never benefited from the vast resources that were at her disposal.

As Christians, God has given us some incredible resources, but many of us do not understand the value of these resources and never "cash them in." One of those is prayer. In fact, prayer is one of the most powerful resources at our disposal. But, just like the stocks, the resource has to be "cashed in" before we can benefit from it. Many Christians pray but they do not see results to their prayers. Why? Because they do not understand how to cash in that resource.

If you want to "cash in" your shares of stock and convert them to spendable money, you need to take your stock certificates to a broker or brokerage house and turn them in and the broker will give you money in exchange for your stock certificates. The commodity that you trade is stock certificates, you exchange them for cash and the means of exchange is through a stock broker.

In prayer, the commodity you trade is "faith and relationship with God" which you trade for "answered prayers and demonstrations of God's power", and the means of exchange is prayer.

Many Christians try to cash in on this but they are not effective. They pray, but their prayers don't get answered. Why? Some prayers do not get answered because people pray amiss -- their motivation for prayer is wrong. James discusses this in James 4:2b-3. "... you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (NKJV).

Some people do not get their prayers answered because they do not value their relationship with God and continually flirt with "the world" like an unfaithful wife who keeps committing adultery. James goes on to address that in the next two verses. Let's repeat verse 3 and then move on to look at them: "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously?'" (James 4:3-5, NKJV).

Both of those are serious problems that can keep a person's prayers from being answered. Both of those arise out of spiritual immaturity, and hopefully the person will grow out of it. But there is another problem that keeps even those who are passionate about God and who's hearts and motives are set after Him from getting their prayers answered. That is the area of faith.

Sadly, a lot of prayers do not get answered because the person praying is not praying in faith -- they don't really expect God to hear and answer their prayers. And the reason they don't expect it is because they live in a culture that does not value the power of prayer. This culture comes with it's own mindsets or thinking patterns. And when a child of God prays, these thinking patterns are in the back of their mind, effecting their expectations. If the person praying the prayer does not really believe that the prayer will be answered, it is hard to pray effectively, it is hard to pray in faith. And if we don't pray in faith, then the chances that God will answer our prayer go way down.

Many of us who are westerners have been raised in an empirical society, and we have been trained in scientific method since we could barely toddle around the living room. We are taught that we must be able to see it, quantify it, measure it or it is not real. This is in direct conflict with the definition of faith that the Apostle Paul gives us in Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (NKJV). There is a built-in conflict here. We have been taught all of our live to only believe in the seen and tangible. We have been raised to "not have faith."

So what is the solution to this dilemma? Most of us live in a culture that is not conducive to faith. It sets us up to fail in prayer because we have been taught not to value the intangible, to only believe what we see and experience. So the solution must be to change our culture, to create a culture that is conducive to faith and to seeing our prayers get answered. We can't change our whole culture, our cities and countries and all of the people in our world. But we can, and should, change our immediate culture. We need to create an environment that will change people's expectations so that they truly expect God to hear and answer their prayers. And that is what we are going to explore in the remaining lessons in this series.

This teaching series is aimed mostly at the pastors and leaders who have the authority to change their church culture, to make it conducive to faith and seeing prayers get answered. You will find some benefit from this teaching series even if you are not in that role. You may not have authority to make changes in your church, but you can certainly begin to make changes in your own home, in your own heart and in your own thinking. This series will help you to do that, it will provide some tools and some ideas. But these won't do you any good unless you actively apply them to your situation and to your environment. So think of this next set of lessons as a workshop, not just as academic or theoretic teaching material.

-- © GodSpeak International 2003 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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