In the distant past, our forefathers lived by moral conscience and it controlled their lifestyle. They were constrained therefore from doing some wrong things because of the fear of the repercussion, knowing that if and they escaped, their posterity would pay dearly for them. They did not need anybody to police them, except moral virtues and the consequences of their violation. I still remember the oldest man in my village, would, after their sacrifices to the idols, would give much of his share of the meat to the children around.
After the civil war, a new phenomenon sprang up – ‘born-again and prayers’. Many people picked prayers. The old and the young pray today, including armed robbers. Before embarking on their mission of stealing, maiming, killing, etc, some of them pray and may even compel their victims, if they are Pastors, to pray so that they will be successful in their operation. In the market places, traders gather at specific places to pray, including those of them, selling contrabands and fake products. Prayer! Yes, it is in vogue!
God instituted prayer as a means by which we can be reaching Him. We can make our requests at any time and place. No matter my relationship with my State Governor, he will not grant me such a privilege of calling him at odd times. God goes further by giving us an open cheque by saying that anything we ask Him, provided we use the name of the Lord Jesus, He will answer us. Remember my phone I lost at a bus stop, which I wrote in this column, a few months ago. My family prayed for its recovery, though the person, who picked it had switched it off. He returned it the next day. It was our prayer in the name of Jesus that compelled him to return it.
“Apart from God’s usual benevolence to man, by causing rain to fall for the good and the bad, and such similar acts of His, detail personal prayers you made in 2018 and He answered you,” you may ask someone. He may surprise, you by telling you the awful truth: “None!” The implication is that, most people believe that God does not answer prayers. They still pray, but they have no confidence in their prayers. They pray because it is the normal thing! God cannot lie. He answers prayers. Did He not say, “Ask and it will be given to you?” If we pray and He does not answer, it is not His fault. If we look inwards, we will know what caused it.
It was a blind youth, who provided the missing link, why God does not answer all prayers. He told the Jewish leaders, who doubted the restoration of his sight by the Lord Jesus, “We know that God does not hear sinners” – John 9:31. Ignorance of the Law, Lawyers tell us, is no excuse for committing crimes. ‘We’, means everybody, a blind youth like him, not exempted. He had two challenges: age, being young, and thus, not exposed in life like the adults, plus his physical disability. It is absurd that such a person could know what adults, with no physical challenges, did not. ‘We know’, could mean, ‘We ought to know’. Many people do not know this truth, that God answers prayers but not those of sinners.
Human beings can be deceived but not God. People may appreciate someone for what he does, especially, if it is laborious and done repeatedly. People go to Prayer Mountains and spend many days fasting and praying. God may not be moved. Some people are very loud when they pray, shouting as if God is deaf, while others whisper, as if He will be nervous if they shout. Shouting and the ‘ice cream’ mode of praying, as good as they are, may not move Him. God does not hear sinners, when they pray.
It is possible to mobilize a large crowd that runs into thousands of people for prayers, or choosing a few, as the Lord Jesus often did, and nothing still happens. God does not hear sinners, when they pray. There are some wonderful brethren in various Churches and ministries, who know all the names of God, which they use when praying and the ground may be shaking, but the bad news is that at the end of the day, nothing may happen. God does not hear sinners, when they pray. Some people quote relevant Scriptural passages to back up their requests. Nothing may still happen at the end. If they challenge God, He agrees that He made the promise but that it is not for them. It is like what I wrote in one of my books. Uncle went to NEPA office to pay his bill and read this notice on the signboard: ‘Management has approved Christmas bonus of 150%, payable on December 23’. He went there that day, and while others were paid, he was not, being not a staff member.
You may meet a Pastor, who is on dry fasting, lying on the floor of his house for days, weeping and agonizing in prayers. After all these wonderful sacrifices, the situation may remain the same. Some Pastors, on the other hand, are known for their brief prayers. Knowing their onions, it is exciting to watch them, issuing strict orders to the demons. After all these ‘gara gara’, things may still remain the same. God does not answer sinners when they pray.
It is pertinent, therefore, to discuss, who is a sinner, whose prayer God does not answer. ‘Does it mean that a born-again Christian cannot sin?’ People ask me all the time. Uncle John, the beloved Apostle, told us in his Epistle, “My little children, sin not, if you sin, we have an advocate with the Father” – 1John 2:1. He was talking to believers. We are not meant to sin. The unbeliever sins because he is a sinner. It is his nature to sin. I passed through that tunnel. If, for whatever reason, a child of God sins, there is a way out. We have our Advocate, the Holy Spirit. He convicts him, and makes him to do what an unbeliever may not do – confess it!
What is praiseworthy is the believers’ readiness to confess his sin by repenting and forsaking his evil deed. An unbeliever commits sin and may not be convicted of it. If he is caught, he employs all tools at his disposal, such as lies, bribery, etc, to cover it up or to escape justice. His pain is not the evil he committed, but the demeaning of his personality for been caught. God does not rationalize sin. Unbelievers do, not knowing that the sin of lying has the same weight before God with that of murder.
If a child of God commits sin, he judges and condemns himself. He may handle it himself or goes to a Pastor, friend, relation or anyone, to confess it. If he has taken what does not belong to him, he is convicted of it and he returns it to the owner. Some students in the universities have confessed to the relevant authorities that they cheated in gaining their admission. Some of them have been dismissed from school. The believer is not bothered by the type of punishment that will be meted out to him. What matters to him is to reconcile with God.
The sons of Sceva imitated believers in praying. The demons told them that they knew Jesus, and Paul, and asked them who they were. Demons know us. They know unbelievers too. For God to answer, and the demons to obey us, we must quit sin and live righteously. “Ye shall decree a thing and it shall be established,” Job 22:28. It is the sinner’s plea for forgiveness that God hears.
We were about to leave the farm, a few months ago, and rain started to fall. For sure, it would affect the work of my field-staff members. It would also affect us driving back home. As good as rain is for my farm, my agreement with God is that it will be falling there at night! Nobody is then cheated. The guards do not mind it. I rebuked the rain, telling it to stop. And it did! We have been noticing with gratitude to God, while going home, that while it will be drizzling in my farm, we see mighty floods, the evidence that it has been raining cats and dogs! Ours ever remains at night!
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