Key of David

God Answers the Obedient

Sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers. Why not?

The incense altar in God’s temple anciently is a type of the saints’ prayers through the ages. This altar was made of gold to emphasize the importance of righteous prayers to God. Each day, our prayers must ascend to the incense altar in heaven. God is looking for prayers that flow from obedience.

“And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne” (Revelation 8:3). This is all about the saints having access to the great God and receiving real power!

Many people today aren’t so sure whether their prayers are getting through to God. Saints can know God is listening. Our lives should revolve around prayer. What a difference this can make!

“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8; New King James Version). These “golden bowls full of incense” are cared for by four living creatures and 24 elders, angelic beings, in God’s throne room. Some of the most powerful spirit beings in the universe are monitoring and protecting your prayers in this royal environment! Indeed, your prayers can be precious and golden to God.

We need to talk to God about our needs, wants, problems, challenges, trials and responsibilities. We need to enter God’s throne room through prayer! We must ask ourselves whether our prayers are really being answered.

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:14-16). Physical healing is a type of the resurrection. God is saying fervent, energized prayers can make this kind of impact—practically raising someone from the dead! Prayer should not become a vain ritual. Cry out like Jesus Christ before His crucifixion, or King David whenever he sought repentance! God wants to hear from His children.

Our predecessor, the late Herbert W. Armstrong, said every single one of his prayers for God’s work was answered. Every one! How can we get results like this? “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). God’s will is recorded in your Bible. If you know that book and pray accordingly, God will respond. God’s will can become your will. He answers the obedient!

“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). Just before being brutally beaten to pay for our physical sins, and crucified to pay for our spiritual sins, Christ prayed hard to avoid such a painful fate. Humanly, He desperately wanted to escape this torturous agony. But He submitted perfectly to God’s will. He aligned His will with God’s will. That is spiritual depth.

“And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (verses 43-44). Do you think Christ was energetic in that prayer? He actually sweated blood! He had to stay perfect for His entire life so He could pay for our sins. What a sacrifice!

Christ prayed fervently, accepted God’s will, and made God’s will His own. Can we share that attitude and spirit with Him and God the Father?

We all must deal with fears and troubles. Understand that there is a living God who will change the course of your life for good if you obey Him and pray to Him. That is a tremendous blessing!

“Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21). In other words, if we have a clear conscience because we know we’re doing God’s will, then we will have plenty of confidence and faith to go to Him boldly in prayer! God will respond to that boldness.

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (verse 22). Prayers of obedience get results every time! That’s a phenomenal promise. Keeping the law makes us happy. God then increases our happiness by answering our prayers. He wants us to enjoy the abundant life.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15). When we obey and pray according to God’s will, He will always answer! This ought to grip your imagination! You can get what you ask for. That’s the power of answered prayer.

“But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:5). Obey God’s Word, and you will become like God! You will possess His very love!

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). If you are righteous, God watches over you! That’s a wonderful, wonderful truth! He will hear you and protect you.

Praying—even praying fervently—is of no value if it doesn’t match God’s will. Praying selfishly will never get results (James 4:3). Mr. Armstrong always emphasized that it’s our own fault when our prayers aren’t answered. That’s exactly what the Bible says!

“Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you” (Proverbs 1:23). God’s Word is Jesus Christ and God the Father in print. Obedience means taking correction from Bible study. Few understand this the way they should.

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Not accepting correction—continuing in sin—separates us from God! That’s what’s wrong with the world. What a shame!

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. … Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (Isaiah 1:2, 4-5). This world is full of sick and scared people. They are miserable because they lack faith in God. Faith is simply believing God’s Word.

What happens when rebels like this approach God? “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (verse 15). This ought to grab our attention! God won’t hear a rebel!

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). Answered prayer requires obedience. We all have sinned, but God is looking for us to have a heart to obey. Enormous power to become sons of God comes from constantly striving to obey Him.

“Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me” (verse 20). God won’t turn away from our prayers as long as we’re doing our part. We must live the right way.

“For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). God listens to the humble—to those with a proper fear of Him. We should fear breaking His law. Beyond obedience, we must tremble at, or deeply revere, God’s Word.

“Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed” (verse 5). This is referring to God’s own people in this end time. The vast majority rebelled and cast out those who continued to obey God. We are living in the Laodicean Church era, the seventh and final era before Christ returns. We are frighteningly close to His return.

“The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29). God just wants you to talk to Him. No reciting from memory. Be heartfelt. It’s that simple! Christ is right there as your Advocate. He knows what it’s like to be in your position. Pair your prayers with obedience. Be righteous!

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