Excerpt from Prayer, Fasting and Spiritual Warfare by George Akalonu:
Five core factors cohere to make prayers effective. They work together to create the synergy we need to produce desired outcomes:
1. Right Relationship with Yahweh and fellow humans. This is the basis on which we are able to approach Him in the first place. In His mercy, Yahweh can respond and does respond to the needs of people in distress, including sinners. In real terms however, the very first need of those outside His family and Kingdom is to come into right relationship with Him which is offered freely through the blood Shed by Yeshua, Jesus at the Cross of Calvary.
When people claim to be in His family and kingdom, the basic expectation is that conversion and the supply of His grace makes them averse to sin and willing to grow in righteousness. To claim to be saved and still indulge in sin as a habit and lifestyle is to make the grace of God of no effect. Romans 6:1-16. For those who are part of the family of Yahweh, here is what His word says about coming to Him presumptuously:
“18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” Psalm 66:18
“13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy”. Proverbs 28:13
Coming to Yahweh to ask for any blessing that is not based on a right relationship with Him or fellow humans will only produce a religious ritual. This is why Hebrews 12:14 urges us to follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. We may not be able to dictate how fellow human beings will act towards us but the Word enjoins us to do as much as lies within us to live
peaceably with all men.
If they pursue the path of enmity with us, we should diligently guard our hearts and ensure that no root of bitterness takes hold, so that we are not defiled.
“14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”; Hebrews 12:14-15
“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved” Psalm 15:1-5
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah”. Psalm 24:3-6
“8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”. Matthew 5:8
“12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”. Matthew 6:12
“32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”. Ephesians 4:32
“15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 .
2. Knowledge of the Will of Yahweh. The will of Yahweh is crucial in prayer because asking outside His will is merely wearying of our souls, tasking our bodies and vexing of our spirits. Yahweh has a personality and will. Therefore, it makes great sense to know His will concerning all that we should ask.
“14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 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.
Prayer is an instrument of relationship with Yahweh
3. Knowledge of the Word. The Word of Yahweh is a reliable storehouse of His will. The Scriptures are essentially a documentation of His will for mankind generally and the redeemed in particular. Studying and meditating on the Word is an extraordinarily healthy spiritual exercise that provides grounds on which to walk in tandem with Yahweh.
“16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
“15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2 Timothy 2:15.
4. Faith. Faith is active reliance on the Word of Yahweh. It is the grasping on His Word as true and certain, even when there is nothing physically manifested. The attitude of faith is this “If it is in the Word, then I receive it”. The heroes of faith all had one central thread which ran through their lives: they lived by faith in Yahweh and His word regardless of what their senses suggested. In this, they fulfilled a vital law of the Spirit expressed in this short but powerful passage:
“7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” Hebrews 11:1-6.
Paul the apostle was to clarify this factor as a vital fulcrum on which his incredible ministry was based and for which he suffered incredible opposition and pain:
“16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal”. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Interestingly, our faith is increased with hearing and studying of the will of Yahweh in His Word.
“17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17
Faith is not the exercise of mere positive confession. It is rather standing on the sure promises of God as true and reliable.
5. Prayer. Prayer brings all the four factors above together. In prayer therefore, we come with a penitent heart to Yahweh by the way of the Blood, receiving mercy and grace to rely on His sure Word. Standing on His received will, we ask in faith and hang in there before Him in importunity until we receive that which He says is ours!
“19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” Hebrews 10:19-23
“7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” Matthew 7:7-8.
“22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”. Mark 11:22-24
What do you do when you do not know what to do? Just pray, seeking to know what Yahweh is saying in the situation and His will in and through it. This is a very healthy lifestyle which cannot fail as King Jehoshaphat found in 2 Chronicles chapter 20: 1- 30! If we allow the principle in Colossians 3:1-3 to be real in us and get lost in Yahweh, He takes over all our battles and we rest in His divine providence!
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” Colossians 3:1-3
“15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
16 To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you”. 2 Chronicles 20:15-17
THE MODEL PATTERN OF PRAYER – INSIDE THE YESHUA, JESUS SCHOOL OF PRAYER
In the book of Luke 11: 1, the disciples pleaded with Yeshua, Jesus, to teach them how to pray just as John taught His own disciples. Knowing that what they desired of Him was right and proper, He proceeded to lay out a frame work of how saints should pray. He was by no means telling them a ritual to recite or a religious box to be trapped in. The focus of Jesus rather was to show His disciples, by practical illustration, that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of goods accumulated nor should man live by bread alone.
Thus, it is needful to examine what is now called the Lord’s Prayer in detail to see the point He was making and the way He wanted His saints to think outside the box of cares of this life. To do justice to this prayer, we shall break down and examine all the constituent parts therein from the lenses of the man who was the assigned biographer, Matthew the ex-customs officer.
A Pattern to follow: Let us take note of this vital key that unlocks what Yeshua was saying in Matthew 6: 9: “In this manner therefore pray” –In contemporary language, He was saying ‘Let this be a model or pattern of what to cover in prayer.’
- Our Father in Father in Heaven – This speaks of relationship. He who comes to Yahweh must understand that we are called to a life of relationship with Him. We are not called into a dead religious system which relates with a cold, distant uncaring ‘God’. Though The Supreme Being, we have a personal relationship with Yahweh based on the blood that was shed by Jesus. In Him, divinity became humanity so that sinful mankind can be restored back to the glory lost when Adam and Eve lost their first estate in Eden. If you are redeemed by the blood therefore, your Father beckons you to come boldly to His Throne by the way of the Blood. Hebrews 2: 10-18. You are not just invited to come. It is also significant to note that the model is not to say ‘my Father’ but ‘our Father’. This introduces the concept of Family! We are part of one Family of Yahweh on earth! When we approach Him, selfishness must give way to the overall interest of the collective good! As a member of His family, Abba asks you to come in faith and trust. God says if earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more would He who is the Father of lights bless His own? Matthew 7: 7 – 11
- Hallowed be Your Name – We commence prayer in reverence of God. That we have the privilege of having Him as Father should in no way detract from our approaching Him with an attitude of worship and humility. Furthermore, we need to develop the holy habit of learning how to exalt His Holy name before asking for any needs.
- Your Kingdom come – Here Yeshua, Jesus is asking us to align ourselves with the ultimate purpose of Yahweh which is to finally consummate His Kingdom on earth one day. The Kingdom at this present time is in the realm of the hearts of the redeemed. One day and at an hour which no one knows, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will return to finally establish the fullness of the Kingdom. We must constantly live in remembrance of the fact that this event needs to happen. Our attitude should, like John, ‘Lord Jesus, come quickly’! Revelation 22:20, 21. Of the fullness of that blessed Kingdom which will take over from the kingdoms of this world at their expiration as noted in Revelation 11:15 and Daniel Chapter 2, let us note that it will be personally ruled by King Yeshua, Jesus with no room for Satan and powers of evil – Revelation 20:1-6.
- Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is the heart of this model prayer. The highest ideal of the redeemed is to see a shifting that will cause every authority and person to be wholly submitted to the will and purpose of Yahweh. The will of Yahweh is thus the dwelling place of the saints! If it is so, saints who pray must deliver themselves of the error that we are to impose our wills on Yahweh and expect His acquiescence. If that is so, saints in effect enthrone their self nature as ‘god’! To pray this prayer in good conscience is to simply posture our hearts and minds in such a way that Yeshua, Jesus reigns as Sovereign, determining by the Holy Spirit and the Word, what we desire or ask of Abba. In effect, our attitude in prayer is that of spiritual ‘mid-wives’ who are set to align with Abba for the birthing of His will in all circumstances of life, no matter what the five senses suggest to them. It is in this posture of abiding in Yeshua and allowing Him to abide in us that real mountain moving prayers of faith can truly take place because we are then one with the Almighty concerning any matter! See John 15:1-7; 1 John 5:14-15.
- Give us this day, our daily bread. Deep down in the body of the model prayer, only one verse and line is focused on our daily needs. Interestingly, the pattern is to ask for the needs as they come daily. There is no room in theKingdom for covetousness or for piling up goods for a rainy day. The wisdom of the Kingdom is that of absolute trust in Yahweh as a loving, caring Father. The economic principle was first enunciated in the wilderness when Moses commanded Israel to fetch enough manna and quail for the day. Those who had much more than they needed invariably gave to those who had less so that there was equality. The lesson here is this: In the Kingdom, Yahweh has enough for all our needs but not enough for our greed! He is calling on His own to get into the Kingdom economic model which requires us to focus on the Kingdom and its righteousness, trusting our heavenly Father to provide all that we need. The redeemed were not designed to chase after things. Things are rather ordained to chase after us. (1Timothy 6:6-10). It is strange therefore that ‘so called’ poster men of the Kingdom message in the Western world are simply men and women who have craftily used the sneak peek they claim to receive into the Kingdom to pile up ungodly wealth for generations unborn; men and women who charge exorbitant fees for highly condensed superstar appearances called Kingdom conferences and price their so called revelations of the Kingdom in books and tapes out of the reach of ordinary saints! Yahweh, have mercy!
- Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Here is a simple two edged sword. We normally need to have any debts and sins we incur forgiven. In the same measure, Yahweh requires us to have a heart which freely forgives any offence inflicted by other people. You cannot approach Him for mercy when you refuse to show mercy to people. Ephesians 4: 28-32. Even in matters of finances and other debts owed us, we are called upon to release people from yokes of debts which they cannot repay. The principle of Jubilee is not just an Old Testament construct. Leviticus 25: 1 – 38; Deuteronomy 15: 1•6. The hardness of heart with which believers pursue their debtors is amazing! We ought to give some people the jubilee treatment! Let us let them off the hook and write off those debts. As they breathe the air of freedom, so shall the joy of the Lord floodour hearts. In every situation where we obeyed God and did this, there were amazing visitations of financial breakthrough and more importantly, a great peace and joy in our hearts! Try it saints, it works!
- Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Here Jesus wants us to realize that Satan is a present threat to the earthly pilgrimage of theredeemed. To deny the reality, power and craftiness of Satan is to walk in denial. If Satan could tempt Jesus sorely and dogged His steps till He hung on the old rugged cross, so shall he seek to tempt us out of the will of Yahweh.Jesus wants us also to walk in the understanding that Abba has all the power to order the affairs of His creation. On the basis of this, He wants us to recognize that though temptation can be very devastating, the best defence is toproactively ask Yahweh to deliver us from situations that may lead to falling away from Him. In 2 Thessalonians 3:2 we are also asked to pray for deliverance from wicked and ungodly human beings who have no faith.
- For yours is the Kingdom and the Power and Glory, amen. Yeshua wants us to recognize that Yahweh is not a hard task master who will save us and leave us to our own devices. He has established the present dimension of the Kingdom in our hearts. The Kingdom will be fully manifest as global governance by Yeshua, Jesus Christ from His Throne in Jerusalem in due course of time and we must yearn for it and pray about the time of full manifestation. All the power and glory is ascribable unto Him. Saints should walk in a 24/7 consciousness of this reality. It is interesting that Yeshua began the model prayer with exalting the name of our heavenly Father and ends it with a similar theme. We need to emulate Him.