Prayer

Myths of Faith #4: God Will Say "Yes" to My Prayer

Read the series so far.

I groaned when I read the first sentences of a WORLD magazine article that appeared last fall: “My husband lost a week’s pay. It must have fallen out of his pocket at the hardware store.” I’d sure hate to be that guy! I don’t even want to think about what losing a week’s pay would do to my family’s budget.

But how does a Christian respond to this kind of problem? What does responding with biblical faith look like? Hopefully, most of us get quickly to where the article’s author did: “My reaction was to pray immediately.” But how should faith shape the prayer? At least four options are available (or some combination of them):

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Devotion to Prayer

Proskartereo in the New Testament: A sermon delivered at Calvary Baptist Church, Derby, Kansas. Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Tonight, I want us to study a single word in the NT: proskartereo. It looks and sounds like a perfect candidate for use in a Jeopardy category: “12-letter Greek words that are difficult to pronounce”!

This word caught my attention as I ran across it at various times over the years in my studies of the NT in Greek, and I thought its various occurrences and uses rather interesting.

It is a compound word, composed of the preposition pros, which means, “to, toward, in the direction of” and kartereo, a verb with the root idea of “to be strong, firm.” So it literally means “to be strong toward something or someone.” As used in the NT, the word carries the sense and meaning “to be devoted to, to be dedicated to, to focus on, to be committed to, to persist in” some purpose, object or person.

This word is used ten times in the Greek NT, six of which occur in Acts. I want to briefly note each of these uses.

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The Struggle of Prayer - Part 6

foldedhandsRead the series so far.

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

This petition, especially when coupled with the addendum in v. 14-15 (“if you do not forgive others the Lord will not forgive you”) has caused concern for some of God’s people. Let me say first that this passage is not concerned with forgiveness of sins and justification on the basis of the cross and resurrection. Certainly, that is not how the disciples would have understood Jesus.

Rather, what is in view here is our unfettered approach to God. How can we think of asking God to forgive us our debts and our sins (Luke 11:4) if we hypocritically refuse to forgive the debts and sins of others against us? Just as unconfessed sin stops our prayers from being effective, so an unforgiving heart will damage our fellowship with our Father, and hence our prayer life.

This petition requires us to look within ourselves for any traces of hypocrisy in our dealings with our fellow man. How many of God’s children harbor secret enmities, prejudices, envies and bitterness toward others? In some sense they must be to us as we would be to God.

Thus, as Andrew Murray says,

In each prayer to the Father I must be able to say that I know of no one whom I do not heartily love. (With Christ in the School of Prayer, 30.)

A prayer life that fails to include thorough self-examination is always going to be deficient. Although no man can know himself so well as to exclude all suspicion of his heart-motive, yet he must search his memory for sins still unconfessed and people yet unforgiven.

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