The Necessity of Prayer – Lesson XXIV, Prayer and Character and Conduct
Prayer is to change the character and conduct of men.
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
Salvation begins the work of God that all of his sons will be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
God takes hold and begins the work of making the things new that he has declared to be new.
God said the all things are new and we need to get out of the way so God can make happen what he has declared to be true.
God says all things are new and we say by our resistance No they are not new.
But God be true and every man a liar.
When God saves he gives a new nature, and God will change character, which brings about new conduct.
And prayer is right in the middle of this change
So effective prayer is based on character.
What we are in our heart determines our influence with God.
Study the lives of Abraham, Job, David, Moses and see their great influence with God.
And see in their day, as it is in our day, it is not so much our words, as what we really are, which weighs with God.
Bad living means bad praying and, in the end, no praying at all.
We pray weakly if we live weakly.
If our character is shallow, if we have no depth of character, it affect our ability to talk to God.
Unless we are living for him faithfully and in truth, how do we talk to Him intimately, and with confidence.
Can there be a holy prayer closet when the life of the one in the closet is an alien to God’s precepts and purposes?
The one of righteous character and Christ like conduct who prays, goes to the head of the line before God.
God gives preferential standing in prayer to those with righteous character and Christ like conduct.
God’s word is clear and full on how conduct affects his hearing ability.
Listen to Isaiah 58:9, “Then shalt thou call and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am; if thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth the finger, and speaking vanity.”
See how conduct affects God willingness to hear.
Don’t your actions affect how I hear you?
If I say that I cannot hear what you say, because I’m watching what you do don’t you suppose our God does the same thing.
Your actions get in the way of my hearing you.
I can’t hear what you say because that which you do affects what I hear.
The wickedness of Israel and their abominable practices were given by Isaiah, as the reason why God would turn His ears away from their prayers:
“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.” (Isa 1:15)
The same sad truth was declared by the Lord through the mouth of Jeremiah:
“Therefore, pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto Me for their trouble.” (Jer 11:14)
So there is no doubt that unholy conduct is a barricade to successful praying.
The psalmist of Psalm 66:18 tells us this: If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
For successful praying, in order to have full access to God in prayer, there must be a total abandonment of conscious and premeditated sin.
We are commanded to pray, “lifting up holy ( pure and separated ) hands, without wrath and doubting,” and must pass the time of our sojourning here, abstaining from evil if we expect anything to come from calling upon the Father.
You cannot separate successful praying from right conduct.
1 John 3:22 plainly declares: “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things (conduct) which are pleasing in His sight.”
And James declares that men ask and receive not, because they ask amiss, and seek only the gratification of selfish desires.
What did our Lord mean when He told his disciples to: “Watch ye, and pray always,?”
That certainly does not mean to watch outside of you to see what is happening around you.
No! That does not mean to look on the outside around you but it means to look on the inside, look on your heart, look, on your conduct.
What the Lord Jesus Christ meant for them and for us is to be concerned and to guard all our conduct, so that we may come to God and receive from God that which we request.
“Watch ye” is first (that is conduct) and then “pray always” is second.
Let all things be done decently and in order.
There is an order to effective prayer.
Lift up holy hands, not bloody hands as the children of Israel did.
Have right conduct and then right praying.
How often we see a Christian stumble and fall on the rock of conduct.
Perhaps there is wonderful preaching and wonderful expounding of the Word of God but all of that can be marred by ugly conduct.
It is the life which counts, and our praying suffers, as do other phases of our Christian experience, from bad living.
Preachers must preach by their lives, or not preach at all.
So Christians, ought to be challenged to pray by their lives, or not to pray at all.
Example preaches a far more effective sermon than precept.
The best preaching is always fortified by godly living, in the preacher, himself.
The most effective work that can be done is preceded by, and accompanied with, holiness of life, separation from the world and sin.
The best-prepared, the most eloquent sermon can be but chaff and waste when the one preaching the sermon is engaged in questionable living.
How soon and how quickly can a life’s work be forgotten when worldliness of spirit and inconsistency of life enter the picture.
We preach by our lives, not only by our words, and sermons are delivered in a man’s temperament, in his actions, and the thousand and one incidents which crop up in every minute of daily life.
This is what character is all about, it is described by all of the little actions and incidents which make up daily life.
Many times it is revealed in a little incident that happens when your back is to the wall.
What comes out during those times?
At the times when least expected and witnessed by those least expected to witness.
Your children are sure to be there.
But God is always ready to hear the prayer of repentance.
God delights in hearing the cries of remorseful sinners.
But repentance involves not only sorrow for sin, but the turning away from wrong-doing, and the learning to do well.
A repentance which does not produce a change in character and conduct, is a mere sham, which should deceive nobody.
Old things must pass away, all things must become new for God has so declared for His people.
Praying, which does not result in right thinking and right living, is a farce.
Prayer is given of God to change character and conduct.
Either we quit praying or our conduct will change.
A prayerful life will result in growth in purity and devotion to God.
So the character of the inner life is a condition of effectual praying.
As goes the life, so goes the praying.
Live an inconsistent life, live a double minded life and realize obstructed and neutralized praying.
In such a condition you are praying against yourself.
Jesus Christ could say to you as he said to Paul, Why kickest against the pricks?
Why do you kick against that which is sharp and will hurt you?
Why do you pray when your conduct shuts off your prayer?
God is not mocked by that kind of conduct.
God is in control and He says that he will not hear.
………….. I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto Me for their trouble.” (Jer 11:14)
Always, it is only “the prayer of the righteous man which availeth much.”
A righteous man is captured by earnest desire to please Him in all his ways.
A righteous man possesses hands that are busy serving Him.
A righteous man has feet that gladly walk in the way of His commandments.
A righteous man has character and conduct which give weight and influence and power to his prayer, and therefore secures an audience with God.
Praying must come out of a cleansed heart and be presented and urged with the “lifting up of holy hands.”
Separated and dedicated hands.
Hands that support a life that aims to obey God, aims to be in conformance to God’s commandments, and aims always at submitting to and doing God’s will.
Prayer is a outcome of righteous living, but prayer is also the condition of righteous living.
Prayer promotes righteous living, and is the God given assistant to uprightness of heart and life.
The fruit of real praying is right living.
Paul told the Philippians and that includes us, to: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
God’s children are working children.
Prayer is a must to that work.
Prayer puts the child of God to watching his temper, to watching his conversation and conduct.
Prayer causes the child to “walk circumspectly, redeeming the time”.
That word circumspectly means to walk perfectly following a set pattern.
Olympic skaters used to skate following a set pattern in the ice, a figure eight or a perfect S.
The closer they skated to that pattern the higher their score.
But prayer enables God’s child to “walk worthy of the vocation herewith he is called, with all lowliness and meekness;”.
And prayer gives the child of God encouragement to pursue his pilgrimage consistently by “shunning every evil way, and walking in the good.”