8 Sinful Ways to Pray That God Won’t Respect

8 Sinful Ways to Pray That God Won’t Respect

8 Sinful Ways to Pray That God Won’t Respect

by Paul Renfroe – January, 2019

The Bible teaches surefire ways to pray sinfully—and how to avoid them. But if you do want your prayers respected by God, don’t pray in these ways.

1. Cajole to show up. The prayers of the Baal prophets in 1 Kings 18 were idolatrous, so there was no one home to answer. But to poison your prayers, you too can dishonor the true God like they did. Like us, they wanted their God to “show up” believing that He was an unfaithful, come-and-go, capricious God. They demonstrated their sincerity in costly ways, ways different from ours, of course, but still the same manipulative behavior toward God.

In contrast stands Elijah, who simply desires God to make Himself known and call back Israel. Elijah actually makes it three times harder for his prayer to be answered—not manipulative. His prayer lasts about 1 minute, not 9 hours like the others. It all shows his faith in God’s faithfulness. But don’t be like that if you don’t want your prayers answered.

2. Act sanctimoniously to others. To turn God against your prayers, be like Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. They accused Job and found fault in Job’s relationship with God. God speci cally rebukes them.

Yes, Job said mean things about God, misinterpreting God’s motives. Yet God saw in Job’s tempestuous argumentation an uninterrupted faith in Him. God affrmed that Job’s prayer for the three “friends” would be answered if they repented.

3. Rely on the presence. Relying on “the presence of the Lord” cuts off our answers also. In Jeremiah 7:1-27 God speci cally rebukes reliance upon any “presence” concept such as the temple, filled 550 years before. Like the Baal prophets, they believed some security was needed to ensure He hadn’t left them. “The presence of the Lord” even enabled them to justify their sin.

In contrast stands Jeremiah, who never relied upon “the presence,” not even when he was sinking in the dungeon mud (Jer. 38). Like Job’s, Jeremiah’s tempestuous words with God stand in the Bible as examples of true faith, knowing God was not come-and-go, but fully engaged at all times with all individuals through thick and thin.

4. Pray many words to be seen. Jesus used the Jewish religious leaders to show how to pray sinfully (Matt. 6:5-14). “They think they will be heard for their much speaking” (v. 7b)—just like the Baal prophets. Those were only responding to public pressure, but Jesus’ contemporaries went out of their way to be seen by men.

They grimaced during fasts and prayed ostentatiously on street corners. This is an excellent way to avoid answered prayer. In contrast stands the pure motive Jesus commended: to be seen by God. Also contrasting is the same underlying faith of Job and Jeremiah, that God is always fully engaged with each of us. In the place of many words to be seen by men, the Lord’s Prayer commends the attitude of a Beatitude person.

5. Don’t forgive. In the same passage, Jesus states that not forgiving someone turns God against our prayer. This is an unseen attitude of the heart, in contrast to the visible praying described above. God knows if you are not forgiving. Of course, if you do want your prayers answered, keep a constant vigilance to spot any unforgiveness in your heart.

6. Have sort-of faith. James 1:6-8 plainly shows us how to turn God against our prayers: pray with doubt in God, and doubt whether He gives liberally to all men without distinction. In contrast stands prayer with faith in God’s trustworthiness. Reserving His right to determine the best answer to our prayers is not doubt in His magnanimous generosity.

7. Be self-centered. Pray to spend what you get on yourself, a sure way to cut off the answers (James 4:3-5). Comfort-seeking, pain avoiding people can pray that way which shows our primary friendship is not with God. This provokes God’s jealousy for our prime loyalty. Treating God as your butler will usually keep your prayers unanswered.

8. Don’t be meek. Jesus’ parable in Luke 18:9-14 is plain. Like the Pharisee, you can use your manipulative religious compliance to make God indebted to you—a very effective method for preventing answered prayer.

The tax collector’s prayer was answered. How? He recognized his own poverty of spirit, beat his breast with mourning about it, expected nothing because of it, and only pled for God’s mercy. He was a Beatitude person. Of course you do not want to pray sinfully, so be vigilant to spot it. Like the tax collector, recognize your poverty of spirit, mourn about it and lower your expectations in meekness because of it. Such people have an exalted standing with God.

Paul Renfroe is an ordained minister with Christian International as well as a businessman. His book, The Pains of the Christian, is available on christianwhatareyou.com.

5 Reasons Believers Should Yield to Jesus’ Off-Ramp

5 Reasons Believers Should Yield to Jesus’ Off-Ramp

5 Reasons Believers Should Yield to Jesus’ Off-Ramp

by Paul Renfroe – December, 2018

Christians sometimes stop loving Jesus Christ, and stop walking in the Spirit. They can abandon their faith in the authority of the Bible; they explain away God’s clear commands. How can this be?

The list includes our own children. Three ministers last night discussed six children who’ve turned away from the Lord—children raised in His nurture and admonition. Widely recognized leaders are on the list also. This week’s list included a prominent Christian author. Why does this happen?

To defend our faith, we can look for causes. To support our conviction, we even blame flaws in the other person’s faith, which Job’s three friends did. And we can doubt our own understanding of the Bible when a respected person waters down its authority. These reactions are not the best.

Jesus built the off-ramp. His effort to reduce the number of His followers was well-documented in the Gospels. Our best reaction is to permit Him to continue doing so.

We want everyone saved. He does also. He wants everyone saved from damnation, but that’s not the standard.

He wants people saved for following Him wholeheartedly (Luke 9:57-62). It’s His to judge who is, and who isn’t, so we defer to Him. To everyone who confesses His name, we are generous with the benefit of the doubt. But all of us recognize varying degrees of love for Jesus in the people around us—not to mention, in our own hearts.

He spits out the lukewarm, He said in Revelation 3. He announced in John 6 that eating His flesh and drinking His blood was necessary for life—a really weird thing to say.

Why did He do this? He was showing people the off-ramp, and the 5,000-plus He had miraculously fed the day before walked away from Him. Only 12 were left.

These thousands had just traversed the shore of Sea of Galilee to find Him on the other side. They clamored to make Him king. You or I would have started the church right then and there, and it would have been mega. He showed them the off-ramp, and they took it.

What about when a respected Christian leader calls people to follow him or her down the off-ramp? This hurts even worse. The brief letters of 2 & 3 John give guidance as well as Paul’s 2 Corinthians responses to the “super-apostles.” The fact remains:
Jesus made that off-ramp.

When someone at any level elects the off-ramp, Jesus permits it. So, what do you do?

1. Don’t be like Job’s three “friends,” blaming him. Instead, be like Elihu, defending God’s prerogatives.

2. Don’t be threatened. Job saw they viewed his experience as a threat to themselves (Job 6:21). Your safety in Jesus is unaffected by what any other person may do.

3. “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Keep praying and declaring restoration of the person. Put your faith to work, overcoming doubt and declaring the Scriptural and prophetic promises that apply.

4. Exercise amplified personal vigilance that your own heart doesn’t stray. Identify other Christians who want to relate to each other in mutual support for faithfulness (Heb. 3:12-13).

5. Yield to Jesus. He didn’t say you would build His church—He said He would do it (Matt. 16:18). So, let Him do it ,and stay in your assigned lane.

Paul Renfroe is an ordained minister of Christian International and an entrepreneur as well as author of the book Christian, What Are You? Removing the Blindfolds and other books available at paradigmlighthouse.com.

4 Lessons God Wants to Teach You When You’re Sick

4 Lessons God Wants to Teach You When You’re Sick

4 Lessons God Wants to Teach You When You’re Sick

by Paul Renfroe – November, 2018

Apostle Paul instructs us: Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). We easily imagine this when times are good or when our hopes are being realized. It’s much harder when you’re sick or your body is out of order. In fact, that may be the hardest time to keep in step with the Spirit.

I have lived with sickness my entire 62 years. The many periods of health and happiness are persistently punctuated by reminders of my mortality. I have learned the meaning of keeping in step with the Spirit even while sick. Those lessons may benefit you also or someone that you

Recently, a man we’ll call Mr. L B shared a hospital room with me—a man with the same problem there to receive the same procedure as I was. Although a sizable, vigorous looking man, his voice was shaky; his posture was hunched. With him were his much younger passive aggressive wife and vicious rebellious home schooled 13 year old son. Joining me was my wife.

It was rapidly evident in our three hours together that Mr. L B needed his sickness. For one thing, he clearly wanted a certain relationship with reality—him and his needs as the center of attention, being pitied and receiving sympathy. For another, he needed to be sick to justify an identity of deserving numerous government benefits: SSI, VA disability, pension enhancement, tuition discounts. He was like the lame man by the pool in John 5.

Lesson One: There is competition to determine your identity. Only God gets to say what your identity is (Ps. 139, Jer. 1). But He allows you to give that right away. When sick, your body wants to dictate who you are. A study of Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 shows that when Lucifer rebelled, he thought he could keep his externals (which God had given him) once he succeeded and replaced God. He made the mistake of thinking his externals were his identity. The outcome of that mistake is well known. If how you feel or symptoms or what doctors say determines your identity, you are not in step with the Spirit.

Lesson Two: Your choice affects many. His wife was very capable but always the tail on everyone else’s dog. This man’s son was verbally vicious, observably disdainful. When their son spoke, she kept shushing him with that nagging, useless begging tone of voice—no authority. His daughter away in college was coming down with a chronic disease at age 19. The wife spoke of the burden upon her with such sick family members. “Hey, I need a problem too!” This man had chosen a sick identity. Everyone around him made poor choices also. Your choice of attitude about sickness brings down those around you.

Lesson Three: The honor of the Lord is at stake, more than what happens to you. During conversation, Mr. L B revealed that he was at a Baptist college, in training to become a minister. This was truly frightening. My spirit was vexed, so I asked the Holy Spirit the right words. Opportunity came first when his wife and son left for lunch.

“Mr. L B, may I share something with you that I have learned from my heart issues?” He assented with a reluctant, wary tone. He knew—he knew. “Mr. L B, I can see you love the Lord Jesus. But when I hear you, it’s evident that you have a need to be sick, more than a desire to be well. And especially for a minister in training, I believe that dishonors the Lord. Would you please give that some thought?” He assented weakly as if glad to see his wife and son re entering, relieving him of the Spirit’s correction.

Lesson Four: You can minister more effectively while sick if the above are in proper order. Because of the training God has given me at being sick in the Lord, one nurse said to me, “it’s a delight to be here with you; I hope I am not talking too long. It’s just that so few people have your attitude.” I said, “Thank you,” and again realized that it’s easier to be a light in the darkness when you are sick.

Paul Renfroe is a life insurance agent and entrepreneur, completing his doctoral work through the college affiliated with Christian International in Santa Rosa Beach, founded by bishop Bill Hamon.
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