PRAYER, PRAISE, WORSHIP AND HOLINESS
Today, many are claiming the revival tarries due to our lack of prayer. In the past, we have been told that it tarried due to a lack of praise and also a lack of worship. There have even been several organizations/movements developed where the whole focus was on one or even several of these attributes.
The only problem with all this is we are practicing all of these wonderful Christian works but have done little or nothing preparing the habitation of God for His presence.
Let’s look at what some scripture verses tell us. What did God do when Israel did similar things.
Psa 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me; [Prov. 15:29; 28:9; Isa. 1:15; John 9:31; James 4:3.]
Pro 15:29 The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the [consistently] righteous (the upright, in right standing with Him).
Pro 28:9 He who turns away his ear from hearing the law [of God and man], even his prayer is an abomination, hateful and revolting [to God]. [Ps. 66:18; 109:7; Prov. 15:8; Zech. 7:11.]
Joh 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and a worshiper of Him and does His will, He listens to him.
Jam 4:1 WHAT LEADS to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members?
Jam 4:2 You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. [I John 3:15.]
Jam 4:3 [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.
Jam 4:4 You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world's friend is being God's enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.
I hope we can all see how much the Lord hates sin, even in His own people. In every instance in the Old Testament when Israel refused to repent, God’s presence would leave. He would then bring judgment on His own, they would repent (sometimes) and eventually, the Lord would return (if they had repented). At the beginning of the nation of Israel, during the reign of Saul, we see God’s attitude toward sin and obedience.
1Sa 15:1 SAMUEL TOLD Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people Israel. Now listen and heed the words of the Lord.
1Sa 15:2 Thus says the Lord of hosts, I have considered and will punish what Amalek did to Israel, how he set himself against him in the way when [Israel] came out of Egypt.
1Sa 15:3 Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
1Sa 15:7 Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt.
1Sa 15:8 And he took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, though he utterly destroyed all the rest of the people with the sword.
1Sa 15:9 Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but all that was undesirable or worthless they destroyed utterly.
1Sa 15:10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying,
1Sa 15:11 I regret making Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not performed My commands. And Samuel was grieved and angry [with Saul], and he cried to the Lord all night.
1Sa 15:13 And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, Blessed are you of the Lord. I have performed what the Lord ordered.
1Sa 15:14 And Samuel said, What then means this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
1Sa 15:15 Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but the rest we have utterly destroyed.
1Sa 15:16 Then Samuel said to Saul, Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me tonight. Saul said to him, Say on.
1Sa 15:17 Samuel said, When you were small in your own sight, were you not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed you king over Israel?
1Sa 15:18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites; and fight against them until they are consumed.
1Sa 15:19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but swooped down upon the plunder and did evil in the Lord's sight?
1Sa 15:20 Saul said to Samuel, Yes, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag king of Amalek and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
1Sa 15:21 But the people took from the spoil sheep and oxen, the chief of the things to be utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.
1Sa 15:22 Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
1Sa 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim (household good luck images). Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.
1Sa 15:24 And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.
1Sa 15:25 Now, I pray you, pardon my sin and go back with me, that I may worship the Lord.
1Sa 15:26 And Samuel said to Saul, I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.
The above passage shows us God’s attitude toward obedience, what HE considers obedience and His attitude toward those who are NOT obedient. True, this is an Old Testament passage, but the principle is contained throughout scripture. As far as God is concerned, if we are NOT obedient, then our prayers, our praises, even our worship is worthless!
Psa 111:10 The reverent fear and worship of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom and skill [the preceding and the first essential, the prerequisite and the alphabet]; a good understanding, wisdom, and meaning have all those who do [the will of the Lord]. Their praise of Him endures forever. [Job. 28:28; Prov. 1:7; Matt. 22:37, 38; Rev. 14:7.]
Psa 119:63 I am a companion of all those who fear, revere, and worship You, and of those who observe and give heed to Your precepts.
Psa 119:64 The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy and loving-kindness; teach me Your statutes.
Psa 119:65 You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your promise.
Psa 119:66 Teach me good judgment, wise and right discernment, and knowledge, for I have believed (trusted, relied on, and clung to) Your commandments.
Psa 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now Your word do I keep [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it].
Pro 3:1 MY SON, forget not my law or teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments;
Pro 3:2 For length of days and years of a life [worth living] and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age till death], these shall they add to you.
Pro 3:3 Let not mercy and kindness [shutting out all hatred and selfishness] and truth [shutting out all deliberate hypocrisy or falsehood] forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them upon the tablet of your heart. [Col. 3:9-12.]
Pro 3:4 So shall you find favor, good understanding, and high esteem in the sight [or judgment] of God and man. [Luke 2:52.]
Pro 3:5 Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.
Pro 3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil. [Prov. 8:13.]
Pro 3:8 It shall be health to your nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to your bones.
Isa 66:3 [The acts of the hypocrite's worship are as abominable to God as if they were offered to idols.] He who kills an ox [then] will be as guilty as if he slew and sacrificed a man; he who sacrifices a lamb or a kid, as if he broke a dog's neck and sacrificed him; he who offers a cereal offering, as if he offered swine's blood; he who burns incense [to God], as if he blessed an idol. [Such people] have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations;
Isa 66:4 So I also will choose their delusions and mockings, their calamities and afflictions, and I will bring their fears upon them--because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey. But they did what was evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight.
Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others all speak about the lip service Israel paid to their Lord God, but in reality their hearts were far from worshiping Him. Do we not know that true worship consists of obedience? If we are NOT in obedience, we do not have a heart of worship.
Mat 15:7 You pretenders (hypocrites)! Admirably and truly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said:
Mat 15:8 These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me.
Mat 15:9 Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men. [Isa. 29:13.]
Mar 7:6 But He said to them, Excellently and truly [so that there will be no room for blame] did Isaiah prophesy of you, the pretenders and hypocrites, as it stands written: These people [constantly] honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far distant from Me.
Mar 7:7 In vain (fruitlessly and without profit) do they worship Me, ordering and teaching [to be obeyed] as doctrines the commandments and precepts of men. [Isa. 29:13.]
Mar 7:8 You disregard and give up and ask to depart from you the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men [keeping it carefully and faithfully].
Mar 7:9 And He said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting [thus thwarting and nullifying and doing away with] the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (your own human regulations)!
(How true this is today!)
Rom 12:1 I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
In all the cases above where God accepted the worship, those involved had hearts that were humble, they were OBEDIENT, they were seeking Him, they had put aside their own ways and chose instead to follow the Lord exclusively. In all those places above where God did NOT accept worship, it was due to DISOBEDIENCE, unbelief, hypocrisy, idolatry, etc. This has been true throughout HIS-story!
My friends, it is TRUE TODAY as well! If we are not walking, LIVING DAILY in obedience, our worship, praise, thanksgiving is NOT ACCEPTED!
Now, we MUST remember God IS Sovereign. He may choose for His Own good purposes to speak, to bless, to even answer some prayers of those who do not even know Him. Because He is love, He may CHOOSE to answer a prayer, but if we say we are seeking Him, yet have NOT laid down our own ways, have chosen NOT to put to death our self-lives, have not consecrated our lives in such a manner that He had Sanctified us TOTALLY, our prayers for revival are so much fluff; our seeking Him is a waste of time for we are doing so for our own selfish reasons. As we are told in James, if we are double-minded, we will receive nothing from Him.
What is being double minded? It is not having our WHOLE heart, soul, mind and strength dedicated, worshiping Him. We do NOT love Him with everything in our lives, if we hold anything back from Him. If we have reserved anything from His absolute control, how can we say He is our Lord, that He rules us? If we have reserved ANYTHING from Him, how can we even begin to THINK that we abide in Him?
1Jo 2:6 Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.
What message, what principle do we get from this and the others verses speaking along the same lines? Just this>>> The Lord is ALWAYS looking for a people who will take Him at His word and actually LIVE an experiential reality before the world. Jesus did it. Paul, Peter, James, John, and many others did it as well.
This lifestyle MUST be a living reality in our lives TODAY! God demands it. Our Lord even tells us that anyone who practices sin habitually (that means regularly) does NOT even KNOW Him. We can listen to all those preachers or we can believe what the Bible says. Frankly, after the recent record we have seen in the lives of many in leadership, I would NOT be putting my trust in the things they tell me.
Friends, we can continue going along as we have, seeking for an answer to the lack of revival in prayer, praises, and even “so called worship”. Yet is that NOT continuing to do the same things expecting different results? As it has been said, that IS insanity!
We claim to be people of God. We claim that He is our Lord, Savior, and we love Him so much. Yet do we even begin to come close to obeying Him? Have we indeed laid down EVERYTHING in our lives, given it up, INCLUDING our own rights and sold out everything to Him? We give lip service to this idea, but how many of us have done so? REALLY? How many of us have kept back a portion for ourselves, JUST LIKE Ananias and Sapphira? Please do not answer me, that is for each of us to answer to the Lord. Have we gone the whole way and utterly given up EVERYTHING in our lives like in the parables of The Pearl of Great Price and The Hidden Treasure? The ONLY way we will EVERY possess the ultimate treasure is to lay down and SELL EVERYTHING and give it away forever! (I am speaking spiritually but this may mean a physical response from some)
Please do not attempt to argue about this for the Lord HIMSELF told us the ONLY way to be His disciples was to absolutely deny ourselves, lay everything down and follow Him, just as HE followed the Lord God, just as HE had His disciples follow Him in the Gospels. We cannot expect the Lord to bless when we have not given Him what He told us to.
I could go on. I could copy many more passages of scripture that all say the same things. If we are HONEST with ourselves and with the Lord, we KNOW the lack of revival is due to our own poor commitment. We cannot expect a corporate revival when we do not have a personal revival first. Are we living in a place where Jesus is a LIVING REALITY to us daily? Constantly?
Joh 14:20 At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you.
Joh 14:21 The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]
We say we want this, yet are we really willing to pay the price to have it? It will mean we give up everything, leaving nothing for ourselves. There can be no self-centeredness, no selfishness, no self-reliance, nothing for ourselves. We cannot be going through the motions and expect anything. We cannot give lip service to this for HE sees the heart and judges the intentions; He knows EVERYTHING; we will not fool Him!
We cannot expect to live as we desire and then for a few hours on Sunday claim we “worship” God. This is the kind of worship the Lord hates, and is not one bit different from what the Israelites did when they committed spiritual adultery. Who are we kidding? Do any of us REALLY believe we can watch sexually explicit (and I do not mean x-rated) films, have a fight in the car on the way to “Church” and then believe we are “worshipping” God? Men, do you control your family and demand that they obey you and then expect to be blessed by God when you pray? Women, do you talk down your man, gossip with your friends about others and think your worship is acceptable to God?
Just because we may present a false face in our meetings does NOT mean God accepts our praise, our prayers, or our worship. What most people call the touch or presence of God today, is no different from the feeling most people get when they hear a beautiful song, such as “Memory” from CATS sung! It is emotion pure and simple. Does it move us? Of course it does. Does it touch our feelings? Obviously! Is the presence of God there? Only if we are actually changed into something resembling Jesus Christ! For the most part, no!
People will become angry at what I am saying. They were angry with Jeremiah as well; just as they were when Jesus called them to account for their own heart attitudes. Look at these verses>>>
1Co 3:1 HOWEVER, BRETHREN, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!]
1Co 3:2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it],
1Co 3:3 For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?
Gal 5:19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency,
Gal 5:20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies),
Gal 5:21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,
Gal 5:23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Gal 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.
Brothers and Sisters, if in our lives we practice strife, jealousy, anger, immorality, impurity, indecency (think how some dress and yet claim to be “Christian”) and all the rest of these SINS, we are NOT spiritual people; we are NOT abiding in Christ Jesus and our prayers are indeed hindered and our worship is not acceptable before God! We do not like hearing this but it is the truth. Those who will argue with me will come back saying that we will continue to sin as long as we live on this earth, but they have no scriptural principal to back them up. The arguments against these things I have stated come down to one thing>>> They want to promote some way to continue to sin while claiming salvation, then call it normal! They will argue to continue in their sin and say they are giving the glory to God.
Friends, even the unsaved know that is a lie! If it is not a lie, then why do they attempt to hide their sins, why are people like Ted Haggard spoken against if he is indeed giving so much Glory to God by his lifestyle? Why do they present a false face at “church” pretending they are living a life that they do not even believe they can live?
Yet, for all of the arguments, there has never been a real absolute surrender of the kind that the SCRIPTURES demand of us; the kind of surrender where we lay down EVERYTHING, including our sinful nature. Only when we have done this, only when our hearts have been purified by TOTAL SANCTIFCATION where the sinful nature has been put to death on the cross and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ now lives in us as it John tells us it must in I John, will we have a single mind, one that is absolutely dedicated to the Lord God Almighty as James says it must. Only when we truly live in this manner, will we begin to receive HIS answers to the prayers we utter. For those prayers will be true spiritual prayers that have ceased to be from our flesh, our sinful nature, the kind of prayer we are currently praying so that we can consume those things we are praying for. NO! Those types of prayers will cease.
Instead, we will begin to pray the kind of prayers Jesus prayed. We will come to the Lord and be changed into the likeness of His being and pray HIS desires on this earth. That is true prayer and the answer to that is always the DIVINE YES!
True worship is like it. We cease to concern ourselves with ourselves but rather concern ourselves with GOD ALONE! We give Him our all because He is our ALL! We will live lives that will look no different than the life of Jesus, of Paul, of John, of James. A life that seeks nothing for itself but only God’s will in ALL circumstances. The worship of absolute obedience like Abraham gave the Father on the Mount when he laid Isaac on the altar. That is worship, not singing praises to God until we feel good.
How controversial is this? So many will take offense at these words. They will seek for ways to disprove them for IF they are true, then it will mean they will have to change and that is the very last thing they really want to do. If this writing has bothered you, if you have become angry, then ask yourself why. What have I said that is unscriptural? If God can change us in such a way that we no longer live like mere men in the vanity of our minds, following our fleshly desires, does that NOT give Him the Glory when we KNOW it is ONLY by His power we live like that? Which life gives God more glory, a life of sin or a life lived in absolute subjection to the Holy Spirit? Which kind of life draws people to Jesus, one where His “people” live lives no different from the world, or one where they live far above the fleshly desires and petty concerns of the natural man?
This is the kind of life that the Lord said He would provide for us when He told of the NEW COVENANT that He was going to cut with us in Jeremiah 31 and look at this description>>>
Jer 32:38 And they will be My people, and I will be their God.
Jer 32:39 And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may [reverently] fear Me forever for the good of themselves and of their children after them.
Jer 32:40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will not turn away from following them to do them good, and I will put My [reverential] fear in their hearts, so that they will not depart from Me. [Jer. 31:31-34.]
Jesus bought that covenant for us with His own life. The covenant where God puts HIS OWN Desires inside us, causes us to walk in His laws AND we will NOT depart from Him! That IS the Covenant that we are supposed to be living in. When we do enter into that life, then our prayers, our praises, our worship will not only come from a pure heart of devotion to the Lord, but HE will accept them and work His will within our lives and around us. People will see this blessed life and be drawn to Him who lives His life in us.
All through the Old Testament, God corrects His people for all of the same excuses that many may try to use here today. He consistently tells His people to cease from sin and return to Him in total dedication. In Hebrews, we are told that the Old command could not change us from the inside but only show us the kind of life God demands. BUT THE NEW COVENANT found ONLY in Jesus Christ is far superior in every way, not only showing us the way through Jesus Christ but actually changing us into the kind of people God desires by removing the old nature and replacing it with HIS nature. That is entering His Rest, where we cease from our own labors and rest in Christ Jesus. It is here, when we have ceased from working and He lives His life in us that our prayers become pure and are answer in the same manner as the very prayers of Jesus, for as Paul said, “. . . it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me. . .” Since He is living in us, His prayers, His worship are the ones being answered. If we will allow this to happen, then His revival, the one HE desires, will come to pass.
If we are honest and tired of praying, praising, and worshiping from dusk til dawn, not seeing the "promised" revival, perhaps we should look at another source that might keep back those things we have been saying we desire. Are we willing to take that close of a look at ourselves and accept our own responsibility that the current situation is a result of our own lack? If we can say yes to that, we may very well be on our way to at least our own revival. When that happens (and it will if we do this) then others may finally begin to see the reality of Christ in us, the Hope of Glory!
May we all come to the place where we cease from our own labors and enter His rest, allowing Christ Jesus to live His life through us.
A bondslave in Christ Jesus, Dirk