Obviously, it is right to pray. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. How can it ever be wrong to pray? Let me suggest five situations or circumstances in which, according to God’s word, we are out of line when we pray.
Part 5 – Substitute for Obedience
In Exodus 14:13-16 we read: Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.”
It is wrong to pray when we are trying to use prayer as a substitute for obedience.If I had been there to hear Moses speak, I would have responded enthusiastically, “Amen. Preach it brother. We need to stand firm. When we’re between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army – caught between a rock and a hard place – we need to stand firm. Hallelujah. Glory to God.” My response makes for a great sermon, but God was not impressed with Moses’ plan.
God said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving.” Moses had to go back to the people and say, “Change of plans. We’re going forward.”
Going forward was a real challenge for these people. There was a sea in front of them. It couldn’t be ignored. In order for the people to do what God commanded, it was going to take a miracle.
Does God ever ask us to do something that we can’t possibly do unless He intervenes on our behalf? For instance, “Be perfect, even as I am perfect.” The only way that we’re going to be able to obey God is if God does a miracle. This is what God wants to do in every single one of our lives. He wants to do a miracle. He wants to live His life through us so that we are, by His grace, enabled to be like Jesus. This is God’s plan for us.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9 we are told: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” God’s desire for you is something so supernatural, so glorious, and so wonderful, that you can’t even imagine it. Do you believe God?
You are more than forgiven. Forgiveness is just part of the package. God doesn’t just want to forgive you; He wants to transform you. I John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God’s word is true. He wants you to be like Jesus. He wants me to be like Jesus. This is going to take a miracle. God stands ready to do it. One of the ways in which He does it is through prayer. But when God commands, we need to obey. Don’t keep on praying and disobeying. Do what God says.
John Chrysostem is considered one of the most eminent writers and preachers of the fourth century church. During this time when the church was experiencing horrible persecution, one of the other believers came to Chrysostem and said, “I just want to be sure that you understand why I must …[do this thing]. I know it is wrong.”
Chrysostem said, “What do you mean you must?”
He said, “If I don’t, I will die.”
“Yes, so why must you do it?”
Jesus said: “Don’t be afraid of the one who can destroy the body. Rather, fear Him who having destroyed the body can cast the soul into hell.” Fear God. This is the beginning of wisdom.