By Bishop David Oyedepo
Last week, I showed you the various reasons why we must pray. We pray, among other things, for spiritual empowerment, divine mercy, divine help, angelic interventions, deliverance from afflictions, enforcement of prophecies, etc.
This week, I will show you the importance of preparation before going to the prayer altar. Every great result is a product of great preparation. Every great show of an artist on the stage is a proof of great preparation. When you are at a prayer altar, you are in Godâ€™s courtroom. A prayer altar is spiritually Godâ€™s courtroom. It calls for preparation.
The Word of God says: “Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12). You donâ€™t just appear before God anyhow; you must prepare to meet Him. You donâ€™t just appear for an examination; you prepare for it so you can pass with flying colours. Also, you donâ€™t just appear at the war front just like that; you have to prepare adequately because it is warfare. If you must win the war, there is need for adequate preparation.
There is no manifestation without preparation. Every encounter with God is born out of adequate preparation. For instance, the Bible narrates the testimony of Prophet Elijah and how he made adequate preparation before God in I Kings 18:30-38. He was a prayer warrior. He prepared adequately, which was why he drew fire from heaven! Because his preparation was adequate, the response he got was instant! Letâ€™s see the various dimensions of preparation:
Heart preparation:Â The Bible says: “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:1). God responds according to the state of your heart. He communicates with our hearts. Note that prayer has its root in the heart. Godâ€™s Word says: “…The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7). The heart is what matters to God. That is the place of communion between Him and man. It is the altar upon which the sacrifice of praise and the incense of prayer are offered.
It is not what you do or say outwardly that guarantees a release from heaven, but what goes on in your heart. In fact, what becomes of you ultimately in Godâ€™s kingdom is a function of what goes on in your heart. The Bible says: “Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken” (I Samuel 1:13). Hannah spoke in her heart, but God heard her. Everybody may be commending you for what they see of you outwardly, but God rates you by what He sees in your heart. That means, there is no outstanding answer to prayers without first an outstanding preparation in the heart.
God does not reckon with the outward appearance, neither is He moved by physical efforts; what moves Him is your heart. Therefore, your heart must be set for an encounter with Him, when you pray. Since this is the determining factor in receiving answers to prayers, the heart must be adequately prepared to ensure that the exercise does not end in futility.
If you must encounter God in your prayers, you must prepare for Him (Matthew 3:3). How do you prepare for Him?
Consecration: Preparing your heart in purity is the first step to establishing a viable communication link with God, because prayer can only flow when sin is absent. It takes a pure heart and pure hands to approach the presence of God. Whatever pollutes or corrupts your heart blocks your access to Godâ€™s hotline. (Isaiah 59:1-3). Sin is a barrier to prayers! God is continually angry with the wicked (Psalm 7:11). So, He will not even hear him, much more answer his prayers. It is only the pure in heart that should expect to see God in their affairs. (Matthew 5:8).
Be offence-free: As you prepare your heart to approach God in prayer, you must guard against offences. So many are offended in God and all they do in prayer is nothing but to complain. When you are offended in God, you turn Him against yourself. If God is against you, who will save you? If you despise Him, who will lift you? Many are stranded because of offences. When they stand in prayer, they justify themselves against God. Anything that is moving you to murmur against God is moving you against your destiny. You canâ€™t expect Him to answer your prayers when your heart is full of complaints and offences against Him. Have you not heard: Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker?
Friend, the grace for a good heart preparation is the preserve of those who are connected to God. You get connected by confessing your sins and accepting Jesus as your Saviour and Lord. If you are set for it, please say this prayer: “Lord Jesus, I come to You today. I am a sinner. Forgive me my sins. Cleanse me with your precious blood. Today, I accept You as my Lord and Saviour. Thank You for saving me! Now I know, I am born again!” I will conclude this teaching next week.
Our ministry is getting set for SHILOH 2009, which will hold at Faith Tabernacle Canaan Land, Idiroko Road, Ota from December 8-12. Among the highlights of the event tagged, Hour of restoration, are specialized healing services. Shiloh shall be a mountain of restoration indeed for you! Come fully prepared! Every exploit in life is a product of knowledge. For further reading, please get my booksâ€”Winning prayer and Keys to answered prayer.