We are still studying prayer here at Grace Bible Study, and we have moved on from prayer under a covenant as God’s earthly people Israel utilized and have moved into prayer as the Body of Christ under Grace. There’s a good chance you have never heard prayer taught this way or even considered the scriptural fact that prayer is not the same now as it was in the Old Testament and the Gospels. God’s earthly people Israel were promised many earthly things. Under their covenants, Israel knew “if” they did certain things “then” God would do certain things for them because God had already obligated himself to do those things. Many of the things God obligated himself to do for Israel are the very things that fill the prayers of Christians today. I challenge you to read your Sunday School prayer sheet or think about your personal prayer time and split the list into two columns. The first column should be anything related to earthy items such as healing, sickness, surgeries, travel plans, financial situations, job searches and so on. The second column should be anything else that is of a spiritual nature. There’s a good chance you will see that we tend to fill our prayers with earthly things. For the vast majority, this will come as no surprise because this is how we were taught to pray. I would challenge you to do a study on Paul’s prayer life. The Bible is crystal clear that Paul is your example in this age of Grace, and this includes how you pray. At Grace Bible Study, we are working through a spreadsheet of all Paul’s prayers. Does this sound like work? It should because this is how Paul instructed you to study! I entered all of Paul’s prayers and several other verses where Paul mentions prayer into the spreadsheet and then assigned each one a topic. Basically, they all fell into just a few topics: Instructions, Thanksgiving, Intercession, and Requests. Using the Filter tool in excel, we are going through each topic verse by verse to see exactly how the Apostle Paul prayed. From this exercise, it is easy to see why many Christians struggle with unanswered prayer. We are so clearly directed to follow Paul’s example in scripture, but our prayer life looks nothing like Paul’s prayer life did. Our prayer life is filled with earthly things because of the Calvinistic and Covenantal slant we have been taught. What is clear is that we are not praying according to God’s will. God’s will is found by rightly dividing your Bible according to the instructions that are directed to you in scripture. Instead we run to and fro all over the Bible finding any prayer promise from any book and claiming it for ourselves. This is exactly why Christians see many of the things they pray for go unanswered. We are not Israel nor are we “spiritual Israel” like many theology books will tell you, so we need to stop praying Israel’s promises. Learning to pray according to God’s will for this age gives you peace and a new understanding of how to have a proper prayer life, or you can wait a few more years, and there will be 10 more books on prayer at the Bible book store all teaching you about Israel’s prayer promises. Your prayers will not change what God is doing or not doing in this age. Wouldn’t you be better off learning what God is doing now so you can pray according to his plans?
Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul