Legal vs religious prayers

A happy New Year to you. If you’re wondering what God’s will is for you in 2024, I can unequivocally tell you He wants this year to be the best year of your life yet [Proverbs 4:18]. There was a time when I wasn’t as confident about what God desired for me. Unanswered prayers also compounded my doubts and made it easier for me to accept my then reality until I realised that I don’t glorify God if I’m less than who He created me to be. In other words, only those with crowns can cast their crowns before the Throne [Revelation 4:4]. So, I glorify God when I accomplish something praiseworthy, empowered by His wisdom and power. Then, as adulation comes, I unashamedly point people to Him [Philippians 2:13]. That doesn’t happen if I leave Him out of my pursuits or remain unremarkable and mediocre. As such, I must partner with the Holy Spirit to live an excelling, abundant life [Joshua 1:8, 3 John 1:2].

Most people make resolutions during this season as they seek to improve one or more aspects of their lives. If you haven’t made one yet, and you’re a follower of Jesus, I’d like to suggest one: become a lawyer so that you can pray effectually [James 5:16b]. You may still want to add this to the list even if you already have a resolution. I doubt I’m the only one who became frustrated with unanswered prayers and accepted the status quo. I suspect that many of us have more confidence in our machinations and the promises of men because we’ve seen those yield more results than our prayers. Yet, if prayers don’t work, Jesus played a cruel joke on us [Matthew 7:7]. I wasn’t ready to accept that. So, I was delighted when I discovered I was mainly praying religious prayers, not legal prayers. It’s easy to differentiate between the two: A legal prayer always produces results [Luke 11:9-10]. However, a religious prayer sounds pious, but it rarely, if at all, accomplishes anything [Matthew 6:7].

It’s worth stressing that legal refers to jurisprudence, not legalism. I recently realised that I’ve been approaching the Scriptures as a religious record and not enough as a legal document. Since the Flood [Genesis 6-8], covenants have governed God’s dealings with humankind. God stakes His integrity on fulfilling every word in each covenant He makes [Numbers 23:19]. So, whoever enters a covenant with God knows what to expect from Him and what God expects from them if the covenant is conditional. For instance, Noah could live the rest of his days assured that God wouldn’t sanction another mass extinction event because He had said so [Genesis 8:20-22]. David died knowing he would always have a male descendant to occupy his throne [2 Samuel 7]. Similarly, as they entered Canaan, the Hebrews understood the blessings they were entitled to for obeying God [Deuteronomy 28:1-14] and the curses that would befall them if they broke their covenant [Deuteronomy 28:15-63]. Essentially, without a covenant, we have no grounds for a relationship with God.

Today, just like our spiritual ancestors, we have a covenant with God that Jesus initiated at the Last Supper and ratified at Calvary [Matthew 26:26-28]. That covenant is the basis for our salvation and obtaining everything God has promised us [2 Corinthians 1:20]. Covenants aren’t just a biblical concept. As a citizen, I have a relationship with my government governed by my country’s constitution, akin to a covenant. My government expects me to pay my taxes and keep the law. In return, they guarantee my privileges (benefits or advantages provided by status or position) and rights (entitlements determined by law and custom). So, as long as I am a law-abiding citizen, I can employ the services of a lawyer to seek redress in the courts if a person or institution violates my rights or withholds my privileges. The same legal system exists in the spirit. God Himself submits to His laws and covenants [Psalm 138:2]. He also ensures heaven and hell do the same [Psalm 89:14]. However, unlike most countries, you can’t hire a lawyer to present your case in heaven’s court. You do it yourself [Isaiah 41:21]. If that’s true, how can we obtain favourable judgements if we don’t know our legal rights and privileges?

Jesus came to establish God’s kingdom on earth [Luke 22:29, Colossians 1:13]. But sadly, many believers are yet to enjoy the benefits of being citizens of heaven because of our ignorance of the provisions in our covenant. So, when the principalities and powers of this world violate our rights and interfere with our privileges, we aren’t skilled enough to obtain a judgement in our favour from the Supreme Court of the universe – a deficiency in our spiritual growth. Eradicating that deficiency requires mental transformation, which we must pursue to accurately discern God’s desires for us and obtain the strategy to make it a reality in our lives [Romans 12:1]. Put differently, strive to become better lawyers: experts in the terms and conditions that govern our heavenly citizenship. 

Jesus promised that if we put God’s kingdom first and pursue a right standing with Him (do everything possible to be a law-abiding citizen of heaven), God will abundantly provide everything else we need [Matthew 6:33]. If you’ve fulfilled the condition of this promise, captured alongside other assurances in the New Covenant, you have a right to perfect health and everything you need to live a blessed and godly life. If that isn’t your reality, you’re probably outside God’s will for you. Therefore, make it your primary objective in 2024 to educate yourself on the rights and privileges in your covenant with God so that you can successfully present your case in the court of heaven [Isaiah 43:26].

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