Have you ever said, “Where are you God?!” I have. I’ve read many verses in the Bible regarding prayer and answered prayer and it is clear to me that Love is connected to answered prayer. We know that God loves us, but the connection I’m referring to is our love for others. In one passage Jesus says, “…and when you stand praying forgive, for if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your sins. ” Mark 11. We also see the connection of Love and answered prayers found in 1John 3:21-22, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.…”. In these few verses we see that forgiveness and love for others is connected to God answering our prayers.
Recently we have come across another connection to answered prayer and love for our neighbor. This may not be as popular in the church today, at least I’ve never heard it (aside from my husbands recent teachings) but God seems to think it’s quite important, let’s take a look: In Isaiah 58 the Lord speaks to his people through the prophet and encourages them that if they want their prayers (and fasting) to be noticed by God, they must help others:
“This is the kind of fast-day I’m after… What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’
Isaiah 58:6-9, Message
Jesus also seems to think this love connection to our neighbor is important and says it will play a huge role in our standing before him, let’s take a look at what He has to say:
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons,42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46.
Shocking? Not really. There are many scriptures all throughout the old and new testament that teach us the command and importance of Love and what it looks like (action). James 2 says that Love and Faith work together and that our faith is “dead” without the good works of love for our neighbor.
LOVE = ANSWERED PRAYER
As we read Isaiah 58 in its entirety we will find that our love for others brings answered prayer even restoration and health to our lives. We also see the connection of Forgiveness and answered prayer. Jesus himself connects love in action with our eternity. You might say, “I thought I was saved by Grace?” Yes, that is true, but even those verses have not been taught in their entirety, we’ve always heard verses 8 & 9 but rarely if ever have we heard the connection to our Faith and God’s Grace to good works which is simply Love in Action for our neighbor: Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Once we receive God’s Grace through faith, verse 10 is clear in saying that we are now “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has ordained that we should walk in them.” Remember what Jesus said to the Good Samaritan, “Go and DO likewise”.
True Love for our neighbor produces a “doing”: Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping others in need.
We can be busy doing everything else, but if we “don’t have Love, God’s definition of Love…it profits us nothing.” 1Corinthians 13.