Does God Obligate Himself to Do Things Based on the Incantation of Prayers?

This morning I hope to talk about three things in a way that relate one to another and should serve to reinforce an important point. First, by now most Christians have heard of the Prayer of Jabez book from 1 Chronicles 4:10. From one verse, ripped out of context, an entire book was developed and marketed to millions. Without regard to the motive of the author of the book, one thing is clear—the book is a sham. It suggests that the articulation of Jabez’s prayer in faith obligates God to perform for the one praying the same thing that He did for Jabez. Most Baptists understand that God doesn’t operate that way. There aren’t words that can be articulated which obligate God to do anything. Even the words “Have mercy upon me!” may not automatically result in mercy. In the end, God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy (Romans 9:15).

Second, John Eckhardt, a self-proclaimed Apostle, markets a book that suggests that certain prayers rout demons and break curses. Obviously only he knows what prayers work and do not work. Therefore, you need to buy his book—the Bible is not be sufficient. So like Bruce Wilkinson, the author of the Prayer of Jabez, Eckhardt has the inside scoop and you need to buy his book. Again most Baptists (including other Fundamentalists and conservative Evangelicals) seem to understand that it is ridiculous to suggest that a particular prayer is necessary to gain victory over our Enemy or automatically gain victory over Satan and his cronies. It is seems as though nearly all Baptists understand that it is faith in the power of God that overcomes the devil and the flesh.

However, I find it quite ironical, sad, and disconcerting that these same Baptists sometimes teach by word and/or practice that a certain prayer is necessary for salvation or this prayer guarantees salvation. How can this be? How can Baptists refute the idea that the mere articulation of Jabez’s prayer will not obligate God to bless and how can they rebut the idea that saying the words in Eckhardt’s book will not obligate God to remove a demon from a person, but these same Baptists teach a child that the articulation of a prayer of salvation guarantees eternal life. How can these three things be reconciled? Where is this model prayer of salvation in the Bible? Where is the scriptural proof?

Is it Romans 10.13? Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Is that the same thing as say this prayer?

Is that what the Bible teaches? Is that how we tell somehow to be saved? Do we lead them in prayer? Can we not see that the mere articulation of words does not obligate God to bless financially or exorcise a demon or save a soul from hell?

Is it not repentance toward God and faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves the soul from hell (Acts 20:21)?

How can we say, “yes, I agree with you” and then violate our very words as we lead a six year old in a prayer—are they supposed to understand the difference?

Read about what does it means to call upon the name of the Lord here:

Can’t we stop practicing that which we know is not a guarantee of anything? In the end we can only tell someone what the Bible says and challenge them to repent and believe the gospel. We can do know more to seal the deal or close the net or invoke decision—only the Spirit of God can do that.


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  2. I agree. It is self-worship to think that our words coudl cause the sovereign God of the universe to do anythin we say. Only if He has reveled that he will respond.

    What is also interesting is that some think that they can add "in Jesus's name" and their prayer is answered. As if Jesus's name added to the prayer are magic words to bring the geni out of the bottle.
    We should note that Christians from all perspectives (Evangelical, Charismatic, etc) are quilty of this without giving thought to what the words "in Jesus's name" really mean.
    What we should know it to mean that everything we just prayed is consistant with WHO JESUS is? We are saying in effect, Jesus would approve of this or this is according to God's will.
    Jesus's names are the esscence of who He is and has been revealedto be. His names include Lord, Messiah, Son of Man, Son of God, Son of Man, Light, Logis, and Lamb of God.
    Can we flipantly add "in Jesus's name" if our prayer isnt consistant with who Jesus is.
    I must ask: is what I just prayed consistant with who Christ is and the revealed will of God?

    Can i say that my praying matched the revelaed will of God in the new testament? Are my prayers consistent with who Jesus is?

  3. So, if prayer doesn't obligate God to do anything, why do we still have "prayer requests" (where we specifially ask God to do something via prayer)? I understand the need for prayer for communication with God, I'm asking specifically about requests. Outside of that we are told to (Phil 4:6), is there a reason to do so?

  4. The key word here is obligate--God is not obligated to answer our prayers but "we have not because we ask not" (James 4:2). And we are told to come boldly before God so we come boldly before the King and be come boldy before out daddy. And if our earthly daddy would say "yes" how much more will our heavenly father say "yes." Yet like our earthly father, our heavenly father is not obligated to respond according to our words. I hope that helps!

  5. Ah, ok. Gotcha. I get what you're saying now.