Prayer is the most important way we have to communicate with Yehovah. It is through prayer we ask Him for help for ourselves and others. But sometimes, religion can give us a wrong impression of prayer. Have false religious ideas infected your prayer life lately? And how can you tell?
We Christians have a saying that goes something like this “it is not a religion; it is a relationship with Jesus Christ.” We say things like this when we want to make sure an unsaved individual understands we are not asking them to join our church, we are asking them to enter into a relationship with the Messiah Jesus Christ.
If they believe us and get “saved,” we usually try to introduce them to the best church we know, which generally is the church we attend. Because they have just accepted Christ, they probably dont know how to pray. So they learn prayer by observance by how we pray, how our pastor prays, and other people in our congregation. When we first got saved, this happened to us. We did not know how to pray, so we learned prayer by observing how our pastor prayed and how the people around us that had introduced us to Christ prayed.
How do we know what we learned is the correct way to pray? And if it is true what we are telling others, that it is not a religion, it is a relationship, why then does it not come naturally to us to know how to pray? Does not the fact that we dont know how to pray prove we are into religion and not a relationship?
When a child is born, it instantly knows how to communicate with its parents, and the parents know what the child is trying to tell them. No newborn children have to learn from their older siblings how to adequately address their parents and how to speak to their parents in a way that makes them understand. Their parents know when their child is hungry and in need of food because they have a relationship with them.
If we have a relationship with Jesus and not a religion, why then does it not come naturally to us to know how to pray? Why do we have to read books about prayer and learn from others if we have become children of God?
How would you react if you overheard a child ask his parents, “dear father, grant me your mercy and take me to the doctor today so I can be healed”? What if you overheard them say something like this “dear Father, please give me the money I need today to buy food so I can feed myself. And if I can find favor in your eyes, please allow me to defeat that bully I have told you about in school that beats me up every day”. Would you say this is a child with a close relationship with their parents? Or would you say something is lacking in the parent-child relationship?
It is my guess you would say something is wrong in that parent-child relationship. Why? Because we all know that children should never have to beg for their parent’s help. They should never have to beg and ask for mercy from their parents if they need food or help in any way. If they have a good relationship, things like that come naturally without them even having to ask for it.
Have you ever stopped and listened to how you word your prayers? Do they sound like someone who has a good relationship with their heavenly Father? Chances are you learned from someone else how to pray, either from a book on prayer, from your pastor, or from the one who introduced you to Christ. When someone introduced you to Christ, they probably said the same thing you have said, “it is not a religion; it is a relationship with Jesus.” When you accepted Jesus, you did not feel as if you knew how to pray, so you observed how others prayed and learned from them. Can you honestly say you have a relationship with Jesus today, judged by how you word your prayers?
If you take a good honest look at how you word your prayers, the answer is no. What you have is not a relationship with Jesus; you have religion, and religion can not save you.
What makes a good relationship? Every one of us would agree a good relationship is built on trust, mutual interests, and shared morals and values. When you find that one person who you trust, you share interests with and have shared morals and values, you have a good foundation for a solid friendship and an everlasting relationship.
If you had a relationship with someone you shared mutual interests with, but you had a different view on morals and ethics, there would be no foundation for trust, and such a relationship would not work.
In John 14:15, Yeshua (Jesus Christ) says the one who loves Me will keep My commandments. What He is saying here is this, if you want a relationship with Me, you have to share my morals and my ethics. So what are His commandments? In John 6,14, 1.John 3:4, 5:3, 2:6, James 2:10-26, Matthew 23:2 we see that Yeshua’s commandments are no different from Yehovah’s. So when Yeshua in John 14:15 says the one who loves Me will keep My commandments, He is saying the one who loves Me will keep My Torah (what we call the written law of Moses).
Now we know how to have a relationship with Yeshua, we have to obey the written law of Moses, which the Bible calls the Torah. How can a Christian who believes the Torah was abolished at the cross have a relationship with Yeshua? The answer is, you can not have a relationship with Yeshua if you believe the Torah was done away with at the cross or if you believe it is impossible to obey. If you claim you believe in Him, but you dont obey His Torah, you have religion and not a relationship.
This is why so many new Christians dont know how to pray. This is why you did not know how to pray the moment you became a Christian, so you observed from others how they prayed. But they believed the Torah was done away with, so they prayed religious prayers and not prayers based on a relationship with Yeshua. So today, you are the one praying religious prayers and teaching others to be religious. In Matthew 7:21-23 we read a warning to those who are religious, there will come a time when they will hear “Depart from Me for I never knew you, you who are without Torah.”
Do you want to have a relationship with Yeshua? Do you want to be His friend? Do you want eternal life? The Bible says in 1. John 2:6, John 3:36, James 2:10-26, 1.John 3:4-7, 5:3, Matt 19:17 you have to believe Yeshua died for your sins AND obey the Torah.
So what happens if you start to obey the Torah in addition to believing Yeshua died for your sins? You will learn how the Torah says, “I am your God Yehovah who brought of Egypt, you shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex 20:2-3). Yeshua says in John 14:6 He did not come to bring us to Himself, He came to bring us to the Father whose name is Yehovah. So if you obey the Torah and believe Yeshua died for your sins, you will get to have a relationship with Yehovah, who created you.
Yeshua’s divinity is not in question. He is God (John 1, 8, 58), but He is not the Father, whose name is Yehovah. He is the Son, and He says in John 14:28 that even though He is God His Father, Yehovah is greater than He. He did not come for us to have a relationship with Himself. He came to make it possible for us to have a relationship with His Father, Yehovah. So when we tell people, “it is not a religion, it is a relationship with Jesus,” we are wrong and religious. What we should instead tell them is this; it is not a religion; it is a relationship with Yehovah.
The Bible says when we have a relationship with Yehovah through faith in Yeshua, and obedience to the Torah, we are united with Yeshua. (1. John 2:6). When we are united with Yeshua, we are in Him. In 1. John 5:14 says if we are in Him, we know that when we ask according to Yehovah’s desire, He hears us. And if He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.
This is no different from any other healthy relationship here on earth between a child and its parents. They dont have to beg for food and beg to be taken to the doctor. They know that if they need something, they will get what they need in due time, so they dont worry about it because they know their mother or father will take care of them. Why can they have this assurance? Because they have a relationship with them.
This kind of relationship is the desire of Yehovah for us. He wants this for us, a relationship where we trust He will care for us even we dont see it right away. So if you need something right now and you have this kind of relationship with Him, it changes how you pray.
Instead of begging Him to heal you, to provide for you and to meet your needs, you know that He has already healed you, provided for you even though you dont see it right now. So instead of begging Him to heal you and to meet your needs, you are thanking Yehovah for already healing you, paying your bills, meeting your needs even though you dont get to see it with your physical eyes just yet. But while you are waiting for it to manifest in your life, you continue to thank Him for healing you, providing for you, paying your bills, and meeting your needs. And when the time is right, He will manifest it into your life based on two things the relationship you have with Him through faith in the cross and obedience AND the faith you have in Yehovahs ability and willingness to come through for His children and care for them. (Matt 6:25-34, 1.John 5:14-15)
This relationship with Yehovah is available to all. It was this Yeshua came to give us when He taught us how to obey the Torah and believe in Him.
Are you ready to make the transition today from religion to a living lasting eternal relationship with Yehovah? If the answer is yes, start today by obeying the Torah and believe Yeshua died for you. No matter what happens, no matter how hard it gets, maintain your relationship by faith and obedience and do not allow the devil to talk you into abandoning the relationship just because things get rough sometimes. In Psalm 23 and 91, He promises to be with us in the storms of life and to bring us out to the other side, IF and only IF we have a relationship with Him through the Torah and obedience to Yeshua.
Life has its challenges for all of us; religion can not save you or bring you through the valley of the shadow of death. The only one who can bring you through and out on the other side is Yehovah if you have a relationship with Him through faith and obedience. Religion can not and will not rebuke the devil in your life, the only thing that will cause you to overcome the devil is by faith in the cross and obedience to the Torah (Rev 12:11, 14:12)
So why would you want to stay in religion, when you can have a relationship with Yehovah?