The BUD Family International

…ladies becoming wholesome for Jesus

FREEDOM FROM MERE RELIGION AND PRAYERLESSNESS

JUICY JULY 2023

 

DAY 9

 

THEME: FREEDOM FROM MERE RELIGION AND PRAYERLESSNESS

 

TEXT: MATTHEW 23:1-7; LUKE 18:1.

 

BIBLE STUDY: MATTHEW 6

 

I gladly welcome you to the 9th day of the 7th month in our year of perfection! 

 

The past 8 days have been just what I needed to be set in the right atmosphere to knock on heaven’s door, and I trust you have the same confession as me.

 

Today’s topic is one that is very essential in the journey of our Juicy July 2023 program. Infact, it touches down to the very foundation of the spiritual exercise we’re engaging in. Because, how else can we receive the true freedom we need if we don’t know how to ask for it?

 

Before we go on, let’s take our first song. It’s an old song from a tribe in Nigeria, but weighty with meaning. 

 

ADUA KE (Cover) by Lawrence & Godswill Oyor 

(Download here)

 

Adua ke o, me’na chadua ke o (It’s only prayers, let us pray always)

 

Adua cho’ko, Ka du be bili juja o (Prayer is the strategy that we fight the devil with.)

 

Chadua ke o, me’na chadua ke o (It’s only prayers, make sure you pray always)

 

Adua ke o, me’na chadua ke o (It’s only prayers, let us pray always)

 

I’m sure you’re familiar with the keywords in today’s topic: FREEDOM, PRAYERLESSNESS, MERE RELIGION.

 

It might interest you to know that we are asking to be liberated from what might not even appear to be sin before men but is sin to God.

 

Do you want to know why they’re already classified as sin? I’ll explain.

 

Let’s start with Mere Religion.

 

WHAT IS MERE RELIGION?

 

Mere religion is closely likened to hypocrisy.

 

 

Many times, each of us faces that dangerous temptation to be one thing but pretend to be another. And yielding to this temptation is what results in mere religion. 

 

What exactly does this Mere Religion mean? Let’s look at Matthew 23:1-7 very quickly. 

 

Then Jesus said to the crowds, and to his disciples, 

 

2 “You would think these Jewish leaders and these Pharisees were Moses, the way they keep making up so many laws!

 

3 And of course you should obey their every whim! It may be all right to do what they say, but above anything else, don’t follow their example. For they don’t do what they tell you to do. 

 

4 They load you with impossible demands that they themselves don’t even try to keep.

 

5 “Everything they do is done for show. They act holy[b] by wearing on their arms little prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and by lengthening the memorial fringes of their robes. 

 

6 And how they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the reserved pews in the synagogue! 

 

7 How they enjoy the reference paid them on the streets and to be called ‘Rabbi’ and ‘Master’!

 

This is the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ! 

 

And these verses have described what a mere religion is to a great extent. 

 

The people who practise mere religion: 

 

-ARE QUICK TO MAKE LAWS:

 

 

Not like what they are saying others should do is bad but they don’t do it themselves!!! (Verses 2-4) 

 

I remember when I was at the Youth church. I used a tiny black woolly bond to hold my hair to the House Fellowship. My leader called me and told me that it was so wrong. She said would I want to go to Hell? She said a lot of things and I was so shocked. Bond? Hair bond that had no decor attached whatsoever? 

 

She reported me to my mum when she saw her and I went to show my mum the bond. Just the clothy version of a black rubber band. And my mum understood. 

 

A few months afterwards, you can guess who I found on the bus looking all dolled up from head to toe! She looked extremely different from who she used to be and I was alarmed. Alas, she was so ashamed to see me that she couldn’t even look up to reply to my greetings well. 

 

Not like what she was trying to guard me against was wrong. She only wanted me to be modest, decent and guard against all worldliness. Alas, right in the middle of her heart at the time she was talking to me was a hidden unexpressed hypocrisy. 

 

You create good rules for people. Oh, amazing! But do you follow the same rules? 

 

In this fellowship, we must fast and pray every Thursday. But there you are sitting with a bowl of Eba and not saying any prayer.

 

We must not visit brothers. We must uphold sexual purity. If anyone is found to visit brothers or confess to committing sexual sins with anyone, she shall be disciplined. But there you are sitting on the President’s lap. There you are pulling up your panties after the ordeal with Bro. Gbenga.

 

Ah, Sister Alice! 

 

Acting like a task force, creating laws and rules and guidelines for people you’ve been placed over but not doing any of those, doing half, doing a three quarter- hypocritical! It is a mere religion. 

 

-ARE VERY SHOWY AND EXTERNALLY-MINDED (Verse 5).

 

They are extremely focused on the external. They smile softly but are dying from anger inside. They go on their knees in greeting but are standing tall inside. They wear modest dressings so that people can say they are modest. Their Bibles are full of writings and jottings and underlinings. They go for prayer meetings and their voices are the loudest. They speak in different tongues. They do all the gymnastics and all as they pray in public but it’s all for the show. They’d get back home to use paracetamol because all those things weren’t from the spiritual. They created it. TO BE SEEN OF MEN!

 

Are these things bad? No! Modesty is great! Bible journaling is great! Praying fervently is great! But the problem is, hypocritical people do all these out of making a name! They do it to make you see them as someone who knows the Lord whereas they aren’t even close!

 

Mere religion! 

 

-ARE LOVERS OF THE RESERVED HIGH PLACES AND THE PULPITS (Verse 6)

These people love to be handed over the microphones. They love to sit at the high table. The service is usually ‘boring’ to them when others are in charge, just because they weren’t the ones in control. They love to sit on the podium. They love to be welcomed to the podium with a whole round of applause and hailings from everyone. They’d blush and say ‘Glory to God’ but they love all of it and wish to get it every now and then. 

 

When executives are elected and they aren’t chosen, they cry and weep and regret and wonder why the pastors couldn’t see into the ‘spirit’ to choose them over that other sister that would always snub people in the hostel.

 

‘So, I won’t be holding a position in this school before I graduate?’

 

‘So, they asked that young girl to round off the programme instead of me?’

 

Mere religion!

 

Lastly in Verse 7, we see that they: 

 

-ARE LOVERS OF HONORARY NAMES. 

Isn’t it amazing that Jesus was the one talking here and revealing all of these? I find it amazing that as it was then, during his earthly days, so it is now! 

 

Many people want to be called ‘Apostle’, ‘Professor of Theology’ ‘Mama’ ‘Papa’ ‘Mamosh’ ‘Rabbi’ etc. 

 

If someone mistakenly removes this title, the person is seen to be disrespectful, rude and automatically becomes their Mordecai. 

 

It is not bad to respect your leader. The Lord commands us to do that. But leader should watch it! Don’t attach any importance to these titles. Even the Lord of all the earth preferred to called his disciples (after resurrection) ‘My brothers’. 

 

And even the non-leaders also can covet the title thing. They also look forward to, very hungrily, when they can be respected as someone spiritual. Someone who knows the laws. Someone who is close to the Lord. 

 

This is a heart matter. It is something of the inside. If the Lord is convicting you, you don’t need to feel condemned. It is someone we have all felt. It is something that requires an urgent heart check. It is something we need to know and guard against with all our lives.

 

The Bible enjoins us to esteem others better than ourselves. When we esteem ourselves better than others, it is simply a mere religion. 

 

You advertise yourself as someone who has finished reading the Bible five times in two years; go on the social media to explain you are on your twentieth book on the Holy Spirit this year, all while you are still the same person. All while you are still unchanged and stony-hearted. 

 

You sound the trumpet when you give gifts, pay your tithe or vows, surprise people, go for spiritual programmes, meet spiritual leaders- all from a place of getting honour from men. 

 

If you deceive others, don’t deceive yourself!!!

 

Can you use this moment to just look inward and see if, of a truth, you are who everyone thinks you are. 

 

Check through to see if indeed you are who you advertise yourself to be. 

 

Verse 27-28 says: “How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full of bones and decaying corpses on the inside. 

28 In the same way, on the outside you appear good to everybody, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and sins.

 

Ahhhhh…. God have mercy! 

 

May our services not be in vain. 

 

May mere religion not catch up with us. 

 

If it has caught up with us, may the Lord reveal this to us, make us repent and set us free from its hold in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ. 

 

WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF MERE RELIGION?

 

It is dangerous to practise mere religion for many reasons:

 

-Hypocrisy is bad enough in its own right, but it also makes us resistant to the call of God to repent. Hypocritical people many times are okay the way they are. They don’t know the Lord but are being honoured by others who think they do. They prefer to go on deceiving others and getting honoured for it than turn back to seek the Lord. 

 

When we are living hypocritically, we can justify ourselves to ourselves (though God is never fooled) by pointing to the outward expressions while ignoring the evil in our hearts. When we think of ourselves as righteous, we see no need to change our ways.Such a danger!

 

-God hates it. God hates hypocrisy: hypocrites take advantage of the law of God for selfish purposes and are therefore at the danger of getting condemned by God. 

 

-Many people who practise mere religion thrive on the wings of deceptive lifestyle, but in the end, the GREATEST DAMAGE IS DONE TO THEIR OWN SOUL!

 

-Hypocrites end up losing on all accounts, because unbelievers hate them for their supposed godliness and God also abhors them because they don’t meet up the standards of true godliness!

 

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this SEAL, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let everyone that nameth the Name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:19 KJV

 

The seal that Apostle Paul was referring to in this verse is the seal of The Spirit, The water and The blood- the three divine elements that bear witness on earth, and agree to the fact that you’re a child of God (1 John 5:8)

 

So, sisters, have you keyed into the efficacy of the water and the blood that gushed out of Jesus at the cross?

 

If yes, “have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”

 

This is the key to freedom from mere religion. 

 

This is how God recognizes you as His own or else, all your ‘good works’ result in mere religion with no effect! 

 

Before we move on from this evil of hypocrisy, let me share the story of Ananias and Sapphira with you so you see for yourself how grave this sin is. 

 

Ananias and Sapphira’s sin was not that they had sold their property and had given only a part to the church. In fact, Peter makes plain (Acts 5:4) that it would not have been a sin for them to have sold their property and not given anything to the church. 

 

Their sin was that they conspired together to DECEIVE the apostles and the church into thinking that they were giving the entire amount, when in fact they kept back a portion for themselves. 

 

In other words, they were TRYING TO IMPRESS EVERYONE WITH A HIGHER LEVEL OF SPIRITUALITY AND COMMITMENT THAN THEY REALLY HAD!!!

 

Have you ever done that? I hope you do not say “no,” or we might need to have a sudden funeral today! Hahaha

 

We’ve all been guilty of trying to impress others with our commitment and devotion to Christ, even though we know in our hearts that we are exaggerating.

 

The problem is not being convicted in our heart of hypocrisy. The problem is being convicted and not yielding! Not willing to repent and start doing the right thing! 

 

I pray the Lord delivers every soul today of the sin of pretence and hypocrisy in Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

 

Moving on, let us look at one terrible state that hypocrisy leaves us in. 

 

It leaves us in a state of prayerlessness! 

 

Hypocrisy wouldn’t make us pray! 

 

We can pray fire down in the church or in the public but at home, in our privates, for fifteen minutes and we are dozing. Why? No eyes are watching!!!!

 

Prayer is declaring our dependence on God. It is humility. It is something we do from a place of brokenness. 

 

But if we are hypocritical and receive honour already, why pray then? 

 

Why pray when our modest dressing still brings us honour? 

 

Why pray when giving and gifts still bring us honour? 

 

Why pray when our charisma and ability to charge the church with our voices still bring us honour???

 

We might try to pray but because prayer will reveal our hypocritical lives, the Devil will keep us from praying well. Before you know it, your altar starts to gather dust. Before you know it, you grow to become a professional hypocrite. Ah, God forbid!

 

Watch it! If you pray harder when people are watching than when you are doing it secretly and discreetly, hypocrisy might be lurking around somewhere. 

 

We must pray! 

 

The solution to all our spiritual problems is actually prayer! 

 

If we pray, the Lord will keep convicting us of things we aren’t doing right or well. 

 

No wonder the devil ensures we don’t pray!

 

John Buyan said, ‘Prayer will make a man cease from sin as sin will entice a man to cease from prayer’. 

 

What are the sins defeating you? Would it be true to say that the main reason for failure to get victory over these sins is your lack of prayer?  

 

The root cause of all your deficiency and lack of spirituality is Prayerlessness. Why else are we so weak, anaemic and ineffective in our Christian living and service? 

 

Why is the church powerless? 

 

Why is there so much effort with few results?

 

Is it not that God’s people are neglecting the great privilege and responsibility of prayer? 

 

James 4:17 says “…to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” 

 

Prayers hold the channels through which mighty blessings should flow from Heaven to us. 

 

Knowing this, if you deliberately avoid opportunities to pray, and the privilege for others to be blessed through you, it is counted unto you as a sin.

 

Finally, not praying is expressing pure unbelief in God and this is a reproach to God. 

 

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM.” Hebrews 11:6 KJV

 

WHAT THEN IS THE CURE FOR PRAYERLESSNESS?

 

Prayer!

 

Yes, prayer is the key to becoming free from prayerlessness.

 

💧Prayer is a crucial aspect in a believer’s life that cannot be overemphasised. Ephesians 6:18 instructs that prayers should be made at all times. 

 

There are no times that we are safe or okay without prayer!

 

There are no times that we can withstand temptation without prayer!

 

There are no times that God’s kingdom will advance without prayer!

 

Jesus, for instance, had an incredibly busy schedule while He was on earth, but still had a track record of staying up all night and early mornings, praying. So, we’re left with no excuse to say we don’t have time to pray.

 

💧It is through prayers we are able to converse with God and make requests to Him, presenting our petitions. 

 

Nothing is too sacred to pray about. Nothing is too little to pray about! 

 

It will be a foolish thing to conclude that we don’t want to bother God with our requests. It is God Himself that set the terms to ASK. 

 

If we don’t pray, we will not get. If we pray a little, we will get a little. If we pray a lot, we will get a lot. Simple!

 

💧Genuine prayers are made when we allow God stir up our heart (Eph 6:18), especially times when the flesh is weak to pray. 

 

In times when you don’t know how or what to pray, the Spirit of God, on seeing that you sincerely desire to pray, comes with prayer points for you. That’s what God cares about – YOUR SINCERITY, AND NOT PROFESSIONALITY. 

 

💧Peace comes through prayers. 

By ourselves, we don’t have the means to handle difficult situations. Before we know it, we start getting impatient and frustrated (fruits of lack of faith). This is the reason Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by PRAYER and SUPPLICATION with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.’

 

💧It is through prayer we’re able to persevere in our Christian living, enjoying the abundance of God’s grace, and making ourselves useful for the master. 

 

💧It is through prayer we’re able to strengthen and help the lives of believers around us. It is for this reason that a prayerless church is an absolute embarrassment to Christendom. 

 

Where people pray, God actively works.

 

God has set before us the good works that He wants to establish through us (Eph 2:10), but how do we see this happen if we don’t pray it into manifestation?

 

We should ask ourselves. If we truly are Christians, why can we not find time or burden to shake the throne of God with our prayers?

 

Why is there no passion in us? Why are we getting so worldly, relying on wealth, education, and position to get things done rather than through the mighty works of the Spirit of God?

 

 

We have kingdom brothers and sisters on distant and near mission fields who need our intercession, amongst other basics, to survive. When was the last time we immersed them in the pool of prayer?

 

Even our very own pastors and leaders in our respective local assemblies. If they are weak or soft or immoral, is it not because we God’s people tolerate it rather than chase it out of them through the work of prayer? 

 

Some people have even neglected going for prayer meetings/fellowship altogether because of an irrelevant excuse of a ‘fallen leader’.  

 

Why not turn the regular complaints into great feats of faith through effectual fervent prayer for them?

 

We must go from religious to real, from self-seeking to God-seeking.

 

The place of prayer in a believer’s life is inexhaustible. 

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ARE YOU READY TO PRAY?

 

Allow this song to launch you into the presence of the Almighty.

 

Oh if we just can love Him!

 

Oh if we can enjoy Him!

 

If we can enter into an intimate relationship with God, we won’t be hypocritical. We won’t be prayerless. We’d love to please Him. We’d love to spend time in His Presence.

 

Our problem is that we don’t love!

 

Or we don’t love enough.

 

Oh to love You, Lord!

 

OH TO LOVE YOU! By Dunsin Oyekan

(Download here)

 

I went to the Father

I said “I need more power; I need more of Your fire”

He said to me, “All you need is more Love” (Repeat)

 

Oh to love You!

Oh to love You!

Oh to love You, more and more! (Repeat)

 

I wanna love You more x3

 

(From the Top)

 

Yes, I love You!

Yes, I love You!

Yes, I love You, more and more! (Repeat)

 

I love You, I love You, I love You

More and more (Repeat)

 

Lord I really I love You (x4)

More and more

 

Lord I really do

Yes I really do, more and more

 

 

Yes I really do, yes I really do

More and More

 

Search my heart and see that I really do (Yes I really do) x3

More and more

 

Faith (Yes I really do) Love, Hope (Yes I really do)

But the greatest is love (Yes I really do, more and more)

 

Even if I have the tongues of angels (Yes I really do)

And I have the gift of the Spirit (Yes I really do)

And I don’t have love (Yes I really do)

I am just a clashing cymbal (More and more)

 

Eyes have not seen (Yes I really do)

Ears have not heard (Yes I really do)

Neither has it come into the hearts of men (Yes I really do)

What God has prepared (more and more)

For those who love Him (Yes I really do)

Yes I really do, Yes I really do

More and more

 

Lord I love You x3

More and more (Repeat)

 

Yes I really do, yes I really do

Yes I really do, more and more

 

Oh to love You!

Oh to love You!

Oh to love You, more and more! (Repeat)

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NOW SHALL WE PRAY??

 

🔥 Appreciate the Almighty for yet another opportunity to lay at His altar, where you can seek and find Him. 

 

🔥 Will you first of all come boldly to the throne of grace that you might find mercy. For the Bible says God heareth not sinners, except it be for repentance. Ask that God shows you mercy this day. 

 

🔥 Remember the three divine elements that bear witness on earth that you’re a child of God, ask God to key you into the potency of The Spirit, The water and The blood, that your sins might be purged. 

 

🔥 Ask that the Holy Ghost works in you the seal that allows you to be recognized by your Father. 

 

When you are done, begin to pray these prayers with all your heart. 

 

Lord, I will not fall victim to hypocrisy. For what good will it do to a man when he is in hell, and others think he is in heaven? Ahh. Don’t allow me to be a hypocrite, Father. 

 

Father, help me to reflect a life of righteousness, transparency, virtue, and good works, radiating Your Glory In The Name of Jesus. Amen!

 

Father, please, remove from my life, every mark of appearing like the Pharisees and deliver me from all forms of self-deception In The Name of Jesus. Amen!

 

Father, rid me of the disease of prayerlessness that has eaten so deep into me.

 

 

Bring your complete and perfect cure unto me, Lord. 

 

I commit myself anew to a lifestyle of constant prayer so that I will be kept in a state of submission to the will of God.

 

I want to be able to pray always and not faint like Jesus taught (Luke 18:1). I am strengthened unto prayer. 

 

I set myself like Daniel unto prayer in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ.

 

I am in a phase of my life where I cannot afford to be prayerless. This is the worst time to be prayerless, Father. Deliver me from prayerlessness, Lord!

 

I receive the baptism of spiritual hunger. Fill me with the passion for prayer, oh Lord. 

 

Holy Spirit, I give you room to work on me and in me. Build up my spiritual muscles. 

 

Take away slumber from my eyes, oh God. I receive the grace to rise above sleep. Sleep will not cheat me. 

 

Father, enlarge my capacity in the spirit through prayer. 

 

Through prayer, I attain spiritual growth. I grow into spiritual maturity. 

 

Though my outward man perishes, my inner man is strengthened for prayer. My inner man, receive fire for prayer!  

 

I arise into untold dimensions of the spirit. Today, I receive access to light, true power, and untold dimensions of the working of the Spirit in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ.

 

I receive divine directions for accuracy in prayer. I will not pray amiss. I know what to pray per time. 

 

Lord, I confess my weakness without you. Teach me to pray. I will pray as led by the spirit of God, always! 

 

Raise in me an intercessor. People are dying, souls are perishing. Release upon me the spirit of grace and supplication. 

 

Raise in me a prayer warrior! That I may step into realms where real victory is gotten, realms where the real power is exuded.  

 

Make me the priest of my destiny. I want to attain spiritual heights where I can call down fire upon any attack against my life, my family’s and my loved ones, and it will surely give way. 

 

Lord release in me the great faith I need to step into the realms of power. Faith that measures up to spiritual heights.

 

I will not miss out on the good works you have set to accomplish through me through hypocrisy and unbelief in the Mighty Name of Jesus.

 

The devil will not gain access to me. The devil will not use me for his own advantage.

 

Prayer becomes my attitude henceforth. Prayer becomes my lifestyle, henceforth.  

 

Continue to set yourself unto prayer…

 

When you are done, raise your prayer journal and tell the Lord about your personal requests therein. Pray about them fervently. 

 

When you are done, let this song bless your spirit for the rest of today.

 

ALTAR by Maryanne J. George ft. Justus Tams.

(Download here)

 

Jesus

Set my heart on fire

Till You’re all I want

Till You’re everything

 

Chorus:

My life is the altar

My song (prayer) will be the sacrifice

So let it rise higher

Till You alone are glorified

 

Refrain:

Be glorified

Be glorified

Be glorified

Be glorified

 

Bridge:

Every breath is for You

You are worth it

You are worth it

My whole life I give to You

You are worth it

You are worth it

 

Chorus:

My life is the altar

My song (prayer) will be the sacrifice

So let it rise higher

Till You alone are glorified

 

Refrain:

Be glorified

Be glorified

Be glorified

Be glorified

 

Let’s meet at 9pm for the Bible Study this evening. God bless us all. 

 

(Send in your prayer points/testimony here)

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2 responses to “FREEDOM FROM MERE RELIGION AND PRAYERLESSNESS”

    • Thank you so much for this, I can’t say how blessed I am to have encountered this tonight.

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