Psalm 4 - Part 3: The Most Powerful Intercessory Prayer Formula in the Bible - Step 2
As was already discussed, in part 1 of our examination of the Psalm 4 prayer formula, we saw the context in which to use the special Psalm 4 level of intercessory prayer. in part 2, we examined the first step in this prayer recipe, which is to "Stand in awe". Now, we will take an in-depth look at step 2. Please remember, for this prayer to be effective, you need to complete the steps in the order in which the psalmist gave them.
To refresh our memories, the most powerful intercessory prayer formula in all the Bible is found in Psalm 4:4-5, which reads:
Let's look at each piece of this formula, explaining it as steps placed in the order in which we should do them. So, when you find yourself needing to pray for a dire situation, Psalms 4 instructs us to follow these steps in order:
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
Intercessory Prayer Step 2: Sin notDid you know that you cannot pray for someone with hell-shattering prayers while you are harboring unconfessed unsurrendered sin in your life? Scripture tells us that only a righteous person's prayers "avail much" - meaning that they accomplish what was asked.
...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, James 5:16
"If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear," Psalm 66:18.
“Then they will call on Me, but I will not answer; They will seek Me diligently, but they shall not find Me, Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the Lord, Proverbs 1:28-29.At first, the requirement of righteousness makes it seem impossible to have effective prayer which accomplishes much. There is not one righteous human being on the planet (Romans 3:23 and Romans 3:10). But there is hope. We are not naturally righteous, but we can be made righteous, through receiving the righteousness of Christ.
To do this, we need to confess (1 John 1:9) all sin in our lives. To confess our sins, means that we need to specifically name them, in our prayer time. We need to tell our Heavenly Father that we are sorry for doing, thinking, and feeling sinful things. And we need to specifically ask Him to forgive and cleanse us in every area.
The process of confessing our sins also involves repentance. Repentance means that we turn from darkness unto the light. It means that we forsake the old evil habits and actions and to turn to God's Will and Way.
Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit... Ezekiel 18:30-31.Repentance also means that we fully cleanse our homes - getting rid of all the books, movies, music and objects which dishonor God and elevate evil.
"Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction," Deuteronomy 7:26.But what about the sins we've committed of which we aren't aware? Since all sins, including those we don't know about, inhibits prayer, following the command to "sin not" in Psalm 4 will involve an even deeper spiritual surgery. After we have confessed every known sin - and asked for the Saviour's precious Blood to cover and cleanse it away - we next need to ask God to reveal any further areas of sin, beyond our own awareness (Jeremiah 17:10)
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the Way Everlasting, Psalm 139:23-24.A detailed explanation of the process of personal cleansing and reclaiming a home is found in Mark and Shauna Manfredine's book Keys to Living Like You've Been Saved.
This process of spiritual house-cleansing, confessing and repenting for all sin is the vital second step in the Psalm 4 prayer formula. So, after you have praised God, which was step 1 ("stand in awe"), complete step 2 ("sin not") by spending as much time as is necessary to confess and repent from all sin in your life.
Once steps 1 and 2 are complete, your preparation to pray is finished. You are now a ready vessel, prepared to pray effective and fervent prayers which are empowered to shatter the very gates of hell.