Ray Comfort: Fear of the Lord is key to ensuring God answers prayers
Apologist and author Ray Comfort is releasing a new book this month that explains why a healthy fear of the Lord is a key component of prayer.
In the book, titled How to Make Sure God Hears Your Prayers (BroadStreet Publishing) with a foreword written by Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham, Comfort explains, “while many people profess to be born again, only people who fear the Lord reflect that fear in how they live.”
“It doesn’t matter how much we accomplish in our lives, the size of our Christian ministry, or how much money we leave behind. Everything boils down to whether we fear God,” he writes. “The fear of God is the fertile soil from which good, biblical fruit grows, and as we shall see, it is a priceless gift from the hand of our loving Creator.”
In a Q&A with The Christian Post, Comfort revealed what he considers to be the biggest misconception about prayer.
CP: What led you to write this book?
Comfort: Most people aren’t too concerned about prayer until they’re hanging by their teeth over a 1,000-foot cliff or they’re in severe turbulence upside down at 20,000 feet. That’s when we need to know that God hears our prayers.
And most people think that all we have to do is speak and God hears. And, in a sense, He does, but we don’t want God just to hear us, we want Him to answer our prayers.
There are certain things we have to do if we want an audience with the king of England. You don’t just show up in your pajamas and begin chatting. There is a certain etiquette that must take place.
And that’s exactly the same with God, but the etiquette is so much more high. The Scriptures say that “who should enter the hill of the Lord? He that has clean hands and a pure heart.” Scripture also warns that God will not hear your prayer if you have sin in your heart, and the Bible tells us that our sins make a separation between us and God.
Not that God doesn’t hear us, He’s omniscient. He sees all and knows all. But He takes no regard unless we do what He says when it comes to approaching His throne. So, it’s important that we understand this.
CP: Last year, theologian R.T. Kendall released a book titled Fear: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, in which he argued that churches need to reclaim the fear of God. In an earlier interview with CP about his book, Kendall said: "I’ve had, in recent years especially, a feeling that there is no fear of God in the nation, and there is little fear of God in the Church." Would you say that you agree with his assessment?
Comfort: Absolutely. Right on.
Most people have a wrong concept of God. To them, He’s an old man with a beard and a pink nightie sitting on a cloud reaching out, touching fingers with Adam.
God is nothing like that. That’s called idolatry when we have a wrong image of God. We’ll never fear God while we have a wrong image of Him. Thunder and lightning play a little part in putting the fear of God into us. When we are in a lightning storm and we hear thunder shake everything around us, that makes us tremble. It's not God showing His wrath, it's merely nature that He created doing its own thing.
Jesus said, “fear not him who has power to kill your body and afterwards do no more, but fear him who has power to kill your body and cast your soul into Hell.”
He was saying if someone plunges a knife into your chest, don’t fear that, compared to the fear of falling into the hands of a living God. That’s more than a reverential fear. That’s fear and trembling. The Bible says of Jesus, “He was heard in that He feared.” He had that necessary reverence and trembling before the throne of God and He was heard because of that fear.
The fear of God is a very good thing. And it’s the fear of God, all these years later, that keeps me from looking at pornography. It’s the fear of God that keeps me from getting involved in gossip. It’s the fear of God that keeps me walking a straight and narrow path of God’s Word. And that’s good.
We often think that fear is a bad thing, but there are a lot of instances where it's good. Fear will make you put on a parachute if you have to jump 10,000 feet. That fear is your friend, not your enemy.
Fear will make you put on a seatbelt when you get into a car. And so, we shouldn’t discount fear. Of course, there is a fear that has torment and that’s not good, but there is a fear of God that is good and is for our benefit.
CP: Each chapter includes a transcript of a time in which you witnessed to unbelievers. Why did you feel it was important to include those discussions and how did you go about figuring out which witness conversations to include?
Comfort: Our YouTube channel has over 230 million views and I took the cream of our witnessing experiences and transcribed them because they’re so relevant. And the reason I did that is that I once did it, gave it to someone, and they said it brought them to tears, and I thought, “you’re kidding!”
They don’t just have to see it on video, they can actually read it and still be instructed and encouraged by what they see.
Because when you see an atheist backslide in two minutes, it's encouraging. There’s nothing to be feared. We don’t need to feel intimidated when we talk to an atheist if we know certain principles.
That’s what the YouTube channel does. It shows you that you don’t need to fear when it comes to speaking to ungodly people about the things of God, because everyone is the same, everyone has a will to live, and everyone has a conscience.
CP: What do you think is a big misconception about prayer?
Comfort: I think one of the biggest misconceptions that most people have when it comes to prayer and the things of God is the wrong understanding of the word "faith."
We tend to think that faith is believing in something without the evidence. And that’s why we believe in God. Just a blind faith. But that’s not true. There is some credible scientific evidence of God’s existence all around us.
In the same way, if you look at a building, you don’t believe or have faith there was a builder, you know there was a builder, because buildings don’t build themselves. A building is proof of a builder.
And that’s exactly the same with paintings. You don’t need to meet the painter to know there was a painter. You look at the painting and intelligence or common sense tells you that paintings don’t paint themselves. Even if the painter died 300 years ago, we know he existed, because of the existence of the painting.
And the same thing applies when talking about the existence of God. The creation is evidence that there’s a Creator. There is order from the atom through the universe.
So, we don’t have faith that God exists, we know He exists. And that’s not in arrogance, it's common sense.
When the Bible speaks of faith, it's not speaking of an intellectual assent, it is speaking of an implicit trust. In the same way, we would trust a surgeon to operate on us. We trust his integrity. We trust his ability. I have faith in my wife, I trust her integrity. That’s the sort of faith that pleases God, and without that, it's impossible to please Him.
You can’t have any relationships in society without faith. Say to your boss, “I’ve got no faith in you,” and you’ll lose your job. Say to your wife, “I’ve got no faith in you,” you’ll probably sleep on the couch and maybe ruin your marriage. Say that to your friends and you’ll lose your friends. Without faith, you cannot live. We have faith in doctors, we have faith in pilots, we have faith in surgeons, we have faith even in some politicians.
So, that sort of faith is the faith that we need to approach God when it comes to prayer. The Bible says, “without faith, it is impossible to please Him.”
CP: How do you respond to those who feel that, although they prayed to God with a sincere fear of Him, their prayers went unheard or unanswered?
Comfort: God always hears our prayers, if we come to Him in humility.
Sometimes we can feel that our prayers don’t get past the ceiling, but if we come to Him with humility, the Bible says God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. His ears are open to our cries.
And that’s what faith actually is. It's trusting that God answers our prayers. Sometimes He says “yes,” sometimes He says “no,” sometimes He says “hang on a minute.”
When it comes to suffering, and we’re crying out to God because a loved one is suffering, we still have to rest in faith. Charles Spurgeon said, “faith may swim where reason may only paddle.” And the reason we can trust God is because of Romans 8:28. It’s the great safety net Scripture, it says “All things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purposes.”
We might find ourselves in a lion’s den, with hungry lions surrounding us, or on the edge of the Red Sea. That’s when we stand still and just trust God no matter what.
CP: What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Comfort: I hope they are encouraged. I hope they have more of a vibrant prayer life. I hope that it increases their faith and I hope that it causes them to have a concern for the lost that are around us.
We want people to not only pray, but to share the Gospel with those sitting in the shadow of death. And that’s what the book will help you do.