Prayer Is Labor Which Brings Heavenly Rewards

By David J. Stewart | January 2015

Matthew 6:17-21, “But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

      Most Christians are sadly focused on this temporal life. There's nothing wrong with investing in earthly investments, but you must fully realize that you cannot take any of it with you into eternity; not a penny! 1st Timothy 6:6-8, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” This is perhaps the most ignored Scripture passage in the Word of God.

The Lord commands us to be CONTENT (satisfied) with just food and clothing. Wow! This means not even having a place to live. This means not having a car to get around. This means not having money to go on a vacation once a year. This means not having any money to buy the electronic toys and luxuries that so many Americans can't seem to live without. Honestly, we are spoiled rotten in America!!! Literally, the Bible teaches that we should be content if we are homeless but have clothes to wear and food to eat to sustain us. The Bible is teaching us that godliness is great gain and we ought to be content with that. What is godliness? It means that we fear God and obey Him. You may be the poorest person in this world, but you can still fear God and obey the Holy Bible. The born-again Christian who fears God and obeys Him is very, very, wealthy in God's eyes.

And please notice, godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN!!! Don't ever forget that. Some of the most miserable people in the world are also the richest financially. When Robin Williams sadly commit suicide, he left behind an estimated $50,000,000 (and some sources say much more). Hollywood and southern California are amongst the wealthiest places in the world, and they are miserable wallowing in their cesspool of iniquity. Money cannot buy peace, love, joy or eternal life. Truly, the greatest things in life are not things. Materialism never made anyone content. I love how God made the greatest gifts in life free, the greatest of all being the sacrifice on the cross of His precious only begotten Son, Jesus, the Christ.

Our text passage of Scripture says to “LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN”! Yes, we will cast our earned crowns at Jesus' feet in Heaven, and then He will give them back to us, because He wants us to have them to cherish and adore. But the Bible plainly teaches that we are laying up heavenly rewards for OUR SELF. That's OK. God wants us to invest for eternity. The Lord is the greatest businessman in all the universe! Our God Who gave His own Son, has promised to freely give to us all things (Romans 8:32). So why should we lay up for ourselves any treasures in Heaven? Obviously, some believers will have more than others in Heaven, or else the Bible wouldn't encourage us to LAY UP TREASURES in Heaven.

I do not know what additional rewards God will give to those who diligently serve Him, as compared to those believers who never lift a finger for God, but still enjoy the blessings and splendor of Heaven. In my humble opinion, I believe that every believer by God's grace will be entitled to all their necessities being met in Heaven, and they will be happy in the Lord's presence. But I believe that those of God's children who faithfully serve Him, will be given wondrous rewards that will bring joy to their heart and make them exceedingly glad for their much earthly labors. Ask any businessman and he will tell you that time is money, and money is time. God rewards us for time spent in labor, whether it be working a church bus route, preparing a Sunday school lesson or praying for others. When you tithe (and hopefully you do), you are giving God your time, in the form of money earned for your time spent laboring at work. Your tithe is really your labor converted into the form of money.

I've said all this by way of introduction to teach you that one of the best ways to lay up treasures in Heaven is to fast and pray. These are the things which Jesus is talking about prior to telling us to LAY UP TREASURES for ourselves in Heaven in Matthew 6:19-20. Here is a powerful truth from Evangelist John R. Rice about praying for the power of the Holy Spirit to help others in the Lord. Very few church congregations seek the power of the Holy Spirit anymore, because they have not been properly mentored by a genuine man of God to do so. There will be times in life when prayer is not enough, but also, fasting is needed . . .

Sometimes I would find myself, in a great measure, empty of this power. I would go and visit, and find that I made no saving impression. I would exhort and pray, with the same result. I would then set apart a day for private fasting and prayer, fearing that this power had departed from me, and would inquire anxiously after the reason of this apparent emptiness. After humbling myself, and crying out for help, the power would return upon me with all its freshness. This has been the experience of my life.

SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, from the book, “The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit.”

What is fasting? Is it starving yourself to earn a favor from God? No, not at all. Fasting is letting go of the physical in order to grasp more of the spiritual. The Bible teaches in Hebrews 11:6 that faith is the ONLY thing that can please God. Please note that fasting is NOT earning an answer to prayer. Many people have this misconception. IF YOU ARE NOT PRAYING, YOU ARE NOT FASTING! It is through fasting that our faith is increased, and faith unlocks the windows of Heaven. God does not favor some men over others, for there is no respect of persons with God (Romans 2:11).

Due to man's incessant sinful pride, God cannot empower a man unless he spends time in fasting and prayer, so that God gets all the glory and not the man. James 4:6 says that God resists THE PROUD, but giveth grace to THE HUMBLE. A humble saint prays. Fasting is not absolutely required to please God, but prayer is. Fasting is for those who want to SERVE GOD. Fasting is hardly taught in the churches today in our fat slob society of obese Americans. When a saint prays and fasts, God works.

The power of the Holy Spirit is for you ladies too. We learn about Anna in Luke 2:37-38, “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” Anna was an elderly woman, 84-years old, who SERVED GOD the Bible says, with fastings and prayers, night and day, and she witnessed the Gospel to others. This is how to serve God my friend. Everything else in the Christian's life centers around these things. A big church means nothing if the Gospel is taught incorrectly or not taught at all. The most diligent church efforts means absolutely nothing if there has not been any time spent in fastings and prayer for the power of the Holy Spirit to work behind the scenes.

Notice that the Bible in the following Scripture calls praying “labour.” Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” We are taught in 1st Corinthians 3:6-9, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” Any saint can pray. Any saint can fast. Any saint can teach the good news (the Gospel) of Christ's death on the cross for our sins, His burial and His resurrection.

I think a lot of believers get the wrong idea that they have to give money to religious work to serve God. That is the least thing that God wants from you, but the first thing that men want. God wants your obedience, abiding in the Holy Scriptures, praying, fasting and walking with Him in sweet fellowship. And by the way, fasting can be for just one meal, or one day, it doesn't have to be for weeks. You can go on a juice fast, or eat oatmeal instead of tacos, that is, something that you don't like. I believe God accepts these things in a fast, because we are discomforting the body while praying, seeking God's help or power in a matter. But remember, the purpose of fasting is to enhance our faith while spending time in prayer to God. Fasting without prayer is a mere diet.

Many saints have the misconception that serving God means to attend church, barbeque with other church members, invest in paint-ball equipment for the church youth, take a church group on tour to visit the Holy Land, meet together at Watchcare groups, and run a Christian school. May I say, you're not serving God unless you're preaching the Gospel. Those who teach the false plan of Lordship Salvation ARE NOT serving God. Those churches who use, support and endorse the corrupt modern Bible versions are pulling on the same rope as the Devil. Is that serving God? I think not. Serving God means contending for the faith once delivered unto the saints (Jude 1:3). It means soul-winning and spending time actually DOING SOMETHING for God. The Lord doesn't save a man not to drink booze, not fornicate and avoid sin; but rather, God doesn't want a man to do those things so that he can serve the Lord. Sin keeps us from doing what we ought to be doing for the Lord. Helping the poor is not serving God unless you're preaching the Gospel to them. Running a charity is not a ministry unless you're praying, teaching the Word of God and carrying out The Great Commission.

The Bible tells us to turn our joy into sorrow and be afflicted, to mourn and weep, as part of drawing near unto God (James 4:8-10). This means to hurt for OTHERS who are hurting, spending time in prayer for OTHERS, as taught by the parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8. To draw near unto God, we must mourn over lost sinners, and weep over the sins and sufferings of OTHERS. The religious garbage in the churches today that puts SELF on the throne instead of GOD, which Joel and Victoria Osteen are infamous for doing, is totally contrary to what the Holy Bible teaches. Jesus thought upon the needs, burdens and things of OTHERS (Philippians 2:4-5), and so also should we. Philippians 2:4, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

I've written this article primary to teach you the great Biblical truth of prayer as LABOUR which earns rewards in Heaven. I think most Christians think of everything else as a means of laying up treasures in Heaven, leaving prayer last on the list. You can list fasting and prayer right at the top of the list my friend. God will reward you for praying without fasting, certainly; but there will be times when prayer requires fasting if you want God's Holy Spirit power to work for your church's youth rally, revival or soul-winning. For personal needs and requests, fasting is never necessary, as taught by our Lord in Matthew 6:7-8. Fasting is always for OTHERS, which is how God wants us to live as believers. Dr. Hyles used to say that if he could teach his people one thing besides how to be saved and go to Heaven, it would be to GET OUT OF THE SELF LIFE! I say Amen to that!!!

“Nobody can love God who doesn't love sinners!”
(a quote by Dr. Jack Hyles classic MP3 sermon, “The Happiest Man” (happiest is the man who will not impute sin to others!)


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