Chapter 11—The Privilege of Prayer

<BACK     NEXT>

God speaks to us through nature, the Bible, and by the influence of His Spirit. He also speaks through the way He leads us. But it is not enough for Him to speak to us. If we are to have spiritual life and strength, we need to express our desires and our love to Him.

God is faithful in keeping His many promises. We may sometimes ask and not receive at once the things we ask for. But we are still to believe that the Lord hears and that He will answer our prayers.

Our minds may be drawn toward Him. We may think of His works, His mercies, and His blessings. But this is not in the fullest sense sharing our thoughts and feelings with Him. We must have something to say to Him about our joys and sorrows, our daily life.

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Of course we do not need to tell God about ourselves, for He already knows everything. But we pray to help us know Him and be able to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us; it brings us up to Him.

When Jesus was on earth, He taught His disciples how to pray. He told them to present their daily needs before God and to lay all their cares on Him. And He promised that their prayers would be heard. This promise is also for us.

Jesus prayed often. He made Himself one of us when He was on earth. His needs were the same as ours, and He asked His Father for strength to meet the duties of each day. He knew He must have God’s help to carry on His work. He is our example in all things.

Jesus shared in our weaknesses, for He was “in all points tempted like as we are.” Hebrews 4:15, KJV. But He was sinless and turned away from evil. He bore pain and the torture of temptation. Though He was divine, He also was human and needed to pray as we do. He had the right to ask His Father for things He needed. It gave Him comfort and joy to share His thoughts with His Father. The Saviour, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer. How much more should we who are weak, sinful people feel the need to turn to God in prayer.

Our heavenly Father waits to give us His full blessing. In prayer we can feel His boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! God is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of even the most humble child, but still we seem almost afraid to tell Him what we need.

What must the angels of heaven think of poor, helpless people who are tempted to sin and yet will not ask for help? God’s heart of infinite love is ready to give them more than they can ask or think. Yet they pray so little and have such little faith. The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near Him. Their greatest joy is sharing their time and thoughts with Him. The people of earth need the help that only God can give. Yet they seem willing to live without feeling Him near and without the light of His Spirit.

The darkness of Satan, the evil one, is around those who do not pray. The enemy leads them into sin because they do not meet with God in prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be slow to pray? God has a great storehouse of blessings, and prayer is the key in the hand of faith that unlocks heaven’s storehouse.

Unless we pray often, we are in danger of growing careless. We may be led to turn from the right path. Satan is always trying to block the path to God. He does not want us to receive grace and power through prayer to resist evil.

We can expect God to answer our prayers, but we must meet certain conditions. One of the first conditions is that we must feel our need of help from Him. He has promised, “I will give water to the thirsty land and make streams flow on the dry ground.” Isaiah 44:3. Those who are hungry and thirsty for God’s righteousness will be filled. The heart must be open to the Spirit’s influence, or His blessings cannot be received.

We need God’s help. He knows this and wants to give it to us, but we must ask Him for it. He says, “Ask, and you will receive.” Matthew 7:7. Paul wrote that “God … did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all! He gave us his Son.—will he not also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32.

The Lord will not hear us if we hold on to any known sin. But He always hears the prayers of a person who is sorry for sin. When all known wrongs are made right, we may believe that God will answer our prayers. Our own goodness will never cause God to love us. It is the goodness of Jesus that will save us; it is His blood that will make us clean. Yet we have a work to do in meeting the conditions for being accepted.

We also need faith when we pray. “No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.”Hebrews 11:6. Jesus said to His disciples, “When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.” Mark 11:24. Do we take Him at His word?

God is faithful in keeping His many promises. We may sometimes ask and not receive at once the things we ask for. But we are still to believe that the Lord hears and that He will answer our prayers.

We cannot see the future, and sometimes we ask for things that would not be a blessing. Our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us what is best for us. He gives us what we would ask for if we could see all things as they really are.

We are to hold to God’s promises even when it seems that our prayers are not answered. At the right time we will receive the blessing we need most. But we cannot demand that a prayer will be answered in just the way we desire. God does not make mistakes. He is so good that He will not keep from us anything that would help us. Do not be afraid to trust Him, even though you may not see an answer at once. Believe His promise, “Ask, and you will receive.” Matthew 7:7.

If we think about our doubts and fears, they will grow greater. We need to come to God in faith, feeling helpless, as we really are. We must with humble, trusting faith tell Him what we want, even though He knows all things. He sees everything in creation and keeps it all going. He can and will hear our prayer and let light shine into our hearts.

Through sincere prayer we are brought close to the mind of God. We may have no real proof that He is near, but our Redeemer is bending over us in love and sympathy. We may not feel His touch, but His hand is upon us in love and tender pity.

We must have love and forgiveness in our own hearts when we come to God asking for mercy and blessings. We pray, “Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.” Matthew 6:12. How can we pray this if we have an unforgiving spirit? We must forgive others if we expect our prayers to be heard. We will be forgiven as we forgive.

Faithfulness in prayer has been made a condition of receiving. We must pray always if we want to grow in faith. We are to “pray at all times.” Romans 12:12. Paul wrote, “Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God.” Colossians 4:2.

Peter told the believers to be “alert, to be able to pray.” 1 Peter 4:7. Paul told them, “Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking Him with a thankful heart.” Philippians 4:6. Jude said, “But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up…. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and keep yourselves in the love of God.” Jude 20, 21.

Regular prayer gives us an unbroken hold on God so that life from Him flows into us. Then purity and holiness flow back to God from our lives.

It is important that nothing keeps us from praying. We must keep open the path between us and Jesus. Whenever it is possible, let us be where people are praying. If we really want a close walk with God, we will go to prayer meeting. We will be eager to receive spiritual blessings. We will place ourselves where we can receive the rays of light from heaven.

Families should pray together. But praying by oneself is important. Praying to God alone keeps our spiritual lives alive. It is impossible for a Christian life to be healthy without prayer. Family and public prayer is not enough. A person should open his heart to God alone in a prayer heard by Him only. No other ear is to hear these secret desires.

We are free from other influences when we are alone with God. We can reach out quietly to Him, and a sweet influence will flow from Him who sees in secret. His ear is open to hear our prayer, as with quiet, simple faith we share our thoughts with Him. We receive rays of divine light to help us in the battle with Satan. God is our tower of strength.

We should lift our hearts to God in our homes and as we go about our daily work. This is the way Enoch walked with God. Silent prayers rise to God like smoke from sweet incense. Satan cannot overcome a person who keeps hold of God in prayer.

At any time or any place it is proper to offer a silent prayer to God. Nothing can keep us from lifting our hearts in prayer. We can pray when we are on a crowded street and when we are carrying on our business.

We may pray as did the prophet Nehemiah. While he was standing before the king, he asked God to guide him. Any place we are can be a place of prayer. We can keep the door of the heart open all the time, inviting Jesus in as a heavenly guest.

There may be so much wickedness around us that we feel the air is poisoned, but we may breathe the pure air of heaven. By lifting our hearts to God in prayer we close our minds against thoughts that are not pure and holy. When our hearts are open to receive the blessings of God, our thoughts will be about heavenly things, and we will feel close to God all the time.

We need to understand more clearly why Jesus became a man, and understand better the value of eternal life. The beauty of holiness is to fill the hearts of all Christians. We must ask God to open our eyes that we may better see this beauty.

Our minds should turn to God so that we may breathe the air of heaven. We may keep so near to God that no matter what happens, our thoughts will turn to Him. They will turn as easily as the flower turns to the sun.

We may keep our wants, our joys, our sorrows before God. We may share with Him our cares and fears. We will not make Him weary. He is able to count the hairs of our heads, and He cares about the needs of His children. “For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion.” James 5:11.

God’s heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our telling Him about them. We may take everything that troubles us to Him. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up the worlds and rules the universe. Nothing that happens to us is too small for Him to notice. Nothing in our lives is too sinful for Him to know about. No problem is so great He cannot solve it. He shares our joys and our worries. He hears every sincere prayer and is always ready to answer. “He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. God knows His people perfectly, and He treats each one as though there were not another person for whom He gave His dear Son.

Jesus said, “When that day comes, you will ask him in my name; and I do not say that I will ask him on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you.” John 16:26, 27. “I chose you…. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name.” John 15:16. Jesus tells us to pray in His name. But to pray in His name means more than saying His name at the beginning of the prayer and again at the end. It means to pray in the mind and spirit of Jesus. It means that we believe His promises, depend upon His grace, and do His work.

God does not ask us to go away by ourselves and spend all our time praying. We must live a life such as Christ lived. We must work as well as pray. A person who does nothing but pray will soon stop praying, or His prayers will become only a habit.

People who stop helping others and doing their Christian duty have little for which to pray. When they do not work for the Master, who worked for them, they have nothing to pray about. Their prayers are only for themselves. They do not pray for other people or for strength to do God’s work.

We lose blessings when we do not meet together to give strength and courage to each other. We begin to forget the truths of God’s Word, and they become less important in our minds. Our minds are not touched by the Spirit of God, and we become less spiritual. We lose sympathy for one another when we shut ourselves away from others. We are not then doing what God planned we should do. Being friendly brings us into sympathy with others. It makes us grow and become stronger in the service of God.

We should speak to each other of the love of God and of the plan of salvation. This would bring new life to our hearts and to one another. We would daily learn more about our heavenly Father and receive more of His grace. We would desire to speak of His love, and our own hearts would be warmed and encouraged. We will have more of Christ’s presence when we think and talk about Him and not so much about ourselves.

We should delight to talk of God and praise Him. If we would think of Him as often as we are blessed, He would ever be in our thoughts. We talk about our business because this interests us. We talk of our friends because we love them. They are part of our joys and our sorrows. Yet we have a much greater reason to love God than to love our earthly friends. If we make Him first in our thoughts, it will be easy for us to talk of His goodness and tell of His power.

The rich gifts God gives us are not supposed to fill our thoughts until we have no time for Him. They are to keep reminding us of Him and helping us love Him more. Let us look to heaven, where the glory of God shines from the face of Christ. “He is able, now and always, to save those who come to God through him.” Hebrews 7:25.

We need to praise God more “for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8, KJV. Our prayers should not be just asking and getting what we asked for. We are not to think always of our wants and never of our blessings. We do not give thanks enough. We are always receiving God’s blessings, and yet how little we give thanks! How little we praise Him for what He has done for us!

Long ago the Lord told the people of Israel to meet together at certain times. He said, “There, in the presence of the Lord your God, who has blessed you, you and your families will eat and enjoy the good things that you have worked for.” Deuteronomy 12:7. When we do something for the glory of God, we should do it cheerfully, with songs of praise and gladness.

Our God is a kind, merciful Father. Working for Him should be a happy experience. It should be a pleasure to worship the Lord and to take part in His work. God has given us salvation, and He does not want us to think of Him as a hard master. He is our best friend. And when we worship Him, He expects to be with us and bless us. He wants to fill our hearts with joy and love.

The Lord desires us to take comfort in His work. He wants us to find more pleasure than hardship in serving Him. He wants us to carry away happy thoughts of His love and care when we worship Him. These thoughts should bring cheer to our daily work and give us grace to be honest and faithful.

We must make the cross of Christ the center of our lives. We should think and talk about what He did for us. These thoughts should fill us with joy. We should keep in mind the blessings and love we receive from God. We should be willing to trust Jesus with everything, for His hands were nailed to the cross for us.

Praise lifts the heart nearer to heaven. God is worshiped with song and music in heaven, and when we praise God, we worship Him as do the holy angels. He says, “Giving thanks is the sacrifice that honors me.” Psalm 50:23. Let us come before our Creator with holy joy. Let us worship Him with “thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” Isaiah 51:3, KJV.

<BACK     NEXT>

Advertisements