Prayer is the most vital link that man has with God. There is no greater blessing or necessity that man has on earth than to have close fellowship with God through prayer.
Prayer is not optional but obligatory if spiritual and moral life is to live, thrive, and not die. Prayer is indeed a life or death issue on a moment by moment basis. Why else would the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul command us in I Thessalonians 5:17,
“Pray without ceasing.”
There is no duty or action in the Christian life more constantly mandated by God than prayer. Let’s be honest about this! People today, including religious people, have basically “FIVE MAIN TIMES” in their lives which are as follows:
That pretty well covers everything but ‘PRIME TIME.” And what is that? What is totally missing and should be prime time is “PRAYER TIME.” In fact, according to the Bible, PRAYER SHOULD BE ALL THE TIME, for God knows that to constantly live for His glory in this sinful world, we need Him not just sometimes but all the time.
It was John Keble who expressed it so well in his hymn “Sun of My Soul, O Savior Dear,” which is in fact the deepest expression of prayer:
Sun of my soul, O Savior dear, it is not night if You are near.
Oh, may no earth born cloud arise, to hide You from Your servant’s eyes.
When the soft dews of kindly sleep, my wearied eyelids gently steep,
Be my last thought how, safe from harm, I rest within my Savior’s arm.
Abide with me from morn till eve, for without You I cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh, for without You I dare not die.
If we were likening prayer to a spiritual diet, prayer is meat and potatoes and vegetables, not hors d’oeuvres or dessert. You know how kids are! They would rather skip the real dietary substance and head straight to the cookies and cakes and ice cream. So too, many modern religionists would rather skip over long hours of prayer and get to the blessings and miracles. Sorry! No dessert without the spiritual diet of continual prayer! That is how it works!
It has struck me deeply throughout the years what Jesus said in Mark 11:17,
“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer
for all the nations….’”
He did not say:
-My house shall be called a HOUSE OF PREACHING.
-My house shall be called a HOUSE OF PRAISING.
-My house shall be called a HOUSE OF PROPHESYING.
-My house shall be called a HOUSE OF PLANNING.
-My house shall be called a HOUSE OF PROGRAMMING.
Of course, these are all good and necessary things, but they are worthless and powerless unless the HOUSE OF GOD IS A HOUSE OF PRAYER.
Prayer defines what the Christian and the Christian Church and the Christian life are all about as nothing else does. And if prayer defines God’s House, how can it not define our houses? We must bring our children very early in life to embrace the sweet hour of prayer, rather than in their TV consumption looking at prayer the same way they view those frustrating commercials during their favorite programs and cartoons. I sense in my spirit that we in these end times are going to be forced to get this through our heads and into our hearts and theirs.
“Prayer for all the nations” means “prayer for everyone on planet earth – for all peoples on earth.” It would be true to the Word of God to pray for a different nation every Sunday morning and throughout that week as a congregation that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit in that nation. Our prayers in the church should constantly take us around the world, according to our Lord.
Closer to home, we never know who is sitting out there on any given Sunday morning. Perhaps someone who came to church that morning as their last hope, or otherwise he or she is thinking seriously about ending their life. Sad to say that the nations are full of such desperate souls!
This past year, 349 American soldiers committed suicide. Oh how we must intercede on behalf of our servicemen and women. We must as a church live out our very prayer essence each day and at each service, lest someone sitting there on Sunday morning might tragically become that week a suicide corpse from whom men in blue take a wallet, checking for ID in a car or motel or house. Giving opportunity for those who so sorely need prayer to come forward for prayer, is the heartbeat of the family and house of God. Do you hear it?
THE GRACIOUSNESS OF PRAYER
To even begin to understand this, we must grasp what the basis is for redeemed sinners to be able to approach the most Holy God in prayer. And it is obvious today that many no longer even slightly get this or think about God’s glorious grace-gift of prayer.
We are told in Habakkuk 1:13 KJV about God,
“Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity.”
Man oh man, think about this for a moment. Even the smallest and most indiscernible speck of dust falling into our eyes is a most painful boulder. But much more than that, how the vileness of sin before and in the eyes of the sanctified believer should be even more awfully painful. It is no longer possible to watch TV without constantly changing channels to avoid having nudity, violence, filth, and dirt thrown into our eyes and into the eyes of our children.
Well then, when it comes to the Holy God, multiply that by infinity, and you will only slightly grasp how hideous and unbearable it is for the Holy God to look upon sin and have dirt thrown into His eyes. In fact, this is one thing that God will not and cannot do, and that is to look upon iniquity. The fire of His awesome holiness would burn it to ashes before His eyes could even look at it.
How in the world then can dirt-covered sinners, which is all of us by nature, even begin to approach God in prayer when He can’t even so much as endure even the sight of sin? Hear it now and hear it real good:
“FOR ANY SINNER BY HIMSELF, APART FROM THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, TO COME
TO THE HOLY GOD IN PRAYER IS TO CAST HIMSELF INTO THE ARMS OF A
CONSUMING FIRE, TO PROVOKE DIVINE WRATH, TO BEG FOR A
CURSE, AND SECURE HIS OWN DAMNATION.”
Overstated? Not in the least! That is why we read words like we do in in Solomon’s proverbs such as in Proverbs 29:9 where, speaking about the wicked man’s prayer, he says,
“Even his prayer is an abomination.”
Wham! And again in Proverbs 15:8,
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.”
Now then, here is the greatest good news of the Gospel for believers, namely, that Jesus Christ by His blood shed on the cross for our sins, and by His resurrection from the dead to prove that our sins are gone:
“HAS TURNED FOR US THE THRONE OF DIVINE JUSTICE INTO THE
THRONE OF DIVINE GRACE.”
Praise the Lord:
“HE’S ALIVE, HE’S ALIVE, AND I’M FORGIVEN,
HEAVENS GATES ARE OPEN WIDE.”
So that when we pray washed by the blood of Jesus Christ:
“WE CAN NOW PRAY WITH OUR FEARS TURNED INTO FAITH,
AND OUR HEADS AS WELL AS OUR HANDS LIFTED
HIGH UP TO GOD.”
Hallelujah to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has opened the door to the throne room of Heaven to us for prayer to God. Otherwise, we no more could go to God’s throne room than any civilized person would allow a mucky and grunty pig to come into his living room. Our prayers would bounce off a leaden sky! But thanks be to God that we don’t as believers and lovers of Jesus approach Heaven as mucked up pigs but as blood washed children of God. It doesn’t make any difference how piggish and dirty we have been, because of God’s grace in precious Jesus, we are now at home with God in prayer any day, all day, all of our days, and forever.
THE BOLDNESS OF PRAYER
Well then, we read glorious words like we do in Ephesians 3:12 about prayer,
“In Whom (Christ Jesus our Lord) we have boldness and confident
access through faith in Him.”
What a glorious truth for us, that because of Jesus Christ and only through Jesus Christ, we can come to God in prayer without trembling hearts and fearful stammering, but with full and confident trust. That is what the Greek word BOLDNESS means – FREE AND FULL CONFIDENT UTTERANCE! Not halting hearts and uncertain voices! Not conflicted but confident prayers!
The word BOLDNESS in the Greek does not mean barging into God’s presence like some charging buffalo or buffoon grunting out our demands like people do to a fast-food window waitress. When it comes to BOLDNESS, we are dealing here with God’s amazing BLOOD-GRACE IN JESUS CHRIST, not man’s unmitigated GUTS! To interpret Ephesians 3:12 in the sense of impudence before God is to defend a misconception of boldness with blasphemy. Listen:
“WE ARE TO FREELY ACCESS THE THRONE OF GOD, AND NOT
BOORISHLY ATTACK IT.”
One gets the feeling these days that there are those who think they can approach God in their church Bermuda’s and beach sandals and say:
“HEY GOD, WHAT’S UP? HOW YA DOING? HAVING A GOOD DAY, ARE YA? HERE’S
A FEW THINGS THAT I HAVE ON MY MIND. SO LISTEN UP.”
Today we are witnessing with our very eyes, and we are listening with our very ears to the emergence of an entire generation of religionists whose deportment before God only a few years ago would have been viewed as contempt and sacrilege. They act like they own the Throne of Grace, and that God is really impressed by them and blessed to have them. They are not only cool, casual, and conniving, in God’s eyes they are contemptible! When all the while the angels of Heaven cover their faces and their feet, and cry out around the throne of God, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts, the earth is filled with His glory.”
What boldness means in our approach to God is this:
“BECAUSE OF THE GRACE OF GOD IN JESUS CHRIST, WE CAN COME TO GOD
WITH NO DISGRACE WHATSOEVER, KNOWING FULL WELL THAT WE ARE
LOVINGLY AND FULLY WELCOMED INTO HIS IMMEDIATE
PRESENCE AS HIS CHILDREN.”
That is why we are commanded by our Lord to pray in JESUS’ NAME (John 16:24). If you will:
“THE NAME OF JESUS IS THE REAL BOLDNESS OF OUR PRAYERS.”
You see, Jesus Christ is center stage in our prayer life, not us! He gets the focus, not us! Listen:
“IF WE TRUST IN OUR PRAYERS, THE WORDS FALL TO THE DUST, BUT IF
WE TRUST IN JESUS ALONE, OUR PRAYERS FLY TO HEAVEN UPON
WINGS OF DIVINE GLORY.”
What an incredibly glorious blessing it is that we have full and free access to God when apart from Jesus, Heaven’s gates would be barred shut to us forever. When we pray in the name of Jesus, we glory in the blood and the cross of Jesus! His name is not a magic wand to wave before God, but is the key to open the door to be able to approach God confidently in prayer.
THE IMPERATIVE OF PRAYER
We read in Luke 18:1 about the DIVINE OUGHT – IMPERATIVE of prayer.
“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times
they OUGHT TO PRAY and not to lose heart.”
We read in I Thessalonians 5:17,
“Pray without ceasing.”
God does not say:
“Be sure to talk to Me whenever you can.”
Nor does He say:
“Feel free to drop by whenever you are in the area.
You are always welcome.”
Praying at all times is not a Divine concept, but rather, a Divine command. It is not a Divine offer, but it is a Divine order. It is not a Divine invitation, but it is a Divine imperative.
Luke 18:1 and I Thessalonians 5:17 are clear mandates from the Lord! At all times we ought to pray! Pray without ceasing! Therefore:
“PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS THE DIVINE OUGHT THAT NEVER CEASES.”
“WHEN WE DO NOT UNCEASINGLY PRAY TO GOD, WE ARE UNCEASINGLY
IN DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD.”
That is why prayer is often been likened to breathing. Don’t breathe always and you die physically! Don’t pray always and you die spiritually! Continual breathing and praying are utter necessities. You don’t take a day off, an hour off, a half hour off, five minutes off, two minutes off, one minute off, one second off from breathing. Prayer is no different! Or as the hymn “Prayer Is The Soul’s Sincere Desire” puts it:
“Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, the Christian’s native air,
his watchword at the gates of death; he enters heaven with prayer.”
Go back with me to 1915. The First World War was ravaging our planet. Perhaps you recall seeing old newsreels with a shot of troops cheerfully marching past the cameras while choruses of “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bags and smile, smile, smile” accompanied them to the battle front. The song was written by staff sergeant Felix Powell and won him first prize in a competition for the best morale-boosting song.
Sergeant Powell didn’t let this early success to his own head or heart. When the next war started, Powell stuck it out for three years and then committed suicide. Obviously the advice which he himself prescribed to others to “smile, smile, smile,” was not enough. Something more than positive thinking is needed. Something more than a sunny “cheer up.” What is needed is a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and then PRAY – PRAY – PRAY!
I know there are times that it is hard if not seemingly impossible to pray. C.S. Lewis, the devout Christian author, was staggered by the death of his wife Joy. He felt as if he had suffered a fatal blow to his heart. He was in such pain that he reports that he could not even pray. Every time he tried, it was as if a door was shut in his face, and it was as if he could hear it being bolted from the other side. Some of us have been there. You know then what it is like. Your grief has been overwhelming and tears flow down your face until it seems like the fountain will never dry up.
I have often likened the Christian life to a relay race. As any track coach will testify that the relay race is won or lost in the transfer of the baton. There is a critical moment when all can be won or lost by a fumble, a miscalculation, or exhaustion that disallows you to get the arm up and steady for the hand off.
In the race of life, we must not let ourselves get that far run down, which often happens. We must humble ourselves before our friends and hand off the prayer baton and simply level with them, “I can hardly pray for myself anymore, here is the prayer baton, would you please pray with me now!” Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him, though they tragically dropped the baton. The Apostle Paul implored the churches, “Brethren, pray for us!” The Apostle James commands, “Pray for one another.”
There are those times in history when we fail to pray unceasingly, and we become lackadaisical in our prayer life, and independent from God. Then God will literally force us to pray to teach us how serious God is about prayer, and just how powerful the God of our prayers really is. Scripture is full of this! He does this to whole nations!
Bill and Dorothy Smith, Assembly of God missionaries to Haiti, report that when the January, 2010 earthquake shattered Haiti, people had never heard of or experienced anything like it. They thought that was the end of the world.
But throughout the dark days that followed, remarkable victories occurred. People were rescued from under flattened buildings with their hands raised, praising Jesus. After the quake, church attendance in Haiti burgeoned and many congregations are still at double their pre-quake attendance. More than 300 Assemblies of God congregations meet across the island, and church growth remains steady. Throughout the aftermath of the quake, Haitians continued turning to Christ. Contrastingly, voodoo – the demonic religion long associated with Haiti – saw a decline.
And here is the reason. 24 hour prayer and praise groups assembled right behind the Smith house. At all hours of the day and night there could be heard praying and singing of hymns. The entire area was covered with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Try and tell them that God is not serious about perpetual prayer.
THE LANGUAGE OF PRAYER
It is hard for me to imagine that in a huge segment of modern religion, man has instead taken on the role of being the “Prayer Commander,” and God has become the “Prayer Commandee.” People don’t pray TO GOD, but rather, they pray AT GOD. Oh yes, I have personally heard people in their prayers command – demand – dictate to God to do this or that, or to give them this or that. In other words:
“PRAYER HAS BECOME THE EXPRESSION OF HUMAN OUGHTS TO THE DIVINE.”
These human “Prayer Fiats” to God come in different forms, but they are all basically human mandates to the Divine:
-I claim such and such.
-I command such and such.
-I order such and such.
-I declare such and such.
On and on it goes, and they have all become counterfeit prayers. In fact they are not prayers at all, but rather human PRONOUNCEMENTS – ANNOUNCEMENTS – DECLARATIONS – IMPERATIVES to God, and what is worse, sometimes as gods. They may begin with the declarers’ and commanders’ eyes shut, but within a few words their eyes are opened as the PRAY-ERS becomes a PONTIFICATORS.
FIRST – CLAIMING AND COMMANDING GOD are so far from the spirit and the language of the Bible that they are another religion. Well then, what is the prayer language of the Bible? I thought that someone would never ask that question. It is gloriously straight forward and simple, as in James 4:2,
“You do not have because you do not ASK.”
And Matthew 7:7,
“ASK and it shall be given you…”
The Word of God does not say:
-You do not have because you do not CLAIM.
-You do not have because you do not COMMAND.
-You do not have because you do not ORDER.
-You do not have because you do not DECLARE.
Nor does the Word of God say:
-STAKE YOUR CLAIM and it shall be given you.
-GIVE YOUR COMMAND and it shall be given you.
-ISSUE YOUR ORDER and it shall be given you.
-MAKE YOUR DECLARATION and it shall be given you.
But you see, and here is the rub, ASKING PUTS GOD IN CONTROL, while CLAIMING AND COMMANDING PUTS MAN IN CONTROL. Asking makes US SUBMISSIVE TO GOD, while claiming and commanding makes GOD SUBMISSIVE TO US. There is the heart of the matter.
The center of SIN is the letter “I.” That is really the nature of sin, having the “BIG I” at the center of life, and the “BIG I” wants what”I” want when “I” want it, which is always now! The little one sitting in his highchair-throne at the table makes an irritated sound and then points at what he wants, which is generally on someone’s else’s plate, and which he is now claiming as his own. And if the whiney commander is not obeyed, you may well be in for a shrieking protest and frenzy as well as a stressful supper.
Or again, the child commands father, “Give me…” Dad says, “You must ask!” The daughter says to mother, “Give me…” Mother says, “Say please…” Otherwise the little child would become a selfish, conceited, and arrogant brat.
Did I hear someone actually say, “Please?” Yes, “Please!” Please comes very close to another word in the Bible – BESEECH – though BESEECH is even stronger. You would have to say, “PLEASE – PLEASE – PLEASE – PLEASE” to begin to approach the prayer word – BESEECH. Yes, this too is the language of Biblical prayer, and it so far removed and so antithetical to staking claims and issuing orders that is it is not in the same universe. We read in Psalm 116:4,
“Then I called upon the name of the Lord, ‘O Lord I BESEECH Thee, save my life!’”
Here we have a humble pleader and not a cocky commander! Here we have a humble BESEECHER and not a cocky BEHESTER. Enough said!
Other language of Biblical prayer include (though by no means complete):
-Entreating the Lord
-Supplication to the Lord
-Calling upon the Lord
-Crying out to the Lord
-Petitioning the Lord
The words CLAIM and COMMAND and DECLARE in terms of prayer to God do not exist in the Bible.
SECOND – “But you see,” someone might say in protest, “ASKING puts us in a subservient position, while CLAIMING and COMMANDING puts us in a ruling position. It seems to me that I have a much better chance getting what I want if I demand it, rather than asking for it. Asking is so weak and anemic compared to claiming and commanding.”
No, no, no! You are speaking that way because you have a major error in another area of your thinking which is this:
“YOU THINK THAT THE POWER OF PRAYER IS IN MAN THE PRAY-ER AND
NOT IN GOD THE PRAYED TO ONE.”
When the truth is:
“THE REAL POWER OF PRAYER IN NOT IN MAN THE ASKER, BUT IN
GOD THE ASKED ONE.”
Let me explain! We read in Acts 20:35 these glorious words:
“In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help
the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said,
‘IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE.’”
Amazing! Is that so? Hard to believe! Why? Because the real power in Christianity is in RESPONDING AND GIVING and not in ASKING AND RECEIVING.
We all know how we love to receive. Huge! Receiving is much more desirable to man than giving. Give a child a toy and you will light up his life, but tell that child to share that toy and you will see the light go out in his face.
But the glorious fact is that God’s desire to GIVE dwarfs our desire to RECEIVE. Now then, that is a spirit of giving that we can barely process with our receive-oriented brains. The power and the glory of prayer is not in the HUMAN ASKER/RECEIVER, but in the DIVINE-ASKED GIVER.
Can you and I process this? No we cannot, and the best way to even begin to grasp this is to look at Christ on the cross. For God SO LOVED THE WORLD that He GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON! Would you? Would I? And what is even more incredible, no one asked Him to give His Son. He is such an awesome and mind-boggling giver! The blessings we receive from God are not because us, but because of His incredibly giving heart.
THIRD – Someone else says, “But we are children of God, we are King’s kids, and certainly children of royalty can CLAIM – DEMAND – DECLARE their inheritance to and from God! We are simply speaking and acting like royalty should. Princes and princesses don’t go around ASKING – BESEECHING like low-life beggars and hoi polloi commoners.”
Is that so? Think again! Psalm 2 is one of those Psalms that is referred to as Messianic, and in this Psalm at one point we hear God the Father speaking to God the Son. It is riveting to be allowed to hear the Father say to His Son in Psalm 2:8,
“Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the
very ends of the earth as Thy possession.”
God did not instruct His Son to say, “Demand Your inheritance of Me.” Nor did He instruct His Son to say,”Claim Your inheritance from Me.” And He did not instruct His Son to say, “Declare Your inheritance before Me.” What He did require of Him was, “Ask of Me.” Son, you have to ask! That is the protocol of the Trinity, and that is the PRAYER PROTOCOL of the Kingdom of God.
“EVEN AS THE SON OF GOD HAD TO ASK OF HIS FATHER HIS INHERITANCE,
SO THE SONS OF GOD ARE TO ASK THE FATHER FOR THEIR
INHERITANCE IN JESUS CHRIST.”
We must stop thinking of the Kingdom of God in terms of the world’s kingdoms. Everything is different in the Kingdom of God! Everything! In the ages of the Kings, it was often the custom that the royal son – the prince – would have a commoner playmate from the surrounding neighborhood. But there was a royal reason for that custom, in that when the young prince made a mistake or was just plain naughty, his commoner playmate would take the blame and suffer the punishment so as not to dishonor or defile royal flesh. That was the price the playmate had to pay for the privilege of being able to be the friend of royalty.
But, everything is reversed in God’s Kingdom! In His Kingdom, it is all so radically different. Hear it:
“IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD, IT IS THE ROYAL PRINCE WHO MUST TAKE
THE BLAME AND SUFFER THE PUNISHMENT FOR THE SINS
OF THE COMMONERS.”
If you will:
“THAT IS THE PRICE JESUS THE KING OF KINGS AND HE LORD OF LORD’S HAD
TO PAY FOR BEING THE FRIEND OF SINNERS.”
I mean, what kind of protocol is it for God to have to ask God? What kind of protocol is it for the King of kings and the Lord of lords to have to suffer and die for the sins of His subjects? What kind of bazaar Kingdom is this anyway?
We will never be able to identify with it until we stop walking around like little lords and little gods in our fabricated and fictional Disneyland Kingdoms of Enchantments thinking that we are in the Kingdom of God. Welcome to the Kingdom of God where royalty must humbly ask, and where kings must die for the guilty that they might be saved. Do you still want in? You must ask!
FOURTH– All of this claiming and commanding and declaring is deeply offensive to God and defies description. Why? Because it is nothing more or less than strange fire on the prayer altar! If you are in a church that gives God prayer fiats, I would get out of there, considering how God views strange fire on His altar.
Why do I say that? There is a true and very ominous story in the Old Testament about the sons of the High Priest Aaron. Their names were Nadab and Abihu, Moses’ nephews, and they did something that got God’s fiery attention. We read in Leviticus 10:1-3 KJV,
“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and
put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered STRANGE FIRE before
the Lord, which He had not commanded them.”
“And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died
before the Lord.”
“Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is it that the Lord spake, saying, ‘I will be
sanctified in them that come nigh Me, and before all the people I will
be glorified.’ And Aaron held his peace.”
There are two huge reasons why Nadab’s and Abihu’s fire of worship caused God’s fire of judgment to fry them:
#1 – They did something in holy worship which God had not commanded them. They offered strange fire and incense which the Lord had not ordered. Likewise, we are commanded by the Lord to pray – to ask – to beseech, but we are not commanded by the Lord in prayer to stake claims and issue orders. That is strange fire! That is weird worship! In the case of Nadab and Abihu, God’s fire not only destroyed their offering, it destroyed them. You never want God to fight strange fire with His holy fire.
#2 – Those who order and command and demand of God in prayer are lighting before God the strangest fire of all, even stranger than Nadab’s and Abihu’s strange-smelling and obnoxious incense. And that is this:
“TO DEBASE THE HOLY, MAJESTIC, AND SOVEREIGN GOD BY BECOMING CLAIMERS
AND COMMANDERS, WHICH IS THE MOST BLATANT IRREVERENCE
AND UNSUBMISSIVENESS TO GOD.”
God commands us to pray, and we do not command God in prayer. What has happened in this day and age – have we gone nutso? There is no stranger fire that ignites God’s ire than for man like a little Mexican Chihuahua standing on his skinny legs and yipping orders at God. Oh yes:
“THE GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER IS ALL OURS, AND THE GRACE THAT GIVES
US THE PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER AND HEARS OUR PRAYER IS ALL HIS.”
John 1:14 tells us that the entire Christian life and everything in it is DIVINE GRACE. If you will:
“WE DO NOT GO FROM CLAIM TO CLAIM LIKE GOLD DIGGERS, OR FROM COMMAND
TO COMMAND LIKE DRILL SERGEANTS, BUT FROM GRACE TO GRACE
LIKE REDEEMED SINNERS/SAINTS.”
THE WAITING OF PRAYER
Psalm 27:14 is one of the most powerful teachings about prayer in the entire Bible. We might say that it is truly a WAITY verse on prayer. It states:
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your mind take courage;
yes, wait for the Lord.”
We read about the true spirit of prayer again in Psalm 40:1,
“I WAITED PATIENTLY for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry.”
The word WAIT in the Hebrew really means TO CONTINUE TO PRAY EXPECTANTLY TO GOD! How long must we wait for God? For as long as it takes, or until God dramatically and clearly releases us!
The longer we have to wait, it seems that expectancy can turn to uncertainty if not futility. No! God makes it clear that when we come to Him, we must do so with full faith and expectation, as we read Hebrews 11:6,
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him (God), for he who comes to
God must believe that he is (faith), and that He is a rewarder
(expectancy) of those who seek Him.”
Listen now, God is not into misgiving, half-persuaded pray-ers and petitioners that come to Him more in suspense than in hope, and fluctuate between faith and doubting. So we read in James 1:6-7,
“But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for he who doubts is like the
surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”
“For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.”
For you see:
“GOD DEMANDS WORTHY AND GLORIOUS THOUGHTS ABOUT HIMSELF IN THE
HEARTS AND MINDS OF THOSE WHO PRAY TO HIM, THOUGHTS THAT
STRONGLY REFLECT FAITH THAT GOD IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS, AND
THAT HE IS READY, WILLING AND ABLE TO GIVE AND TO DO
WHAT IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS WILL.”
How would you like to be addressed by someone who bounces between walls of belief and unbelief that you really exist at all, let alone doubting that you would care for them even if you could? What an insult! It is no different with God! After all:
“DOUBTING GOD IS ALREADY JUDGING HIM FOR NOT BEING WHAT HE PRETENDS
AND APPEARS TO BE, AND ALREADY PASSES JUDGMENT UPON
HIS DIVINE LOVE AND GOODNESS.”
“DOUBT IS ACCUSING GOD OF BEING A CRUEL FRAUD.”
The psalmist did not only WAIT FOR THE LORD IN TRUSTING EXPECTATION, but he did so PATIENTLY. He did not say to God:
“GOD, PAY ATTENTION TO ME RIGHT NOW, FOR I AM PRESSED FOR TIME.”
Nor did he pray:
“WHAT I ASK OF YOU, I WANT IT NOW, FOR TO BE TOTALLY HONEST WITH YOU,
I AM RUNNING OUT OF PATIENCE AND I AM SICK AND TIRED OF WAITING.”
He says about his prayer life in Psalm 40:1,
“I WAITED PATIENTLY FOR THE LORD….”
God’s answers to our asking in prayer are basically threefold:
We love the first, hate the second, and are frustrated by the third. Waiting can be wearing, whether it is waiting for the Lord or for anyone else. No one wants to wait! Like the child on a trip who asks Dad repeatedly, “Are we there yet?” And with each postponement of arrival the patience wears thinner and the frustration grows thicker. That is when the kids start taking out their frustration and impatience on each other and squabbling breaks out in the back seat.
Now then, there are three requirements in the Christian life that are essential but not easy. They are FAITH – OBEDIENCE – PATIENCE. As for the first:
“FAITH BEING THE SUBMISSION OF OUR UNDERSTANDING TO WHAT GOD
REQUIRES US TO BELIEVE WHEN IT SEEMS TO MAKE
NO RATIONAL SENSE AT ALL.”
As for the second:
“OBEDIENCE IS THE SUBMISSION OF OUR WILL TO WHAT GOD REQUIRES US
TO DO WHEN NOT DOING IT WOULD BE SO MUCH MORE PLEASING
TO OUR FLESH.”
As for the third:
“PATIENCE IS THE SUBMISSION, NOT JUST OF OUR MINDS AND WILLS, BUT
OF OUR ENTIRE SELF TO WHAT GOD REQUIRES US TO EXPECTANTLY
WAIT FOR WHEN IT NO LONGER SEEMS TO MAKE ANY SENSE
TO DO SO.”
I have to be honest with myself that the most difficult for me is PATIENCE, for it requires everything within me to maintain. You know the prayer of impatience, “Lord I need patience and I need it now.” All kidding aside, patience is critical in our lives, because without patience we cannot be strong believers or strong pray-ers. It is that powerful, for you see:
“PATIENCE STRENGTHENS OUR FAITH IN GOD TO KEEP ON BELIEVING, AND
STRENGTHENS OUR HEARTS TO KEEP ON PRAYERFULLY
EXPECTING FROM GOD.”
Saint Augustine’s mother Monica waited on and on for the Lord. She was a fervent believer who prayed constantly for her son’s salvation. Augustine for many years of his life ran away from God and the faith. Mother Monica at one point begged a holy man to speak to her son, and show him why what he was doing was wrong. The holy man refused because he knew that Augustine was a great intellect and would try to shred the holy man’s arguments.
Then the holy man assured Monica that Augustine was too smart to deceive himself much longer. At which point Monica began to cry, and the holy man then said to her, “Go! Go! Leave me alone. Live as you are living. It is not possible that a son of such tears should be lost.”
Monica left the man alone but she never left God alone. Her prayers and tears for her son never stopped. After many years and a fierce inner struggle, Augustine was touched by a revelation in Scripture and gave his heart to Jesus. When mother Monica learned of her son’s salvation, she made this statement:
“I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO LIVE FOR, BECAUSE THE GREATEST DESIRE OF
MY HEART HAS BEEN FULFILLED.”
Nine days later, mother Monica died. The son that she had spent her whole life praying and patiently waiting on the Lord for went on to affect the whole world for Christ.
Maybe there is someone you know who is heading down the wrong road and you have prayed so long for him or her. Don’t stop praying! Wait patiently for the Lord! Or maybe it is someone painfully close to you in your own family, a child or grandchild, who is far from God. Maybe you have been tempted to write him or her off. Don’t ever do that! God never wrote you and me off. Wait patiently for the Lord, and He will hear your cry and incline His ear to you. Be faith-full! Be obedient! Be patient! Amen!
(Coming Soon – Restoring The Glories Of Prayer Pt. 2)