Yesterday, I gave you some suggestions on how you could discover a Light to illuminate the path for you. I suggested things like reading the Bible, praying, meditating the Word of God, as well as applying and obeying the Word of God. But I started thinking some more about those suggestions, and they seemed so trite and bathetic. I mean how do you read the Bible? Do you just open it up and begin reading it? Or do you read it like a novel? You know, you open it up to page one, and work through the chapters? Interestingly enough, Walter Wangerin did create, “The Book of God.” Actually, it was the Bible written as a novel, with the Bible’s most dramatic characters.
But I also had a difficult time explaining all of it. I mean, it was rather unfair of me. Reading and studying the Word of God is certainly no burden to me, it is the greatest joy of my life. The burden is putting my Bibles away. lol.
Anyway, when it came to prayer, I think all us have the same problem. As a matter of fact, if you read the writings of many of the big heroes of the faith, without exception, complained about their prayer life. I mean George Müller, Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitfield, and many, many more. I am not saying that they did not know how to pray, it is that no matter how much they prayed, it wasn’t enough!
Take George Müller. Andrew Murray said about him,
“(One of his four rules was:) Never to ask any human being for help, however great the need might be, but to make his wants known to the God who has promised to care for His servants and to hear their prayer.” And, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Of flowers of speech he has none, and we hardly think he cares for
And, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Of flowers of
“Of flowers of speech he has none, and we hardly think he cares for them; but of the bread of Heaven he has abundance.”
In his book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life,” Donald S. Whitney wrote,
“If there was a ‘secret’ to George Müller’s prayer life, it was his discovery of the connection between meditation and prayer. Müller’s discovery was that after meditating on Scripture he was more able to experience a meaningful prayertime.”
Yet, Müller wrote that he felt his prayer life was so inadequate! Now if HE had problems, what chance do I have?
However, Paul wrote,
“Never worry about anything. But instead, in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks” (Philippians 4:6)
Dear Lord! Here we are commanded to pray, yet all of the giants of our faith felt they failed at prayer. What are we supposed to do?
I admit that I don’t have all of the answers, but could I offer you a good working explanation. I don’t know where I heard this, but I like it:
“Prayer is the divinely appointed means through which we commune with the living God and advance His kingdom.”
I like that because indeed, prayer is “divinely appointed.” We are not creative in our understanding of prayer but receptive. We understand prayer from what the Lord tells us about it in His Word. He is the One who ordains and orders our prayers, and it is the Holy Spirit who empowers them.
In R.C. Sproul’s book, “Does Prayer Change Things?” he compiled a list of the heroes of prayer. And put it in the format of Hebrews 11″
By prayer, Esau’s heart was changed toward Jacob, so that they met in a friendly, rather than hostile, manner (Gen. 32).
By the prayer of Moses, God brought the plagues upon Egypt and then removed them again (Ex. 7–11).
By prayer, Joshua made the sun stand still (Josh. 10).
By prayer, when Samson was ready to perish with thirst, God brought water out of a hollow place for his sustenance (Judg. 15).
By prayer, the strength of Samson was restored. He pulled down the temple of Dagon on the Philistines, so that those whom he killed as he died were more than all he had killed in his life (Judg. 16).
By prayer, Elijah held back the rains for three and a half years. Then by prayer, he caused it to rain again (1 Kings 17–18).
By the prayer of Hezekiah, God sent an angel and killed in one night 185,000 men in Sennacherib’s army (2 Kings 19).
By the prayer of Asa, God confounded the army of Zerah (2 Chron. 14).
I don’t think I could explain all of the miracles that came as the result of fervent prayer. But prayer is what we are to offer. In fact, I believe that prayer is our greatest Christian privilege. And yes, all of us should learn to pray more and to pray better. But one of the reasons we don’t pray better than we do, or any more than we do, is that we have questions about prayer. These questions cause us uncertainty. Then our uncertainty sometimes neutralizes us and we become hesitant in our prayers.
Just take a brief scan of the book of Acts, and you can see how much the disciples depended upon prayer — how they dared not make a move without committing to prayer, seeking their God for His guidance and deliverance, all of which came through prayer.
“The disciples were devoted to the teachings of the apostles, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42).
“Peter and John were going to the temple courtyard for the three o’clock prayer . . .” (Acts 3:1).
“[W]e devoted ourselves to praying and to serving in ways that are related to the word . . .” (Acts 6:4).
“. . . Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying very hard to God for him . . .” (Acts 12:5).
Call it simplistic, but if those who walked alongside our Lord for three years depended on prayer, I sure as heck do, as well! I believe it is a grave mistake if we are casual about our prayer life! But knowing that, one of the most frequent questions ask me on prayer: Why should we pray if God already knows what our needs are? Why tell Him what He already knows or ask Him to do what He already wants to do?
Well, to be frank, we don’t have to understand prayer, in order to pray. But let me say first that we do not pray in order to impress God. We are not heard for our “much-speaking.” We don’t have to use poetic language or be an amateur Shakespeare. If an earthly child can speak to an earthly father, you can speak to your Heavenly Father. We are told to cry out to Him as our “Abba” Father — literally translated, “Daddy.” (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6). That is why I can safely say we are not praying to impress Him.
Nor do we pray to let Him know what we need. You can’t tell God anything He doesn’t know. So if we don’t pray to impress or inform God, why then do we pray?
We Pray to Invite Him! Huh? Look, whenever we are praying, we are actually inviting Him into our lives. Not only that, but we also enjoy fellowship with our Father. We become “co-workers with Him” (II Corinthians 6:1). When we pray, He provides us with joy and the privilege of administrating His kingdom, His affairs — working with Him. Personally, I like that idea. Sure, He could do it without us, but He chooses to include us in his work. Besides, there is no way we could do it without Him. But it is simply amazing that he allows us the privilege of doing it with Him!
Also, when we pray, He is causing us to grow, to mature. Have you ever prayed, but for whatever reason did not immediately receive what you asked for? Well, what did you do? You kept on praying, but you also began to search your heart and life to see if something was hindering His answer. Many times there is and He will use our prayer to help us to grow.
Our Father never wants us to live our life independent of Him. If He just did everything for us and we never had to pray, sooner or later, we would begin to take things for granted. We would cease to depend on Him.
I guess, we could say that our prayers binds us to our Father. That is why we tell Him what He already knows. Yeah, He knows what we need before we ask, but we are definitely, specifically, unqualifiedly told to pray and to ask — not to impress or inform Him, but to invite Him, so that we can have that fellowship with Him, so that we might grow, and learn to depend on Him.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you—a to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.