07 The meaning of prayer

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13

Prayer life has it’s own laws, as has all the rest of life. The fundamental law in prayer is this:Prayer is given and ordained for the purpose of glorifying God. Prayer is the appointed way of giving God an opportunity to exercise His supernatural powers of salvation, and in so doing He desires to make use of us. Through prayer we should give God the opportunity of gaining access to our souls, our bodies, our homes, our neighbourhoods, our countries, to the whole world, to the fellowship of believers and the unsaved.

If we will make use of prayer, not to wrest from God advantages for ourselves and for our dear ones, nor to escape from tribulations and difficulties, but to call down upon ourselves and others those things which will glorify God, then we shall see the strongest and boldest promises of the Bible about prayer fulfilled also in our weak little prayer life. Then we shall see such answers to prayer as we have never thought were possible. It is written “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:  And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (1 John 5:14-15.) The apostle establishes from his own prayer experience as well as from that of his readers the fact that if we pray for anything according to the will of God, we already have what we pray for the moment we ask. It is immediately sent on its way from heaven to us. We don’t know exactly when it will arrive; but he who has learned to know God through the Spirit of God has learned to leave this in His hands and to live just as happily whether the answer arrives immediately or later.

By this time no doubt some of my sincere praying readers are feeling down. After what has been said so far, you might begin to suspect that you have misunderstood and misused the sacred privilege of prayer altogether. You might in your daily prayer have been speaking to God about everything, about greater as well as lesser things. You might even have asked Him for most significant things. And now you you might be afraid that this is a misuse of prayer, and that you should therefore cease at once. A deep sigh arises from your heart.

No, my friend! You should by no means cease to pray. On the contrary, you should pray God for still greater simplicity of mind in your daily conversations with Him. Pray that you may become so confidential with Him that you can speak with Him about everything in your daily life. That is what He desires. That is just how He would have us pray. You will no doubt recall that it is written “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6.) He knows that our daily lives are made up of little things, not great things. Therefore He beckons to us in a friendly way and says “Just bring all those little things to me; I am most willing to help you.”

Be sure to remember that nothing in your daily life is so insignificant and so inconsequential that the Lord will not help you by answering your prayer. Some day you may perhaps be looking for some keys that you have lost. You must have them, and you’re in a hurry, and cannot find them. Go trustingly to the Lord and tell Him about your predicament. Or perhaps your little boy is out playing. You need him at once to run an errand for you. But you cannot take the time to look for him or run the errand yourself. Tell it confidently to your Father in heaven. Do not forget, however, what was mentioned above, that prayer id ordained for the purpose of glorifying the name of God. Therefore, whether you pray for big things or little things, say to God “If it will glorify Thy name, then grant me my prayer and help me. But if it will not glorify Thy name, then let me remain in my predicament, and give me power to glorify Thy name in the situation in which I find myself!”

Some think that this will weaken the power and intensity of our prayers, but this is due to a misunderstanding of prayer as a whole. To pray is to let Jesus into our need, and only by praying in this way shall we succeed in opening our hearts to Him. This will give Jesus the opportunity to exercise His power on our behalf, not only as He wills, but also when He wills. Peace and tranquillity will then fill our hearts. As mentioned earlier, restlessness in prayer comes from striving against the Spirit of prayer. But when we in prayer seek only to glorify the name of God, then we are in complete harmony with the Spirit of prayer. Then our hearts are at rest both while we pray and after we have prayed. The reason is that we now seek by our prayers only that which will glorify the name of God. Then we can wait for the Lord. We have learned to leave it to Him to decide what will best serve to glorify His name, either an immediate or delayed answer to our prayer.

At this point let us say a few words about unanswered prayers.It cannot be denied that they cause us all a great deal of difficulty, especially our children. They have been taught to pray to Jesus, and they have been told that He is kind and good, and that He helped all who came to Him when He lived here below on earth. As a result they pray to Him for everything, large and small, and they expect in all sincerity to receive that for which they have prayed.

A great cricis enter into the life of the child. The child has prayed to Jesus for something, but has not received an answer to his prayer. Here is it necessary for us to come to assistance of the child and explain the situation. And in speaking with children we must speak graphically; otherwise they will not be able to understand us. We must illustrate by means of examples. We can tell them, for instance, that we read in the papers every now and then about children who have accidentally shot themselves either with an air rifle or an ordinary gun and have become cripples for the life, and sometimes children have been killed that way. How did that happen? Because they had asked their fathers and mothers for air rifles and because they were so unfortunate as to receive what they had asked for.. If only their fathers and mothers had had sense enough not to give them dangerous weapons, they would have been spared the terrible misfortune. This will teach the child that God is merciful even when He declines to give us things that we ask of Him.

Even Jesus prayed a prayer which the Father did not fulfill; and He prayed three times “Father, if it be possible, then let this cup pass from me.” That was in Gethsemane when Satan, by tempting Jesus, endeavoured to render obscure that which all the way had been clear to Jesus, that He must suffer and die in order to save the human race. But in the dark hour of temptation we see the pure and obedient mind of Christ. He tells His Father candidly how He feels in temptation’s darkness. But the real desire of His prayer is nevertheless this: “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

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