By faith, may I be interested in the prayers of those who have an interest in heaven and who pray for others

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The blessing of Moses over the tribes of Israel ( Deuteronomy 33:1-5 ) is a little reminder of the blessings that Jacob gave over his twelve sons. It is also a reminder for me to look at the prayers of those who are keen in following God and look at how they prayed. I look at this blessing, which is a typical blessing of goodness, but as with Jacob, I sense a spirit of prophecy here as well indicating things to come. That has my attention.

The Psalm writers are another place I go. Here in Psalm119:145-176 I am given a glimpse into how he prayed but also the why, where, how, and what his prayers were all about. Typical for the Psalms, the interconnection between prayer and God’s Word is very clear.

I learn that prayers are whole-hearted with a humble submission to God’s Word. I can pray for salvation – from error, sin, selfish desires and anything  that would keep me from God’s Word.

I love the example of getting up early in the day and there can be hope in my heart because my hope is anchored in God’s Word. I can pray through the night as well and that comes out of my meditation on God’s Word.

The sweetness of his request for God to hear his voice based on His lovingkindness. Again, my hope is not based on what I think I deserve but anchored in God’s Word.

I come looking for God to revive me and give me more life and give it to me based on what He knows I need.

There is a confidence in prayer because there is a confidence in God’s eternal and unchanging Word.

Looking at this one verse alone brings up so much discussion.

With all my heart I call to you;
    answer me, Lord, and I will obey your commands! – Psalm 119:145  GNT

The prayer screams of sincerity – it was a plaintive, painful and natural burst of desire from the heart. Is that not the essence of prayer? I can remember when I cried out in such a manner – there is no beauty in them – the tears, facial contortions, messy hair. There is no concern for the length of time I prayed, nor to my doctrine, nor to the accuracy of my diction – my one intent was that the whole of my heart would find its way to the heart of God.

As a man cries most loudly when he cries with all his mouth opened; so a man prays most effectually when he prays with his whole heart. Neither doth this speech declare only the fervency of his affection; but it imports also that it was a great thing which he sought from God. And thou, when thou prayest, pray for great things; for things enduring, not for things perishing: pray not for silver, it is but rust; nor for gold, it is but metal; nor for possessions, they are but earth. Such prayer ascends not to God. He is a great God, and esteems himself dishonoured when great things with great affection are not sought from him. –William Cowper.

If God does not hear my prayer then I pray in vain. There is no plan B. It is either God or nothing.

It is true that when I have come to such a place of prayer that I get right with God first. I cannot pray with my whole heart unless it was also true that I be at a point of commitment and faithfulness to be obedient to God’s Word. In other words, there is a desire in my heart to be holy.

I was reading a bit of history on a man of prayer – Reuben Archer Torrey. He worked alongside Dwight L. Moody and helped create the Moody Bible Institute and also pastored in Chicago at the Moody Memorial Church. He became a travelling evangelist and settled in Los Angelos where he became a part of the Azusa Street Revival – the birth of the Pentecostal movement. He also was instrumental in founding the  Bible Institute of Los Angelos, which is known today as Biola University. He started  a church – Church of the Open Door in downtown LA. Through all of his accomplishments and giftedness, those close to him knew him as a man of prayer.

One student reported how he went to Torrey’s office with a particular need, and after the session kneeling in prayer together was over, a pool of tears remained when Torrey arose.

Will Houghton, preaching his funeral, said:

“…But those who knew Dr. Torrey more intimately knew him as a man of regular and uninterrupted prayer. He knew what it meant to pray without ceasing. With hours set systematically apart for prayer, he gave himself diligently to this ministry.”

His book, “How to Pray” is a classic.  In his first chapter he gives a few reasons why it is important that we learn to pray:

1.     There is a devil.  We are in a spiritual war and if we are to prevail, we need to learn to pray.

2.     Prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things, and the great secret of all lack in our experience, in our life and in our work is neglect of prayer.  We have not because we ask not.

3.     Those men whom God set out as a pattern of what He expected Christians to be – the apostles – regarded prayer as the most important business of their lives.

4.     Prayer occupied a very prominent place and played a very important part in the earthly life of our Lord.

5.     Praying is the most important part of the present ministry of our risen Lord.  Hebrews 7:25 tells us that He “ever liveth to make intercession for us”.  If you want to be close to Jesus, learn to do what He does.  He prays.

6.     Prayer is the means that God has appointed for our receiving mercy, and obtaining grace to help in time of need.

7.     Prayer in the name of Jesus Christ is the way Jesus Christ Himself has appointed for His disciples to obtain fullness of joy.

8.     Prayer, in every care and anxiety and need of life, with thanksgiving, is the means that God has appointed for our obtaining freedom from all anxiety, and the peace of God which passes all understanding.

9.     Prayer is the means that Christ has appointed whereby our hearts shall not become overcharged with consuming too much of anything in regards to the cares of this life, and so the day of Christ’s return come upon us suddenly as a snare.

10. Because of what prayer accomplishes:  It grows us up.  It brings power into our work.  God uses it in the conversion of others.  Prayer brings blessings to the church.

It all kind of makes me want to pray more.

For wherever the soul of man turns itself, unless toward thee, it is enmeshed in sorrows, even though it is surrounded by beautiful things outside thee and outside itself. For lovely things would simply not be unless they were from thee. They come to be and they pass away, and by coming they begin to be, and they grow toward perfection. Then, when perfect, they begin to wax old and perish, and, if all do not wax old, still all perish. Therefore, when they rise and grow toward being, the more rapidly they grow to maturity, so also the more rapidly they hasten back toward nonbeing. This is the way of things. This is the lot thou hast given them, because they are part of things which do not all exist at the same time, but by passing away and succeeding each other they all make up the universe, of which they are all parts. For example, our speech is accomplished by sounds which signify meanings, but a meaning is not complete unless one word passes away, when it has sounded its part, so that the next may follow after it. Let my soul praise thee, in all these things, O God, the Creator of all; but let not my soul be stuck to these things by the glue of love, through the senses of the body. For they go where they were meant to go, that they may exist no longer. And they rend the soul with pestilent desires because she longs to be and yet loves to rest secure in the created things she loves. But in these things there is no resting place to be found. They do not abide. They flee away; and who is he who can follow them with his physical senses? Or who can grasp them, even when they are present? For our physical sense is slow because it is a physical sense and bears its own limitations in itself. The physical sense is quite sufficient for what it was made to do; but it is not sufficient to stay things from running their courses from the beginning appointed to the end appointed. For in thy word, by which they were created, they hear their appointed bound: “From there — to here!” – Augustine

 

 

 

God’s reward when I pray – He will listen

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I have learned that fear and worry will not change my circumstances, only God can do that. His promise for me is that He will walk with me, comfort and listen to me when I pray. I make the decision to allow Him to take care of me.

Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the Lord himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. – Deuteronomy 31:6  GNT

I am encouraged to pray – ask God – to take my fears and worries and He replaces them with His power and courage.

It is so good to receive these kinds of encouragement and promises from the light of God’s Word.

Your word is a lamp to guide me
    and a light for my path.
I will keep my solemn promise
    to obey your just instructions.
My sufferings, Lord, are terrible indeed;
    keep me alive, as you have promised.
Accept my prayer of thanks, O Lord,
    and teach me your commands.
I am always ready to risk my life;
    I[a] have not forgotten your law.
The wicked lay a trap for me,
    but I have not disobeyed your commands.
Your commandments are my eternal possession;
    they are the joy of my heart.
I have decided to obey your laws
    until the day I die. – Psalm 119:105-112  GNT

Even though I go in and out of thoughts that go from worry to courageous, my desire is faithful – to become more holy and my prayers become daily because of my need for grace.

I do not ask why I need to pray – I simply pray because God answers me and when I call, He responds.

 When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.

“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never goes dry. Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.” – Isaiah 58:9-12  GNT

Francis of Assisi prayed it this way –

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Jesus taught all those who follow Him about prayer and it has been a constant guide and counsel.

But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

“When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven:
    May your holy name be honored;
may your Kingdom come;
    may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need.[a]
Forgive us the wrongs we have done,
    as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.
Do not bring us to hard testing,
    but keep us safe from the Evil One.’[b]

 

“If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done. – Mathew 6:6-15  GNT

The first idea seems to be that prayer needs to happen in private. Nothing messes up prayer more than when it is used to show off and impress others – to be self conscience and other conscious. My prayer time every morning needs to be in a place where I am alone. It is also about praying about God. Without this we can abuse prayer. Prayer here also defines what I believe is God’s love language – time. So He starts off with the expectation that we will be praying, not “if” we pray. It is a time that I spend with my “Father.” There is a “reward” for making this happen. It is not only a place of adventure but of treasure – it includes His presence, it includes receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, and I am sure there are heavenly rewards as well. But I also think that the greatest reward of all – is that He will listen.

The second idea is to pray simply. There really is no formula even though many have taken the Lord’s prayer as such. Getting the words right does not impress God regardless if we think they do. If I go there, I fail to understand that God simply wants to know the desires of my heart. The goal of prayer is really not about telling God something He does not know or to convince Him to hear – it is simply a time of fellowship with God who already knows and cares. Prayer flows from God’s Word. It is in the Word of God that He responds. What’s the use of praying if there is no room for God to respond? It is about avoiding the temptation to pray thoughtless and heartless prayers and it is more about praying with the proper knowledge of who God is and His character.

The third idea might sound contradictory to the second ( me suggesting there is no formula) and while the second idea is still true the third idea is that there is definitely some structure in our prayers that will build on. That is what the model of the Lord’s Prayer is all about – not a formula but a structure.  It is also about praying about people. God cares about my regular, everyday life. My needs, my sins, my relationships, and my protection. I bring all of my life and put it under the authority and lordship of God.

Agian, not to be contradictory to my first idea (prayer is private), praying is meant to happen, at some point during the day (definitely, not in the morning), with others. So pray in secret, but also pray with others. There are a lot of corporate words used in this prayer.

The final and fourth idea is not in the Lord’s Prayer, but is found right after Jesus presents its structure. He wants me to tie my prayers to how I should live.

This idea is based not on my ability to put a prayer structure together but on the idea that I have concern for my own personal relationships because God cares about relationships. Prayer, in other words, needs to spill into my life and change it.

It is a perfect prayer and it only takes twenty seconds to pray. It is so simple that a child can understand it. Jesus makes it available and attainable for all.

“But the most obvious fact about praise — whether of God or anything — strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise. … The world rings with praise — lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game. … I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.” – C.S. Lewis