Why is it that our most cherished beliefs and convictions often seem the most difficult to maintain in practical, everyday experience and practice? "The good that I would, I do not" (Romans 7:19).
I thought of this yesterday when considering what I believe to be the most important truth about prayer, namely, that our understanding must center on Divine glory, purpose, and pleasure rather than human benefit.
"Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians10:31).
"After this manner, pray ye... Thy will be done on earth, as in Heaven" (Matthew6:9; 10).
"The prayer of the upright is His delight" (Proverbs 15:8).
True prayer must begin with a God-centered focus and intention. Our Heavenly Father has chosen to effect much of His will through the requests and intercessions of His trusting children in Christ, leading to Hishonor and exaltation. Moreover, He delights in our prayers becauseof His great love for us. Thus, a proper Biblical view originates and continues in the light of that which prayer accomplishes for our Lord's glory, will, and pleasure. Again, this I believe and seek to remember and practice, as enabled by the Holy Spirit's leadership and enabling.
Alas, however, how easy it is to think about prayer and to pray in a very different manner. Our natural inclinations involve more about what prayer does for us than what it does for God. Intriguingly, few spiritual realities, if wrongly considered and practiced, can lead to more self-centeredness than prayer. As A.W. Tozer once wrote, "Many people speak much of praying for revival, while secretly hoping that they will ride in the lead car of the tickertape parade that heralds its arrival." In and of ourselves, some form of this misguided and carnally motivated praying will always result when we seek to approach our Lord. The self-centeredness of our flesh is incorrigible and runs deep in our thoughts and sensibilities, tempting us to view even sacred things as opportunity to promote and practice selfish things.
Little wonder that the disciples asked their Master, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). At the heart of this request (doubtless unbeknownst to the disciples) lies the deeper plea, "Lord, teach us to pray in accordance with Your love and truth, whereby we look unto our Heavenly Father rather than into ourselves!" We require God's working to enable such prayer, and we also require the awareness of how much we need His working. Indeed, true prayer may be as simple as a child's utterance. However, finding this unaffected simplicity of heart within us presents us a challenging path for all who seek to communicate with God in truth. We will further consider this challenge in tomorrow's message.
"Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ insincerity."(Ephesians 6:24)