We continue our study by considering the matter of prayer.
1. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
2. PRAY UNSELFISHLY
The weapon of ‘all-prayer’ as it is called in ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ is of such value that we aught to ensure that we use it to its best effectiveness. Many of our prayers come under the category of ‘bless me and mine’. These are not unimportant, but our judgement may be clouded when evaluating if they are directly in the will of God. Jesus said, “… do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:31-33). It is quite acceptable to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11), but perhaps it should come, as it does in the disciples’ prayer, after “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
3. PRAY WITH FAITH
This matter of praying ‘Thy will be done’ is of vital importance when considering the matter of faith. It is impossible to have faith if the prayer is not in the will of God – and it is impossible to have answers to prayer without faith. It seems to me that God has everything for faith and He has nothing for unbelief. James, the leader of the Jerusalem church, was a person known for his godly life and testimony. Early church history tells us that he spent so much time on his knees in prayer that they became calloused and difficult to bend, and when they tried to bury him they were unable to straighten his legs. So it is to be expected that he would have something to say about prayer in his letter to Jewish Christians, and he has. He remarks,
4. PRAY INTELLIGENTLY
The key to answered prayer is praying in the will of God. While there are elements of prayer that are simply the lifting up of the heart in praise to the God who has done so much for us, those prayers that require an answer are surely the ones that God has first given. In other words, prayer first comes from God before it returns to God. The prayers He answers are the prayers He gives. In this connection, it seems that an essential pre-requisite to approaching God in prayer is to read the Scriptures. Daniel was given a prayer to pray. He needed to pray that the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrew nation should be ended. How did he know what to pray and when to pray it? He identified it from his reading of the prophecy of Jeremiah.