His thoughts said, I dreamt a distressing dream last night. I was threatened with torture for Christ’s sake, but I escaped it. I did not endure.
His Father said, When did I promise to give strength and grace in a dream of the night? My grace is for that which is, not for that which may never be.
It has been a while since we last visited the ‘Lord’s Prayer’. Let’s takes some time to meditate on it now. Last time we took a look at the holiness of our God’s name. We now turn our attention to the praying of God’s will: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven [Mt. 6:10]”.
The question, ‘what is the will of God?’ is an age-old question and has been discussed over and over again by many generations. Unfortunately, it is a question that has been mishandled and quite honestly, over analyzed. Way too often, we try to reduce the will of God down to something as concrete as holding an object in our hand, and to identify what it is.
We fail to realize that if we identify all that God is going to do in our life, it would cease to be a life of faith.
If we know all that is going to happen to us, whether today or tomorrow – let alone the next minute – then where is the faith in that? We are told in the book of Colossians, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” You received Him by faith, and you must therefore continue walking in Him by faith.
It is not for us to know everything that God is going to do. It is for us to trust Him fully and completely because He is the One who is all knowing. Romans 11:34 says, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” The answer is no one. That is why we must trust Him and furthermore, why we should pray His will be done.
Our God is working all things good for the believer [Romans 8:28] and if that is the case, what else can we do but trust Him?
His will, will be done, and it will be good, as He has promised. We get the privilege, as His children, to be a part of bringing about this will through the means of prayer – of seeing Him reveal it as we walk this adventure called the Christian life. When our Lord tells us to pray according to His will, He is telling us that we are the instruments by which He will bring about His will. We are actually praying in [bringing about] the very will of God when we pray. This is not to take away from the communion aspect of prayer –this is equally
a gift and privilege. But, why else would our Lord teach His disciples to pray by telling them, “thy will be done”?
Then there are three important phrases that surround that all encompassing statement [‘Thy will be done’]: “Thy kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven.” It is God’s will that His kingdom come and that the ‘will’ distinctly be the very eternal heavenly mind and desire [His will] of God, which is lived, proclaimed, and prayed on earth by His chosen people!
So, this ‘will’ is not about trying to “figure it out” so we know what is going to happen. Rather, it involves a life that is consumed with seeking Christ on a daily basis and a profound sense of privilege and gratitude that God is using our very prayers to bring about His will. As we come to the meat of what God is teaching His disciples concerning prayer, we realize the importance of a thorough and growing knowledge of our God and a deeper understanding of His holiness in order to pray His will.
As we continue faithfully on a daily basis in this process, our prayer life will begin to show an indelible mark of praying according to the eternal will of God.
We will see prayers answered, and it will not be because of our great prayer life or faith, but instead it will reflect prayers with desires that have been purged and conformed to the mind of Christ. There will be a life that produces heart felt, scripture wrought, and spirit-filled prayers that are completely and utterly heavenly.
Sometimes prayer lacks words all together. Instead, it is simply BEING in the presence of God.
“Rest IN the Lord and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:7
You probably have first-hand experience in at least one aspect of prayer: God does not always answer our requests or our questions right away. His timing is not only different, but it is sovereign. Prayer is not always talking, interacting, speaking, expressing; sometimes prayer has no verbal form – it is heart-to-heart with God, being still in His presence.
Prayer ENJOYS the presence of God
Prayer is not in a hurry. If you enjoy something, you want to make it last. Unless you’re a 5 year old, you savor your ice cream: once it’s gone, it’s gone. Beautiful, breezy, sunny days are good for walks – but not the kind that make you sweat bullets and obliterate the scenery. Stars are amazing creations of God – we gaze up at them, amazed at their glory, and time disappears. A first-time Mom is in no hurry to put her newborn child in the hospital crib. She enjoys her son or daughter. These are special moments – time when the rush of humanity is still, and we stop to simply enjoy. They are moments when it’s easy to be patient.
…but can we enjoy the presence of God when the answer has not come yet…when patience gets more difficult to maintain?
Prayer lacks patience often. Why? Because prayer is rarely answered right away, in the exact way we wish. We lose sight of God’s presence and press for the response. Sometimes we feel we really need the response! God’s silence is inflicting suffering on us! Yet even this can be enjoyed…
“Patience is enjoying the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings in order to give life to others.”
Quiet waiting…it goes against our fidgety soul’s nature. We feel so urged to move on that we wonder if we’ll last til the answer comes. Days and nights can turn into tormenting cycles of waiting and wondering. The very essence of prayer – the presence of God – is lost, out of sight, and this grieves God.
As we close this 31 Day Challenge on prayer today, be not weary in prayer. Patience will be a called-for ingredient in the prayer life and the daily life of every believer for the rest of their days. Be anxious for nothing…but in everything, give thanks…thanks for what? For the gift of the presence of God – that we can simply be quieted and rest in faith (the essential of prayer) that though we do not know what tomorrow holds, we believe in the One who holds tomorrow.
“…for this is the will of God concerning you.”
What is prayer? Prayer is how we communicate with God. It’s very vital in everyday living to be able to talk to God and to be able to lift other people up to Him in prayer.
My daddy was laid off from his job in 2007 and my first question was; “Why God?” Why would He do this to me and my family? I found myself wondering, “If He loves us so much, then why did this happen?” We prayed every single day that God would provide a job for my dad, but He had a much better plan.
Summer of 2010, my daddy was diagnosed with Leukemia. Again I asked the same question; “Why God? How can you let something like this happen to my daddy! Haven’t we suffered enough?” We prayed around the clock for God to heal him, but just because God CAN perform a miracle, doesn’t mean He WILL in the way that we want Him too. I was so angry at God! I was very close to giving up on praying all together. It didn’t seem to be doing any good. My daddy was still dying from cancer and God didn’t seem to be doing anything about it. There was more bad news than good news, so it seemed, but God was at work the whole time! Research showed that people with his particular type of Leukemia don’t live more than 3-4 months after diagnosis. My daddy lived 11 months!
It most definitely was not easy watching him suffer day after day after day, but what kept me going was the faith that my daddy had! He never grumbled or complained one single bit! He just kept on fighting the good fight of faith. It was amazing to watch someone in his kind of pain praising God no matter what the circumstances. On July 9th, 2011, when my daddy went home to be with the Lord, I realized that God DID answer my prayer to heal him. He performed a miracle by calling him home to be with the Him, PAIN FREE! It just wasn’t in the way that we had all been praying. He’s in NO MORE PAIN!
God hears our prayers and always gives an answer whether it’s “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, or “wait”. Sometimes we don’t like the answer that God gives us, but He has a perfect plan for our lives and His plan is ALWAYS 100% better than ours! God taught me so much about prayer through this whole situation. God never gives up on us and we should never give up on Him. He is always at work in ways that we may not be able to see, but that is all a part of the beauty of how our almighty God works!
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
At the heart of the prayer of faith lies not the assurance that the answer will be the one we want, but the knowledge that the will of God will be done, and that its outcome will be the best possible one for our life.
I felt the gentle prompting in my heart; “Pray in faith. Ask me to do this thing.” I shrank back in doubt. Our family had asked for this very thing countless times and the answer had always been a resounding “No.” Why should today be any different? I tried to “gird up” my faith. “Lord,” I prayed, “If it is your will, I believe you can do this thing.” It was a safe prayer. I would not have to face the fear that I had believed something that was not God’s will. “Where is your faith?” The Lord seemed to say. “This IS my will. Ask me for it…better yet, tell me that you believe I WILL do this thing, not just soon, but TODAY.” I surely groaned inside. This was treading outside of my comfort zone. How was I to know what the will of God was? I opened my mouth again…dare I say it? “Lord, I’m too afraid.” I said out loud. I was sure I would laugh at myself later, but I was in earnest with the Lord. I still hoped, but I did not have the faith to say the words. I felt like a little kid who was still learning to walk.
How many times before had He already proved Himself to me?
Despite my lack of faith, God answered my family’s collective prayer. I looked back on the miracle a few hours later and realized the answer to prayer had met a direct need – a need that would have put us several thousand dollars in debt. Had it been a few days earlier, or a few days later, it would not have directly correlated to the meeting of that urgent need.
How can we step out in faith and pray? What if we pray the wrong thing without knowing it and have faith that it will really happen? Faith is the heart attitude, the unfaltering trust that God will hear, and that His answer will be supremely best. Paul wrote, “…The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:26-28).
Don’t let your faith die just because the outcome wasn’t your idea…
I know that in my moment of weakness, the Spirit interceded for me – He knew the sovereign will of God. There have been moments I have prayed in unfaltering faith for something I was sure was the will of God and it turned out to be opposite to my thought. In those moments, I can’t let the faith die simply because the answer is not mine. I can continue living faith and walking in it because the will of God has still been accomplished in my life and the life of those I’ve prayed for. And yes…there are times when God is silent and I have to cry out “God, I don’t know what you want me to pray for!” And the assurance rests on me that in the silence, the Spirit intercedes. What precious moments those are!
Pray in faith! Our intercessor is ALIVE!
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“…We are so quick to think that delayed answer to prayer means that the prayer is not going to be answered.”
“…Many a time we pray and are prone to interpret God’s silence as a denial of our petitions; whereas, in truth, He only defers their fulfillment until such time as we ourselves are ready to cooperate to the full in His purposes. Prayer registered in heaven is prayer dealt with, although the vision still tarries.”
“Faith is trained to its supreme mission under the discipline of patience. The man who can wait God’s time, knowing that He edits his prayer in wisdom and affection, will always discover that He never comes to man’s aid one minute too soon, or too late.“
“God’s delay in answering the prayer of our longing heart is the most loving thing God can do. He may be waiting for us to come closer to Him, prostrate ourselves at His feet and abide there in trustful submission, that His granting of the longed-for answer may mean infinitely greater blessing than if we received it anywhere else than in the dust at His feet.“
(Springs in the Valley, August 12 reading)
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This excerpt is taken from My Utmost for His Highest, October 17th, but good for every day of our lives!
“And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.” John 14:12
Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work. We think of prayer as a common-sense exercise of our higher powers in order to prepare us for God’s work. In the teaching of Jesus Christ prayer is the working of the miracle of Redemption in me which produces the miracle of Redemption in others by the power of God. The way fruit remains is by prayer, but remember, it is prayer based on the agony of Redemption, not on my agony. Only a child gets prayer answered; a wise man does not.
Prayer is the battle; it is a matter of indifference where you are. Whichever way God engineers circumstances, the duty is to pray. Never allow the thought – “I am of no use where I am;” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not. Wherever God has dumped you down in circumstances, pray, ejaculate to Him all the time. “Whatsoever ye ask in My name, that will I do.” We won’t pray unless we get thrills, that is the intensest form of spiritual selfishness. We have to labor along the line of God’s direction, and He says pray. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.”
There is nothing thrilling about a laboring man’s work, but it is the laboring man who makes the conceptions of the genius possible; and it is the laboring saint who makes the conceptions of his Master possible. You labor at prayer and results happen all the time from His standpoint. What an astonishment it will be to find, when the veil is lifted, the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you had been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.
“God gives answers to us before man can, at times, and so, why is it that we do not cling to His promises? It is because we have let our disappointments in the flesh conquer our faith in God. It is enough! Lay down your doubtful heart. All things are possible with God. Take His word above all else and wait for His words to be tried true before humanness. Do not pour the contention of doubt on your soul, instead, desire His blessings and feed on His faithfulness; wrestle for His promises to be fulfilled. A doubter will have no disappointment, and a faithful man, no doubt (because his heart is steadfast trusting in the Lord -Ps. 112:7). O my soul, fix thyself on the Lord (Ps. 57:7)!”
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Why can we not pray as we should? Because we don’t know how! We have not learned to pray. Our hearts are unprepared for His presence and our words comes from an unprepared heart. How can we expect answers when we do not heed the Spirit’s gentle voice? It is no wonder we are a “dead” Church today. Even those who carried the Ark of the Covenant had to be prepared properly…they were unclean and no flesh –no unholiness could bare the Ark. There was a way of certainty that had to go before human ideas and the same in prayer (the channel to God, it need be holy). Our heart needs a cleansing, and our life a revival, in order that our flesh may not hinder our prayers. It is the Holy Spirit that intercedes: so let Him! Learn to hear Him on a daily basis and then, my friend, you will learn to pray!