The Privilege of Prayer
Do you ever stop to consider what a wonderful privilege prayer is? We are poor sinful creatures – yet the infinite, almighty and most holy God invites us to draw near to Him, and to pour out our hearts to Him as a Father! He promises to be merciful to our unrighteousness and to be gracious to us. If we were more aware of what a blessing prayer is, then perhaps we would spend more time calling upon God than we do. Sincere, earnest and persevering prayer is to be desired, both in the “house of prayer” (Matt.21:13) and in our own homes.
Prayer is part of the worship of God, and therefore something which is required of us all. It is the most spiritual exercise we can engage in, but at the same time it is the most practical and useful. It is such a simple thing, yet we often find it difficult. Praise and thanksgiving have their place in prayer, and we must always seek forgiveness for our sins. Chiefly though we are to make our requests known to God. What guidance does the Bible give us in this, that we may be sure of receiving our requests?
The Bible shows us why we should pray. It is because we have needs which only God can meet. Paul told the Philippians, “Be careful for nothing” (Phil.4:6). His meaning was that they should not be anxious over their earthly affairs or distracted by their worldly cares; instead they should cast their burdens upon the Lord, trusting that He would sustain them and satisfy them. The greatest need we have however is salvation from sin and the sanctification of our souls. Our priority in prayer must be to plead, “Thy kingdom come” (Matt.6:10), seeking God’s grace for ourselves and our families, for the church and for the nation.
The Bible also teaches us what we should pray. The apostle John wrote: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (1John5:14). But how may we know God’s will? The scriptures are there to direct us, showing us what we may lawfully ask for. In particular we have the Lord’s prayer, with its six model petitions, one of which we have already noted.
Even with the Word of God to guide us, we still require divine leading when we make our requests, enabling us to express the desires of our hearts: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself taketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom.8:26).
The Bible finally instructs us how we should pray. It is “with prayer and supplication” (Eph.6:18). Here we have the secret of prevailing prayer. It is possible to have the ‘body’of prayer without the ‘soul’; it is not just going upon our knees, but upon the knees of our hearts, humbling ourselves before God. We must always pray in the name of Christ, with the knowledge that He is our Mediator, Redeemer, Intercessor and Advocate. We simply cannot come before God apart from Jesus Christ and the merit of that sacrifice for sin which He completed when He “offered himself without spot to God” (Heb.9:14) on the cross of Calvary.
Here is a great promise from Christ Himself – one for us to remember when we go to pray: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt.7:7). May the Lord be pleased to hear us whenever we cry to Him in prayer!