PRAYER

GRATITUDE 

“Satan presses his agenda by sowing seeds of ingratitude….By focusing Eve’s eyes on the one thing God hadn’tgiven her, Satan was able to distract her attention from all He had given her” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p102-103).  This is disastrous.  We run into much trouble because we don’t take the time to give GOD our gratitude!

“When done well, prayer is a most powerful tool in God’s service.  For that very reason, it is a prime target of Satan.  As temporary Prince of This World, [I love that descriptive word for satan—‘temporary prince.’] he attacks prayer quite successfully by raining down discouragement and distraction on God’s children.  The timebelievers need to pray can be eroded by a flood of ‘essential’ activities.  And the still, small voice of the Spirit calling Christians to commune with their Father can easily be drowned out by the rushing cacophony of busy schedules.  And the hope that should draw us often to God’s throne in prayer can be immersed in anxieties produced by life’s pressures” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p100, brackets mine).

“His throne…is to be approached with devout joyfulness.  If I find myself favored by divine grace to stand among those favored ones who frequent His courts, shall I not feel glad?…Shall not my thankfulness ascend into joy, and shall I not feel that I am honored and that I am made the recipient of great favors when I am permitted to pray” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p29)?

“The umbrella of gratitude concentrates our attention on the goodness of God.  It fills our minds with His glory (adoration), humbles our souls with His grace (confession), and inspires our hope with His promises (supplication)” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p103).

“…receive all his benefits with true gratitude and thanksgiving…having obtained what we asked…we are led to long more earnestly for his favor…have greater pleasure in welcoming the blessings which we perceive to have been obtained by our prayers….” John Calvin (ref#113, p565).

“If our prayers are to function as God intended, they must be shielded from environmental bombardment that dilutes devotion and washes away hope.  The umbrella of gratitude serves that purpose well” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p100).

“…how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you….you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help….Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD” (Ps 31:19,22,24 ESV).

PRAYER

UNANSWERED PRAYER II 

“…our prayers are heard even though we have not seen an answer yet” John Calvin (ref#164, May 12th).

“I often find that when God doesn’t answer a prayer, he wants to expose something in me” Paul E. Miller (ref#62, p168).

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, [Paul’s thorn in his flesh] that it should leave me” (2 Cor 12:8 ESV).

“It may seem from this text that Paul has not prayed in faith, for we read everywhere in Scripture that we shall obtain whatever we ask in faith.  Paul prays, and does not obtain what he asks for….” John Calvin (ref#164, Aug 24th).  “…as there are different ways of asking, so there are different ways of obtaining.  We ask in simple terms for those things for which we have an express promise.  For example, we ask for the perfecting of God’s kingdom, the hallowing of his name (Matt 6:9), the remission of our sins, and everything that is advantageous to us.  But when we think that the kingdom of God can, indeed, must be advanced in this particular manner or in that, and what is necessary for the hallowing of his name, we are often mistaken in our opinion….We must pray for the grace to will what God wills and to leave it to his wisdom how he brings his will about” John Calvin (ref#164, Aug 24th).

FATHER, help me distinguish between asking and giving You directions.  My carnal mind naturally thinks about how to solve my prayer request.  It is essential that my mind be trained to think of needs not solutions.

“If no answer comes, we are not to sit down…and suppose that it is not God’s will to give an answer. No; there must be something in the prayer that is not as God would have it, childlike and believing; we must seek for grace to pray so that the answer may come.  It is far easier to the flesh to submit without the answer than to yield itself to be searched and purified by the Spirit, until it has learnt to pray the prayer of faith” Andrew Murray (ref#19, FIFTH LESSON).

“…every dream and desire of your heart that you express to God will in His time be answered in His way—and always beyond what you could imagine, even when the answer is no” Becky Tirabassi (ref#87, Personal Comments page).

FATHER, what an encouraging, faith-uplifting comment!  You, All-Love, could not approach Your covenant of prayer in any other way.  May You be praised!

PRAYER

PLAYING AT PRAYING

“…beware of playing at praying…If I am called upon to pray in public, I must not dare to use words that are intended to please the ears of my fellow-worshippers, but I must realize that I am speaking to God Himself and that I have business to transact with the great Lord….my very soul speaks unto the Most High.  Do you think that the King of heaven is delighted to hear you pronounce words with a frivolous tongue and a thoughtless mind” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p32)?

“…as only in so far as God permits….For not only do many without modesty, without reverence, presume to invoke God concerning their frivolities, but impudently bring forward their dreams, whatever they may be, before the tribunal of God” John Calvin (ref#20, section 5).

“…We hurl our own petitions at God’s throne and dictate to Him as to what we wish Him to do.  We do not worship God, nor do we seek to form the mind of Christ….” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, March 30th).

“…if prayer is a coming before the throne of God, it ought always to be conducted with deepest sincerity…If anywhere you dare repeat holy words without heart let it not be in Jehovah’s palace…” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p32).

“Prayer is…not…a means to some…end as a delightful and practical end in itself” Steve Brown (ref#228, p21).

PRAYER

IMPORTUNITY IN PRAYER

“I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence…he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.  For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened” (Luke 11:8-10 AMP).

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:16 ESV).  “…pray…day and night, continually.  Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD” (Isa 62:6 NLT).

The definition of importunity in prayer is: “…the condition of being troublesome or persistent because of a deep sense of urgency” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Nov 13th).  “…the earnest, persistent, believing prayer that will not take no for an answer…” Ruben Archer Torrey (ref#212, p89).  “…an importunity that persists and insists in spite of discouragement…with strong cries and tears” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p107).

“…it is very much for our interest to be constantly supplicating him; first, that our heart may always be inflamed with a serious and ardent desire of seeking, loving, and serving him…secondly, that no desires, no longing whatever, of which we are ashamed to make him the witness, may enter our minds, while we learn to place all our wishes in his sight, and thus pour out our heart before him…” John Calvin (ref#113, p564-565).

“Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need of persevering prayer is one of the greatest.  That the Lord, who is so loving and longing to bless, should have to be supplicated time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes, we cannot easily understand.  When after persevering supplication, our prayer remains unanswered, it is often easiest for our slothful flesh…to think that we must now cease praying, because God may have His secret reason for withholding His answer to our request. It is by faith alone that the difficulty is overcome….When…faith has taken its stand upon God’s word, and the Name of Jesus…it need not be discouraged by delay” Andrew Murray (ref#19, SIXTEENTH LESSON).

“The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Feb 19th AM).

PRAYER

FAITH  I

“…whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith’” (Matt 21:22 ESV).

“’He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also.’ Faith, the simple act of loving trust in Jesus Christ, opens the door of our hearts and natures for the entrance of all His solemn Omnipotence, and makes us possessors of it” MacLaren Expositions on Holy Scripture (ref#242, [John 14:12-14]).

“…truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say…’Move from here to there,’ and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you” (Matt 17:20 NASB).

“Faith asks no signal from the skies,

To show that prayers accepted rise,

Our Priest is in His holy place,

And answers from the throne of grace”

Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 3rd AM).

“It is by faith alone that the difficulty is overcome.  When once faith has taken its stand upon God’s word, and the Name of Jesus, and has yielded itself to the leading of the Spirit to seek God’s will and honour alone in its prayer, it need not be discouraged by delay” Andrew Murray (ref#19, SIXTEENTH LESSON).

“…our faith will assure us of that which cannot be perceived by sense, i.e., that we have obtained what was fit for us, the Lord having so often and so surely engaged to take an interest in all our troubles from the moment they have been deposited in his bosom.  In this way we shall possess abundance in poverty, and comfort in affliction.  For though all things fail, God will never abandon us, and he cannot frustrate the expectation and patience of his people.  He alone will suffice for all, since in himself he comprehends all good, and will at last reveal it to us on the day of judgment, when his kingdom shall be plainly manifested.  We may add, that although God complies with our request, he does not always give an answer in the very terms of our prayers but while apparently holding us in suspense, yet in an unknown way, shows that our prayers have not been in vain” John Calvin (ref#113, p604).

PRAYER

PRAYERS IN JESUS’ NAME  I

“It is in prayer that we hold up our desire to the light of God’s Holy Will, that our motives are tested, and proof given whether we ask indeed in the name of Jesus, and only for the glory of God” Andrew Murray (ref#19).

“…all our prayers to God ought only to be presented in the name of Christ, as there is no other name which can recommend them” John Calvin (ref#113, p593).

“Christ’s name is the revelation of Christ’s character, and to do a thing in the name of another person is to do it as His representative, and as realising that in some deep and real sense-for the present purpose at all events-we are one with Him” MacLaren Expositions on Holy Scripture (ref#242, [John 14:12-14]).

“Prayer reaches its highest level when offered in the name which is above every name, for it lifts the petitioner into unity and identify with our Mediator Himself” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p53).

“…whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it….Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do” (John 14:11-14 MSG).  “…if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon…” (John 15:5-8 MSG).

“…to ask in the name of Jesus, is to ask as being one with him; it is to renounce all merit of your own; it is to ask as one depending entirely on his divine resources” Charles Ross (ref#241, p87).  “We might…close our prayers with the words, ‘I ask these things because I believe that Jesus would request them in this situation’” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p62).  “Effective prayer must ask for and desire what Jesus delights in” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2053, [John 14:13]).

“Prayer in the name of Christ is hard to offer….it excludes all self-will and selfishness…the end of the Son’s working is the glory of the Father, that same end, and not our own ease or comfort, must be the end and object of all prayer which is offered in His name….Prayers for other ends than this are excluded; not that it is said that they will not be granted, but there is no promise that they will” MacLaren Expositions on Holy Scripture (ref#242, [John 14:13]).

PRAYER

MEDITATE UPON THE LORD

“…Make me know the way I should go…Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Ps 143:8,10 ESV).

“…thinking right thought about God…that is essential to praying good prayers” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p9).

“…take more time to be still before God without saying one word….We are not ready to offer our petition until we are fully conscious of having secured the attention of God” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p48).

“It is difficult to steadfastly and unweariedly persevere in prayer….as fuel must frequently be added to preserve a fire, so prayer requires helps so that it will not languish and at length be extinguished….by meditating on…truth” John Calvin (ref#164, Feb 13th).

“A short, unhurried meditation on some fragment of Scripture and then silence quickens the spirit of devotion” William E. Sangster (ref#212, p157).

“We must meditate upon Him [CHRIST], upon what He is, what He has done, His love to us, and God’s care for us who are His people….we must look at ‘these things’ (John 17:13) that He speaks of, these truths that He unfolded.  Let us meditate upon them, contemplate them, dwell upon them, revel in them, and I will guarantee that as we do so, either in our own personal meditation or in reading books about them, we will find ourselves experiencing a joy we have never known before” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, March 13th, brackets mine).

PRAYER

PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6 ESV).

“Prayer opens our eyes to God’s glory, our hearts to His will, and our needs to His perfect provision.  It reveals, solidifies, and confirms the unity of the Spirit that we share with other Christians.  And it keeps us alert to the wiles of the Enemy.  Prayer is essential to a walk worthy of our high calling in Christ” J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p5).

“…in asking we must always truly feel our wants, and seriously considering that we need all the things which we ask, accompany the prayer with a sincere, no, ardent desire of obtaining them” John Calvin (ref#113, p567).

“Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath….Poverty of spirit enters into true praying.  ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’  ‘The poor’ means paupers, beggars, those who live on the bounty of others, who live by begging.  Christ’s people live by asking” E.M. Bounds (ref#54, p32).

“’Ask’ means beg….We will never receive if we ask with an end in view; if we ask, not out of our poverty but out of our lust.  A pauper does not ask from any other reason than the abject panging condition of his poverty, he is not ashamed to beg.—Blessed are the paupers in spirit” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 9th).

“The real beggar entreats in good earnest; he cries, he weeps, he heeds not the playing of the children, not the barking of the dogs; his wants pinch him, his stomach craves, nothing but food will please him….So it is the same with the upright and serious heart; he is really and deeply pressed down with sin, and needy of grace and comfort….and therefore let the devil or the world disturb what they can, or suggest what they will, he plies his business, he must have pardon and grace…” Richard Steele (ref#225, Sept 20th).

 “…’prayer is the falling of a tear’…Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven….Often a poor, brokenhearted one bends his knees, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears….that tear has been caught by God and is treasured in heaven.  ‘Put thou my tears into thy bottle’ (Ps 56:8) implies that they are caught as they flow.  The suppliant, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 3rd AM).

PRAYER

WHY PRAY—TO GET AND NOT TO GIVE

“Two men went up into the temple to pray…The Pharisee…prayed thus…God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publician” (Luke 18:10-11 KJV).

“boasting” before God of what we are and of what we have done, is abominable in his sight. This spoils everything, even if the life “should be” tolerably blameless, and if there should be real piety” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Luke 18:12]).

“When you come to the throne of grace, come to receive out of Christ’s fullness, and come not to bring grace with you to add to Christ’s store.  He loves to give, and glories in giving; but He scorns to receive grace from you; and in truth you have none to give but what He gives you.  Bring your wants to Him to supply, but bring not your fullness to brag about” Robert Traill (ref#225, Oct 6th).

“The publician…came to the throne of grace, like a man that would carry something away” Robert Traill (ref#225, Oct 6th).

“he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Luke 1:53 ESV).

“…it is very much for our interest to be constantly supplicating him…although it is true that while we are listless or insensible to our wretchedness, he wakes and watches for us and sometimes even assists us unasked” John Calvin (ref#20, section 3).

“…he [GOD] does not answer, because of…pride…” (Job 35:12 ESV, brackets mine).

 

PRAYER

WHEN TO PRAY

“…pray without ceasing,” (1 Thes 5:17 ESV).

“…God wills that men should pray everywhere, but the place of His glory is in the solitudes, where He hides us in the cleft of the rock, and talks with man face to face as a man talks with his friend” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p35).

“…watching and praying is always necessary…we can never…overcome our old nature on our own.  The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak; therefore we must watch and pray” John Calvin (ref#164, July 10th).

 “Come overwhelmed with life.  Come with a wandering mind.  Come messy.  So, instead of being frozen by your self-preoccupation, talk with God about your worries.  Tell him where you are weary…We are often so busy and overwhelmed that when we slow down to pray, we don’t know where our hearts are.  We don’t know what troubles us.  So, oddly enough, we might have to worry before we pray” Paul E. Miller (ref#62, p33).

“God has willed that the working of His Spirit shall follow the prayer of His people.  He waits for their intercession because that is evidence of their preparation of heart—revealing to what extent they are ready to yield to His Spirit’s control.” Andrew Murray

“…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8:26 ESV).