Prayer – Part 2 (The Heart of the Matter)

By Patrick Hawthorne

pray

Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite and vivid consciousness that we are talking to God, and should believe that He is listening to our petition and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him.  R. A. Torrey

Hither, thither, and yon we go.  Rush, rush, rush!  Zip in here, zip over there.  No time to waste, we must go, go, go.  “Hi God…ok, see ya.”  Is it any wonder why the Body of Christ has become so ineffective, so paralyzed?

Acts 12:5 – Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.

Did you catch those words?  Let’s retrace.  “Without ceasing” and “Unto God,” are our focus.  Firstly, prayer was made…UNTO GOD!  As I read the words of R.A.Torrey, it occurred to me that much of our prayer, although we claim it is unto God, is really just a shot gun approach in which we shoot into the air hoping something hits its mark.  This should never be the case.

Let me ask you a question.  Think seriously upon this.  When was the last time you went into prayer and first asked, “Holy Spirit, please guide me with the correct words that I need as I speak to my Heavenly Father?”  When was the last time you paused before praying and took a moment to ensure that your heart was in tune with God and you knew you had audience with Him?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We are to have a heart of prayer; to pray without ceasing.  However, there are times when we need to stop, shut our mouths, and wait upon the Lord.  When was the last time you allowed Jesus to lead the dance, to have control?

The second thing we need to focus on is “Without ceasing” prayer.  The meaning here is out-stretched; fervent and with intent.  The early Church was not known for wishy-washy, “O’ most holy Father, if it be Thy will,” type prayer.  NO!  They were known for praying with fervency, “Now Lord, behold their threats and grant unto your servants that with all boldness we might speak your word and that signs and wonders follow in the name of your Holy servant, Jesus!” (Acts 4:29 paraphrase).  The early Church entered the Throne Room of Grace with a boldness that we just do not see in the present day Church.

“Ah yes,” the religious squawk.   “We must stay reverent in our approach to Almighty God.”  While I agree we must maintain our reverence to God, where is the boldness to ask of God for something we ourselves deem impossible?  Where is the fervency of Malachi 3:10 to “Prove Me now, thus says the Lord?”  Where is the dogged determination to stand before our Creator and say, “Lord, You said?”  Think about it.  Be blessed.

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15 comments on “Prayer – Part 2 (The Heart of the Matter)
  1. anitvan says:

    Christian prayer, in a nutshell, is asking God to deliver what He has ALREADY PROMISED, to us, personally. Thus, we can go before God with all confidence, because He has promised we may do so. He has already sent his Spirit to dwell with us, so we may be confident that our prayer is Spirit-guided.

    Jesus has already given us everything we need to be able to approach the throne of God our Father and petition Him. Apart from Jesus, we don’t even have the RIGHT to APPROACH the throne, let alone kneel before it and beg the King’s ear. He gave his disciples (including you and me) the very words we can use – when we pray the prayer the Lord gave to us, we are praying God’s own word right back to Him!

    Jesus has already provided everything we need to pray rightly.

    He won us the right to pray to God.

    He taught us what we ought to pray for and gave us his own words as a model for our own prayers.

    He gives us his Holy Spirit – our Comforter, Counsellor and Advocate, who bears witness that we belong to Him and assures us that our prayers are being heard and answered.

    There is nothing that we need add to this, and the idea that efficacy of our prayers are dependent on something that we must do (the sincerity of our heart, the words we choose, listening in our hearts for God’s personal word to us) is false, and frankly, dangerous to our faith. The efficacy of our prayers is grounded firmly in Christ and not in anything we think or say or do. God promises to hear our prayer *for Christ’s sake* and ONLY for Christ’s sake. We add nothing of our own.

    Yes, we can and should go before God boldly and in all confidence that He will hear and answer our prayers – not because we have manufactured the requisite confidence in our hearts, but because God promises that, in Christ, our prayers are effective. We don’t pray *hoping* for an answer; we pray confidently that it WILL be answered, because Christ has promised so.

    We should never insinuate that God hearing our prayer is somehow dependent on US, that we must add something of our own for it to be effective. To do so is to rob the Christian of the very comfort and confidence that Jesus promises, and burdens the seared conscience in a way Jesus never intended. *Did I pray sincerely enough?* *Did I open my heart enough to hear His reply?* Did I ask boldly enough?* To introduce the human element is to introduce doubt, the very opposite of the confidence our God wants us to have.

    Apart from Christ, all prayer is inadequate; in Christ, those prayers are sanctified and made complete.

    Trust in the Lord your God and lean not on your own understanding. Or put another way – it’s not about you; it’s about Jesus FOR you.

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  2. Hi Antivan. This might surprise you, but I mostly agree with what you wrote. I think, perhaps, you may have skimmed over the intent of what this post is reflecting.

    If you re-read this you will see that I’m referring to a drive thru mentality for approaching God. Many Christian’s are approaching prayer like they do a McDonalds drive through. Instead of pausing a second to ensure that what they are praying is in line with the Holy Spirit, many just toss out a quick wave of a prayer unto the Lord and then wonder why their lives are a mess.

    You wrote…”There is nothing that we need add to this, and the idea that efficacy of our prayers are dependent on something that we must do (the sincerity of our heart, the words we choose, listening in our hearts for God’s personal word to us) is false, and frankly, dangerous to our faith.”

    Please read the post again and you will see that I DID NOT write anything about God giving us a personal word, but did write to pause a moment and let the Holy Spirit guide us in the CORRECT words to pray.

    Here is an example. The Word tells us God gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the work of the ministry… Now, if you were to ask me to pray for you that God would put you in the office of a pastor, I would first stop and pray to find out if this was truly God’s will for you before I set out to pray in that manner. Just because something may be good does not necessarily mean it is good for you or for me. What is good for you may be totally out of the will of God for me.

    You wrote…”Jesus has already provided everything we need to pray rightly.” I 100% agree. However, how many Christian’s are praying rightly? How many are praying by faith? I see more doubt prayers than faith prayers. How many are praying from what they think to be right rather than finding out what the Word of God says.

    You wrote…”We should never insinuate that God hearing our prayer is somehow dependent on US, that we must add something of our own for it to be effective.” I made no such insinuation. I merely wrote to pause a moment and listen before jumping in with both feet in a prayer that may be totally out of line with God’s desire. Example: Which prayer do you think will be more effective. “Lord, grant unto us the presidential candidate of our choice.” or “Lord, according to Your Word, we humble ourselves and pray and seek Your will for this nation.”

    You wrote, “Apart from Christ, all prayer is inadequate; in Christ, those prayers are sanctified and made complete.” Even doubt prayer…even prayer that is contrary to His Word? Sorry, I can’t go along with this one.

    I believe that for the most part we are on the same page. I think, however, you may have read into this more than what it actually said. All I’m saying, in a nutshell, is for us to slow down and really focus on Who it is we are praying to and WHY we are praying to Him. For us to be effective, we need to be in tune with the direction of the Holy Spirit. “They that wait upon the Lord…”

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    • anitvan says:

      Hey Patrick, perhaps I did misunderstand intent and should have asked for clarity.

      I am pretty sensitive to language that implies that Christ is not all-sufficient; that in order for God to act, man must contribute something. That’s what I’m reacting to. And I must be honest, I detect some of that in your reply as well.

      How many Christians are praying rightly? All of them. And none of them.

      Prayer that comes from the human heart is tainted with sin and always will be, no matter how “rightly” we may try. Sin clings to us and everything that comes out of us, including our prayers. ALL our works are filthy rags.

      But Christian prayer is not a work; it is a gift from the Father. We have been made sons and daughters of Most High and have been given the privilege of going before Him with *anything and everything* that is on our heart, even our fears and *especially* our doubts! If I can’t go to the Lord with my doubts, and even IN doubt, who CAN I go to then?

      Patrick, I do think I understand the gist of what you are attempting to impart. A rich prayer life is a profound gift, and I commend you for exhorting others to seek it for themselves. You just have to be REALLY careful not to make the gift of prayer into a Law that burdens the guilty conscience with “prerequisites” that the Lord Himself has not given.

      And the Lord has given us but one prerequisite, and that is that we pray in His Name. To pray in the Name of Christ is nothing less than to have our prayer joined by His, in full confidence (that is, faith) that it will be acceptable before God, for Christ’s sake – even those that are contrary to His will (because, deep down, they ALL are in some way, tainted as they are). He hears them all. He forgives them all. And He receives them in grace for our sake.

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      • But Christian prayer is not a work; it is a gift from the Father. We have been made sons and daughters of Most High and have been given the privilege of going before Him with *anything and everything* that is on our heart, even our fears and *especially* our doubts! If I can’t go to the Lord with my doubts, and even IN doubt, who CAN I go to then?

        I 100% agree.However you are still missing the point. This post is about Christians treating Abba Father and the gift of prayer with no greater respect than they would placing a fast food order.It is about pausing and taking a moment to think about Who we are praying to. It is about a relationship and communication with our Father and with our Lord Jesus who intercedes on our behalf. It is about cherishing the presence of the Holy Spirit.

        There is no gist to this as there is no putting people under the law. I do appreciate your comment and don’t want you to think I’m arguing because I’m not.

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      • anitvan says:

        Then we are in accord. I fully affirm that the desire for a rich prayer life is a Godly desire, and that the Christian can and should do what is in their power to seek after it. I have no objection to the Christian who desires to deepen and enrich that part of their relationship with God. What I object to is, as you say, putting people under the law.

        For the Christian who understands the distinction between the Law and the Gospel, the exhortation to treat the great gift of prayer with great respect will be met with a joyous Amen!; but for the Christian whose heart is troubled, such an exhortation is going to sound to him like just one more thing that *he has to do*. And because the troubled heart is troubled precisely *because* he knows he can’t keep the law, adding what sounds to him like yet another law is probably not going to be helpful.

        Prideful hearts – such as the heart who treats prayer disrespectfully or indifferently – need to hear the Law, indeed they need to have their hearts crushed by it so that they may turn away from their pride.

        But the crushed and terrified heart needs to hear the Gospel, because that is what comforts and strengthens the troubled heart.

        I guess if anything, this is a pastoral concern. You can’t just crush the heart with the Law and then leave it in a troubled state! This is precisely when the Gospel needs to be applied!

        Does that make sense? I think this is what I’m reacting to. Its hard to articulate clearly.

        I guess because the Gospel is not being applied, I always feel like I’m being left hanging, with the vague sense that the solution is bound up in the Law.

        I hope that helps…

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      • I believe we are getting on the same page. Be blessed, my friend…and keep the comments coming.

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      • anitvan says:

        I do enjoy a good theological discussion 😀

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  3. dawnlizjones says:

    Love this! While I do also believe in the efficacy of quick “arrow” prayers (“HELP!”) and such, certainly it wouldn’t be much of a relationship if that’s all I did to communicate with my husband! I appreciate this: “Holy Spirit, please guide me with the correct words that I need as I speak to my Heavenly Father?” When was the last time you paused before praying and took a moment to ensure that your heart was in tune with God and you knew you had audience with Him?
    That shows me that prayer is a) not just about me, but about a concerted effort with God, and therefore, b) must be a r-e-a-l-l-y powerful spiritual weapon to effect change and defeat evil, bringing about kingdom breakthroughs for higher purposes beyond my puny thoughts.

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    • You wrote…”That shows me that prayer is a) not just about me, but about a concerted effort with God, and therefore, b) must be a r-e-a-l-l-y powerful spiritual weapon to effect change and defeat evil, bringing about kingdom breakthroughs for higher purposes beyond my puny thoughts.”

      Ding, ding, ding….you win the prize. I could not have written it better.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jules says:

    I love what God is saying through you about prayer. I love that He longs for us to talk to Him whether we use Lord of the Universe or Abba, Father.

    I love that His love for us is so great that He is patient and kind with our errors and flaws. I love that as we pray we grow closer and ‘better’.

    I love that the Lord of the Universe has no greater desire than be in relationship with me. He longs for me to be holy and righteous in His sight. He made me so in Jesus and now His Holy presence, His Spirit in my heart molds and changes me into that image.

    I love that He never stops whispering and speaking through people who listen and share what they have heard – are hearing – are working through. Thank you

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    • Ding, ding, ding….You also win the prize along with Dawn. You are getting the heart of what I am desperately trying to convey. Abba Father, Daddy God, deserves so much more of us than what we sometimes give.

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  5. Wally Fry says:

    Reblogged this on Truth in Palmyra and commented:
    I have heard it said that if we pray properly, God will give us everything we want. On the other hand, God is not a giant cosmic vending machine waiting for us to drop our prayer coin in and dispense our wishes. Praying to get in His will is the thing that solves that. When we get in line with Him, our “wanter” can be fixed so that we are asking for what He wants.

    Blessings and enjoy!

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  6. […] Original post @  https://servinggrace.com/2017/02/11/prayer-part-2-the-heart-of-the-matter/ […]

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