AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH
JANUARY 11, 2004
BEING PERSONAL ABOUT PRAYER
How can you 'believe' for something,
if you are also yielded by grace, to the will of God ?
That is the question.
Let us consider a bevy of answers, according to the case.
CONFIDENCE IN PRAYER
1) If the word of God in the Bible,
has said it (Matthew 4:4), to disbelieve the answer to your prayer
is to doubt GOD!
One example is the prayer for wisdom as in James 1. If your heart is trusting in the Lord altogether, and if you are not 'leaning to your own understanding' (Proverbs 3:3-5), if you acknowledge Him in all your ways, then HE WILL BRING IT TO PASS. If you sin, He can cover it; if you walk in the light, He can show it. He will, in this case moreover, not chide or scold, for it says so: hence you can have confidence.
If again, you are beset by some sin, again pray for its removal as in Mark 11, as a 'mountain' and watch it go. To be sure, it may humble you, make you lean heavily in supplication, but "sin shall not have dominion over you" (Romans 6:14): it is not just a matter of law, but grace, of compassion and fashioning of your spirit (II Cor. 3:18), of knowing how to bring to pity, strength, to strength grace, to grace wit, and to all, a good understanding. Grace is not an excuse for sin; it is a reason for NOT BEING UNDER SIN! That is what this scripture says. So many would turn all but anything into licence, but this gives nil scope for it.
|"For sin shall not have dominion over you,|
|for you are not under law but under grace."|
Notice the result (line 1),
and notice the cause (line 2).
Since sin involves falling short of the will and hence of the word of God (Matthew 4:4),
this is not a licence to sin but a liberty to cease its dominion!
Not the law as the instruction of God (II Timothy 3:16, Matthew 4:17-20, John 14:21-23),
that devious Pharisaic distortion of it as a ground of meritorious acceptance with God,
instead of the work of grace because of the simple, sacrificially based pardon of God
through faith in Christ (cf. Psalm 32, Isaiah 53:6-10):
this is gone. This is buried.
The consequence of the adoration of God, the love of God in the redeemed, is not the cause of their BEING redeemed! (cf. Romans 3:23-27, Ephesians 2:8). Their redemption through faith in Him, enabling personal knowledge of God and assured access to Him, this is the basis of the Lordís action in delivering them from the domination of sin (Romans 6:5-10, 8:3-14, Hebrews 4:15-16, 9:14).
Life arises in the Lord, not for collision with His word, as if it were not His, but for excision of the languor and littleness of being the subject of the lordly rule of sin! If the Son shall set you free, you will be really free! said Christ (John 8:36). One Lord is enough, and if you should sin, then His spade is very ready! (Proverbs 24:16, Isaiah 55, I John 1:7-2:2).
A third case: you wish to be of service in the church and kingdom of heaven, and so if you ASK believing you will be it, for as Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 tells you, the BODY OF CHRIST has many differently gifted members, and as in a body, nothing is useless, all is utilised. Never doubt such a prayer, for it is based on the very way the Lord works amid His people.
2) What however if you simply ask for something because it is YOUR WILL to do it: it is not sin as far as you know, but you simply WANT it. If it has no godly perspective, aspiration or realm, then of course it is at once without proper depth and dimension. In this case, it MUST be submitted as a query, or if it has some grounds in goodness or soundness, then as a petition with explanation (Psalm 62, Philippians 4:4-6). If a prayer like that is not SUBMITTED with a yielded spirit, it is simply dictatorial; but we all know as fathers with children or mothers, that there is sometimes a case for special grace, when we see that the child DOES need some concession or help, or lift, and the request is granted because the plea comes where kindness loves to grant.
It is however up to the Lord: for there is no assurance that mere desire, however good, will be met.
3) Suppose now you ask for something you need, like a place to live, if you do not have one. If you DO have a place where you can live aright, you should be considering how to serve the Lord, and whether any change is warranted. If however you do not, or if there are reasons for change for Christ's own sake (John 14:13), and especially if the point is that through such an issue, such a change you hope to glorify God in the name of Christ, then with confidence you can present your plea.
The criterion, what you should be putting first, is a place to live where you can do best for Christ, considering the gifts He has given you, your needs in team and in instruction, and all the surrounding issues which arise in a given place. Moreover, you should be MOST submissive in such a case, for a charming place may be now, or in some weeks, surrounded by neighbours with noise, parties or swearing and such things. You need then to submit your reasons, your hopes, your acknowledgments that there is much you do not an cannot know, and seek with CONFIDENCE for GUIDANCE as to where you are to go. You expect to get THIS!
4) Let us now suppose that you realise there is much room for growth in spiritual things in your personality, in your spirit, in your life and walk and for the LORD.
It is wise to see this, and II Peter 3:18 makes it very clear that there IS bound to be scope here, for we are all instructed to GROW in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. Some of the ways to grow are carefully listed in II Peter 1, and these include the following depths and dimensions:
add to FAITH, VIRTUE, to this, KNOWLEDGE (of spiritual things), to that, SELF-CONTROL (for he who controls his spirit is better than he who takes a city - Proverbs 16:22); then to this, add perseverance, or patience, and then add godliness, that beautiful glow of content and a chaste spirit, looking constantly to the Lord, moulded by Him. Next in our additives, comes brotherly kindness, and with this, love, that cherishing hope and grace which so secures victories and stirs life.
Prayers for all these things are assuredly in order, being ordered as components of your life, so in prayer, ASK for these things in CONFIDENCE. It is clear, since Peter instructs us to seek these things "with all diligence", that there must be real labour in these seekings from God, heart-searching, scripture-watching, waiting on God (cf. Isaiah 64:5). Indeed, the one who rejoices and does righteousness (for godliness with contentment is great gain - I Timothy 6:6), who remembers God in His ways, this person is the one whom "You meet", whom God speaks with, aids especially and fertilising, causes to grow and to show the work of God in him.
5) What however should be expected when one prays for one's church and for the church worldwide, not the visible structures merely, now increasingly corrupted, but the places however small which work in the word of God faithfully ? Prayer with confidence can be offered for sound teaching, Gospel penetration, brotherly love, due combinations of gifts. It is a case of a door which no man can shut, as in Revelation 3:8. Missions should be savoured and outreach sought with conviction (cf. Ephesians 6:18-19). Pastors also should be prayer for, that godly utterance be granted as they preach, and scope.
6) Prayer in confidence may also be offered for growth in love, and in knowledge of the will and the power of God, as in understanding of His word (Ephesians 1:17ff., 5:17, I Cor. 13, I Peter 2:1-3).
7) One should also be asking for lessons on the art of fishing for men! since he who wins souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30).
ATTITUDE IN PRAYER
First, one must be THANKFUL (Philippians 4:6), and this is like the air you breathe as you pray.
Secondly, be thorough in your presentation, as to a King, a friend and your Father, in this case the very Father of spirits (Psalm 62:8); so do not skirt issues in prayer, but FACE THEM (Psalm 73). Remember Gethsemane, and Paul's prayer consistency when challenged on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:13). Why, he asked, do you break my heart, for I am willing not only to be bound but to DIE for Christ! The key is he King, the Christ by whom you have access (Ephesians 2:18, John 14:13, Hebrews 7:25).
Thirdly, the atmosphere should be one of humility, a delight in the Fatherhood of God, the kindness of the Saviour, a seeking for the will of God with that urgency and strength which comes from the great value set upon it, for His sake, that you may serve Him best!
Do not act as if you do not EXPECT your godly and scriptural prayers to be answered. Acts 12:15 has a case which might indeed have been negated, since Peter could have been martyred, but in view of his role in using 'keys' as he did regarding the Gospel to Samaria, to the Gentiles, concerning Paul's letters as scripture, it was a special case of prolongation of life on earth for a purpose. God answered but how strange it was when those praying actually DISMISSED the very thought of Peter appearing safe and escaped, at the door, by thinking the servant girl out of her mind who introduced him: Peter is here!
Again, it is important not to let
sin dominate, so that if sin overtakes you, regard with all the affection you
would have for a death adder in your bosom, or around your neck, or a 10 inch
centipede in your shoe.
Act to void it in the power of God, of Christ who declared this, "If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).
Share at times what great things God has done for you, in praise and in gratitude (Psalm 66:16).
When your prayer is answered, give fervent thanks, and WAIT on the Lord, as we have seen, wait on Him and see in what way He now wishes you to proceed, what follow-on He may have in mind. If you are pulled out of a bog, look for the road map to see how you may now walk, or run, in the highway of holiness, and show the light of His love to others, develop the life of His gift in fruitfulness, and please God.
Reference: For more on prayer, see Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy, Ch. 8.