Chapter 1:-Encouragements to Prayer:
This article is addressed particularly to those who belong by faith, through grace to the Lord Jesus Christ. The testimony of God's Word seems to indicate that there is only one prayer that God is ready to hear from the worldly man, and that is the prayer of the publican. "God be merciful to me a sinner." The prayer of the believer is altogether a different matter.
Why were we redeemed unto God in Jesus our Lord? What was the deep and fundamental purpose for which God conceived redemption, and went through in the Person of His Son the agony of Calvary? It was that we might be delivered entirely out of this world. First from its judgment, secondly from its devices its pleasures and its sins, and thirdly from its environment. On the positive side it was that He might have a people for Himself, a people in whom He could create the heavenly image, who would have the heavenly outlook and the heavenly mind, and in whom He could inspire the heavenly purpose. His purpose pre-eminently is to draw us up as individuals, in mind, in heart, in will and desire into the heavenly life, a life of fellowship with Himself.
Now God is jealous- we can learn that from the Ten Commandments. God is a jealous God for the Christian. "My soul, wait thou only upon God." God is longing for a people who will give themselves up to fellowship with Him. We may not long for that fellowship as God does. Do you so long for God? The basis of fellowship is love. It is because God loves us that He seeks us. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
If we do not really desire fellowship with God then Calvary is not as real to us as it is to God. We may be converted, we may be Christians, we may take communion and be church members but we need to ask God to give us a new and deeper conviction of what it cost the Holy One to bring us into redemption.
The reading of our Bible puts us into the position of fellowship with God on the passive side. That is to know what God is saying to us, to listen to His voice. Our praying is fellowship with God on the active side and we need both. Could it be true that God is speaking to us through His word, and we are giving Him back in effect silence? If our love for Him is not growing His love in our hearts can only be enduring.
It is essential that I should come to Him with a very deep conviction of my utter need, and also with a deep faith that He can meet that need. He has given me eternal life, the life that Jesus has in Heaven, resident in my being by the Holy Spirit. "He that hath the Son hath the life," but I can only know the power of that life in the secret place. My need is for holiness. "Be ye holy for I am holy," says God. In the secret place God draws out holiness by imprinting upon my life the image of Jesus Christ. As surely as a photographer imprints my features on film by means of his camera, so surely the child of God who seeks God's presence will reflect the image of Jesus Christ.
Further I need power. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength," or "transform their strength." It is not merely physical but spiritual strength that is renewed. If I want this power I am to wait upon God in my utter helplessness.
You may find it very difficult to believe that isolation with God is the path of fellowship, but we must take Him at His word. "Ask and ye shall receive. Seek (and you seek a person) and ye shall find." Knock and when you have closed your door and shut the world out, He will open His door and shut you in. If I enter upon prayer I am going to enter upon an intimacy with the highest Being in the universe. Let me realise this and believe it, no matter what the world may think. I may know in prayer an experience which is supreme in human life. God wants men and women. He is not asking for plans, He is asking for persons. God wants his believing people in prayer. People talk about the fact that they cannot get money for the Churches, it is not money that we want it is men of prayer. Do I want this eternal life which Jesus Christ has given me to be apparent in me, not as a secret thing that no one knows anything about, but to want this eternal life manifested in me.
Do I want holiness? Am I longing that the image of Jesus Christ may be seen in me? Am I perplexed and burdened because of my slow progress in the Christian life? If so then let me get to prayer, and in fellowship with Him, I shall become like Him. So God will do for us what He did for Moses on the mount. He will imprint on an ordinary human face something of the beauty of Jesus. You cannot live in fellowship with the Lord in prayer, without something of His Spirit permeating your entire life. Do I want power? Do I want to be used of God? Then prayer is the secret. Let me draw near to Thee, O Heavenly Father. I believe Thy word. Thou knowest all the things I have need of before I ask Thee. Isn't that a marvellous encouragement? I do not count for much yet Thou dost want my fellowship. You will make eternal life to increase in me in the power of the Spirit. Thou will bring to me the image of Jesus. Thou hast promised that my strength shall be renewed. So Lord I come to Thee in faith. Grant that I may have the joy of an increasing fellowship with Thee. I want to come to Thee and give you more of my heart, and more of my time, and more of my adoration, and more of my love. My life shall be a life of fellowship with Thee.
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