The Believer at Prayer
Chapter 3 The Conditions of Prayer
In this study we get a closer grip on the subject of prayer. We have seen the great encouragement to prayer in the fact that in prayer, the individual child of God can in actual literal fact have fellowship with God Himself. With all that it means in the power of holiness and of the Holy Spirit and in the power of service.
We have looked at the possibilities of prayer, the tremendous things in the Word of God wherein God challenges us to prayer. We may feel that we have never embraced the possibilities of prayer as we ought to do, and I trust that there is an earnest desire in our hearts to be men and women of prayer. Yet as we look at prayer we see that there are many things in Scripture about prayer that are alien to our own personal experience." Ask what ye will." "Whatsoever."
Then, as we listen to those words and let them lodge in our minds until their content is really grasped we feel that Our Lord has either grossly exaggerated, or else we have impoverished the activity of prayer. 0h that God would make it a living fact and conviction to every heart that in the ministry of prayer God has given to the individual believer the secret of absolute rule, of absolute control and of absolute sovereignty. He has put that into the hands of every child of God; " nothing will be impossible to you." Let us believe that and endeavour to fully understand it.
We are so enfeebled in the life of prayer that whether we confess it or not we are led to think that the records of scripture were after all a miraculous phase of God's wonderful power, not something that was to be constant throughout the generations yet to come. Men do not think today about the power of prayer, they talk of the problem of prayer. Now let me entirely and absolutely dismiss that supposition from my mind. God is ready and eager and able to do today whatever He has done in the past. If that conviction comes upon you it will bring you to tears to think of our feebleness with such a master opportunity.
Now if God is really putting into our hands such a power as this, there must be some essential conditions such as character and wisdom, which must be met. God dare not put such a wonderful power into the hands of doubtful characters. Therefore let us recognise that precedent to power there must be training. Answered prayer is a reality. Learn the principles and increasingly prove that God answers prayer. There is no shadow of doubt that if God's people are willing to enter into the principles and practice which God lays down in His Word concerning prayer, then nothing shall be impossible with us.
There is not a single child of God, no matter how young, how uneducated he may be, who entering into all that God has revealed, cannot but prove to be an instrument of divine omnipotence. First of all then, let us listen to the word, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." "Your joy," NOT your problem." Think what God desires for us, what Jesus Christ died to give us- the joy of answered prayer.
"Ask in my name." That indicates a position. It is a twofold position of nature and life. What is my position before God? My position and my nature is that I am a son of God. The blood of God's Son has redeemed me; He gave His only begotten Son to redeem me into sonship. I take the same relationship to God as the One who redeemed me. The One who was going to redeem me must himself be a Son and I am a child of God because the One who redeemed me by His blood is God's only begotten Son. Therefore that is the position of faith to be taken by virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ. You have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and just as blood determines relationship in this world (if I am a son of a king, I am a prince) just as blood acts here so it acts there. My position with God is one of nature. Do you take that by faith? That is the first position in prayer.
Then of course it is one of life. My life must be in correspondence with the life of Jesus. There must be a correspondence between my life and His. There must be the principle of the Holy Spirit in my life. The Spirit of God must be increasing in me the life that Jesus has in heaven for that is the life. When I come to God I hide myself and say, "I draw near in the name of Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Lord, who loved me and gave Himself for me." When I take up the position of nature and of life, hiding myself under the name of Jesus, this is well-pleasing to God.
Then the second consideration is that we shall abide in Christ. We are to abide in Him as the branches abide in the vine. The more the branch receives the life of the vine and grows, so it reproduces the creative seed of the life of the vine. I am to abide in Jesus Christ. That is to say, first of all I note the path of His experience. He started with a humble mind, was patient in suffering, He trusted His Father in death, He was raised out of the dead in newness of life and He was glorified that He might bestow upon believers the Spirit of God. That is the living Lord I desire to follow, and I am to abide in Him. "If ye keep my commandments ye shall abide in Me." I abide in my beloved Lord as I keep His commandments. I may understand them but that is not keeping them. I may understand baptism and agree with it in the mind but may not exercise it in the will. When I keep His commandments I not only understand them but I bring my will to the place where I say, "Thy will be done." Jesus Christ kept His Father's will that was His joy. The life that He lives, He lives now unto God. If I want to abide in Him, then I must do as He does-"the life that He liveth, He liveth unto God." Obedience is the secret of abiding. Beloved if our heart condemn us not then have we confidence toward God. Whatever we ask of Him we receive because we keep His commandments.
Is your heart right with God? Does your heart condemn you in anything? Do you have to turn to Him and say "O God I have been keeping something in the background of my mind. I knew there was an issue between Thee and me, which I have been resisting for a long time. But there it is Lord, and every time I draw near to Thee this seems to come right to the very front of my consciousness." Can you look up into His face and say, "There is nothing between me and Thee, not a cloud." That is essential. Can you say it? Otherwise you will be restless.
Obedience is a constant growth towards maturity. Therefore our Lord says,"If ye abide in me and my words abide in you." That is to say, my attitude must be one of ever seeking to know if there is anything else that I can do that will please my Lord.
Do you listen carefully? Jesus listened -"All things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you." Have you listened to God today? Or as soon as God speaks through His Word do you attempt to smother it up and begin to argue with it and pass your opinions upon it? Learn to listen. "Oh God I do want your words to abide in me, I want them to come into my mind, I want them to colour my thoughts, I want them to possess my will, I want to know the innermost of Thee. I am listening, my ear is ready O God, I am opening the word of truth, and there is nothing I desire more than to listen to Thee."
What we hear from God we shall speak back to God. He who abides in obedience and has got a listening ear for the words of God will discover those words take up their residence in him, they form his character and determine his actions and guide his path.
Thirdly not only are we to pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and not only to abide in Him, but we are to pray in faith nothing doubting. "I say into you that whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
Let us take hold of this truth. Faith in some respects is the trial of prayer, but in many respects it is the product of prayer. The consolidating of desire into living faith is the wrestling of prayer. I have the desire, then, I must wrestle with God until the desire is enflamed into living absolute confidence. You may have somebody you would like to see converted and you say, "Oh dear, I long for them to be converted, but really I have not the faith to believe it will be." Learn to wrestle that through, get to God with it, and in the light of God's fellowship you may be sure that either the desire will grow into absolute conviction, or by the power of God it will perish completely.
Many of us are trifling with this matter by leaving our prayers in the realm of desire instead of wrestling through with them until we can rise from our knees and say, "Blessed be God, He has given me the faith." That is what God wants.
The considerations are clear. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, because I share His nature I am by the grace of God, a son of God through Jesus Christ His only begotten Son. I share His life, and my approach to God is under the cover of His name and not mine. I desire in everything to bring my will into absolute obedience to Jesus and I am searching His word to listen. Now I am going to get through to God, that either He will take hold of my feeble desires and reinforce them by the Holy Spirit until they become absolute dominant convictions of faith or else under the fire of His presence they will perish from my heart. To the one who enters in obedience, humility and living faith, God gives the key of omnipotence. "Nothing shall be impossible unto you." Think about it carefully. Think of your neighbourhood brought under the mighty conviction of God because we have learned to pray, because we are fulfilling the conditions and because we are abiding in Jesus in true obedience. Think of the infinite possibilities and then in simple obedience and humble faith make it your pray
"O Lord Jesus may I abide in Thee and Thy words abide in me."
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