What’s the Good of Prayer? – Pt.1

What’s the Good of Prayer? – Pt.1

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1–8).

Only when a man flounders beyond any grip of himself and cannot understand things does he really pray. Prayer is not part of the natural life. By “natural” I mean the ordinary, sensible, healthy, worldly-minded life. Some say that a man will suffer in his life if he does not pray. I question it. Prayer is an interruption of personal ambition, and no person who is busy has time to pray. What will suffer is the life of God in him, which is nourished not by food but by prayer.

If we look on prayer as a means of developing ourselves, there is nothing in it at all, and we do not find that idea in the Bible. Prayer is other than meditation; it develops the life of God in us. When a man is born from above, the life of the Son of God begins in him, and he can either starve that life or nourish it.

Prayer nourishes the life of God. Our Lord nourished the life of God in Him by prayer. He was continually in contact with His Father. We generally look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical idea of prayer is that God’s holiness, purpose, and wise order may be brought about. Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament.

When a man is in real distress he prays without reasoning. He does not think things out, he simply blurts it out. “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses” (Psalm 107:13). When we get into a tight place our logic goes to the winds and we work from the implicit part of ourselves.

“Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). Then why ask? Very evidently our ideas about prayer and Jesus Christ’s are not the same. Prayer to Him is not a way to get things from God, but so that we may get to know God. Prayer is not to be used as the privilege of a spoiled child seeking ideal conditions to indulge his spiritual propensities. The purpose of prayer is to reveal the presence of God, equally present at all times and in every condition.

A man may say, “Well, if the Almighty has decreed things, why need I pray? If He has made up His mind, what is the use of my thinking I can alter His mind by prayer?” We must remember that there is a difference between God’s order and God’s permissive will. God’s order reveals His character; His permissive will applies to what He permits. For instance, it is God’s order that there should be no sin, no suffering, no sickness, no limitation, and no death; His permissive will is all these things. God has so arranged matters that we are born into His permissive will, and we have to get at His order by an effort of our own, that is, by prayer. To be children of God, according to the New Testament, does not mean that we are creatures of God only, but that we grow into a likeness to God by our own moral character.

Be continued tomorrow

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