Sometimes we don't realize the fullest sense of communion with God. Our minds may be drawn out toward God; we may meditate upon His works, His mercies, His blessings, but in order to truly commune with God, we must have something to say to Him concerning our actual lives. Through prayer we open our hearts to God as we do to our best earthly friend. Although God already knows everything about us, even to the number of hairs on our heads, opening up enables us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, it brings us up to God.
Jesus taught His disciples simple instructions on how to pray. He directed them to present their daily needs before God and to cast their cares upon Him. Jesus assured them that their petitions would be heard, and that same assurance applies to us today.
While Jesus dwelt on earth, He was often in prayer. He went to His Father for strength that He might come forth for duty and trial. He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. His humanity made prayer a necessity and a privilege. He found comfort and joy in communion with His Father. If the Son of God, the Savior of men needed prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals need fervent, constant prayer?
Our heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fullness of His blessings. It is our privilege to drink at God's fountain of love. He is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of the humblest of His children, but we are often reluctant to make known our wants to Him. We can learn so much from the angels in heaven. They love being near God, bowing down before Him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; on the other hand, the children of the earth are content to walk without the companionship of God's presence and without the light of His Spirit. The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptation of the enemy entices us to sin. The adversary, the Devil, continually seeks to obstruct the way to the mercy seat, by which we obtain grace. But God has given us the divine appointment of prayer, and through prayer we can own the key of faith that unlocks heaven's storehouse of blessings, one of which is the power to resist temptation.
There are certain conditions upon which we may expect God to hear and answer our prayers. One of the first is to realize we need God's help. God has promised to pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who long after God may be sure that they will be filled. The heart must be open to the Spirit's influence or God's blessings can not be received. If we regard iniquity in our hearts or cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear our prayer. When all known wrongs are righted, we can believe that God will answer our prayers. The Lord says, "Ask, and it shall be given you. He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" It is God's love and grace that commend us to His favor, not our own merit. It is the worthiness of Jesus that saves us, not our own worth, and it is Jesus' blood that cleanses us and not our own. We are nothing without God!
Another condition of answered prayer is faith. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Jesus said to His disciples, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Do we take Him at His word? His assurance is broad and unlimited, and He is faithful who has promised. When our prayers seem to go unanswered, we are to cling to the promise; for the time of answering will surely come and we shall receive the blessing we need most. In prayer, we become shortsighted and expect God to answer our prayers precisely, but in love, our Heavenly Father gives us that which would be for our highest good. God is too wise to make a mistake and too good to withhold any good thing from them who walk uprightly.
When we come to God helpless and dependent, in humble trusting faith, He will attend to our cry and let light shine into our hearts. Through sincere prayer we are brought into connection with the mind of the infinite. We may have no evidence that the face of our Redeemer is bending over us in compassion and love, but this is so. We may not feel His touch, but His hand is upon us in love and tenderness. When we come to ask mercy and blessings from God, we should have a spirit of love and forgiveness in our hearts. How can we pray, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," and indulge an unforgiving spirit? If we expect our prayers to be heard, we must forgive others in the same manner, and to the same extent we hope to be forgiven.
Perseverance in prayer is another condition of answered prayers. We must pray always. Peter exhorts believers to be "sober and watch unto prayer." Paul directs, "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God." Unceasing prayer is the unbroken union of the soul to God. Life from God flows into our lives, and from our lives, purity and holiness flows back to God. There is necessity for diligence in prayer; let nothing hinder you from communing with God. Seek every opportunity to go where prayer is offered. Those who are really seeking communion with God will be seen in the prayer meetings, faithfully doing their duty and anxious to reap all the benefits they can gain. We should pray in the family circle, and above all, we must not forget secret prayer, for this is the life of the soul. Family or public prayer alone is not sufficient. Secret prayer is to be heard only by the prayer-hearing God. No curious ear is to receive the burden of such petitions. Pray in your closet as you go about your daily labor, let your heart be uplifted to God. These silent prayers rise like precious incense before the throne of grace. Satan can not overcome him whose heart is stayed upon God.
There is no inappropriate time or place to offer up a petition to God. There is nothing that can prevent us from lifting up our hearts in the spirit of earnest prayer. In a crowd on the street, in the middle of a business engagement, we may send up a petition to God and plead for divine guidance. We are privileged to be able to take our wants, our joys, our sorrows, our cares, and our fears before God. We can not burden Him. We can not tire Him. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, He holds up the world. He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read. He healeth the broken heart and binds up their wounds.
In closing, we need to praise God more for His goodness and wonderful works. Our devotional execise should not consist wholly in asking and receiving. Let us not always think of our wants, but instead remember the benefits we receive. We can never be accused of praying too much, but we can be accused of giving thanks too little. We are the constant recipients of God's mercies, yet we express little gratitude and praise for all He has done. God is our tender, merciful Father and serving Him should be our pleasure and joy. We should keep in our thoughts every blessing we receive from God. The very next time we commune with God, let's realize His love and be assured that we can trust everything to those hands that were nailed to the cross for us.
quotes by c. j. bell
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