SIMPLE TRUTH: May I simply summarizeBy Staff Reports Published 10:48am Monday, April 7, 2014
By Charles Christmas
For right now in my life and for my future journey, I sense one thing that I need most. It is a renewal in personal prayer. Prayer and our inability go together. Prayer and heart-searching, prayer and humility, prayer and faith, prayer and vision, prayer and obedience, prayer and diligence, prayer and meditating on God’s simple truth, prayer and the indwelling Holy Spirit, prayer and commitment, prayer and some kind of fasting, prayer and God’s initiating work in us: these all go together as inseparable twins. I must be open to this truth.
The assignments before me, the needs of my family members, and other priorities for which I have accepted responsibility: these are all beyond me. But these are not beyond God; hence, the necessary priority of personal prayer.
Although the New Testament (and the Old Testament) abounds with simple instructions concerning how to be successful in prayer, I will attempt to summarize for myself and for you three simple requirements for answered prayer.
First, I must be diligent in prayer, and especially in asking. In James 4:2 the Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” We find many teachings from our Lord Jesus and many examples in the Gospels concerning diligence in prayer even to the point of not being willing to take “no” for an answer. Examples are the Gentile mother of a devil-possessed child, the nobleman father of a son near death, blind Bartimaeus, an additional two blind men, the woman with a 12-year issue of blood, parents who wanted the blessings of Jesus on their little children, and the adulteress who anointed our Lord’s feet. Jesus taught, “Ask, seek and knock (insistently)” and “always pray and never give up” (and added illustrations). He responded to diligence as persons reached out to him for help. Let us search our personal praying as it relates to diligence.
Second, I must come to God the Father with Christ-centered requests, not with self-centered requests. The Bible adds in James 4:3, “When you ask of God, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may satisfy your own desires or pleasures.” Many Bible passages help us with this. We are invited to come to the Father with our requests, but to come in the name of the Lord Jesus and that the Father might be glorified in the Son. God hears us and answers us when we pray according to God’s will” We must remain connected to Christ and have his word connected to us to prepare us and guide us for asking and receiving. God responds to his children who have obedient hearts and actions, to answer their requests. The Holy Spirit is present in our personal prayer weaknesses to enable us to get through to God and ask according to his will. And our risen Lord Jesus is praying for us. “O, Lord Jesus; O Holy Spirit, purify and sanctify our requests so that they may be acceptable to the father.”
Third, we must ask in faith, believing that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Jesus challenged, “Only believe.” He asked a blind beggar, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” He said to one, “Be it unto you according to your faith;” to another, “Your faith has made you whole.” Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is the assurance now of things hoped for and the assurance now of things not seen as yet.
This summary is sufficient to give us some direction in a renewing of personal prayer. May the Lord be pleased to bless it to me and to many others.
—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.