By Ps. Jerry
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways”, declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We are examining how God’s ways are so different from ours and how important it is for us to KNOW His ways. In John 17, the very last time Jesus prayed for His disciples before He was crucified, He prayed “And this is eternal life, that they may KNOW You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
How about us, how do we pray? What do we pray about? Do we pray to KNOW God? Do we pray loudly? Do we pray in front of the people, in front of the church for all to see? Do we repeat our prayers? How many times do we repeat? The Bible says to pray without ceasing. Does this mean we pray all the time and repeat the same prayer? Do we pray long prayers? Maybe the longer the prayer, the more persuaded God will be in hearing and answering us. Does Jesus speak on these things? Let us see what the Word says about prayer and our attitude towards prayer.
Do we pray loudly? Firstly, we need to ask this question – one, what is my intention when I pray? And two, what is the condition of my heart when I am praying? Jesus said “And when you pray you shall not be like the hypocrite, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets that they may be seen by man. Assuredly I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray go into your room and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:5-6) This is the word of Jesus Christ Himself teaching us how to pray. Do not pray standing in the synagogue. That’s the temple or the church. But go to your room, shut the door where nobody sees. It is in private. It is in secret. Pray there, He says, and your Father who is in the secret place sees that you are doing it in secret – again the word “secret” is repeated, He will reward you openly. Why does God say it is to be done in secret, in your room, with the door shut? It is so that your focus is on God! You are focused and your intention is to speak to God and God alone. God wants that sincerity and purity of heart. Who shall see God? Those who have clean hands and a pure heart. He wants the pure heart in us. Some of the best prayers are the ones prayed in secret when no one is looking or hearing, when you are your true self. The condition of the heart is so important when you pray.
Do we pray in front of people in the church? Is there anything wrong in corporate prayer, in coming together as a church and praying? No, nothing wrong about that. Jehoshaphat did it. When the apostles were in prison, the church gathered and they prayed. But understand that when you come for corporate prayer, it means corporate needs and not your private needs. It means praying for the needs of the land, the people, the church and the government. Again, it is to do with the condition of your heart. You do not pray for others to see how eloquent your prayers are, or how good your language is. No, the intention is simply to pray so that God hears. You are leading people in prayer so that God hears you. You must check your heart.
Notice in Matthew 6:6, Jesus says, your Father who is in the secret place. I thought God was not in a secret place but everywhere. What do you think Jesus is referring to? Psalm 91:1 says, He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. There is a secret place of the Most High. So, what is God saying? The emphasis is private. This is what Christianity is all about, it is your private individual walk with God. Yes, you can belong to a church. You can belong to a cell group. But ultimately, it comes down to your personal walk with God. So, God’s emphasis is always, private, secret, individual walk, condition of your heart, not of your community’s heart. It’s very important for you to understand and recognize that fact!
Do we repeat our prayers? Do we pray long prayers?
Jesus says, “And when you pray do not use vain repetition as the heathen do, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:7-8) Jesus says repetitious prayers or long prayers are not going to get you very far. You may pray, “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name, or “The Lord is my shepherd.” All these are verses from the Bible. Your mind may not be on it, because you just keep repeating and repeating, you are just going through the motion. God doesn’t want that type of prayer, He wants a communion. He wants a conversation, He wants communication. He wants your mind and heart to be focused on Him. It is also not the length or quantity of the prayer but the quality of the person praying and what is declared.
What type of prayer does God want? He wants prayers soaked with tears. He wants prayers that say God, intervene. That’s why a broken spirit and contrite heart, He will never despise. (Psalm 51:17) He wants prayers that will move Him. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. So, there is this requirement to pray without ceasing, but in what context? Eminent men of God like George Muller and Kenneth Hagin say this means a life of prayer. It means you live a life of prayer. You are constantly communing with God, and as you abide in God and God’s words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done. (John 15:7) If you truly abide in God and His words abide in you, you will ask the right thing.
There is another type of prayer where you need something from God. You may need healing or a job. The Bible says to pray and ask Him. And to be persistent and continue asking God until he answers. God will answer you but once God does, then you should stop praying for that thing! Paul prayed three times for a specific problem. Once God answered him that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9), Paul stopped praying for this problem and said that he will now boast of his weakness because it makes God’s strength perfect! Once you know God has answered you, move on.
Does Grace cover everything? This is what a lot of people believe. No matter what I do, God will forgive me. All I need to do is to plead the blood of Jesus and ask God to forgive me. Is this true? Jesus says in Matthew 12:31-32: Therefore, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him either in this age or in the age to come. So, very clear, Jesus says when you sin against the Holy Spirit or you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, there is no forgiveness. You are not forgiven. And what is the context? I suggest that it is when you ascribe to the devil what is in fact, the act of the Holy Spirit! When what is of the Holy Spirit, you say it is of the devil. It is Beelzebub or the devil who did it. You say, this prophecy is from the pit of hell or that person’s message is from the devil. When in truth, it is from the Holy Spirit. So, be very careful what you say because the scriptures are very clear. So always remember, God’s ways are not ours and we want to know HIS ways. We are following God, God is not following us!