3 Things Christian’s Should Know About Praying In Jesus’ Name

1. Praying In Jesus’ name means we depend on Jesus for access to God

The way to heaven is blocked up by our sins. There is no access for a sinful person to God without a Mediator.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jhn 14:6)

Jesus Christ is that Mediator. Jesus came down from heaven, died for sinners, and gathers them to himself by His effectual calling.

“If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 Jhn 2:1)

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Eph 3:12)

“Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:14,16)

2. Praying In Jesus’ name means we depend on Jesus for acceptance of our prayers

After Jesus intercedes for us by His work on the cross, he then tells us to go to his Father in his name, and ask what we need. He also gives us His Spirit to help us with our prayers.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 Jhn 5:14)

“I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 16:23)

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Rom 8:26)

3. Praying In Jesus’ name means we depend on Jesus for a gracious answer

We don’t always get the answer to prayers we want but we will always receive whatever we need to accomplish God’s will in our lives through Jesus.

“I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” (Jhn 14:13)

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13)

The 5 Finger Prayer

The “Five Finger Prayer” is a simple, yet effective, way to pray.

We were separated from God by sin (Romans 3:23). But because Jesus paid for our sin on the cross we now “have access by one Spirit to the Father,” (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:18). Those who receive Jesus as their Savior become “children of God” (John 1:12).

So even though God is “great and mighty in power” (Psalm 147:4), we are His children and He is always thinking of us, “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand!” (Psalm 139:17-18)

He is always ready to bend His ear to hear our prayers and so we’re encouraged to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

The Five Finger Prayer is a simple guide we can use when we pray.

1) Your Thumb is nearest to you

So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C.S. Lewis once said “sweet duty.”

While praying for our loved ones is easy the Bible also tells us to pray for our enemies who, in a negative way, are also near us.

“Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44) And again, “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it.” (1 Peter 3:9)

2) The next finger is the Pointing Finger

The pointing finger reminds us of those who instruct so pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers. These men and women have great influence on society and we should pray that they display and teach godly principles in all they do.

3) The next finger is the Tallest Finger

Our tallest finger reminds us of those who are in charge. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God’s guidance.

When the king of Nineveh prayed to God he saved his nation from destruction (Jonah 3:6-10). We should pray that our decision makers repent and seek God’s will as they lead us.

4) The fourth finger is our Ring Finger

The ring finger is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.

The Bible tells us that all who believe in Christ are “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12) and that we are to “bear one another burdens”. We should “pray for one another,” James 5:16 tells us that, because “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

Praying for others is a way of serving those around us and serving is what gives us purpose to life. “If you love Me,” Jesus said, “feed My sheep.” Praying for those in need is one way to feed Christ’s sheep.

5) And lastly comes our Little Finger

The smallest finger of all. Which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, “The least shall be the greatest among you.” Your Pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself.

By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.

When praying for ourselves we should first confess our sins because sin breaks fellowship with God and we don’t want to be out of fellowship with Him. No matter how badly we’ve sin take heart and know that “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Then we should give thanks for all the blessings we have been given, “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pray your vows to the Most High” (Psalm 50:14)

And finally we lay out what is on our heart, the good and the bad, and we pray that God’s will be done in our life. The Father loves you very much and will always do what is best for you. Trust Him and He will lead you and cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

2 Very Different Prayers

Today we’re going to study the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector and learn why God accepted one and not the other. The parable is found in Luke 18:9-14:

Some Background

“Jesus spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” (Luke 18:9)

Jesus told this parable to people who were trusting in their good works to make themselves right with God. These were people who did good things, and thought that because they received praise from men, they would also receive praise from God. But Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

The mistake they made was looking at things from man’s perspective instead of God’s perspective. Jesus had met people like this before in Luke 16:15 – “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” (Luke 18:10)

Jesus begins by holding up the best and worse society has to offer – Pharisees and tax collectors.

The Pharisees:

– Were a sect of Judaism. Their name means “separate”. They sought to live separately from the godless by strictly following the law.

– Believed in many of the same things Christians believe — the resurrection of the dead, future rewards and punishments, angels and demons, the providence of God and the books that make up the Old Testament.

– Put great emphasis on good works such as feeding the poor, visiting the sick and caring for orphans.

– Were loved and respected by the people. Mothers would pray their sons would grow up to be Pharisees.

Tax Collectors:

– Worked for Rome. The Roman government didn’t collect their own taxes. They divided the empire up into districts then sold the rights to collect taxes in each district.

– Were often Jews and were considered traitors because they served Rome.

– Made their money by overcharging people. For example if Rome said a person owed $100, a tax collector might charge $200, and pocket half.

– Were described as having a life of “unrestrained plunder, unblushing greed and shameless business”.

Now we would expect the Pharisee to be right with God and the Tax Collector to be condemned. But that’s not how the parable goes.

The Prayers

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’” (Luke 18:11-12)

Notice two things about the Pharisee’s prayer:

1) The Pharisee makes no mention of his sin. People tend to have the ability to see sin in others but not in themselves.

2) The Pharisee holds up his religious deeds as the reason he feels he’s right with God

Now let’s look at the tax collector’s prayer.

“And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)

1 John 1:9 tells us that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And that’s what the tax collector did. He knew his sin was great, and that he had no way of paying for his sin, so he simply begged God for mercy.

Who Are We Comparing Ourselves To?

“’I tell you, this man – the tax collector – went down to his house justified rather than the other; For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

1 John 1:8 reminds us that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” That’s the Pharisee. He deceived himself into thinking he was without sin. Instead of comparing himself to God’s perfection, he compared himself to man’s imperfection.

Here’s another way to look at it: Let’s say I offer you a glass of water. You look at the glass and notice that it looks dirty. You say, “You know, this glass looks dirty.”

I respond, “Oh, the glass is contaminated with deadly bacteria, but don’t worry, it’s filled with spring water.” Would you drink it? Of course not, because it doesn’t matter how clean the water is, the glass has contaminated everything within it.

Think of the glass as our hearts and our deeds as the water that fills the glass. Some people lead very bad lives — like our tax collector — they fill their glass with ditch water.

Others – like our Pharisee — lead wonderful lives. They fill their glass with spring water. They boast because their glass is filled with spring water while the tax collector’s is filled with ditch water.

But it doesn’t matter whether your glass is filled with ditch water or spring water, the glass is dirty. The good deeds you offer God to earn your salvation are contaminated through sin and He cannot accept them.

But God will give a new glass to any one who asks.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek 36:26)

Christ’s heart is pure, and His work is pure, and His sacrifice on the cross is pure. Romans 5:9 tells us that those who call on Christ to save them are now “justified by His blood” and “saved from wrath through Him.”

Our good deeds, then, are not done to earn our salvation but done out of appreciation of our salvation.

God doesn’t take good people and make them better, nor does He leave bad people without hope. God, through Jesus Christ, takes sinners and makes them a new creation, forgiven, able to stand blameless, able to be called children of God.

An Instrument of Your Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

– Francis of Assisi

Persistant Prayer

“How glibly we talk of praying without ceasing! Yet we are quite apt to quit, if our prayer remained unanswered but one week or month! We assume that by a stroke of His arm or an action of His will, God will give us what we ask.

It never seems to dawn on us, that He is the Master of nature, as of grace, and that, sometimes He chooses one way, and sometimes another in which to do.

His work. It takes years, sometimes, to answer a prayer and when it is answered, and we look backward we can see that it did. But God knows all the time, and it is His will that we pray, and pray, and still pray, and so come to know, indeed and of a truth, what it is to pray without ceasing.” — ANON.

Our Lord Jesus declared that “men ought always to pray and not to faint,” and the parable in which His words occur, was taught with the intention of saving men from faint-heartedness and weakness in prayer. Our Lord was seeking to teach that laxity must be guarded against, and persistence encouraged. There can be no two opinions regarding the importance of the exercise of this indispensable quality in our praying.

Persistent prayer is a mighty movement of the soul toward God. It is a stirring of the deepest forces of the soul, toward the throne of heavenly grace. It is the ability to hold on, press on, and wait. Restless desire, restful patience, and strength of grasp are all embraced in it. It is not an incident, or a performance, but a passion of soul. It is not a want, half-needed, but a sheer necessity.

The wrestling quality in persistent prayers does not spring from physical vehemence or fleshly energy. It is not an impulse of energy, not a mere earnestness of soul; it is an force, a faculty implanted and aroused by the Holy Spirit. Virtually, it is the intercession of the Spirit of God, in us; it is, moreover, “the effectual, fervent prayer, which availeth much.”

Nothing distinguishes the children of God so clearly and strongly as prayer. It is the one infallible mark and test of being a Christian. Christian people are prayerful, the worldly-minded, prayerless. Christians call on God; worldlings ignore God, and call not on His Name. But even the Christian had need to cultivate continual prayer. Prayer must be habitual, but much more than a habit. It is duty, yet one which rises far above, and goes beyond the ordinary implications of the term. It is the expression of a relation to God, a yearning for Divine communion. It is the outward and upward flow of the inward life toward its original fountain. It is an assertion of the soul’s paternity, a claiming of the sonship, which links man to the Eternal.

Prayer has everything to do with moulding the soul into the image of God, and has everything to do with enhancing and enlarging the measure of Divine grace. It has everything to do with bringing the soul into complete communion with God. It has everything to do with enriching, broadening and maturing the soul’s experience of God. That man who does not pray cannot possibly be called a Christian.

In this study however, we turn our thought to one phase of prayer — persistent prayer. Pressing our desires upon God with urgency and perseverance; the praying with that tenacity and tension which neither relaxes nor ceases until its plea is heard, and its cause is won.

In Scripture, the duty of prayer, itself, is advocated in terms which are only barely stronger than those in which the necessity for its importunity is set forth. The praying which influences God is declared to be that of the fervent, effectual outpouring of a righteous man. That is to say, it is prayer on fire, having no feeble, flickering flame, no momentary flash, but shining with a vigorous and steady glow.

The repeated intercessions of Abraham for the salvation of Sodom and Gomorrah present an early example of the necessity for, and benefit deriving from importunate praying. Jacob, wrestling all night with the angel, gives significant emphasis to the power of a dogged perseverance in praying, and shows how, in things spiritual, persistency succeeds, just as effectively as it does in matters relating to time and sense.

As we have noted, elsewhere, Moses prayed forty days and forty nights, seeking to stay the wrath of God against Israel, and his example and success serves as an example to present-day faith in its darkest hour. Elijah repeated and urged his prayer seven times before the raincloud appeared above the horizon, heralding the success of his prayer and the victory of his faith. On one occasion Daniel though faint and weak, pressed his case three weeks, before the answer and the blessing came.

– E.M. Bounds

Prayer And Fervency

“St. Teresa rose off her deathbed to finish her work. She inspected, with all her quickness of eye and love of order the whole of the house in which she had been carried to die.

She saw everything put into its proper place, and every one answering to their proper order, after which she attended the divine offices of the day.

She then went back to her bed, summoned her daughters around her . . . and, with the most penitential of David’s penitential prayers upon her tongue, Teresa of Jesus went forth to meet her Bridegroom.” — ALEXANDER WHYTE.

Prayer, without fervour, stakes nothing on the issue, because it has nothing to stake. It comes with empty hands. Hands which are listless, as well as empty, which have never learned the lesson of clinging to the Cross.

Fervourless prayer has no heart in it; it is an empty thing, an unfit vessel. Heart, soul, and life, must find place in all real praying. Heaven must be made to feel the force of this crying unto God.

Paul was a notable example of the man who possessed a fervent spirit of prayer. His petitioning was all-consuming, centered immovably upon the object of his desire, and the God who was able to meet it.

Prayers must be red hot. It is the fervent prayer that is effectual and that avail. Coldness of spirit hinders praying; prayer cannot live in a wintry atmosphere. Chilly surroundings freeze out petitioning; and dry up the springs of supplication. It takes fire to make prayers go. Warmth of soul creates an atmosphere favourable to prayer, because it is favourable to fervency. By flame, prayer ascends to heaven. Yet fire is not fuss, nor heat, noise. Heat is intensity — something that glows and burns. Heaven is a mighty poor market for ice.

God wants warm-hearted servants. The Holy Spirit comes as a fire, to dwell in us; we are to be baptized, with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Fervency is warmth of soul. A luke-warm temperament is strongly opposed to vital experience. If our religion does not set us on fire, it is because we have frozen hearts. God dwells in a flame; the Holy Spirit descends in fire. To be absorbed in God’s will, to be so greatly in earnest about doing it that our whole being takes fire, is the qualifying condition of the man who would engage in effectual prayer.

Our Lord warns us against feeble praying. “Men ought always to pray,” He declares, “and not to faint.” That means, that we are to possess sufficient fervency to carry us through the severe and long periods of pleading prayer. Fire makes one alert and vigilant, and brings him off, more than conqueror. The atmosphere about us is too heavily charged with resisting forces for limp prayers to make headway. It takes heat, and fervency and meteoric fire, to push through, to the upper heavens, where God dwells with His saints, in light.

Many of the great Bible characters were notable examples of fervency of spirit when seeking God. The Psalmist declares with great earnestness:

“My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.” (Psalm 119:20)

What strong desires of heart are here! What earnest soul longings for the Word of the living God! An even greater fervency is expressed by him in another place:

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)

That is the word of a man who lived in a state of grace, which had been deeply and supernaturally wrought in his soul.

Fervency before God counts in the hour of prayer, and finds a speedy and rich reward at His hands. The Psalmist gives us this statement of what God had done for the king, as his heart turned toward his Lord:

“You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips.”

At another time, he thus expresses himself directly to God in preferring his request:

“Lord, all my desire are before You; and my groaning is not hid from You.”

What a cheering thought! Our inward groanings, our secret desires, our heart-longings, are not hidden from the eyes of Him with whom we have to deal in prayer.

The incentive to fervency of spirit before God, is precisely the same as it is for continued and earnest prayer. While fervency is not prayer, yet it derives from an earnest soul, and is precious in the sight of God. Fervency in prayer is the precursor of what God will do by way of answer. God stands pledged to give us the desire of our hearts in proportion to the fervency of spirit we exhibit, when seeking His face in prayer.

Fervency has its seat in the heart, not in the brain, nor in the intellectual faculties of the mind. Fervency therefore, is not an expression of the intellect. Fervency of spirit is something far transcending poetical fancy or sentimental imagery. It is something else besides mere preference, the contrasting of like with dislike. Fervency is the throb and gesture of the emotional nature.

It is not in our power, perhaps, to create fervency of spirit at will, but we can pray God to implant it. It is ours, then, to nourish and cherish it, to guard it against extinction, to prevent its abatement or decline. The process of personal salvation is not only to pray, to express our desires to God, but to acquire a fervent spirit and seek, by all proper means, to cultivate it. It is never out of place to pray God to beget within us, and to keep alive the spirit of fervent prayer.

Fervency has to do with God, just as prayer has to do with Him. Desire always has an objective. If we desire at all, we desire something. The degree of fervency with which we fashion our spiritual desires, will always serve to determine the earnestness of our praying. In this relation, Adoniram Judson says:

“A travailing spirit, the throes of a great burdened desire, belongs to prayer. A fervency strong enough to drive away sleep, which devotes and inflames the spirit, and which retires all earthly ties, all this belongs to wrestling, prevailing prayer. The Spirit, the power, the air, and food of prayer is in such a spirit.”

Prayer must be clothed with fervency, strength and power. It is the force which, centered on God, determines the outlay of Himself for earthly good. Men who are fervent in spirit are bent on attaining to righteousness, truth, grace, and all other sublime and powerful graces which adorn the character of the authentic, unquestioned child of God.

God once declared, by the mouth of a brave prophet, to a king who, at one time, had been true to God, but, by the incoming of success and material prosperity, had lost his faith, the following message:

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war” (2 Chr. 16:9)

God had heard Asa’s prayer in early life, but disaster came and trouble was sent, because he had given up the life of prayer and simple faith.

In Romans 15:30, we have the word, “strive,” occurring, in the request which Paul made for prayerful cooperation.

In Colossians 4:12, we have the same word, but translated differently: “Epaphras always labouring fervently for you in prayer.” Paul charged the Romans to “strive together with him in prayer,” that is, to help him in his struggle of prayer. The word means to enter into a contest, to fight against adversaries. It means, moreover, to engage with fervent zeal to endeavour to obtain.

These recorded instances of the exercise and reward of faith, give us easily to see that, in almost every instance, faith was blended with trust until it is not too much to say that the former was swallowed up in the latter. It is hard to properly distinguish the specific activities of these two qualities, faith and trust. But there is a point, beyond all peradventure, at which faith is relieved of its burden, so to speak; where trust comes along and says: “You have done your part, the rest is mine!”

In the incident of the barren fig tree, our Lord transfers the marvellous power of faith to His disciples. To their exclamation, “How soon is the fig tree withered alway!” He said:

“If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Be removed, and be cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”

When a Christian believer attains to faith of such magnificent proportions as these, he steps into the realm of implicit trust. He stands without a tremor on the apex of his spiritual outreaching. He has attained faith’s veritable top stone which is unswerving, unalterable, unalienable trust in the power of the living God.

– E.M. Bounds

Prayer And Desire

“There are those who will mock me, and tell me to stick to my trade as a cobbler, and not trouble my mind with philosophy and theology. But the truth of God did so burn in my bones, that I took my pen in hand and began to set down what I had seen.” — Jacob Behmen

Desire is not merely a simple wish; it is a deep seated craving; an intense longing, for attainment. In the realm of spiritual affairs, it is an important adjunct to prayer. So important is it, that one might say, almost, that desire is an absolute essential of prayer. Desire precedes prayer, accompanies it, is followed by it. Desire goes before prayer, and by it, created and intensified. Prayer is the oral expression of desire. If prayer is asking God for something, then prayer must be expressed. Prayer comes out into the open. Desire is silent. Prayer is heard; desire, unheard. The deeper the desire, the stronger the prayer. Without desire, prayer is a meaningless mumble of words. Such perfunctory, formal praying, with no heart, no feeling, no real desire accompanying it, is to be shunned like a pestilence. Its exercise is a waste of precious time, and from it, no real blessing accrues.

And yet even if it be discovered that desire is honestly absent, we should pray, anyway. We ought to pray. The “ought” comes in, in order that both desire and expression be cultivated. God’s Word commands it. Our judgment tells us we ought to pray — to pray whether we feel like it or not — and not to allow our feelings to determine our habits of prayer. In such circumstance, we ought to pray for the desire to pray; for such a desire is God-given and heaven-born. We should pray for desire; then, when desire has been given, we should pray according to its dictates. Lack of spiritual desire should grieve us, and lead us to lament its absence, to seek earnestly for its bestowal, so that our praying, henceforth, should be an expression of “the soul’s sincere desire.”

A sense of need creates or should create, earnest desire. The stronger the sense of need, before God, the greater should be the desire, the more earnest the praying. The “poor in spirit” are eminently competent to pray.

Hunger is an active sense of physical need. It prompts the request for bread. In like manner, the inward consciousness of spiritual need creates desire, and desire breaks forth in prayer. Desire is an inward longing for something of which we are not possessed, of which we stand in need — something which God has promised, and which may be secured by an earnest supplication of His throne of grace.

Spiritual desire, carried to a higher degree, is the evidence of the new birth. It is born in the renewed soul:

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” – 1 Peter 2:2

The absence of this holy desire in the heart is presumptive proof, either of a decline in spiritual ecstasy, or, that the new birth has never taken place.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” – Matthew 5:6

These heaven-given appetites are the proof of a renewed heart, the evidence of a stirring spiritual life. Physical appetites are the attributes of a living body, not of a corpse, and spiritual desires belong to a soul made alive to God. And as the renewed soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness, these holy inward desires break out into earnest, supplicating prayer.

In prayer, we are shut up to the Name, merit and intercessory virtue of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest. Probing down, below the accompanying conditions and forces in prayer, we come to its vital basis, which is seated in the human heart. It is not simply our need; it is the heart’s yearning for what we need, and for which we feel impelled to pray. Desire is the will in action; a strong, conscious longing, excited in the inner nature, for some great good. Desire exalts the object of its longing, and fixes the mind on it. It has choice, and fixedness, and flame in it, and prayer, based thereon, is explicit and specific. It knows its need, feels and sees the thing that will meet it, and hastens to acquire it.

Holy desire is much helped by devout contemplation. Meditation on our spiritual need, and on God’s readiness and ability to correct it, aids desire to grow. Serious thought engaged in before praying, increases desire, makes it more insistent, and tends to save us from the menace of private prayer — wandering thought. We fail much more in desire, than in its outward expression. We retain the form, while the inner life fades and almost dies.

One might well ask, whether the feebleness of our desires for God, the Holy Spirit, and for all the fulness of Christ, is not the cause of our so little praying, and of our languishing in the exercise of prayer? Do we really feel these inward pantings of desire after heavenly treasures? Do the inbred groanings of desire stir our souls to mighty wrestlings? Alas for us! The fire burns altogether too low. The flaming heat of soul has been tempered down to a tepid lukewarmness. This, it should be remembered, was the central cause of the sad and desperate condition of the Laodicean Christians, of whom the awful condemnation is written that they were “rich, and increased in goods and had need of nothing,” and knew not that they “were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind.”

Again: we might well inquire — have we that desire which presses us to close communion with God, which is filled with unutterable burnings, and holds us there through the agony of an intense and soul-stirred supplication? Our hearts need much to be worked over, not only to get the evil out of them, but to get the good into them. And the foundation and inspiration to the incoming good, is strong, propelling desire. This holy and fervid flame in the soul awakens the interest of heaven, attracts the attention of God, and places at the disposal of those who exercise it, the exhaustless riches of Divine grace.

The dampening of the flame of holy desire, is destructive of the vital and aggressive forces in church life. God requires to be represented by a fiery Church, or He is not in any proper sense, represented at all. God, Himself, is all on fire, and His Church, if it is to be like Him, must also be at white heat. The great and eternal interests of heaven-born, God-given religion are the only things about which His Church can afford to be on fire. Yet holy zeal need not to be fussy in order to be consuming. Our Lord was the incarnate antithesis of nervous excitability, the absolute opposite of intolerant or clamorous declamation, yet the zeal of God’s house consumed Him; and the world is still feeling the glow of His fierce, consuming flame and responding to it, with an ever-increasing readiness and an ever-enlarging response.

A lack of zeal in prayer is the sure sign of a lack of depth and of intensity of desire; and the absence of intense desire is a sure sign of God’s absence from the heart! To abate fervour is to retire from God. He can, and does, tolerate many things in the way of infirmity and error in His children. He can, and will pardon sin when the penitent prays, but two things are intolerable to Him — insincerity and lukewarmness. Lack of heart and lack of heat are two things He loathes, and to the Laodiceans He said, in terms of unmistakable severity and condemnation:

“I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.”

– E.M. Bounds

Prayer And Trust

“One evening I left my office in New York, with a bitterly cold wind in my face. I had with me, (as I thought) my thick, warm muffler, but when I proceeded to button-up against the storm, I found that it was gone.

I turned back, looked along the streets, searched my office, but in vain. I realized, then, that I must have dropped it, and prayed God that I might find it; for such was the state of the weather, that it would be running a great risk to proceed without it. I looked, again, up and down the surrounding streets, but without success.

Sudden]y, I saw a man on the opposite side of the road holding out something in his hand. I crossed over and asked him if that were my muffler? He handed it to me saying, ‘It was blown to me by the wind.’ He who rides upon the storm, had used the wind as a means of answering prayer.” — William Horst

Prayer does not stand alone. It is not an isolated duty and independent principle. It lives in association with other Christian duties, is wedded to other principles, is a partner with other graces. But to faith, prayer is indissolubly joined. Faith gives it colour and tone, shapes its character, and secures its results.

Trust is faith become absolute, ratified, consummated. There is, when all is said and done, a sort of venture in faith and its exercise. But trust is firm belief, it is faith in full flower. Trust is a conscious act, a fact of which we are sensible. According to the Scriptural concept it is the eye of the new-born soul, and the ear of the renewed soul. It is the feeling of the soul, the spiritual eye, the ear, the taste, the feeling — these one and all have to do with trust. How luminous, how distinct, how conscious, how powerful, and more than all, how Scriptural is such a trust! How different from many forms of modern belief, so feeble, dry, and cold! These new phases of belief bring no consciousness of their presence, no “Joy unspeakable and full of glory” results from their exercise. They are, for the most part, adventures in the peradventures of the soul. There is no safe, sure trust in anything. The whole transaction takes place in the realm of Maybe and Perhaps.

Trust like life, is feeling, though much more than feeling. An unfelt life is a contradiction; an unfelt trust is a misnomer, a delusion, a contradiction. Trust is the most felt of all attributes. It is all feeling, and it works only by love. An unfelt love is as impossible as an unfelt trust. The trust of which we are now speaking is a conviction. An unfelt conviction? How absurd!

Trust sees God doing things here and now. Yea, more. It rises to a lofty eminence, and looking into the invisible and the eternal, realizes that God has done things, and regards them as being already done. Trust brings eternity into the annals and happenings of time, transmutes the substance of hope into the reality of fruition, and changes promise into present possession. We know when we trust just as we know when we see, just as we are conscious of our sense of touch. Trust sees, receives, holds. Trust is its own witness.

Yet, quite often, faith is too weak to obtain God’s greatest good, immediately; so it has to wait in loving, strong, prayerful, pressing obedience, until it grows in strength, and is able to bring down the eternal, into the realms of experience and time.

To this point, trust masses all its forces. Here it holds. And in the struggle, trust’s grasp becomes mightier, and grasps, for itself, all that God has done for it in His eternal wisdom and plenitude of grace.

In the matter of waiting in prayer, mightiest prayer, faith rises to its highest plane and becomes indeed the gift of God. It becomes the blessed disposition and expression of the soul which is secured by a constant intercourse with, and unwearied application to God.

Jesus Christ clearly taught that faith was the condition on which prayer was answered. When our Lord had cursed the fig-tree, the disciples were much surprised that its withering had actually taken place. It was then that Jesus said to them, “Have faith in God.”

“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed and be thou cast into the sea, and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

Trust grows nowhere so readily and richly as in the prayer-chamber. Its unfolding and development are rapid and wholesome when they are regularly and well kept. When these engagements are hearty and full and free, trust flourishes exceedingly. The eye and presence of God give vigorous life to trust, just as the eye and the presence of the sun make fruit and flower to grow, and all things glad and bright with fuller life.

“Have faith in God,” “Trust in the Lord” form the keynote and foundation of prayer. Primarily, it is not trust in the Word of God, but rather trust in the Person of God. For trust in the Person of God must precede trust in the Word of God. “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me,” is the demand our Lord makes on the personal trust of His disciples. The person of Jesus Christ must be central, to the eye of trust. This great truth Jesus sought to impress upon Martha, when her brother lay dead, in the home at Bethany. Martha asserted her belief in the fact of the resurrection of her brother:

“Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus lifts her trust clear above the mere fact of the resurrection, to His own Person, by saying:

“I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”

Trust, in an historical fact or in a mere record may be a very passive thing, but trust in a person vitalizes the quality, fructifies it, informs it with love. The trust which informs prayer centres in a Person.

Trust goes even further than this. The trust which inspires our prayer must be not only trust in the Person of God, and of Christ, but in their ability and willingness to grant the thing prayed for. It is not only, “Trust, ye, in the Lord,” but, also, “for in the Lord Jehovah, is everlasting strength.”

The trust which our Lord taught as a condition of effectual prayer, is not of the head but of the heart. It is trust which “doubteth not in his heart.” Such trust has the Divine assurance that it shall be honoured with large and satisfying answers. The strong promise of our Lord brings faith down to the present, and counts on a present answer.

– E.M. Bounds

More On Prayer And Trust

“The guests at a certain hotel were being rendered uncomfortable by repeated strumming on a piano, done by a little girl who possessed no knowledge of music.

They complained to the proprietor with a view to having the annoyance stopped. ‘I am sorry you are annoyed,’ he said. ‘But the girl is the child of one of my very best guests. I can scarcely ask her not to touch the piano. But her father, who is away for a day or so, will return tomorrow.

You can then approach him, and have the matter set right.’ When the father returned, he found his daughter in the reception-room and, as usual, thumping on the piano. He walked up behind the child and, putting his arms over her shoulders, took her hands in his, and produced some most beautiful music. Thus it may be with us, and thus it will be, some coming day. Just now, we can produce little but clamour and disharmony; but, one day, the Lord Jesus will take hold of our hands of faith and prayer, and use them to bring forth the music of the skies.” — Anon

Genuine, authentic faith must be definite and free of doubt. Not simply general in character; not a mere belief in the being, goodness and power of God, but a faith which believes that the things which “he saith, shall come to pass.” As the faith is specific, so the answer likewise will be definite: “He shall have whatsoever he saith.” Faith and prayer select the things, and God commits Himself to do the very things which faith and persevering prayer nominate, and petition Him to accomplish.

The American Revised Version renders Mark 24:11, thus: “Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Perfect faith has always in its keeping what perfect prayer asks for. How large and unqualified is the area of operation — the “All things whatsoever!” How definite and specific the promise — “Ye shall have them!”

Our chief concern is with our faith, — the problems of its growth, and the activities of its vigorous maturity. A faith which grasps and holds in its keeping the very things it asks for, without wavering, doubt or fear — that is the faith we need — faith, such as is a pearl of great price, in the process and practise of prayer.

The statement of our Lord about faith and prayer quoted above is of supreme importance. Faith must be definite, specific; an unqualified, unmistakable request for the things asked for. It is not to be a vague, indefinite, shadowy thing; it must be something more than an abstract belief in God’s willingness and ability to do for us. It is to be a definite, specific, asking for, and expecting the things for which we ask. Note the reading of Mark 11:23:

“And shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatever he saith.”

Just so far as the faith and the asking is definite, so also will the answer be. The giving is not to be something other than the things prayed for, but the actual things sought and named. “He shall have whatsoever he saith.” It is all imperative, “He shall have.” The granting is to be unlimited, both in quality and in quantity.

Faith and prayer select the subjects for petition, thereby determining what God is to do. “He shall have whatsoever he saith.” Christ holds Himself ready to supply exactly, and fully, all the demands of faith and prayer. If the order on God be made clear, specific and definite, God will fill it, exactly in accordance with the presented terms.

Faith is not an abstract belief in the Word of God, nor a mere mental credence, nor a simple assent of the understanding and will; nor is it a passive acceptance of facts, however sacred or thorough. Faith is an operation of God, a Divine illumination, a holy energy implanted by the Word of God and the Spirit in the human soul — a spiritual, Divine principle which takes of the Supernatural and makes it a thing apprehendable by the faculties of time and sense.

Faith deals with God, and is conscious of God. It deals with the Lord Jesus Christ and sees in Him a Saviour; it deals with God’s Word, and lays hold of the truth; it deals with the Spirit of God, and is energized and inspired by its holy fire. God is the great objective of faith; for faith rests its whole weight on His Word. Faith is not an aimless act of the soul, but a looking to God and a resting upon His promises. Just as love and hope have always an objective so, also, has faith. Faith is not believing just anything; it is believing God, resting in Him, trusting His Word.

Faith gives birth to prayer, and grows stronger, strikes deeper, rises higher, in the struggles and wrestlings of mighty petitioning. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance and realization of the inheritance of the saints. Faith, too, is humble and persevering. It can wait and pray; it can stay on its knees, or lie in the dust. It is the one great condition of prayer; the lack of it lies at the root of all poor praying, feeble praying, little praying, unanswered praying.

The nature and meaning of faith is more demonstrable in what it does, than it is by reason of any definition given it. Thus, if we turn to the record of faith given us in that great honour roll, which constitutes the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, we see something of the wonderful results of faith. What a glorious list it is — that of these men and women of faith! What marvellous achievements are there recorded, and set to the credit of faith! The inspired writer, exhausting his resources in cataloguing the Old Testament saints, who were such notable examples of wonderful faith, finally exclaims:

“And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.”

And then the writer of Hebrews goes on again, in a wonderful strain, telling of the unrecorded exploits wrought through the faith of the men of old, “of whom the world was not worthy.” “All these,” he says, “obtained a good report through faith.”

What an era of glorious achievements would dawn for the Church and the world, if only there could be reproduced a race of saints of like mighty faith, of like wonderful praying! It is not the intellectually great that the Church needs; nor is it men of wealth that the times demand. It is not people of great social influence that this day requires. Above everybody and everything else, it is men of faith, men of mighty prayer, men and women after the fashion of the saints and heroes enumerated in Hebrews, who “obtained a good report through faith,” that the Church and the whole wide world of humanity needs.

– E.M. Bounds

Prayer and Faith

“A dear friend of mine who was quite a lover of the chase, told me the following story: ‘Rising early one morning,’ he said, ‘I heard the baying of a score of deerhounds in pursuit of their quarry.

Looking away to a broad, open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across, and giving signs, moreover, that its race was well run. Reaching the rails of the enclosure, it leaped over and crouched within ten feet from where I stood.

A moment later two of the hounds came over, when the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. I felt, just then, that all the dogs in the West could not, and should not capture that fawn after its weakness had appealed to my strength.’ So is it, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God. Well do I remember when the hounds of sin were after my soul, until, at last, I ran into the arms of Almighty God.” — A. C. Dixon.

In any study of the principles, and procedure of prayer, of its activities and enterprises, first place, must be given to faith. It is the initial quality in the heart of any man who essays to talk to the Unseen. He must, out of sheer helplessness, stretch forth hands of faith. He must believe, where he cannot prove. In the ultimate issue, prayer is simply faith, claiming its natural yet marvellous prerogatives — faith taking possession of its illimitable inheritance. True godliness is just as true, steady, and persevering in the realm of faith as it is in the province of prayer. Moreover: when faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live.

Faith does the impossible because it brings God to undertake for us, and nothing is impossible with God. How great — without qualification or limitation — is the power of faith! If doubt be banished from the heart, and unbelief made stranger there, what we ask of God shall surely come to pass, and a believer hath vouchsafed to him “whatsoever he saith.”

Prayer projects faith on God, and God on the world. Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God. In His cursing of the fig-tree our Lord demonstrated His power. Following that, He proceeded to declare, that large powers were committed to faith and prayer, not in order to kill but to make alive, not to blast but to bless.

At this point in our study, we turn to a saying of our Lord, which there is need to emphasize, since it is the very keystone of the arch of faith and prayer.

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

We should ponder well that statement — “Believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Here is described a faith which realizes, which appropriates, which takes. Such faith is a consciousness of the Divine, an experienced communion, a realized certainty.

Is faith growing or declining as the years go by? Does faith stand strong and four square, these days, as iniquity abounds and the love of many grows cold? Does faith maintain its hold, as religion tends to become a mere formality and worldliness increasingly prevails? The enquiry of our Lord, may, with great appropriateness, be ours. “When the Son of Man cometh,” He asks, “shall He find faith on the earth?” We believe that He will, and it is ours, in this our day, to see to it that the lamp of faith is trimmed and burning, lest He come who shall come, and that right early.

Faith is the foundation of Christian character and the security of the soul. When Jesus was looking forward to Peter’s denial, and cautioning him against it, He said unto His disciple:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, to sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fall not.”

Our Lord was declaring a central truth; it was Peter’s faith He was seeking to guard; for well He knew that when faith is broken down, the foundations of spiritual life give way, and the entire structure of religious experience falls. It was Peter’s faith which needed guarding. Hence Christ’s solicitude for the welfare of His disciple’s soul and His determination to fortify Peter’s faith by His own all-prevailing prayer.

In his Second Epistle, Peter has this idea in mind when speaking of growth in grace as a measure of safety in the Christian life, and as implying fruitfulness.

“And besides this,” he declares, “giving diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.”

Of this additioning process, faith was the starting-point — the basis of the other graces of the Spirit. Faith was the foundation on which other things were to be built. Peter does not enjoin his readers to add to works or gifts or virtues but to faith. Much depends on starting right in this business of growing in grace. There is a Divine order, of which Peter was aware; and so he goes on to declare that we are to give diligence to making our calling and election sure, which election is rendered certain adding to faith which, in turn, is done by constant, earnest praying. Thus faith is kept alive by prayer, and every step taken, in this adding of grace to grace, is accompanied by prayer.

The faith which invokes powerful praying is the faith which centers itself on a powerful Person. Faith in Christ’s ability to do and to do greatly, is the faith which prays greatly. Thus the leper lay hold upon the power of Christ. “Lord, if Thou wilt,” he cried, “Thou canst make me clean.” In this instance, we are shown how faith centered in Christ’s ability to do, and how it secured the healing power.

It was concerning this very point, that Jesus questioned the blind men who came to Him for healing:

“Believe ye that I am able to do this?” He asks. “They said unto Him, Yea, Lord. Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.”

It was to inspire faith in His ability to do that Jesus left behind Him, that last, great statement, which, in the final analysis, is a ringing challenge to faith. “All power,” He declared, “is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.”

– E.M. Bounds