Troubleshooting Ineffective Prayer, Part One
There are always smiles when small children are in the family. Some of the heartiest of these smiles come out of the common everyday occurrences of life. We had spent some time teaching the children that they were not to ask for what they wanted at the table, but were to wait quietly until they were served. Parents often have to tell their children a hundred times over, exactly what is to be done-a hundred times simply because ninety-nine times is not sufficient. Then we have hopes that the lesson is beginning to be learned.
Some months passed and, one day, we were reading the eleventh chapter of Luke at our family worship. We came to the ninth verse, where I read these words of Christ, "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."
Before I could finish reading the entire verse, our little girl, then aged six, turned wide-eyed toward me, and said, "Oh, no, Daddy. It is not, `Ask and it shall be given you'; it is, `Don't ask, and it shall be given you."' In order to satisfy her I had to explain, carefully, the difference between family discipline and God's orders concerning prayer.
Yet, today, there are many thousands of people who have an entirely wrong idea about prayer. While the little girl may mix her table manners with the thought of approach to God, men of the world mix a thousand false ideas with their concept of what prayer should be.
Once more we are forced to turn to the revelation of God, where we find His thoughts high above ours, even as the heavens are higher than the earth. And we ask a question that draws at our very hearts as hunger gnaws the vitals. Myriads of unsaved people have false ideas about prayer and myriads of Christians are leading prayerless, careless lives. They are missing the marvelous fellowship which God has for those who are willing to recognize the principles of prayer laid down in His Word, clear and plain, for all to see.
God does not hear the prayers of everybody. When unbelievers cry their desires to the heavens, Satan may bring about some response to some of their petitions, but these are moments of great deception. The Almighty seems to turn a deaf ear to their cry. God has said in His Word that He will not hear the prayers of all people.
In fact, if we turn to the words of Christ, we have a statement so definite, so formal, that it is a wonder men have not understood the barrier God has put between Himself and some men. Christ said, "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). I repeat it. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."
Now, do not quarrel with the one who brings you this message. That would be as foolish as quarreling with a telegraph messenger who brings bad news in a telegram. If you do not like what I am saying, your quarrel is with the Lord Jesus Christ. It was He who said that no man could ever come to the Father, except through Himself, not I. Men can seek to approach God in two ways. First, they can seek Him in salvation. Here the Word is definite. There is no salvation except through Jesus Christ. This, of course, is the very heart of Christianity.
Or they may seek to approach God in prayer. But Christ says that no man can come unto the Father, except by Himself, Jesus Christ. If your prayer is not made through Jesus Christ, it will not go to God.
- What do we learn about the character of God through praying?
- Are there things we can learn while we pray?
- It is a great privilege to pray especially knowing we do not deserve the honor of prayer. Consider how the idea of prayer and how much it means to have communion with God.
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