In the previous post Prayer with Wings – Part 2, we ended talking about believers who are discouraged because prayers they prayed year after year had still not had their desired and preferred outcomes. Let’s take a closer look, examining three Scriptures which generally interfere with our will and oppose our self-proclaimed right to rule what affects our lives.
In Hebrews 9:27 it says “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Psalm 116:15 states “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Finally in Isaiah 57:1 – “the righteous perish, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” These three verses show three aspects of the death of this body in which we live. The first is that God appoints the time we leave this body. Secondly, He not only orchestrates the time when we leave the body, He delights in our departure from this body and our arrival into His kingdom presence. The third aspect being mercy is shown to the one taken home who will not experience the evil that he would otherwise suffered.
So then, with these three Scriptures in view, how many of us are more than willing to pray contrary to God’s will? Or have we attempted to stop the taking home of one of God’s Saints when God clearly shows the time is appointed and it is HIs will at work? Though this in an extreme example, it illustrates a principle. A willingness to confess that our priorities are based on our own interests is often necessary to remove the sense of condemnation because as Romans 8:1 states we are free from the condemnation in our own minds as we stand before our Lord, but if we walk after the flesh, we will have an awareness of displeasing the Lord.
Good intentions are often present in our lives but they are not always God’s will. An appointed time of death is in place for all men saved and unsaved. See Luke 12:19-20, where the rich man said “I have much goods stored up to last many years” but God said to him “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.”
Prayer within God’s Will
We so often petition the Lord for comfort and shelter from suffering, and though there are times when He does provide this shelter, these types of prayer are not necessarily seeking God’s will as set forth in 1 John 5:15. We should not expect God to answer prayers which are not His will. Even our great high priest learned obedience through suffering.
Prayer concerning the death of friends or loved ones is not the only place that we attempt to set up our rule in our lives. We have so many ways that we illustrate a willingness to defy God’s will and purpose for our lives and the lives of others. Scripture though says we are not debtors to our flesh or the desires of it but we often serve both the sin nature, and the desires of our flesh and call it service to God (see Romans 8:12-13).
When viewing God’s servants throughout Scripture how comfortable are they? Are not we His people called to suffer? As 1 Peter 4:1-2 shows suffering in the flesh brings about cessation of our sin nature ruling our actions and that we are not to live the rest of our time in the lusts of our flesh satisfying the lusts thereof. Without carefulness in petitioning God we can find ourselves seeking the very things that Satan promised to give to Jesus in exchange for His worship. But in this event Jesus illustrated for us the proper way to handle the promise of the goods of this world as well as the prestige of it.
Satan still makes the same promises to the saved and the unsaved alike, and many of both ranks fall down and worship him for the supposed gain of such things. How much of Scripture is given to show God arranging circumstances so as to make the flesh comfortable? Isn’t that what Satan promises – pleasure forevermore? Just do what I say, Satan assures, and I will give you your desires (Luke 4:6). To strike a balance is necessary at this point, comfort or discomfort does not define what is righteous or unrighteous, but rather it is the seeking and doing of God’s will that establishes us as being obedient or disobedient. God calls us to worship in spirit and in truth and it is impossible, He says, to please Him if we are carnally minded (John 4:24, Romans 8:5).
Many would suppose that Chapter 18 of Luke’s gospel presents the idea that we should badger the Lord, so to speak, with redundant requests identifying our God as someone like-minded to the judge in the city which feared not God and neither regarded man. It is needful to see that this judge in this city is not to be likened in any way to our God to whom we pray and from whom we seek petitions. As we see this event unfold there is a destitute widow who apparently has someone who is causing her great distress, so out of desperation she approaches this judge in verse 2. It is then said in verse 4 that he would not bother himself with trying to help her for a length of time but because she became troublesome to this judge and was basically making herself a nuisance he decided to take action. It is then said of this judge that he does not fear God, nor does he fear man, but because this woman may continue to be a nuisance to him by her perseverance, he offers his help in avenging this adversary. He takes remedial action to alleviate her problem. This judge and his actions do not in any way represent our Lord whose ear is always open to our cry and nothing we may do will weary Him.
Now let’s examine why the Lord Jesus brought up this city judge and this event which signifies the very best one can attain from seeking help from the world. In Luke 18 the Lord said hear what the unjust judge said. Did you catch the term unjust in the passage that has no semblance to our righteous God? Now in verse 7 we see how the judge takes action in his own good time and when it served his best interests considering his own comfort or discomfort. Yet, of our God, it is said that He avenges us speedily. God views our problems with our adversaries as important. God will avenge each of His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them.
God Knows Our Needs
For the Lord knows what things you have need of, as stated in Matthew 6:32. We are to pray with the idea of having God instruct us as to what our needs are instead of using prayer as an attempt to get from God those things we have determined as needs. Romans 8:26-27 tells us what God wants as prayer. The Spirit of God makes intercession for us. Why is the question? It is because we don’t know what to pray for without His guidance. He that searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit wants. He (Spirit of God) makes intercession for the Saints according to His will. Note who know the will of God and who it is that prays for us as we ought.
We should therefore conclude that there is then a need to be cautious when we voice prayer or petitions for others and for ourselves. For as the Israelites demanded quail to their own hurt (Psalm 105:40, Numbers 11:31-32) we also can demand, request, or strive for things that are not God’s will for our lives or the lives of others. For as Paul by God’s Spirit said in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “bring every thought captive to Christ” and this most definitely applies to prayer.
We do not have to offer our petitions redundantly, but we are to pray without ceasing, offering thanksgiving and praise as we enter into His presence. We have a high priest Jesus who is touched by the feelings of our infirmities and He does not require us to beg and plead that He will hear us and our petitions, but tells us plainly that it is part of our inheritance because we have entrance unto the throne of grace to find help in a time of need. Concerning prayer, one should ask of the Lord – what are my needs and what are the needs of others?