20 December, 2014
What is Prayer? Prayer is Confession and Petition-3
Prayer is CONFESSION. Adoration is only a part of prayer. There is much that such dependent creatures as we, need to confess. We need to confess our dependence, and our weakness, and our faults. To confess our dependence does not make us independent, to confess our weakness does not make us strong, and to confess our faults does not make us faultless; but to do these things manifests a proper attitude of the heart.
God can make us strong — if we but feel our weakness. It is for this reason — that the weak can say that they are strong. But God cannot make us strong — until we feel our weakness, any more than He can save a sinner who does not realize his sinfulness. We should feel our unprofitableness, our weakness, our need of help. We can draw so much closer to God in prayer — if we feel the great need of His help. It is really precious to become terrified at the hideousness of sin and the devil and the world — and to flee to our refuge under the shadow of God's wing! The blessedness is not found in the terror — but in the feeling of security we experience — when hiding in the secret of the Lord's pavilion.
Prayer is PETITION. God delights in having us ask Him for the things we need. He gives many encouraging promises. One is this: "Ask, and you shall receive." We are told to be anxious for nothing — but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to let our requests be made known unto God. To have a kind heavenly Father to whom we can come for everything we need — is a blessing too great to conceive! He is faithful to fulfill all He has promised. May the Lord increase the faith of His children.
The "if" is not on the Lord's side — but on man's side. A father brought his son that had a dumb spirit to Jesus and said, "If you can do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Christ, in His reply, gave the man to know that the "if" was on the latter's part. "If you can believe," said Jesus, "all things are possible to him that believes." The question is not whether Jesus can — it is whether we will ask and believe.
Some people object to the petitioning side of prayer. They say that the Fatherhood of God is in opposition to all reasonableness in petitioning prayer. Since he knows our every need and is disposed to give us all we need — there is, they say, no necessity to ask him. Being a God of infinite goodness and love, he is disposed to grant all our needs without our asking, the same as he gave his Son to die for us. They go further and illustrate, by referring to the readiness of earthly parents to supply the needs of their children without their asking. But the illustration is not perfectly analogous to God's manner of dealing with his children. Though parents provide everything good for their children, it is certainly respectful on the part of the children to ask for things they need.
The prayer of petition does not change God's disposition and influence him to a willingness to grant us our needs — but it prepares our heart for the receiving of them in thankfulness. Prayer does not change God — so much as it changes us! I am indeed glad that God has obligated us to ask. It brings us in such close personal contact with him. We would not be likely to come feelingly near to him in thanksgiving — if we did not come feelingly near to him in petition. But of this we shall have more to say in another chapter.