HOW WE SHOULD PRAY
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Book of Hebrews exhorts us to labor to enter the rest of God. When we are living in the rest of God we think, speak, and act in accordance with the thinking, speaking, and acting of the Lord Jesus. We mirror what He is doing, just as the Lord Jesus mirrors what the Father is doing.
The purpose of prayer is not to persuade God to do something. It is to find out what God wants and to pray in that direction. This is true even of intercessory prayer. To pray against God’s will is folly.
“Your will be done” is the greatest of all prayers.
Living in the rest of God determines how we pray. Our prayers always must be what Jesus is praying. This being the case, the first thing we must pray for in every situation is to know what God wants.
There may be two kinds of prayer: defensive and offensive. Defensive prayer is our petition for ourselves or someone else who is in distress. In a way it is a prayer for survival. Sometimes the prayer for survival is a deep groan as we seek to break through the darkness that is pressing on us.
Then there is the offensive prayer. This is our petition when we are not fighting for survival but are asking the Lord about a positive occurrence in a situation. We are not under duress but pray for something we would like to happen. “Ask and receive that your joy may be full.”
When many years ago I asked the Lord if I could preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the air, I was not under duress of any sort. I thought about the Lord saying “You can ask what you will and it shall be done, that your joy may be full.” I thought, what would I like to have happen?
So I asked, in Jesus’ name, that I might preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to all people everywhere. I was teaching the fifth grade in Palo Alto California at the time. Interestingly enough, this prayer is being answered with the invention of the personal computer, the Internet, various tapes and cassettes, and the electronic tablets. Television programs have helped also, although they have been restricted to the United States.
So there are defensive and offensive prayers. But the strongest petition of all, and one that must accompany all of our prayers, is, “Your will be done.”
It is obvious that if we wish to remain in the rest of God, and not add our own religious ideas to our prayer, that we must insist that God’s will is done.
I have heard it said that if we add “Your will be done” to a prayer, we do not have faith. This objection to the greatest of all petitions is very revealing to me. It shows that the individual who is praying has an agenda—something he or she is attempting to have happen. It is at this point that the one praying is acting out of his own desires, not out of his position in the rest of God.
One might suggest that I am teaching passivity—God, do whatever you want. Passivity and fatalism are not of God. They are part of Satan’s tool of deception. Such are never in order. With God, all things are possible.
As I said previously, we always are to pray to find out what God wants done. This is how Jesus prays. Jesus always lives in the rest of God, thinking as the Father thinks; speaking as the Father speaks; acting as the Father thinks. Such is the fulfillment in the new covenant of the Jewish Sabbath day. It is the eternal Sabbath.
Jesus lives, moves, and has His Being in the eternal Sabbath. So must we, if we wish to be a son of God.
Do you remember the affliction that Satan placed on Paul concerning his eyes? Paul prayed defensively three times until the Lord told Him the reason for the affliction. Then Paul recognized the reason and profited from it.
Christians suffer numerous afflictions. But we never, never are to assume that our affliction is from the Lord. We always are to pray that God will lift it from us. And we do not pray just once; we pray until the affliction vanishes or until God assures us it is from Him. After that we praise God for His goodness to us, and ask God each day for His grace so we can endure our affliction cheerfully.
In fact, many times the Lord uses Satan to load us with problems so we will pray. God did this with Job, until Job achieved the kind of attitude toward God that God desired.
The Lord Jesus told us that if we want to get an answer from God to keep on asking; keep on knocking; keep on seeking. God will answer because of our importunity.
But here is something to remember. Before we begin to pray persistently about something, we should attempt to find first what God’s will is. If we refuse to say “Your will be done,” we may receive something that will not bring us righteousness, love, joy, or peace.
Think about King Hezekiah. Isaiah told him he was about to die. Hezekiah wept and carried on until God gave him fifteen more years. Hezekiah was very pleased with this.
But after three years, Manasseh, one of the wickedest of all the kings of Israel was born.
This can happen, you know. We can beseech God to save someone’s life, only to find out it would have been better if we had sought God’s will in the matter.
So it comes down to our desire to have our own way, or to go God’s way. Doesn’t it?
I would imagine that one of the main prayers of the Christian people in America today, May 2, 2012, has to do with the forthcoming election of our president. Because of what is taking place in America in the present hour, we might consider the prayer to be defensive.
There is no doubt that we are descending into a moral pit. The current president appears to favor abortion on demand and homosexual activity. These, of course, are an abomination to all fervent followers of the Lord Jesus.
We seem to be drifting toward Socialism. Socialism is decidedly contrary to the old ways of America. We find people longing for the days of Ronald Reagan.
The main media institutions are promoting the values of our current government. This is so clear that no intelligent newspaper editor could claim that the papers are objective.
There is much crime, and crimes of an unusual viciousness. This is because the degradation of Christian principles, the driving of God from our shores, is opening the door for demons to rush in from other countries.
This assertion of mine about demons becoming active would be laughed off as so much ancient religious superstition. But having been a devout Christian for more than 65 years I have learned a few things that the secular community does not understand.
But we will see, in the days following, that it will be just as I have stated: there will be cruel and unusual crimes, and no cruel and unusual punishments to curtail them.
So our Christian values are being scorned. I wonder sometimes if the President understands the depth of the rage that exists between those who hold to the old American way of life, and those who want a socialistic government and the removal of our traditional moral restraints.
I would not be surprised if during the next election there is not a significant amount of social disturbance. Also, I would not be surprised if by the next ten years, people who write as I do are not confined for being mentally unbalanced.
Make no mistake: America—the America we are accustomed to; that I grew up in, in New England—is being slowly but surely destroyed. An unrecognizable new country is coming into being.
I believe the Spirit of God has told me clearly that there will be much bloodshed in the future in America. Also, that America soon will be brought down in importance, and the leadership of the world will move to an Eastern country—possibly China, in that China seems to be more active in striving for some kind of morality, unlike our present government.
When speaking about morality, I am not referring to the so-called “rights of people,” a philosophy that is part of the anti-God philosophy of Humanism.
By “morality” I am referring to what the Bible terms “righteousness” and “holiness.” Any government that does not enforce morality will soon be removed by the Lord, who insists that righteous behavior be practiced by the people who live on the earth He has created.
Now, as we see the destruction of the United States of America occurring, how should we pray? I realize that God has written that if His people would repent seek His face, He would heal their land.
Do you remember the principle I set forth at the beginning? It is not enough to persist in prayer. We first must find out what God is saying. We always clothe our prayer with, “Your will be done.” Always! Always!
Do we truly know what God is saying to us about our country?
If you will recall, when the Babylonians carried the Jews into captivity, the “palace prophets” were proclaiming that God shortly was going to bring them back to Jerusalem and restore what they had lost.
One man, Jeremiah, told the king and the people what God actually was saying. The Prophet Jeremiah told the king and the people to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. He told the people already in Babylon to settle down, build, have families. God told them through Jeremiah that the prosperity of Babylon would be their prosperity.
Do you see what I am saying? A person praying that God would destroy Babylon and bring the Jews back would be going against God! If we do not know what God’s will is, are we going to try to force God to do what we think is best? I believe there are numerous Christians who would do just that!
Do you remember what the prophetess Huldah said in the days of King Josiah?
She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people—all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all that their hands have made,[e] my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’” (II Chronicles 34:23-25)
Josiah had been behaving righteously, and continued to behave righteously after hearing what Huldah has said. But it was too late. Too much sin had been committed previously. After this, Josiah did foolishly and attacked Neco, King of Egypt. Josiah was killed in the battle.
There was no manner in which anyone’s prayers were going to save the Jews.
Is it like this today? Has America crossed the line?
When I pray about our country, the Lord does not say to me that if we will all get together and pray, He will change His mind about the judgment coming quickly to America.
When I read about what it taking place in America, the sinful acts that prevail in the entertainment world; the selfish greed of corporate America; the willingness of the media to inflame racial divisions in order to sell papers; I can understand why Divine judgment is on its way.
What should we as a Christian do? We should pray that God will put an end to abortion on demand and moral indecencies, and also listen to what God says.
If God says, as in the days of Josiah and Huldah, that America already has crossed the line, having sinned away its day of grace, then we need to find out from the Lord Jesus what we as an individual should do to save ourselves and our loved ones throughout the coming moral and material chaos.
I have no doubt that what I am saying will come to pass, but I do not rejoice over it. Rather I exhort each person reading my words, Christian, Muslim, or anyone else, to get as close to the Lord Jesus as he or she possibly can. Religion will not save us in that day.
But the Lord Jesus Christ will be our Rock. The nations are nothing more than a drop in the bucket to Him.
(“How We Should Pray”, 4021-1)