By Zhang Xiaoping
We Christians are all clear that praying is essential in our daily life. But as for why we need to pray, and what kind of prayers conform to the Lord’s will, we fail to explain these details clearly. We usually pray according to our own will and imaginations, seldom seek the truth regarding, and have no idea whether our prayers accord with the Lord’s will. Thanks be to the Lord! Through consulting the Bible and some spiritual books, I have gained some knowledge of the truth regarding prayer. Today I’d like to communicate my knowledge with you, which I hope will be beneficial to you. May the Lord lead us!
First, let’s talk about why we need to pray. In fact, prayer is one of the ways for us to cooperate with God and call on God. When encountering difficulties and problems, we need to call on God and seek His enlightenment and guidance, and once obtained, we will then be able to understand His will, act according to His requirements, and obey His orchestrations and arrangements. This is the true meaning of praying to God. Let’s take an example. When a child has some problem, if he talks to his mother about it, his mother will help and supply him according to his deficiencies, and meanwhile tell him what can be done and what can’t. Gradually, the child will be sensible, and thus know how to distinguish between good and evil, and know what is right to do. Actually, our prayers to God are just like that.
Second, we need to know how to pray in accordance with the Lord’s will. We’ve all been through these kinds of things: When others are praying in meetings and we hear them speak fluently and a great deal, or say many flowery words, we feel very envious, thinking: “How could they pray so well? Why can’t I?” Then we begin to imitate them and say as many pleasing words as possible before the Lord, believing that praying in this way is in accord with the Lord’s will. The reason why we do so is that we have no idea what kind of prayers conform to God’s requirements. So, what is true prayer? Let’s see what thesaid, “When the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him” (John 4:23). The Lord requires us to worship God in spirit and in truth, that is, have a sincere heart and speak sincere and true words to God. As long as we speak openly to the Lord with a sincere heart, He will accept our prayers. The Lord doesn’t want our crooked hearts, but our pure and honest hearts. Therefore, the most important thing about praying is to speak heartfelt and honest words—tell our shortcomings, difficulties and rebelliousness to the Lord with nothing hidden, and ask Him to help and save us. Only then will the Lord listen to our prayers. This is what it truly means to worship God in spirit and in truth.
Third, we should examine ourselves: Are we speaking from the right position when praying? Are our prayers reasonable? The Lord Jesus said, “But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not you therefore like to them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him. … Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek you first the, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:7-8, 31-33). “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). The Lord’s words tell us clearly what to seek and what not to seek. We do not need to ask for external things such as food, clothes, or things that can be used, because the Lord has prepared these things for us. So, prayers for such things are meaningless and cannot gain the Lord’s approval. We should often pray to follow the Lord’s way. For example, when encountering issues in our daily life, we should pray and seek to live out the decency of saints; when various trials befall us, such as tribulations, illness and disasters, we should even more pray to seek the Lord’s will and stand witness to satisfy Him; we should pray more and seek how to practice so that we can love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind, which is the great commandment. All of these prayers are accepted by the Lord. In addition, the Lord promised that He shall come again, so on this important matter we should pray for His enlightenment and guidance to be wise virgins, and to be able to recognize the Lord’s voice and attend the wedding feast of the Lamb. If we spend more time praying eagerly on matters of salvation, the Lord will surely hear and accept our prayers.
Understanding this enables us to know that most of our previous prayers were not in conformity with the Lord’s will. In order to let us have discernment about our prayers and pray in accord with, three kinds of prayers at odds with God’s will are analyzed as follows for us to draw lessons.
The first kind is praying with empty words. Let’s take a look at such prayers: “O Lord, You are my Savior, my rock, and my refuge. Your love is vast and deep. O Lord, I love You very much! I love You sincerely! …” This isn’t true prayer. This is saying sweetened and nice words to the Lord. This is self-idolization and an attempt to seek the Lord’s blessings. This is not speaking the truth to the Lord. Instead, this is simply deceiving the Lord with false, exaggerated and empty words. Thus, the Lord doesn’t listen to such prayers.
The second kind is insatiable pleading. Such prayers are made most of the time. When people close their eyes and pray, they will say: “O Lord! I know You are merciful and all-powerful. You can turn nothing into something. Lord, please bless my children so that they can enter a good college, get a good job after graduation, and find a good spouse. Lord, I ask You to bless me with a flourishing business, great wealth, and prosperous household. …” Such prayers disgust the Lord. This is not treating the Lord as the Lord, but simply taking the Lord to be the god of wealth, a debtor, a steward, or a servant. How is this worshiping the Lord? So, the Lord never listens to or answers such prayers.
The third kind is irrational prayer, which is more disgusting to the Lord. Let’s look at such prayers: “O Lord, I ask You to help me successfully finish the task.” “O Lord, protect me from any disaster. Lord, I ask You to …” Such prayers are most irrational and at odds with the Lord’s will. This is making demands and putting pressure on the Lord. This is instructing and ordering the Lord about. We are less than dust, and we must have reason before the Creator. We must be devout, and must not act irreverently. Let’s look at the prayer of the Lord Jesus recorded in the Bible, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). We can see from this that in His prayer from the perspective of a created being, the Lord Jesus spoke rationally with submission to the heavenly Father. By contrast, our prayers before God are so irrational. That’s why the Lord doesn’t listen to our prayers. Consider that if we say to our parents after returning home: “Give me money! Do this or that for me!”, our parents will despise us and say we are unfilial children. Thus, being obedient and rational in prayers is very important.
We should take warning from the above three kinds of substandard prayers. In order to better understand the truth about how to pray in accord with God’s will, let’s look at the prayers of the saints throughout the ages that are after God’s heart: Moses often prayed to complete the commission of leading the Israelites into the land of Canaan; David prayed all his life for a temple to be built for God; Abraham prayed to obey God when offering Isaac; Job prayed to stand witness in trials; Peter prayed to truly love and know God; etc. Their prayers were done for following God’s will, obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements, or casting off corrupt disposition to satisfy God. Although they didn’t pray for status or fame, what God bestowed upon them surpassed what they could imagine. From this, it can be seen that their prayers were praised by God. Just as the Bible says, “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Combined with the prayers of the saints and these words of the Lord, do we better understand what kind of prayers conform to the Lord’s will? We should pray to know the Lord, revere Him, obey Him and love Him; we should pray to cast off our sinful nature and become honest people; we should pray to spread theand save souls; etc. In a word, all these prayers that are made for following God’s will, for satisfactorily fulfilling the duties of a created being, for obeying and satisfying the Lord, are in accordance with the Lord’s will.
Thank the Lord! It’s His grace that enables us to have this knowledge. Below, let’s make a summary of the prayers that are in line with the Lord’s will so that we can enter into true prayer.
First, we should be honest people, speak honest and heartfelt words; we must not say false, exaggerated or empty things to deceive the Lord.
Second, we should know what to seek and what not to seek; we must not make extravagant demands.
Third, we should possess the sense of a created being, stand in our place, obey the Lord, seek what we do not understand and wait for His will to be revealed to us; we must not instruct or demand the Lord.
Practicing according to the above three aspects will enable our prayers to accord with the Lord’s will. At this point, brothers and sisters, I believe that you now know how to pray.