Understanding and Experiencing Prayer

E. J. Thomas

Chapter 1

The Expression of Dependence

How blessed is the subject of prayer! And if Scripture research can assist the tried and buffeted saint to a better understanding of its principles, and how to utilize it more fully in daily difficulties, how welcome such a result! Let us, then, seek to enter upon the observation of some of the teachings of Scripture on this subject.

First - Prayer is the language of request addressed to God. It is important to distinguish between prayer and worship, though they may both be found together in the same address to God. In worship, we give something to God - our thanksgiving, praise, or adoration. "Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Heb.13:15). Praise, then, is an offering, but prayer is a request. The common phrase 'offering a prayer' is therefore a mistake. We may offer worship, praise, adoration, thanksgiving. Prayer, however, is not an offering to God, but a request of something from Him.

Secondly - Prayer is the expression of dependence. Dependence is the due attitude of the creature towards the Creator. God alone is sufficient to Himself. Every creature, whether he know it or not, is really dependent; and prayer, in its foundation principle, is the expression of this dependence. To acknowledge it, is to live in truth; to deny it - to live the prayerless life - is to walk in darkness. Man, as revolted, has lost the sense of dependence upon his Creator. He has slipped his moorings, got away from moral connection with the blessed Centre of the universe, and, wandering in sin and darkness, thinks it the finest and grandest thing to be independent. This, the very principle of his life, is a falsity; he "maketh . a lie" (Rev.21:27 AV).

It was to a new feature, therefore, in the life of Saul of Tarsus that the Lord directed the attention of Ananias, when, sending him to Saul, he said, "Arise, and go... and enquire... for one called Saul, of Tarsus; for behold, he is praying" (Acts  9:11 ). Here was a remarkable thing. Yesterday he was breathing out threatenings and slaughter; now he is upon his knees. Man, in this instance, had got back to his bearings; the creature was humbled before, and reconciled to, his Creator. Thus, prayer is one of the earliest, truest instincts of divine life in man; and in this view it may be said that the first genuine breathing of the soul to God is the beginning of an eternal communion. A stream has started which will flow, and flow for ever - like the water which Christ gives the soul, and which is in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Not that this communion or intercourse will always have the character of prayer - that is the form which it takes from the nature of the scene where it occurs - a world of sin and of necessities. In the future scene the language of dependence will not be that of request, for satisfaction will have taken the place of need, and every vessel will be full. As is often sung,

"Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight and prayer to praise,"

But in the present time, and in the place where we are, dependence, really felt, expresses itself in prayer. To be dependent on one who is capricious, or ill - willed, is misery; but to be dependent upon God, whose nature is love, and whose power is limitless - this is happiness!

Thinking Things Through

Read : Acts  9:11 . Philippians 4:6,7. Matthew 7:7-11. Hebrews 13:15.

•  Describe the difference between prayer and praise.

•  Explain the expression, "Prayer is the expression of dependence." Why is it so vital to realize our dependence upon God?

•  How does Paul exemplify the importance of prayer in the life of a young Christian?

•  List several things for which you feel directly dependent upon God. Are there also some things in your life about which you don't recognize your dependence? How can we increase our awareness of complete dependence upon God?


Chapter 2

The Lord Jesus a Man of Prayer

The blessed Son of God, when becoming a man, though not Himself a creature, took so fully man's place of dependence that we find He prayed habitually.

" Cold mountains and the midnight air
Witnessed the fervour of His prayer."

Beautiful indications are the prayers of Jesus of the reality of His manhood - He kneels down and prays. Pre-eminent in all things, He is an example in this. So He entered upon His ministry with prayer (Luke  3:21 ). And may we not say, as a canon of Christian life, What is begun with prayer will end in praise? It was when praying thus at His baptism that the heavens were opened to Jesus. Prior to choosing apostles He spent the night in prayer to God (Luke  6:12 ,13). Again, in Luke  9:18 , we find Him "alone praying." It was "as He prayed" on the mount of Transfiguration that the fashion of His countenance was altered, and He received from God the Father honour and glory. He did not go up to the mountain to be glorified; He went up "to pray," and was glorified. The object was prayer, the result was glory (Luke  9:28 , ff.).

The principal recorded instances of the Lord's praying appear to be: (1) At His baptism (Luke  3:21 ). (2) On the first great spread of His fame (Mark  1:35 ; Luke  5:15 ,16). (3) Before choosing the apostles (Luke  6:12 ). (4) After feeding the five thousand (Matt.14:23; Mark 6:46). (5) At the virtual crisis of His testimony, when He forbids His being announced as Messiah, and predicts His death (Luke  9:18 ). (6) At the transfiguration (Luke  9:28 ). (7) Occasion not mentioned (Luke 11:1). (8) At the raising of Lazarus (John  11:41 ). (9) In view of His death (John  12:27 ). (10) His wonderful prayer to the Father, "The hour is come" (John 17). (11) Intercession for Peter (Luke  22:32 ). (12) Gethsemane (Matt.26:36 - 44; Mark 14; Luke 22). (13) Intercession for His murderers (Luke  23:34 ). (14) At death, commending His spirit to the Father (Luke  23:46 ).

We see then, that when, in the maturity of manhood, having patiently passed thirty years in privacy, He is at last about to enter on the momentous undertaking of His life, He does so with prayer. "And it came to pass, all the people having been baptised, and Jesus having been baptised and praying, that the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove upon him; and a voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I have found my delight" (Luke 3:21,22, JND Tn).

Following this, He is subjected to the temptation - the Spirit, who has just descended upon Him leading Him into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Emerging victorious, He now, under the Baptist's testimony, becomes the Centre of gathering, calling upon men to follow Him (Luke  5:11 ,27; John  1:43 ), and exercising authority in bestowing a name upon one of them (John  1:42 ). He thus formally begins His work and testimony. So far, however, the work is in His own hands alone; the campaign is opened, but is only in its first stage. The field is white unto harvest. Now an important development takes place. There is a night of prayer. "And it came to pass in those days that he went out into the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God " (Luke  6:12 ). The result of this exercise is seen. When it is day He assembles His disciples, and out of them selects twelve to be apostles. He is already Centre of gathering; now He becomes Source of mission. The work widens, and He employs others under Him to carry the testimony throughout the land. Thus, in the record of the Lord's life great occasions are signalized, or brought about, by special prayer. Not only, however, did the Lord pray specially at special crises, but He had a practice. He would go, distinctly and on purpose, to pray. Thus, "And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray" (Matt.14:23). "And it happened, as He was alone praying." "Now it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, that he ... went up on the mountain to pray" (Luke  9:18 ,28). "He went, as He was accustomed, to the mount of Olives ... and He knelt down and prayed" (Luke  22:39 ,41). Shall we not be gently led by so sweet an example? He had not where to lay His head - but with Him the solitudes of the mountain served for the walls of a closed chamber; and thus, is it not true with regard to prayer, that "Where there is a will, there is a way"?

The Lord is never recorded as praying with His disciples. He taught them to pray. He prayed about them, prayed for them, not with them.[1] For His own position was unique. Our prayers are on the basis of what Christ is for us. He could draw near to God, as qualified in His own person and dignity; we, only in His name. This explains a verse which otherwise would seem a contradiction. "As He was alone praying, . his disciples joined Him" (Luke  9:18 ). The disciples were there, but He was "alone praying." And in Gethsemane He told the disciples to pray; but He, to pray, withdrew from them about a stone's cast (Luke  22:40 ,41). This is important, as everything is which affects our thoughts about Christ. Christians sometimes speak of the Lord as 'Our Elder Brother.' Scripture never does. "Ye call me Teacher and Lord," He says, "and you say well, for so I am." We cannot exaggerate the grace of Christ towards us, but it has been well said that: "The personal dignity of Christ is never lost in the intensity and tenderness of His love. True saints among the Moravians have called Jesus 'Brother,' and others have borrowed their hymns, or the expression. The Word never says so. He is not ashamed to call us brethren, but it is quite another thing for us to call Him so."

Thinking Things Through

Read: Matthew 14:23; 26:36 - 44. Mark  1:35 ; 6:46 . Luke 3:21; 5:15,16; 6:12,13; 9:18,28; 11:1; 22:32; 23:34,46. John 11:41; 12:27 ; 17.

•  Describe and discuss at least five of the incidents recorded in Scripture of Jesus praying.

•  How would the prayers of Jesus differ from our prayers? What are the similarities?

•  Why is it wrong to call the Lord Jesus our "elder brother?"

•  What specifically have you learned in this lesson which will help your own personal prayer life?


Chapter 3

The Prayer Meeting

Christian, you perhaps think little of your prayers. God does not. Cornelius was a man devout and prayerful. He "prayed to God always"; but, while praying on in patience, probably little thought that one day an angel would be sent to tell him, "Your prayers and your alms are come up for a memorial before God" (Acts 10:2 - 4). But if you wish God's estimate of His people's prayers, see Revelation 5:8, "The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." That is what they are. Golden bowls contain them; they are as the fragrance of incense before the throne of God. Think of a prayer meeting! Could the exercises of the saints be made visible you would see the odour ascending to God's presence. The room and the surroundings may be mean, but if the hearts are full of Christ, St. Peter's at Rome , with all its grandeur, can present nothing so fine. Those humblings of soul in prayer; those addresses of faith to God; the workings of hearts inwrought by the Spirit Himself, though invisible, are momentous: they are fraught with consequences which reach forth into eternity. Such is real prayer. Who that could be present would be absent from such a scene, and lose the privilege of a part in its activities?

It is possible that some, and that even amongst instructed Christians, have not quite a correct sense of the rank of the prayer meeting, regarding it as rather subordinate. Many who would feel condemned in their conscience at absence from the Lord's Supper look upon attendance at the prayer meeting as optional. But they have not noticed that the promise to be with two or three gathered to His name is, in Scripture, specifically attached to prayer. Often as that promise is quoted, its connection with prayer and the prayer meeting is almost overlooked. But verse 20 of Matthew 18 is really the validating principle of verses 18 and 19. Thus:

"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (v.18).

"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven" (v.19).

"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (v.20).

On this let us note that:

(1) The promise about agreeing in prayer is linked by the conjunction "For" with the presence of Christ in the midst of two or three. It therefore does not relate, as often supposed, to an agreement of two isolated Christians to pray about a mutual subject when apart from each other. The common application really diverts the Scripture from its specific object, which is to show the special honour and efficacy which are attached to united prayer. It applies to two or three gathered together to Christ's name, and if they, though only two, are in real spiritual agreement in which they approach the Father, their prayer is successful (v.19).

(2) The Lord therefore, is in the midst at the prayer meeting as well as at the breaking of bread. Important fact! Possibly my reader has not looked at the prayer meeting in this light. Many, esteem it as merely a means of spiritual comfort and communion, one of many ways of gaining profit to our souls; and therefore omit attending it or not, according as they are disposed. But the Lord is there! Were the Prince of Wales announced to be at a meeting in London , what activity would be displayed, what effort to be present! The subject matter would, by the very fact, acquire a new importance. Persons who would not have troubled about attending, are now found quite zealous, and see a significance in the subject which they never saw before. But what is prince or king to the King of kings and Lord of lords, who is present with the gathering to His name?

(3) The Lord being present, then, the prayer meeting ranks as an assembly - meeting of the first order, second only to the Lord's Supper. So it is placed, in the divine record of what characterized the first company of the church. "They continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts  2:42 ). At a lecture, a gospel preaching, etc., the Lord may be with His servant who speaks His word, and all present may share the blessing; but He is not with the company, even if consisting of saints, in exactly the sense in which He is with an assembly of only two or three simply gathered together unto His Name.

(4) This presence of the Lord both in the prayer meeting as well as other meetings, is a matter about which many are obscure. Some confuse it with the presence of the Holy Ghost - but that is a different thing. The Holy Ghost does dwell in the assembly, as well as in the body of each individual believer. [2] He does so permanently. But what is stated in Matthew 18:20 is not a permanent indwelling. It is a presence under conditions, namely, two or three being there, and they being gathered to His Name. Further, it is the presence of the Lord Himself that is guaranteed. 'But,' it will be said, 'Jesus is in heaven.' Yes, corporeally He is there - blessed be His Name! - but divinely He is with us here. He is the One who could say even in His days upon earth, "The Son of man who is in heaven" (John  3:13 ). And if He was divinely in heaven while corporeally on earth; so now He is divinely with the two or three on earth, though corporeally in heaven.

(5) The presence of the Lord in the midst draws out the specific affections of the saints for Himself. For as there are distinct persons in the Godhead, so the new nature in us has feelings and affections appropriate to each. When we think of the Father, we think of the infinite, uncaused, love in which He gave the Son for us. We think of the One who has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father! who Himself loveth us because we have loved Jesus, and have believed that He came out from God. And when we think of Christ in our midst, it is of that Person in the Godhead who became incarnate; who so loved us as to give Himself for us, who loved us unto death. The Holy Ghost present with us indeed gives us the spiritual apprehension of all this. He brings before our souls the things of Christ (John 16:13 -15), but the Person in our midst is the One who died for us. He, though waiting on the Father's throne, still so yearns over those whom He purchased with His blood, that where, in any quarter or corner of the globe, two or three are gathered to His Name, there is He in the midst. Would the Christian willingly be absent when the Lord is present? In this matter have we not sinned through lack of thought, or non - apprehension of what the prayer meeting really is?

Thinking Things Through

Read : Revelation 5:8. Matthew 18:15 - 20. Acts 2:41,42; 4:23 - 33.

•  What is God's estimate of a prayer meeting among His saints?

•  What are the promises and principles of Matthew 18:15 - 20 in regard to the prayer meeting?

•  What is the difference in thought between the Holy Spirit being in the assembly and the Lord Jesus being in the midst of those gathered to His Name?

•  What do you think are the three most important ingredients for a successful prayer meeting?


Chapter 4

Individual Prayer

Scarcely less important than united, is individual, prayer. It holds a remarkable place in the divine actings in the world.

Abraham

Abraham prayed for the cities of the plain - a beautiful model of reverential yet earnest pleading with God. "but Abraham still stood before the LORD. And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? "Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen.18:22 - 25). As a consequence of his intercession he obtains the promise that the city should be spared if only ten righteous were found in it, and though that number was not found, Jehovah accedes to His servant's plea for the righteous who might be there, and so the safety of Lot is provided for before ever judgment is allowed to descend upon the city. Again, to the king of Gerar it is announced, as a divine favour, that Abraham should pray for him (Gen.20:7). Indeed this intercessory prayer is an important piece in the machinery of God's proceedings.

Daniel

Daniel was qualified for intercessory prayer by the purity of his own ways. He is one of three men, Noah, Daniel and Job, whom Jehovah Himself selected as eminent in righteousness (Ezek.14:14). The testimony of his enemies was, "We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God" (Dan.6:4,5); and in a foreign land, amidst foes and snares, his practice was to pray. "He knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God" (v.10). How precious are the exercises of such a soul! No cloud in his own relationship with God - he is free to intercede for the state of God's people - a type in this of the great Intercessor, hence we have the prayer and confession of Daniel 9: "Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said," etc. (vv. 3,4).

It is interesting to see that Daniel was heard as soon as he set himself to pray, although his prayer was not answered for some time afterwards. "Fear not Daniel, for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words"(ch.10:12).

David

So another testifies: "I cried to the LORD with my voice, and He heard me from His holy hill" (Ps.3:4). Again, "I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" (Ps.34:4). Fellow - believer, the same is our privilege! Such is "the boldness" we have towards Him, that "if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us" (1 John  5:14 ). This involves brokenness of our own wills, spirituality; without which our thoughts and feelings do not move in the line of His will. There has been One who could say, without limitation, "Father ... You always hear me" (John  11:41 ,42).

But Daniel's prayer, in the ninth chapter of his book, and Abraham's prayer, though individual, were in a certain sense public. That is to say, they were not about the private history, or the personal wants, of either Daniel or Abraham. Their subject matter was public. Daniel's prayer had reference to the fallen state of Israel as God's people, and to God's interests as bound up with them. Likewise Abraham's prayer had no relation to Abraham's own wants. He was secure from the judgments about to fall upon the wicked, but he pleads earnestly for the righteous who were intermingled with them and in danger of sharing their judgment. So, too, as to Paul's prayers in Ephesians, chapters one and three. They were individual prayers, but their scope and object were God's glory and Christ's interests in the church. This is a high order of prayer: that is, where a servant of the Lord is abstracted from private or personal needs, and is earnestly concerned about Christ's interests in His people. Indeed, Paul's prayers for the saints in Ephesians one and three were a reproduction in his measure, and so far as regarded the church, of the prayer and desires of the Lord Himself in John 17.

Private and Personal Affairs

But there is another field and class of prayer equally divine in authorization, but which, though not so lofty in scope, is more tender; has to do with smaller and more human, or everyday concerns. For the believer is privileged to have communion with God about the whole of his private and personal affairs. Thus: "Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Luke 12:6,7). "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil.4:6). "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

Now, many Christians have a feeling that it is scarcely legitimate to expect that God would condescend to the small and petty affairs of our life. As in the case of some great dignitary amongst men, they feel as though they could not presume to trouble Him with their personal concerns. The thought may not be quite definite, and they would shrink from expressing it. But it lingers in the mind sufficiently to create hesitation and doubtfulness in prayer. It is important, therefore, to see that we have in these Scriptures ample warrant for regarding the whole interior of the life of a Christian, as under the purview of our God and Father. Is some item too small to be brought to Him in prayer? Is it too purely personal, too exclusively our own, for Him to consider? What stronger expression could the Lord employ to disabuse us of the notion, and to encourage confidence, than that the very hairs of our head are all numbered? Have we the feeling that some things we can take to God, but that some things we cannot? The Scripture says, " In every thing by prayer and supplication." Have we a request, as to which we have no strong confidence that it is according to His mind? Well, we can at least make it known to God, and the result for our souls when we leave it with Him will be "peace" - the request being submissively laid before Him, His peace will keep both heart and mind through Christ Jesus, and we can then be content, whether we have our petition or not.

It may be that we are in circumstances which our own wrongdoing has brought us into, and that we justly dread the consequences. Even that we can take to God, if we have sincerely confessed our sin; and all the anxiety of it, all the care, we may cast upon Him - "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." The case of Jacob and Esau is an illustration of how God can, and will, turn for us dreaded events into blessing, when we in brokenness wait upon Him. Jacob had deeply wronged Esau, and now, after years of separation, he has to face him; the brothers are about to meet (Gen.32). Jacob's conscience naturally makes him fear the resentment of Esau, who he learns is coming to meet him with four hundred men. But he lays it before God in prayer (v.11), with the marvellous result that the man whose vengeance he feared, "ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept!" (33:4).

Thus God is the refuge of the soul at all times. Blessed is prayer which is the outcome of an upright walk; but even when the fruits of our evil doings are springing up, yet if we are the Lord's, and have truly judged the evil of our ways, we may safely leave, in peace, all consequences to Him.

Individual, secret prayer and communion with God constitute the foundation of all godliness. Neither the prayer meeting nor the Lord's service is a substitute for them. They are the safeguard of the soul; where they fail, a fall is not far off.

Thinking Things Through

Read : Genesis 18:22 - 25. Daniel 9:3,4. 1 John 5:14,15. Philippians 4:6,7. Ephesians 1:15 - 20; 3.

•  What are some good examples to follow in Abraham as a man of prayer? How about Daniel?

•  What are some of the prerequisites of an effectual fervent prayer life?

•  Discuss these three categories of individual prayer: (1) intercession for others; (2) personal requests; (3) confession.

•  Which is better: (1) a definite time set aside each day to pray using a prayer list, or (2) to pray about things and people throughout the day when and as they come to mind? Discuss the pros and cons of each.


Chapter 5

The Holy Spirit in Relation to Prayer

Although Christ is the One to whose Name saints are gathered at the prayer meeting, it is equally necessary to recognize the function or office of the Holy Spirit in prayer; and that, whether in private or public. Consider the magnitude of the fact that the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost, and, abiding with us for ever, is here today (John 14:16)! He dwells in the church which is built together for His habitation; He dwells in the individual believer (1 Cor.6:19,20; Eph.2:22). Such a fact cannot but have immense bearings. Now we find that this indwelling Spirit is our Instructor and Guide in prayer, and all true prayer is in the Spirit. "Praying in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20). "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Eph.6:18). "And in like manner the Spirit joins also its help to our weakness; for we do not know what we should pray for as is fitting, but the Spirit itself makes intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered. But he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for saints according to God" (Rom.  8:26 ,27).

When Christ was with His disciples He taught them to pray; John had similarly taught his disciples. But now all that is changed. It was expedient for the disciples that Christ should go away in order that the Holy Ghost should come; and He, being there, takes the office of forming our minds and hearts in prayer. Truly, we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but - as dwelling is us - the Spirit Himself maketh intercession. The words "for us" in Romans 8:26 , are not in the best texts, and like many well - meant additions to Scripture, only mar its perfectness. Maketh intercession for us inserted in this verse, would rather give the idea of the blessed Spirit and the saints as two distinct parties, and that He, externally to us, makes intercession for us. That this is not the sense, is clear from the next words "But he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for saints according to God"(v.27). Thus then, God who looks down into the heart, sees there the inwrought desires and prayers of the Spirit; and the intercession which the Spirit there makes, for and on behalf of the saints, is according to God. The structure of this scripture (Rom.8:26,27) is remarkable. As regards ourselves, the Spirit is so identified with us, that God, in searching the hearts, finds there the mind of the Spirit; and this is what He graciously takes up, not the workings of the flesh. But as regards God - whatever may be the Spirit's condescension to us - the Spirit stands in all His own power and dignity as a Person of the Godhead, to plead for the saints. What solemnity, what divine value, clothes the prayers of saints, when the form in which they come before God is that of intercession by the Spirit Himself! On our side this may reach down to an inarticulate groan; Godward it rises to the height of the Spirit's own intercession.

The bearing of this upon prayer is most encouraging. Here we find the Holy Spirit as dwelling in us, graciously identifying Himself in tender sympathy with our weakness, with our infirmities. The church which Christ has purchased with His own blood, is so precious that the blessed Spirit must come and dwell there and look after it. Being here He is our Paraclete; that is, Manager of our affairs. He opposes the flesh in us (Gal.5:17), helps our infirmities, condescends to our ignorance, and enters into our sorrows with groanings which cannot be uttered. We do not think enough of the sympathy of the Spirit of God with us. He is that "other Comforter" who, the Lord said, was to replace Himself on earth. Jesus took our infirmities; and the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; Jesus groaned at Lazarus' grave, and the Spirit intercedes for the saints with groanings which cannot be uttered. How great must be the interest of the Holy Spirit in us when He can come and dwell in us, not discontinuing His stay, albeit, alas, our ways so often grieve Him (Eph.4:30)!

When once grasped, this truth of the function which the Holy Ghost graciously assumes in the matter of prayer, easily disposes of some popular errors.

1. Praying to the Holy Spirit - If the Holy Spirit is in us, and is Himself the moving power and inditer of our prayers, then obviously to address our prayers to Him is an incongruity; it is " by Him " that we "have access . to the Father" (Eph.2:18). For addressing the Holy Spirit, Scripture gives us neither precept nor example. Such hymns, therefore, as that commencing, "Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove," however pious their intention, are not framed in an intelligent apprehension of Christian doctrine. When we address God indefinitely, of course the three Persons of the Trinity are included, but when we pray to the Persons distinctively, it can only be to the Father, or to the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Forms of Prayer - By parity of reasoning, forms of prayer are quite inconsistent with the office of the Holy Ghost in the church. If He is Himself with us as inditer of our prayers, how unworthy to limit Him to certain forms of words! Suppose the greatest musical genius of the world came to reside with me that I might enjoy his compositions, and I, instead of listening to him, brought out a mean musical box, which could only regale me with its narrow stock of tunes, should I not be insulting my gracious guest? Admitted that we know not what we should pray for as we ought, the remedy is not that wise men should frame forms for us. Our resource is the Holy Spirit who helps our infirmities, condescends to our weaknesses, and intercedes with groans which cannot be uttered. When that Mighty Spirit condescends to undertake this gracious function, what dishonour to Him, what a want of faith, to substitute a dead form for His living guidance!

3. Using the Lord's Prayer - But some think, "However I may distrust my own prayers, and even the Prayer Book, which, though framed by good men, is not inspired; yet in 'the Lord's Prayer' which He Himself ordained - surely we are on safe ground in using that'?" This spirit of reverence for the Lord Jesus is certainly right, but the view expressed is oblivious of the immense change of affairs, consequent on the coming of the Holy Ghost, who, having descended on Christ at His baptism, descended upon the church at Pentecost, and is still here. In giving the prayer of Matthew 6, the Lord was performing the office of Comforter which is now performed by the Holy Spirit. That prayer was absolutely perfect for the time and circumstances for which it was prescribed.

It is not equally applicable to another time and altered circumstances. One or two points will be sufficient to establish this.

(1) The Lord Himself declared that in connection with the coming of the Holy Ghost there would be a change in respect of this very matter of prayer. In John 16, He is speaking of a future day, "When He, the Spirit of truth is come"(v.13), and in verses 23 - 26 deals with the subject of prayer in that day. He says, "Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full ... In that day you will ask in My name" (John  16:24 ,26). Now here we see that the Lord Himself was leading the disciples beyond "the Lord's Prayer" - for in the latter His name is not mentioned, and He tells them that, in the coming era, prayer was to be in His Name.

(2) Another indication of the incongruity of "the Lord's Prayer" to the present time is that its aspiration is for the coming of the kingdom, "Thy kingdom come." This was a proper Jewish hope, suited to the Jewish disciples for whom the prayer was ordained; but the church has an earlier and a brighter hope, even to see and be with the Lord Himself before the kingdom comes (1 Thess.4:16 - 18).

The Lord indeed taught the disciples to pray, and did so perfectly. But the office of Comforter on earth He has now relinquished to the Holy Spirit, to whose guidance therefore we are committed. Let us seek to be "praying in the Holy Spirit" - knowing that the Spirit enters, with fullest, minutest sympathy, into all our infirmities, all our circumstances; and will give us desires, sentiments, and expressions appropriate to every experience, either happy or sad, through which the soul can pass. "The Lord's Prayer" belongs to a past period, before the Spirit had been given. We have the Holy Ghost Himself now, to compose our prayers.

The way in which "the Lord's Prayer" is repeated by some Christians upon all occasions, and sometimes several times over, savours really of superstition, as if there were some charm in the mere repetition of the words.

Thinking Things Through

Read : John 16:13,16,24,26. 1 Corinthians 6:19,20. Ephesians 2:22. Jude 20. Ephesians 6:18. Romans 8:26,27. Ephesians  4:30 ; 2:18 . 1 Corinthians 14:14,15.

•  What are some of the functions of the Holy Spirit in a believer and in the assembly?

•  Consider some of the verses which talk about praying in the Holy Spirit and with the Holy Spirit. How does this relate to Romans 8:26,27 where He is said to help our infirmities and make intercession? Why does the Scripture not tell us to address our prayers to the Holy Spirit?

•  How should a Christian regard a prescribed prayer recitation (such as the "Lord's Prayer") in view of the Holy Spirit indwelling us and inditing our prayers?

•  Relate a specific personal experience of the help or guidance of the Holy Spirit in your prayer life. If you have never had such an experience perhaps you should examine why.


Chapter 6

Spiritual Opposition and Conflict

Satanic Opposition to Prayer

The record about Daniel sheds light upon the hindrances, not so much to prayer, as to the answering of prayer. How many devout supplicants are perplexed at not receiving what they pray for! Well, we find that though the answer to Daniel's prayer was delayed, the delay was not because he was not heard. "Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me" (Dan.10:12,13).

Thus, then, there were spiritual impediments, not to Daniel's prayer, not to its being heard and granted, but to the answer reaching him. Here there is good encouragement. For we are apt to suppose that our breath in prayer is lost if an answer is not received at once. But exercise of heart in prayer is never fruitless, though the result may be long delayed. "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God," was said to Cornelius; and we know not how long he had been kept waiting before Peter was sent to him with the answer: it may have been years (Acts 10). As in Daniel's case, so in Cornelius', and so in ours, there is a time as well as a mode of answering, which rests in the wisdom and grace of God. But so subtle is the working of unbelief that saints often pray and pray earnestly, but yet the last thing that they seem to expect is that God will grant their requests! Old Zacharias had prayed that he might have a son; so it appears from Luke 1:13. He had faith to pray, but not to believe that God would grant his prayer; for when the angel Gabriel tells him that his prayer is heard and that his wife should bear him a son, instead of rejoicing and worshipping, he asks, "How shall I know this?" But our God is very gracious; for this unbelief He chastens Zacharias with dumbness for a season, yet does not withdraw compliance with his petition. Prayer is a great reality, and we know not what unseen transactions are taking place over supplications which we suppose to have been unnoticed or unheard; but let us be assured that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us. The case of Zacharias is an instance of what perhaps often occurs - that saints are in their faith and hope not up to the level of their own prayers.

Satan Still in the Heavenlies

But in the account of Daniel's praying, what a curtain is uplifted from unseen things! Many suppose that above this world all is good. But Scripture lets us know that there are principalities, authorities, and spiritual powers of wickedness in the heavenlies, with whom, indeed, we are in conflict (Eph.6:12). Does it seem strange that wicked spirits should be there? The explanation is that there has been sin amongst spiritual creatures as well as in man, and that indeed before man existed. For we find that when only just ushered upon the platform of creation he is confronted by an insidious foe already in existence - that old serpent, the devil. However, man, the material being, though having sinned, has not yet been cast out of the earth, which is the home of his nature; he is still tolerated here, though in rebellion against God, and though he has risen up against, and crucified, the Son of God. Now heaven is the habitat of spiritual beings, as the earth is of material; and the spirits which have sinned are not yet expelled from the heavens, any more than man from the earth.[3]

So there are opposed beings in the angelic sphere. One of them obstructed for twenty - one days the heavenly messenger sent to Daniel. The hinderer is designated - the prince of the kingdom of Persia - while Michael, one of the chief princes, is The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people," that is, Israel (Dan.12:1). But there will come a time when there will be open war in heaven, resulting in Satan's expulsion thence with his angels, even then not receiving their final doom, which is the lake of fire, but being cast into the earth (Matt.25:41; Rev.12). It was this event which the Lord looked forward to, and saw in prophetic vision, when He said to His disciples, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke  10:18 ). The Seventy had returned from their mission with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name"; and this casting out of demons from their lodgement in mankind was but an earnest of the grander dispossession which should take place when Satan and his angels should be cast out of heaven (Rev.12:7 - 9).

In the meanwhile, Satan and his hosts, not yet in confinement, still ranging the heavenlies (he is the prince of the power of the air, Eph.12), are incessantly seeking to thwart the purposes of God. Man, rejecting every divine testimony, plays into Satan's hands. The believer, however, is delivered from the power of darkness (Col.1:13), is no longer under Satan's authority, as once he was; but being, on the contrary, associated with Christ, he becomes the object of Satan's antagonism. The Christian's eyes are opened to the astounding fact that on the platform of this world a war is in progress against God; and that in this he is called to bear a part, to take a side. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the universal lords of this darkness, against spiritual power of wickedness in the heavenlies (Eph.6:12, JND Tn).

Prayer as a Weapon

In this warfare prayer is a distinct weapon, a part of the panoply of God enumerated in Ephesians six. "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints -- and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel" (v.18,19). Epaphras illustrates prayer as a mode of spiritual conflict. The Authorized Version says, "Epaphras . saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers" (Col.4:12). But the true rendering of the word "labouring" is "combating". It is the same word as, in John  18:36 , is translated "fight" - "then would my servants fight." Prayer, the last mentioned piece in the panoply, is the active expression of the essential principle of the conflict, namely, dependence. Man has no strength against Satan, and, in nature, is his willing slave; and the Christian's resource is to lay hold upon a strength which is divine, and which alone can cope with the power of Satan. Hence the entire subject of the armour, and the believer's conflict, is introduced by laying down the foundation principle, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the might of his strength" (Eph.6:10, JND Tn). Man must get back to God, and to the creature's condition of dependence, or he remains the slave of Satan. And the saint must be genuinely cast upon the Lord in the sense of his weakness and dependence if he is to be a victor in the battle.

Thinking Things Through

Read : Daniel 10:12,13. Ephesians 6:10 - 12,18,19. Luke 10:8. Revelation 12:7 - 9. Colossians 1:13 ; 4:12 ,13.

•  Why is it that answers to some prayers are delayed? Why does God allow these delays?

•  Why has God allowed Satan and his evil hosts to remain in heaven to oppose the people of God? When will they be cast out?

•  Discuss prayer as a combat and as part of the spiritual warfare of a Christian.

•  What are some of the specific steps which you as an individual must take to experience more victory in this spiritual conflict?


Chapter 7

Hindrances and Helps to Prayer

Besides opposition to the answering of prayer, there are hindrances to prayer itself.

A Sin Unto Death

For instance, there are cases in which a person might be sick unto death, and yet in which his recovery could not be prayed for. The apostle John says, "If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death" (1 John  5:16 ,17). Upon this the first thing which many will ask will be, What is that awful sin which cannot be prayed for? Well, in the text it is indefinite. The very same act may be a thousand times more culpable in one person than another; and under one set of circumstances than in circumstances of a different character. Ananias and Sapphira told a lie; but they did so in the face of such vivid presence of the Holy Ghost, such light and power and grace, that their lie became a sin unto death: it acquired a peculiar enormity from the special circumstances in which the sin was committed. So Scripture does not define what may or may not be a sin unto death.

There is, however, an underlying principle which requires to be seen, in order to the understanding of this and several similar passages in Scripture. That principle is, that the Lord is now judging in the midst of His saints; and in pursuance of that judgment inflicts chastisement - a chief form of which is sickness, and even death. Scripture furnishes a clear illustration of this in the case of the Corinthians. Not only were gross social vice and sin amongst them, but they were profaning the Supper of the Lord, treating it as a secular feast; and some were even drunken at it. The apostle, on this, tells them that those so doing were eating and drinking judgment to themselves, adding, "For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep ... But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor.11:30,32). This shows that sickness amongst God's people stands upon special ground. It may be on account of sin, and is thus invested with peculiar significance. The deep moral import of sickness in the church is, it is to be feared, but little seen, and less thought of. Thus illness happens to a Christian, and it is at once assumed to be a mere natural event: or, a Christian dies - cut off in the midst of his days, in the full tide of his work, which is left unfinished around him. Now it is a most solemn reflection that both of these events may be the direct hand of the Lord in judgment. If, however, Christians are not spiritual, they do not take a spiritual view of such happenings. Such events were occurring every day at Corinth, and their spiritual meaning was probably quite unperceived, for the saints there were far from spiritual, as Paul says, "I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal" (1 Cor.3:1). But when God is thus moving in solemn judgment, it would be lack of communion to pray that such souls might live. One led by the Spirit would surely be with God, in the necessary, though solemn, assertion of His holiness amongst His people. The language of John, however, is not absolute; he does not altogether forbid prayer, but - albeit significantly - says, "I do not say that he should pray about that."

Sickness and Prayer

The Epistle of James also treats sickness as connected with sin; but, in cases where there is faith to ask for it, says, "The prayer of faith shall save the sick." "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the assembly, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him" (ch.5:14,15, JND Tn). The anointing with oil here, is, of course, Jewish, consistently with the general scope of the Epistle, which is addressed not to the church, but to the twelve tribes of Israel (ch.1:1).

Now these three Scriptures (1 John 5; 1 Cor.11; James 5) distinctly teach that sickness amongst Christians may be an infliction because of sin. If this were more recognized there would be more soul - exercise as to the purpose of God's dealings with us, and increased blessing would result.

One point should be cleared up before leaving the text in 1 John 5. When the apostle says, "There is a sin leading to death," the death he refers to is not eternal separation from God, but that temporal death of the body, which the Lord inflicts on His own as chastisement. This is made clear from 1 Corinthians 11:32, where Paul says, "When we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." God's people are judged now; the world will be judged by and bye. Contrast the case of Ananias and Sapphira already referred to, with that of Simon in the eighth of Acts. In both cases the parties sinned, and sinned deeply. Ananias and Sapphira were judged with death. But Simon was perceived to be "poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity"; i.e. really an unchanged man, notwithstanding his nominal belief and his baptism. He is left to be judged with the world; while in the case of Ananias and his wife, awful as was their judgment, it was but temporal judgment and there is no reason to infer that their spirits will not be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor.5:5).

It ought not to be supposed, however, that illness, or indeed, other afflictions, are always chastisements. The branch that bears fruit is purged that it may bring forth more fruit (John 15). And in the case of Job, the grand mistake of Job's friends was to suppose that because of his terrible affliction, he must have committed some grievous sins. God allowed Job to be afflicted with painful and humiliating ills for his ultimate blessing, and so he does with many a saint today. He may send sickness, bereavements, setbacks, to break down the flesh, to wean us from the world, to produce brokenness of our wills, and spirituality, or to give warning to the believer where there is lack of carefulness in walk, or incipient departure from the Lord.

Marital Hindrances

The prayer of husband and wife may be hindered, as is taught in 1 Peter 3:7, which should be read thus, "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (v.7). If the husband do not honour the wife as a co - heir of eternal life, communion in prayer must be hindered, and the effect lost of united prayer.

Moral Hindrances

James gives several moral hindrances to prayer. First, there is "double-mindedness"; no real godly earnestness or definiteness of purpose. "For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord" (ch.1:5 - 8). Second, asking amiss. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (ch.4:3). The word "pleasures," given in the margin of the Authorized Version is correct. It is not "lusts," but "pleasures" - and that, not necessarily bad pleasures. What is contemplated is self - pleasing, the mere desire of the natural mind; God's glory or our own spiritual profit, not considered at all; and God's people (see succeeding verse) living in friendship with the world, which is, spiritually, adultery.

The relation, however, to successful prayer, of the moral condition of supplicants, may be appropriately looked at later on when considering "Promises to Prayer."

Helps to Prayer

Thanksgiving

In connection with opposition and hindrances, let us take notice of a great and substantial aid to prayer, namely, thanksgiving. "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Phil.4:6). "Persevere in prayer, watching in it with thanksgiving " (Col . 4:2). Probably the advantage of thanksgiving as an aid to the soul is not fully seen. How often when the well of prayer seems dried, thanksgiving will cause the stream to flow! The recollection of mercies received, and blessings in possession, refreshes the soul; begets the sense that we are in communion with a giving God; and imparts new courage to approach Him with our requests. How many answers are received to prayers gone by, which are not recognized as answers, because in the interval the very prayers that were made are forgotten! Thus is lost to the soul opportunity for praise and thanksgiving; a loss of happy and profitable exercise: but besides that, it is a failure in what is becoming towards God. Is it a fit thing to receive a gift and not return thanks? Between man and man it is a breach of manners; and that God takes notice of such failure towards Him is certain from the case of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11 - 19). Only one of the ten who had been cleansed returned to give thanks, and how touching is the comment of the Lord! "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?" God looks for our gratitude, and that not only in the heart, but the positive expression of it; expression too, not merely in general way, but definitely as to definite instances. Praise is "pleasant", and "beautiful" (Ps.147:1). A thankful soul is a happy soul. We can never get into circumstances where we have not cause for thanksgiving, and thanksgiving naturally leads to prayer.

Reading God's Word

Another aid and stimulus to prayer is private reading - reading God's Word itself, and the valuable written ministry which in the present day He has supplied to His children so abundantly as to be within reach of all. Such reading, in a proper spirit, begets prayer. It awakes the sense of need, encourages confidence towards God, leading to prayer, with blessing as the consequence. In the Word, God is speaking to us; in prayer we are speaking to Him - in both together, the circle of communion with God is completed. Neither will do without the other. The Christian who prays without the Word tends to become mystic. He who reads much without a corresponding measure of prayer, will get his head stocked with barren knowledge, but his soul will be shrivelled.

Thinking Things Through

Read : 1 John 5:16,17. 1 Corinthians 11:31,32. James 1:5 - 8; 43; 5:14 ,15. 1 Peter 3:7. Psalm 66:18. Proverbs 28:9. Philippians 4:6,7. Colossians 4:2,3. Luke 17:11 - 19.

•  Contrast the sin unto death for which prayer is not to be made (1 John 5:16 ,17) with the prayer of faith to prevent death in James 5:14 ,15. How do we distinguish when to pray and when not to pray in such cases?

•  In what ways are bad family relationships a hindrance to prayer? (1 Peter 3:7).

•  Discuss the hindrances to prayer mentioned by James. Also those mentioned in other Scriptures.

•  Why is thanksgiving such a great aid to prayer?

•  What is the greatest hindrance to your prayer life? How can you overcome this hindrance?


Chapter 8

Promises to Prayer

The promises to prayer, of which the following are some of the more prominent, are, in general, dependent on specified conditions:

Faith

"And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matt.21:22). The condition attached to this verse is believing. It will be said that believing, or faith, is necessary to all prayer. Though this is true, Scripture recognizes specific faith about a specific thing. Thus one of the subjects of the miracles had faith to be healed [4] (Acts 14:9); and it is expressly taught in 1 Corinthians 12:9 that there is a distinct spiritual gift of faith which some have, and some have not - a gift alluded to in chapter 13, where Paul corrects the tendency to glory in gifts. "Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor.13:2). It is perhaps to this special character of faith that the Lord refers when He says, "whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark  11:24 ). Genuine, divinely - given faith, not mystical or fancied faith, is what is here meant. Probably many have experimented upon this promise, only to be disappointed. Mahomet, it is said, audaciously commanded a mountain to come to him, and when his folly was manifested to all, tried to evade humiliation by saying, "If the mountain will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the mountain." But the promises of God, and the power of His Spirit, are not bestowed to be the subject of curious experiment, or the means of subserving private ends.

Further, the application of some of the promises in the Gospels was primarily to the apostles, however much the principle of them may extend to the humblest disciple. Take, for example, the promise we are considering. This, as well as the parallel passage in Mark 11, stands in relation to the incident of the barren fig - tree. The fig - tree was a type of Israel , to whom the Lord had come seeking fruit but finding none. He pronounced it fruitless forever. That is a picture of Israel after the flesh, producing only the leaves of profession. Any fruit - bearing must be from the living One - "Your fruit is found in Me" (Hosea 14:8). In connection with this the Lord says, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matt.21:21,22). Now as the fig - tree symbolized Israel , in the character of fruit - bearer, so "mountain" here represents Israel as a political system, and accordingly as an answer to the faith of the apostles, Israel has been cast into the sea of the nations, and politically lost.

Still the promise in all its fulness is there, for faith to act upon. It is a large one, and its only limit is the reality of the faith which employs it. If God give faith He will as certainly give that to which the faith extends.

Abiding

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). This promise is equally large, and probably also meant for the apostles primarily - though the general principle may be applicable to all. But the limitation is a moral one. Even apostles, to whom the mighty work of inaugurating Christianity was entrusted, could not exercise their great powers as mere power - that is, apart from moral principle and purpose. Paul, for example, with all his mighty powers of healing, says, "Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick" (2 Tim.4:20). God had His own purpose in Trophimus' affliction, a purpose which might have been marred by the uncalled - for interposition of a miracle. And on Paul's part, his powers of miracles were not given him to be used at random, or at his own will, but in the service of his Master. So also with the church at Corinth . They came behind in no gift; they had miracles and gifts of healing; yet under God's chastening hand - not to be interfered with - many were sick and many died (1 Cor.1:7; 11:30 - 32; 12:28). It is indeed the same principle as that which, already mentioned under the heading of "Hindrances to Prayer," may in some cases, restrain prayer for the recovery of the sick. An unspiritual person influenced by blind sympathy might pray for his raising up, while one more in the secret of communion with God, would discern that such a request was not the mind of the Spirit. So also, the large power of prayer in our text, "ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" is guarded by the moral conditions "if you abide in Me, and My words abide in you," conditions which involve not only godliness, but spirituality. If the words of Christ abide in one, they form the heart and mind. They suggest the motives, govern the conscience, and in this happy condition of the soul its requests naturally flow in the line of His revealed mind. Its instincts are correct, its desires according to His will, according to His "words".

Good Conscience

"For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:20 - 22). Here there are conditions of great importance: a practical conduct pleasing to God, and an uncondemning heart - a good conscience. These are imperative for intercourse with a holy God. False, imaginary deities may accept a compromise, such as penance or gifts. God must have the judgment of evil, in all those who draw near to Him. It is the same with prayer as with worship; there can be neither where there is defilement. "Holiness adorns Your house, O LORD, forever," is an abiding principle (Ps. 93:5). And again, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear" (Ps.66:18). But how blessed that God has provided for all the exigencies of His people in a defiling scene; and hence it is ordained that, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When there is so simple a way of discharge, why should any walk with a burdened conscience? An upright and honest confession, and we are not only forgiven but cleansed. As Elihu says of the soul that has been brought to the moral judgment of itself, "He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, He shall see His face with joy, For He restores to man His righteousness"(Job 33:26). The importance of this good conscience in connection with prayer is shown by the fact that Scripture links it even with asking the prayers of others, "Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably" (Heb.13:18). "The prayer of the upright" is indeed the Lord's delight (Prov.15:8); and it is the prayer of "the righteous" (in James  5:16 ) that is said to have much power.

Our text, however, though equivalent to a promise, is not exactly so in form. It is rather a positive statement that, given certain conditions, we do receive whatsoever we ask, and the conditions show very plainly that success in prayer depends upon a godly life, an uncondemning heart as an inward state, and obedience ("keep his commandments") as an outward manifestation and test of the state.

But in the verses which precede, there are some interesting points to notice, "My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him"(1 John  3:18 ,19). First, knowing "that we are of the truth" (v.19), does not mean knowing that we are Christians - which has been taken to be the sense; for the persons addressed were written to because they were Christians; because they knew the Father; because their sins were forgiven them for His name's sake (1 John 2:12,13). But, being exhorted to love not "in word, or in tongue, but in deed and in truth," the apostle adds, "by this we know that we are of the truth." This is, that we are actually walking in the truth; that we are possessed by, we are, "of, the truth." Love in deed and love in truth, gives us this consciousness and assurance of heart before God. We cannot enjoy it otherwise. If there are matters between us and God, it is useless to ignore them. God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. But if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God, and receive whatsoever things we ask, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. It is not a question of being, or not being, children of God; it is a question of the children being on terms of happy confidence with their Father. If I owe a man a debt which I ought to have paid, there must be constraint on meeting him, but if there is nothing between us, and I believe in his generosity, I can confidently go to him with a request. Beautiful, happy condition for the soul to be in with God! This passage is a weighty one for the conscience of the believer, but its practical use has been much lost sight of through the misapplication just mentioned. The test is not as to whether we be children of God. It is one for saints to apply to their actual condition of soul. Are we thus before our God that with an uncondemning heart, we are in communion with Him, and, as a fact, habitually receiving His answers to our prayers?

Secondly, the apostle says, "let us not love in word or in tongue." This looks like tautology, but is not so. The term "logos," here translated "word," is of much wider signification than our "word." In English "let us not love in word or in tongue," certainly is repetition. But this word "logos" means, in Greek, not merely the word by which thought is expressed, but the thought itself. So that the force of what the apostle says is, that we are not to love in theory (or thought), neither in mere language ("in tongue"), but in deed and in truth.

For there is a pietistic state, by no means rare, in which emotions and thoughts are enjoyed, the truth intellectually delighted in, but without fruition. Love as a theory is held to be very beautiful - but is not practised. The heart deceives itself. This is loving in thought merely. The text in question is the converse of 1 Corinthians 13. There Paul treats of works without love; here it is, as it were, love without works, that is, mere sentimentality. But our passage crushes both of these errors: not only condemns love without deeds, but also deeds without love. It requires deeds, but the deeds must be from love; that is, not in theory, nor in talk, but in acts and in truth. Our God is love, and that alone will satisfy Him in His children - love "in deed and in truth." How penetrating is the word of God, exposing every mode in which the heart would either deceive itself or deceive others! It is sharper than a two - edged sword, laying bare the thoughts and intents of the heart. Many, in reading these verses, have supposed that the language was mere repetition; that it is not so only shows the wisdom which underlies every word of inspiration.

According to His Will

"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:14,15). We have already seen that the formative power in the heart, of the words of Christ dwelling there, and an upright uncondemning heart with confidence in God, are the conditions of successful prayer. In the present verses, all that is assumed. It is supposed that we are asking according to His will, and what we have here is that, so asking, God always hears us. "He is not like man, often occupied so that he cannot listen, or careless so that he will not."[5] It is a precious and wonderful thing for the creature, man, notwithstanding the fall, to be so restored to moral harmony with God as to be able, under the guidance of the Spirit, to ask according to His omniscient will. We do not read that angels have this privilege. They "do His word, heeding the voice of His word" (Ps.103:20), but the intimacy with God which prayer affords is, apparently, conferred upon man only. Surely this bestowment is a proof of God's desire that man should enjoy communion with Himself. Do we prize this privilege as we should?

But our spirits are not always up to this level, and we have already seen that Romans 8:26 - 28 recognizes this case. We know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit helpeth our infirmities. And He who searches our hearts knows how to take up all that is of His own Spirit in those hearts. As to the result, "we know" that all things work together for good to them that love God. And this gives peace whether our requests are granted or not. So we are not to restrain prayer because we are not on the highest plane of communion. On the contrary it is our privilege "in everything" to let our requests be made known unto God (Phil.4:6). An instructive example of this is Paul's prayer about the thorn in the flesh (2 Cor.12:8,9). For this thing he besought the Lord that it might depart from him. But his prayer was not in the intelligence of God's mind, who had a better thing in store for Paul, which Paul would have lost had his request been granted. The believer may indeed, as a chastisement, receive that which in unbrokenness he clamours for, but the result will not be happiness - as we read, "He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul" (Ps.106:15). To present our requests, with submission, is, however, always our privilege. The example of Paul shows this. He besought the Lord for his desire not once only, but thrice. In result, such submission was wrought in his soul that ultimately he took pleasure in the very infirmities of which he had implored the removal. A discontented and unsubject heart may reproach God with not answering its prayers; but in the retrospect of eternity, how much cause for praise may be discovered in the requests which our gracious God now refuses to grant.

So far from restraining prayer, we really need more frankness with God. Scripture amply warrants this, and it is illustrated by the case of good Ananias (Acts 9:10 - 17). The Lord sends him to Saul of Tarsus to receive him after his conversion. But Ananias has a difficulty in his mind, and with beautiful simplicity and reverence, he lays it before the Lord. "And Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many concerning this man how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name. And the Lord said to him, Go, for this man is an elect vessel to me, to bear my name before both nations and kings and the sons of Israel ... and Ananias went." The Lord, it will be observed, does not in the least reprove Ananias; and the incident left on record thus surely gives encouragement to us to tell the Lord with reverential intimacy about all our difficulties. Indeed this episode, and that of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12, previously referred to, are strikingly similar as precedents for freeness, yet reverence, of communion; and withal of perfect submission. The two instances are remarkably alike in tone and spirit.

In Philippians we are authorized to bring all our requests to God. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (4:6,7). But here it is noticeable that the promise is not, as in 1 John 3:22, that we receive whatsoever we ask. But, having laid our requests with submission before Him, His peace keeping our hearts and minds, is the present effect. As to the requests, if He does not grant them, it is because He has for us something better. His child should not wish what is contrary to His will. But there is a higher example than Paul - even Jesus in Gethsemane. Not indeed, as so often in our own case, of prayer below the highest level - for even in that dark hour His communion was perfect - but here, as Man, He lays the incomparable exercises of His heart before God, mentioning something which He would desire if only compatible with the divine will. Spreading out the agony of His soul in prayer, He exclaims, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matt.26:39). Here is perfection - alike in His communion as a Man with the Father about the appalling prospect before Him, and also, notwithstanding the prospect, in the absolute surrender of Himself to the Father's will, the Father's purpose. Yea, we need more frankness and confidence in our communion with God. "Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us" (Ps.62:8).

Agreement of Two or Three

"Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt.18:19,20). The promise in this verse is peculiar; it is to united prayer. The essence of this promise lies in the assured presence of the Lord Himself with only two gathered in His name. The agreement in prayer of such a gathering is promised to be acceded to by the Father. But we have already looked at this in previous pages. The promises in John 14 and 16 are to prayers in Christ's name, and may be realized by the individual in his closet. The promise here, however, is to the concurrence in prayer of even only two "gathered together in His name."

Elijah's Prayer

Prayer in James presents most interesting features. First, there is the encouragement to prayer which the Holy Spirit addresses to our hearts by reminding us that Elias who wrought so wondrously was a man of like passions to ourselves (ch.5:17,18); as if to say, "There is an example for you; see what is open to you!" Secondly, James, by the Holy Spirit, makes a positive revelation of facts in Elijah's history, which otherwise we should not have known. The Historical Books give us the outward acts of Elijah; James reveals the process which brought them about. Elijah's first introduction to us is in 1 Kings 17:1, where the great drama of his exploits is opened with the simple statement that he "said unto Ahab," "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." This is the first mention of Elijah. Nothing is said of him but that he was a Tishbite of Gilead. Who he was; how it happened that this person with no official authority - no locus standi - should thrust himself into the presence of the king, and make such a dread announcement, the history does not say. But there is a great underlying principle. It is that when the official representation of God is false, God's Spirit will raise up a witness from outside. It is ever so. "When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him" (Isa.59:19). And there is nothing in which God's sovereignty is more displayed than in the instruments He chooses. When the civil rule is apostate, and eight hundred false prophets are loud in the land, He will act by whom He will. Now James reveals the secret of Elijah's surprising action. That secret was communion with God. "Elias was a man of like passions to us, and he prayed with prayer that it should not rain; and it did not rain upon the earth three years and six months; and again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth caused its fruit to spring forth" (James 5:17,18).

Thus the Old Testament gives us the magnificent public action; James, the prayer on which it was based. This secret dealing of God with His servants is His constant way. David slays the lion and the bear, making experience of the power of God where no one sees him, ere he wields the weapon of faith before the armies of Israel. Moses, a learned man, has with "all that weight of learning," to pass forty years keeping a flock in the desert, before he is used to face Pharaoh and deliver Israel. And Elijah's proceedings, which read like the intrepid actings of a hero, are shown to be the product of prayer; and when afterwards his communion falls in its level, he is discovered as a man of like passions with ourselves, for the prophet who could boldly confront the majesty of the king flees for his life at the threat of the king's wife. This shows that it is only as sustained by God that we can act for Him. "Without me, you can do nothing."

Thirdly. The example of Elijah is given by James as both illustration and proof of a general principle, namely, that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (ch.5:16 AV). But this translation is admitted to be unsatisfactory. That a prayer which is "effectual" avails much is a truism. If it is effectual it avails completely, and it is anti - climax to say that it avails much when it is already admitted to avail perfectly. Mr Darby's translation gives, "The fervent (or, operative) supplication of a righteous man has much power," which is closer to the original than either the Authorized or the Revised Version. Probably the essential points of the Scripture are: (a) That the supplicant is a righteous man; (b) that his prayer is energetic; not a listless, pathetic, indolent performance, but the prayer of one who means it - as Paul on one occasion speaks of himself as "night and day, praying exceedingly," etc. (1 Thess.3:10); or as Jacob on another occasion, "I will not let You go unless You bless me." (c) That prayer of this character has indeed much power. This is the moral which the apostle James enforces.

Healing the Sick

Fourthly. Prayer in connection with sickness. A system has arisen and been much noised about, which takes the name of "Faith - healing." This, while ostensibly based upon James five, is little short of a pretense to miraculous powers. The published writings on the subject include gross false doctrine, which will not here be examined.

But a brief indication of the real bearings of the Scripture in question may perhaps be profitable. The passage is as follows: "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (v.14 - 16).

Now in these verses we have at the outset a defining note which restrains the application of the passage beyond a certain limit. The application is expressly to the sick "among you" that is, the assembly of God's people. This Scripture therefore affords no warrant for a popular system of semi - miraculous cures administrated to all and sundry. Sickness amongst God's people stands on special ground. It is sometimes on account of sin, as we have seen; and this passage in James recognizes that the sickness about which the elders were sent for might be such, for it says, "If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Not that this would be always so; but if so, his sins should be forgiven him.

Again, so far from a public proclaimed system of healing, this was essentially private. The sick one was to send for the elders of the church, and they were to pray over him.

Further, it might, or might not, be that the patient would himself have faith to be healed. The faith - healers imperatively require such faith; Scripture does not. The prayer spoken of in James is the prayer of the elders, and in reference to this it is said, "The prayer of faith shall save the sick." It may be easily supposed that the sick one would himself Join in the prayer, and that, with more or less assurance of faith - but it was the " prayer of faith " that carried efficacy.

Finally, nothing could be more outside the scope of the passage in James than the popular notion of faith - healing. The case contemplated in James is clearly one of a very serious nature, where death is imminent; and so also in 1 John 5. The idea of the Scripture being used as a substitute for medicines which God has provided in nature is not only unwarranted, but is contrary to the scriptural and apostolic principle of using remedies for ailments (see both 2 Kings 20:7, and 1 Tim.5:23). It is theological quackery.

Thinking Things Through

Read : Matthew 18:19,20; 21:22. John 15:7. 1 John 3:21,22; 5:14,15. James 5:14 - 18. John 14:13,14.

•  In considering the above promises to prayer, discuss at least three of them and the condition attached to each.

•  Contrast a person abiding in Christ and surrendered to Him with a carnal Christian. Why is it so difficult for the latter to lay hold of God's promises by faith?

•  What is involved in asking according to God's will as stated in 1 John 5:14,15?

•  What are some of the lessons we learn about prayer from Elijah in James 5:16 - 18?

•  What promise about prayer means the most to you personally. Why?


Chapter 9

Prayer in the Name of Christ

"And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full . In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God" (John 16:23 - 27). Has the reader ever noticed how a letter - knowledge of Scripture may sometimes hinder its spiritual apprehension? Perhaps it is thus with the expression, "in my name," so familiar as a phrase, yet its power so slightly understood. The fact is that prayer in the name of the Lord Jesus is one of the special distinctions of the present day of grace. The Lord indicates this by the statement, " Until now you have asked nothing in My name," and thus marks off our position in prayer from that of God's people in the past. Whether Abraham in Genesis 18, or Solomon at the dedication of the temple, Daniel in Babylon, or Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:15), each addressed God suitably according to the character, or the relationship, in which He was known. But the revelation of the divine nature was then only partial. Jesus, however, revealed the Father - yet, until the coming of the Holy Ghost, the disciples' comprehension of that revelation, as of much that He taught, was obscure. In the 16th chapter of John, however, the Lord is about to go away. He had already taught them to pray to God as their Father, but naming Him only by description, as "Our Father who art in heaven"; now, he announces a new thing, based on His ascension. They would approach the Father in His name, that is, not now one distantly described as "in heaven" (for He had not as yet shown them plainly of the Father, John 16:25), but One fully known as The Father: even as John states, I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father" (1 John 2:13).

Praying in His name involves these points:

(1) Our title of access to the Father Himself. (2) That so approaching the Father we come in all the potency, all the value, of the name of the Lord Jesus. (3) That the Holy Spirit has come, and gives us, not only consciousness of our position as sons with the Father (Gal.4:6), but spiritual capacity to use this new privilege - we have access through Christ, by the Spirit to the Father (Eph.2:18).

This, it will be seen, is a deeper thing than the verbal tacking on the Lord's name as a form at the end of a prayer. Delightful, gracious way, in which the Lord puts it! "I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you." He, as it were, introduces us to the Father; and that in the tactful manner of one who would place us at ease in the atmosphere of the Father's love. Would that we realized more the immense power of our position with the Father, and the value of the name of Jesus in which to draw near! All this, it will be observed, depends upon the vast change implied in the words "because I go to the Father" (John 14:12). Man in His person would be entering into a position in which man had never been before; and He labours to convey to their minds what would be its significance for them.

The Negative Side

So far, as to the privilege and power of His name given to us for our prayers. This is the positive side; but there is also a negative. There is what His name excludes, as well as what it includes. "Whatsoever" is the promise, but that is defined and limited by "in my name." As another has said: "Whatsoever!" Were it alone, it would be boundless, and the Lord would thus have opened the door to all the desires of unbroken will among His people. But He adds, "in my name." This is His limit - the barrier he sets up." [6]

Having the Mind of the Spirit

Now, according to Scripture, what governs the granting of requests under the promise we are discussing is not the subjects of the prayers, but their being in Christ's name, that is, truly in Christ's name. Thus a prayer about gospel - work (which certainly is Christ's "own interest") may be out of harmony with the mind of the Spirit, astray from the Spirit's guidance as to place, time, or other matters, and therefore not truly in Christ's name; while on the other hand, a prayer about family, or business, or other personal needs or circumstances, may be fully under the guidance of the Spirit, and truly presented in Christ's name to the Father.

The real question then is not the subject of prayer, but having the mind of the Spirit about it: that is, whether what I ask about it is that which I can ask in Christ's name. The subject may be the smallest or the greatest, but if one is led by the Spirit to make the request in Christ's name, the prayer so presented will be honoured.

It may relate to any subject - illness, poverty, personal failure, business affairs, difficulties with unreasonable men, yea, everything that affects the pathway of the saint below, just as much as the state of assemblies, the gospel, or missions abroad - for the word is "in everything by prayer and supplication ... let your requests be made known to God" (Phil.4:6). What a deprivation would it be not to have the name of the Lord Jesus in which to go to God about all these things!

Now it is quite true that there is a class of prayer which is above the level of personal needs and circumstances. Examples of this are the magnificent prayer of the church in Acts 4:24 - 30; the two prayers of the apostle Paul in Ephesians (first, in ch.1:16 - 23, and secondly, in ch.3:14 - 21). The great requisite for prayer is to have the mind of the Spirit about the matter in hand, and this can only be acquired by being morally near to the Lord, abiding in Him experimentally. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). Hence the humility, the self - distrust, submissiveness to the divine will, in which spirit only can true prayer be made; but whatever the Father recognizes as in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will undoubtedly be granted. THERE IS, HOWEVER, NO OTHER NAME IN WHICH TO PRAY.

Thinking Things Through

Read : John 16:23 - 27. Galatians 4:6. Ephesians 2:18. John 14:12-14.

•  What are some ways in which praying in the Name of Christ differs from prayer in previous dispensations?

•  Does praying in His Name mean merely tacking His Name on at the end of our prayers? What more is involved in it?

•  Give some examples of prayers which would not be in Christ's Name.

•  How does praying in the Name of Christ relate to the Lordship of Christ in your individual life?


Chapter 10

Should Prayer Be Addressed to Christ?

Some may be surprised at any doubt on this point; for the instincts of the soul that has been born anew, lead it out frequently in prayer to the Lord Jesus, as well as to the Father. Still the question has been raised, and it may be useful therefore to refer to Scriptures which bear upon the subject.

John 16:23

That which has given rise to doubt is the following verse: "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you" (John 16:23). Taken as it stands, this would seem conclusive that prayer should not be addressed to the Lord. But the translation is misleading; for two words of differing force in the original are here rendered by the one word "ask." The word rendered "ask" in the first sentence of the verse is erotao; that in the latter sentence is aiteo. Thus, "And in that day you will ask (erotao) me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask (aiteo) the Father in My name He will give you."

The former word (erotao) originally only meant to enquire, and in classic Greek is used in that sense only; but in Hellenistic, or New Testament Greek, it has the same double meaning as our English word "ask," namely, both to enquire and to make request, as in the instances: He asked the way to Richmond: He asked water.

The second word, "aiteo," means only to ask for something. But, "erotao" having two meanings, the question arises, in which of those meanings is it to be taken, in the verse we are considering? and this seems to be indicated by the context, for the Lord had just been answering the enquiries of the disciples; as it says in the nineteenth verse, Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him." Here the word translated "ask" is "erotao." Then He answers their questions, and in verse 23 adds, "In that day ye will not question (erotao) me." And now, passing on to treat of prayer, He leaves the word of double meaning, and employs one which only means to make request (aiteo Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you (aiteo) the Father in my name he will give you." So that when the Lord said, "In that day you shall ask me nothing," He was not forbidding prayer to Himself, but informing them that in a day soon to come they would no longer be interrogating Him. He, indeed, would not be here to be enquired of; He would be at the Father's right hand, and the Holy Spirit would be here to guide them into all truth. This verse therefore may safely be said to give no countenance to the view that prayer may not be made to the Lord Jesus.

Examples of Praying to Christ

Not only, however, does this Scripture furnish no objection against prayer to the Lord, but we have elsewhere in Scripture the highest positive authority for it, namely, Stephen, and the apostle Paul.

"And they stoned Stephen, praying, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And kneeling down, he cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts  7:59 ,60).

And the apostle Paul tell us, "a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me" (2 Cor.12:7,8). Besides this there are prayers to which Paul gives utterance in the course of his epistles; and these are addressed both to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, "Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you: and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men" (1 Thess.3:11,12, RV). Again, "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father which loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and stablish you in every good word and work" (2 Thess.2:16,17, RV). Once again, "And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ" (2 Thess.15, RV).

To conclude, John  16:23 does not forbid prayer to Christ; and there is ample authority for it in the examples which Scripture records for our instruction.

Thinking Things Through

Read : John 16:23. Acts  7:59 ,60. 2 Corinthians 11:7,8. 1 Thessalonians 3:11,12. 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17.

•  How do we reconcile John 16:23 with the examples of prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus in other Scriptures mentioned above?

•  When should we address prayer to the Father and when to the Lord Jesus - or does Scripture give guidance as to this?

•  What do we learn from those Scriptures where prayer seems to be addressed jointly to the Father and to the Lord Jesus?

•  Make a list of the five most important things about prayer which you have learned from this study. Opposite each entry, write how you plan to apply this to your own life.

 

[1] See Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:29; 22:40,41.

[2] John 14:16; Eph.2:22; 1 Cor.6:19, 20; Eph.1:13,14.

[3] That is, speaking generally. There is a class of spiritual beings who, having sinned in a special manner of wickedness, are not at large, but are in confinement, reserved unto the judgment of the great day (Jude 6).

[4] Not that faith was always required in the subject of a miracle, far from it.

[5] J.N.D. Synopsis, Vol. V. on 1 John 5.

[6] From a tract entitled "In My Name," by PJL, Loizeaux Brothers, New York.