My children are one of the great joys of my life. But God’s ultimate purpose for blessing parents with children was not first and foremost to heighten our joy. God created the bond, the relationship, and the love between parents and their children to model between His children and himself. I would, without hesitation or any regard to myself, give my life in an instant for any one of my four boys. When I set rules and boundaries for them to follow, even though they at times think Im spoiling their fun, Im truly attempting to protect them from harm. I see things and understand things that they do not.
One of these mirror images of God seen through our children struck me directly one night last week. Every night a little after dinner, we give the boys one last snack before bed. And so, as is the norm in our house, I fixed the boys a plate of cookies Lacy had baked and some milk. They devoured them in no time, and then went back to playing. Not long after, it was time to get them into bed. Andy who is six years at times will try his best to delay bedtime. Tonight was no different.
I had told the boys it was time to go brush their teeth and hop into bed. Andy came running up to me with a grin on his face. He gave me a big hug. Somehow, I could sense a string attached to his affectionate attitude. “Daddy, can I have more cookies and milk?” The boys had just finished a large plate of cookies not thirty minutes earlier. And it was bed time. I smiled back at him, kissed him, and told him, “No more cookies, its time for bed.”
Immediately, the smile left his face. He began pitch one of the biggest tantrums Ive seen in a while. It was apparent he wasnt hungry, because he began shouting through angry tears, “I dont want to go to bed!!” What happened to the big smile and huggy disposition he had less than a minute ago? Andy had come to me wanting me to do something for him. But when I refused, he grew angry and even distant to a point. He gave me the silent treatment for the rest of the night, which wasnt that long because he went straight to bed.
Andy didnt want the will of his daddy, he wanted his way or no way. We parents can look at our young children who act this way and chalk it up to immaturity. But honestly, aren’t we at times the exact same way with God? We claim to be Christ followers and may even love Jesus with all our hearts. But we must ask ourselves, are we really a people who truly want the will of God over anything else in life? Do we desire his name to be glorified daily? Are we driven by His perfect will being done? There is one way to reveal this. And that is to examine your prayer life. Is there any power in your prayer life?
I believe it was the great theologian George Muller who once commented to a friend about how much he had to get accomplished one day. Muller said on this particular day, he had so many things he had to do that there was almost not enough time in the day. Muller then made the comment, “There is no way Ill get all that I must do accomplished by days end unless I first spend about three hours in prayer.”
Think that through. He just said there were hardly enough hours in the day to get everything done. But he had confidence if he sought the Lord first, seeking him for THREE HOURS in prayer, that God would cover him. How much time do you spend in prayer daily?
If you find no power in prayer, ask yourself….why is that? Is it because God is not hearing you? Possibly.
John 9:31 31 says, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.”
Prov 15:29 29, ” The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.”
Isaiah 1:15 “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
The more I study God’s word, the more I am amazed how the world in general so easily distorts and confuses scripture. As I pointed out in the previous blog, God not only gives commands, but he repeats them over and over in the Bible. The first step to a healthy prayer life is clearly that fact that prayer and communication with Christ is reserved for His children. It is for those that he knows as his children and those that know Christ as Lord, God and Saviour of their lives. This is no power in the prayer of a non believer.
I once had a friend who was a professed atheist. She did not believe God existed. I was in shock the day she came to me and told me of her husbands health problems, and asked if I would keep him in my prayers. Ive heard of similar incidences where people who dont believe in Jesus have come to Christians in hard times and asked them to “pray to their God” on their behalf. There is something in all of us that recognizes truth, but because naturally we seek our fleshly desires and by human nature desire to be under no authority but our own, we suppress the truth of God for a lie that allows us to have our way.
In 1 Peter, we see the command given for husbands to love and care for their wives. But the final part of that verse is what grabs my attention.
“Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7.
Peter says husband should honor their wives and treat them with kindness, and adds, “so nothing will hinder your prayers.” Implying that if you are a tyrant over your wife and mistreat her, God will not hear your prayer. Because you are being disobedient. Because you are giving way to your sinful ways. Because you are ignoring his commands. The conclusion can be most definitely drawn, that if Jesus is not Lord of your life, and you are living contrary to His commands, then God will not hear your prayers.
But lets go back to the illustration I used with my son Andy and his tantrum. Andy is a good boy. Im not just saying that because Im his father. He really is a very good child. He is respectful, considerate, and I know genuinely loves me as his father. And I love him more than my own life. Yet he didnt get his request of another snack before bed granted. I heard his request. He did nothing wrong for me not to give him a snack. But it was not my will or my desire as his father for him to eat again at that moment. It was his bedtime….thus saith his daddy!
It broke my heart to see Andy throw a tantrum. I try to give him things to make him happy. But in this moment when he didnt get his way, I could see the human nature that is in all of us in my son. In a perfect world, it would have been so nice for Andy to acknowledge me as his father, and submit that he would very much like a snack, but only if it were for the greater good. And honestly, there have been times when Andy has asked me for something, but followed it up with, “But if you dont think I should have it daddy, then thats ok too.” Although at only six years old, those moments are few.
If you are a follower of Christ, how is your communication? How is your prayer life? Is there any power to it? And if there is power in your prayer life, how to you measure that? Is it on a scale of how many times you have gotten what you asked for? Or is it by the closeness of our Heavenly father that you feel as you draw near to him?
The reason our culture is so powerless in prayer is because we’ve paid little to no attention to how God taught us to pray.
“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13.
We could spend hours just digging into the meat and depth of the many things God shows us of prayer in this one verse. But key into one specific part. Notice where it says, “Your will be done.”
Paul Washer gave the perfect illustration. In speaking on the subject of prayer, Rev. Washer explained to a congregation that he had numerous broken bones and fractures over the course of his life. He told them of how his body now as a result has aches and pains all the time. It would be very easy and a common prayer of our culture for him to simply pray that God heal his body. To make the request so that his needs be fulfilled.
But then Rev. Washer gave an example of how he does indeed pray. This is what he said regarding the healing of his body in a prayer to God……..
“Father, please heal my broken, aching body. But only if by healing my body your great name would be glorified in some way. However, if greater glorification and honour will be displayed through crushing my body to dust, then so be it. Your Will Be Done!”
He gave another example of a man praying for the Lord to give him a new car. But only if it would fit somehow into God’s will for the Kingdom. If greater glory will come to God through not having a car, then the man said to the Lord, “Lord, let me walk everywhere.”
But you see, there is our problem. We at times can be just like Andy. We dont want any other outcome than what we are asking for to be given to us. And if God doesnt answer our prayer, then we grow angry or just think there is no point in praying to God. When my son Andy has those moments I mentioned where he will ask me for something, but cap his request off with telling me that even if I dont give him what he wants, he knows I will do what is best, I get misty eyed. Because thats my son! In that moment, even if for just a second, he gets it! He understands that I am not out to harm him or spoil his fun, but he understands that his daddy loves him! And he understands that regardless of if his selfish desires are not met, that I have a reason for not granting them that is good and right!
The point to praying is not so that you and I will get our needs met. Jesus is not a genie in a bottle. The purpose for prayer is the same purpose my little boy talking to me and asking of me, even if he knows the answer will be no! The purpose for prayer is to draw us into a relationship with our Heavenly Father! The purpose of prayer is to know Him! The purpose of prayer is to draw near to Him!
Have you realized that you have a Heavenly Father! The bible speaks of great and majestic creatures in Heaven that if they were to come upon this earth, they would probably be powerful enough to smash our planet to dust! But these same creatures described in the book of Revelation cannot even look upon splendor the Lord as they cry out,”Holy, Holy, Holy!” While we as his children can draw near to this same God, this Father, and curl up beside him on His throne!!
“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne..” Revelation 3:21.
If prayer has been a struggle for you, examine your prayer life biblically. Ask yourself…you may call yourself a christian, but are you truly a person who wants the will of God over your own desires? Is he really the most loved in your life? Would you let go of everything you want and be satisfied with nothing if you knew that through your circumstances, your Heavenly Father was being glorified? Do You Love God? He truly is either everything in your life, or he is nothing. Its all about Jesus, and in Him, we will find our true joy!