|Volume 22 Number 11 November 2020||
What is prayer and why should we do it? It is nothing less than breathing out the soul’s most innermost needs into the ear of our loving Heavenly Father. It is the language of our hearts, and it is not confined to mere words. To have the ear of Almighty God is not only a glorious privilege, but also a vital line of communication with our Creator.
When hearts are overburdened with care and the darkness of despair threatens to consume our very being, we must remember that He is there. A Christian needs prayer as much as he needs food and water to survive. Prayer can be offered anywhere, not just in one place – eyes open or closed, hands folded or not. The important factor is that we understand our supplications are going to the same God who delivered Daniel from the lion’s den and David from his foes. The great King of the Universe who heard the saints of old hears us, too. The knowledge of this should fill us with confidence and lift our spirits.
Prayer can be improved, and, like any skill, practice makes perfect. It must always be trustful and submissive, never arrogant and demanding. There are two occasions in the Holy Bible where we read of disciples asking their leaders how to pray. In Luke 11:1, we read, “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, taught, “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7).
Now, prayer was not intended to be repeated over and over. When a prayer is prayed, it is heard and answered. We may wonder if it is answered when we don’t get the answer we want, but God, as any loving parent has the right, knowing the outcome, sometimes says, “No” or “Wait awhile.” We must trust His decisions and take comfort in the sure knowledge that He sees what we do not.
It is interesting how in Scripture we are given encouragements to pray. For example: “Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, And thou shalt pay thy vows” (Job 22:27). “For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee” (Isaiah 30:19).
We find many prayers recorded in the Bible and shared with us for our learning. These are given for our encouragement and as patterns to follow. We need only note the examples of Abraham, his servant Eliezer, Gideon and King David through his many Psalms to see God’s faithful answering of heartfelt prayer. In Isaiah 40:31, the prophet wrote, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Prayer is the foundation on which our faith grows. It is powerful and ever needful in a world full of the darkest spiritual powers that seek to harm our souls. It is no wonder that Peter advised us to “cast all our cares upon him” (1 Peter 5:7). It is a guide and a framework that can be used to model our prayers, to make them as effective as we can.
Remember, God already knows our needs. He hears our innermost groans (Romans 8:26) and provides the comfort of that wonderful privilege of calling the Sovereign of all things, “Father.” Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” In the light of this by no means exhaustive study on the issue of prayer, why not lay your fears, tears and concerns at the feet of God on His throne? He loves us, and, in that knowledge, we may find the rest and peace that our Holy God wants to give us. This is why we pray.
To God Be the Glory!
Glorifying God is the supreme priority of mankind! It seems that the religious world misses this point. Although such things as preaching the Gospel, evangelizing and giving aid to the needy are important, none of this is our number one priority. Glorifying God is! It is possible to do those activities listed above without glorifying God (Philippians 1:15-16; Matthew 6:1-4). God created humanity to be His glory. God spoke through Isaiah, “Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7). Although this is a personification of Israel, the figurative language is effective because of what lies behind it literally — God made us to glorify Him! Without Jesus, it would be impossible for us to glorify God because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). What God did at Calvary makes possible the transformation of being a person of dishonor to God (because of sin) to being a person who is “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-14). “To God be the glory” must be our primary purpose in this life!
God and “Glory”
Various forms of the word “glory” or “glorify” occur hundreds of times in the Old and New testaments. Thus, the word “glory” must be defined according to the context. Generally, “glory” refers to brightness, radiance and splendor. Various objects are said to reflect a brightness of glory, such as angels (Luke 2:9), the sun and moon (1 Corinthians 15:41) and cherubim (Hebrews 9:5). “Glory” is also used to refer to the majesty and sublimity of God’s quality, evidenced by such expressions as “God of glory” (Acts 7:2, 55) and “Father of glory” (Ephesians 1:17). In fact, “glory” is a characteristic of the entire Godhead. Glory is associated with the Father (John 12:41; 17:5). Glory is associated also with the Son: at the announcement of His birth (Luke 2:8-11), through His miracles (John 2:11), through His life on this earth (John 1:14), by His visible radiance (Luke 9:32), in His present exaltation (1 Timothy 3:16) and in His Second Coming (Matthew 16:27). Glory is also associated with the Holy Spirit, too (1 Peter 4:14).
God Is to Be Glorified by Our Lives
It is impossible for us to glorify God without the blood of Christ applied to our lives (Romans 3:23; 6:16-18). As Christians, however, we must realize that glorifying God is not just a one-time act accomplished at conversion. Glorifying God is a lifelong occupation. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). God must be glorified in our bodies. Paul wrote, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). In order to glorify God in our bodies, we must “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry… in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them” (Colossians 3:5-7). We must use our “members,” or bodies, to glorify the Lord. Listen to Paul: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:12-13). We must conduct ourselves in such a way “that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:10-11).
Specific Means By Which God Is Glorified
First and foremost, we glorify God by doing His will. In doing this, we must do good works. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Obviously, these works must be visible in order for others to glorify the Father (1 Peter 2:12). These works are done by Christians who are not ashamed to do them in the name of Christ. Undercover Christians are incompatible with a beaming light or a “city that is set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14). In doing God’s will, we must also “bear fruit.” Jesus said, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8). Bearing fruit does not always mean making new converts. In the context of John 15, fruit includes a life of learning the words of Christ (John 15:7a), a life of prayer (John 15:7b), loving God and others (John 15:9-10; 12-13), obedience (John 15:10, 14) and joy in Christ (John 15:11).
Second, we glorify God by being united. Jesus prayed for all future disciples that “they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us… And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” (John 17:21-22). This unity can only be accomplished through mutual indwelling. Just as the Father and Son mutually indwell one another, the Christian and God must mutually indwell, which can only be accomplished through the Christian’s continued obedience to the Gospel (Romans 8:5-11). Obedience is the only true basis of the unity that glorifies God (1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:1-6).
Third, we glorify God by suffering for His sake. Peter wrote:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you… but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified… Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. (1 Peter 4:12-16)
Suffering persecution glorifies God because it imitates Christ (1 Peter 2:21-24).
In a limited sense, every faithful Christian presently shares in the glory of God (John 17:22; Romans 8:30). On the Last Day, however, God’s glory will be fully realized in eternal experience by all those who have lived their lives on earth to His glory (Romans 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Philippians 3:20-21). May God help each of us to glorify His name.