Volume. XXIX, No. 40
Sunday, 05 April 2015


From the Pastors Heart: A Subsequent Thought About Prayer


In my previous article, I raised a few pertinent questions concerning our prayer life.  All of these questions are basically related to certain life experiences.  Many fervent prayers are the products of painful and even excruciating life experiences.  Not all prayers are answered in such a way that our immediate needs are all met.  Trials are still coming upon us, and tribulations are still ongoing problems.  One particular matter we considered was that prayer must be confessional because we pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  This confession is a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.  Also, it is confessional in terms of our values and priorities.  We confess that we are nothing but He is everything.  He is the vine and we are the branches.  We cannot do anything without Him.  We care for Him so much that we pray properly and honorably.  Thus, instead of putting our eyes on the things of the earth, we set our affection on the things above (Colossians 3:2).  It is possible that some people ask amiss in prayer and do not receive what they ask for from the Lord.  Even James raises a possibility that we may pray with consuming lusts.  See how serious James was when he warned wrongfully praying brethren in James 4:3-4, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”  Such a warning implies that it is possible for some of us to pray with a totally unacceptable attitude and spirit.  Our prayers may be fervent and even dead serious.  Our prayers may be persistent and even demonstrate patience.  It may be quite a shock to us to know that some people pray with a lustful heart attitude.  Of course, not yet-answered prayers can be signs of our inner sinfulness.  Sometimes, God wants us to be patient and to persevere for His divine purposes.  Despite all such considerations, when we face harsh circumstances in life, we are often disappointed with unanswered prayers.  Some of us feel like giving up in prayer.  If we do not get answers, then why should we pray?  What is the meaning of prayer for such times?  Such questions are not light but weighty.  How should we look at such questions and such prayers? 

 

Before I give you my thoughts on this matter, I would like to encourage all of you to consider the following statement: “Our trust in God is not based on our circumstances but on the character of God.”  We believe in God, not according to our circumstances but according to His attributes.  This is a fundamental proposition of our faith and religion.  Based on this proposition, Paul was able to exclaim in Romans 8:31b, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  He confessed in 8:37b, “. . . in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  His powerful conclusion in verses 38-39 should move all of our hearts: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  With confidence and confession that we trust in God’s character, we will look into prayers a bit more. 

 

My concluding thoughts on prayer, are that prayer must be according to the will of God, not our will.  When this conclusion is reversed, we get in a panic, because our will is not granted, although we have prayed very hard, for so long.  Frustration comes when we realize that God somehow does not show any favor toward us, though we have put so much effort into our prayers.  Thus, some of us say, “enough is enough.  I am tired of praying to God.  Prayer does not work.  Why should I pray anymore?”  They quit praying.  They have prayed hard concerning  all the things they have needed.  They have prayed with their expectations, but they have not met with satisfaction.  Dear friends, when will you learn and realize that your prayer life and mine is a means that God uses to help us be conformed to His own image?  When shall we learn that our prayer life will make us become more Christlike?  Prayer is not just a means of receiving something that we desire to have or to do.  It is God’s instrument to mould our character to be more like Him, holy and pure.  Remember that even our Lord Jesus prayed in His last moment, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42b).  We must examine our thoughts, lives, and characters now.  When was the last time our prayers changed us?  When was the last time we surrendered to the will of God through our prayer life?  Or, are we complaining to God that things are not changed as we wish?  When shall we confess that we have failed God and our loved ones because we have failed in our prayer life? 

 

The Lord’s prayer teaches us that prayer is to find God’s will and to cause us to surrender to His will.  Having called on the name of God as our Father which art in heaven, the first prayer is, “hallowed be thy name.”  It is a prayer that the name of the Lord should be glorified.  It is because His name is holy and pure.  His name is separated from all profane things.  Literally, it is our first prayer that acknowledges the name of God to be revered by all creation.  Do we pray that His name will be glorified and sanctified in all things, including our hearts and prayers?  It implies that any prayer with a disobedient spirit and sinful heart is not a prayer acceptable to God.  It is God’s will to hallow His name.  The second petition in the Lord’s prayer is, “Thy kingdom come.”  Oh my friend, our prayer is to see the kingdom of God, not our kingdom, established on earth.  It is a prayer for the rule of God to be upon all of us and the whole world.  Our prayer is not for our rule over all things.  We pray for His dominion not our dominion.  Again, this prayer teaches us to promote the will of God.  Then, the Lord continues to teach us to pray: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”  At this point, we need to pause a bit,  take a deep breath and  ask ourselves a question: “When was the last time we prayed to God that His will be done in our lives, not our will; not only in heaven but also on earth?”  The will or purpose of God is the highest priority in  prayer.  If we insist on our will in prayer and ask the Lord to permit our will to be accomplished, then we lose the true meaning of prayer.  I wonder how often we experience our will being changed to imitate the will of God?  Does prayer change us?  Or, do we pray to change God and other people?  Do we change our will as a result of prayer, or do we demand God to change our circumstances?  Have we prayed a prayer as the Lord has taught us, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven?”  The next petition is about daily bread: “Give us this day our daily bread.”  This prayer means that we need to pray for our necessities.  Daily bread does not mean food only.  It includes “desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4).  It also talks about any want in our lives (Psalm 23:1).  Psalm 37:4 says, Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”  Before we can expect our desires to be granted, we are expected to delight ourselves in the LORD.  We cannot but relate them to the will of God.  How can we delight ourselves in the LORD, unless we are in His will?  It is interesting to know that Jesus said that His food was to do the will of Him that sent Him (John 4:34).  To pray for daily bread is almost the same as “may Your will be done in my life.”  The next prayer is for forgiveness of our sins, and  deliverance  from temptations.  Both are also related to the will of God to be done in our lives.  The last prayer is, “For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen.”  All of them are also related to His will.

 

A lesson we must learn from the Lord’s prayer is that it encourages, challenges, and urges us to do the will of God and to be changed into His image.  Are you complaining to God that He does not answer your prayers by changing others and circumstances?  Well, God wants us/you to be changed according to His will.  Prayer must change us before others.  When I see changes in you and me, I shall know that we have become prayer warriors.  May the Lord enlighten us to be people of true and genuine prayer! 

 

Lovingly,

Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster (Campsite): Refer to Camp booklet.

*Wishing all worshippers a Blessed Resurrection Day!

*Warm welcome to Dr Tedd & Mrs Margy Tripp as our Camp Speakers.

*No fellowship lunch after Worship Service at The Stone Mansion today.

*Extraordinary Congregation Meeting on issues relating to the sale of The Stone Mansion will be held next Lord’s Day. Members are expected to attend.

*No BBK & Adult Sunday School Class today & next Lord’s Day.

*Adult RPGs (English & Mandarin) for Apr-Jun quarter available. Please help yourself to a copy. Donation: $1.

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Church activities,  in the past week.

3. Visitors & new worshippers.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

5. Good attendance at Campsite & Spirit-filled messages.

6. Successful surgery: Sis Janet Jara (Chile).

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

2. Special Prayer: Rev Edward Paauwe; Mrs Janet Jara (post-surgery, Chile); Bro Tien Lee’s father (Penang); Bro XiHeng Wu (Jinan, China); Sisters Yashu Qin’s father (Wuhan) & Nita Yung.

3. iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.

4. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & ministry; & Bro Sun Sokha (Phnom Penh)

5. New Life BPC (London) - Encouragement for congregation. God’s guidance & provision of a pastor.

6. Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.

7. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.

8. Journey mercies: Please refer to hard copy of Lively Hope.

9. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Josephine Wong &  Emily Zheng.

10. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.

12. Persecuted believers in Islamic & communist countries. This week: Saudi Arabia, Malaysia & Laos.

13. Easter Family Bible Camp: Speakers - Dr Tedd & Mrs Margy Tripp, camp organizers, helpers & participants.

14. Comfort to those who lost loved ones in the plane crash in the French Alps last week.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063