That we should pray I have no doubt
But how is another matter,
Pray without ceasing is advised
But bear in mind there’s a lot of chatter.
Add to this the pronouncements we hear
Like such and such is a prayer warrior
And as if that were not enough
We also hear that he or she is an intercessor.
The more I learn this Christian walk
The more the questions arrive
Concerning the intricacies of prayer
And how it would help us to survive.
I have a theoretical savvy of prayer
It’s riveted in the Holy Word
But a myriad of thoughts also fills my mind
Of some of them I am sure you have heard.
Jesus prayed the Bible shows
And if he did how much more we
But he was always sure whenever he prayed
Concerning his destiny.
He left heaven with a clear blueprint
Regarding his purpose here on earth,
The Bible makes that clear, very clear to us
Even from the prophecy of his birth.
It is true as in one case we know
There appeared to be a battle of the wills
But his will was always in tune with God’s
As he submitted to his Father still.
But how do we reconcile that with us
Who clearly don’t know as much
But pretend to have it all worked out
And are experts in praying as such?
I must confess I am not thus endowed,
In such I am one of the least of the apostles
But however so I must appreciate
That I am still one of Jesus’ disciples.
Believe you me this means a lot
Especially when my way grows dark,
I know that he is always with me
Even when I can’t sense him in my heart.
I’ve often heard, “prayer changes things”
And that I did not really understand
For I believe very strongly in my heart
That God operates according to His plan.
The Bible shows us very clearly
That God has a general and universal plan
But often when we deal with specifics
We must consider the will of man.
That God is Sovereign is very clear
And He always has the final say
But men and women also make decisions
Which influence our lives each day.
How do we reconcile the two of these
Particularly when assessing the notion of prayer?
To me it is not as clear as some make out
And therein lie my doubts and fears.
That we should pray I have no doubt
But really, tell me, what really should we say
When God’s plan is all worked out
And He has already mapped out each day?
We know that God does not change His mind
So what is the use of praying?
Is it just so we can talk to Him?
Is there some way of knowing?
Is prayer the ritual that we recite?
Is it a body of words that we should learn?
Is it now I lay me down to sleep
Or something more elaborate and firm?
Are there special people designated to pray?
Are they gifted beyond most believers?
Do they have an inside track to the ear of God?
Are they automatic prayer receivers?
Sometimes I get the impression
That there are really such gifted persons
That can storm the portals of heaven
To receive the expected answers to our questions.
This is the stance that some assemblies take
As they pray to our Father above
That He will grant them whatever they ask
Since for them He has a special love.
Some hold that it depends on how we live
That determines if God will answer our prayer
And others posit it’s a matter of faith
And we don’t receive on account of our fears.
And I wonder as I reflect on all of this
What kind of person is the God to whom I pray?
Is it the intelligent way I phrase my words
That helps Him to understand what I say?
I kind of thought He knew everything
And as my Father He would treat me as His child
But when I hear what some preachers say
I could see why some would feel denied.
I want to think that prayer is a relationship
Between my Father and me
But all day long some drill in my ears
To be politically correct is what should be.
It’s almost like under the old covenant
When everything had to be precise,
In order to appease the God above
The high priest must present that sacrifice.
Today it would seem in some ways
That we have returned to a similar time
When church leaders and other believers
Are returning to that Old Testament design.
Call for the elders advised the apostle James
But we have determined who they are
And depending on our interpretation of the Word
Unless an elder prays we won’t get very far.
Yet we are bold to assuredly announce
That the Spirit indwells every believer
And that as long as that person is born again
He of the Spirit has been a receiver.
The Word of God makes it explicitly clear
That oft we know not how we should pray
But the Holy Spirit intercedes for us
And no doubt God will always hear.
For the Spirit knows the mind of God
And he has already searched our hearts,
He knows precisely what we need
And he knew this from the start.
So why should we petition God
When it is established that He knows our needs?
Why should we agonize and supplicate
When He’s our heavenly Father indeed?
Why is healing effected for one
And on the other hand is not for another?
Why does one believer breeze through life
And rough times always pursue his brother?
Why do some believers live a long time
And other believers live only a short while?
Why do some givers still struggle to pay their bills
While other believers enjoy a grand lifestyle?
These and more are the myriads of questions
We ask as we walk this Christian way,
No doubt the answers are in the Word of God
But are we prepared to do what He says?
Prayer for me is the heart’s sincere thoughts
That only the Spirit can interpret
We try as much as we possibly can
But do not always appreciate our limit.
So pray because God commands it
Make your requests known to God; you should
But know that the guarantee is in the peace He gives
He loves us as His children not because we are good.
We pray with intellects that are flawed
And from hearts full of selfish intent
And often approach God with an enormous list
Of requests we hope will be heaven-sent.
The persons for whom we ceaselessly pray
Mean an awful lot to us
But for those who don’t reckon much
Over them there needs be no fuss.
We pray for the success of God’s mission
And when there is a lack of souls
We beat ourselves over our heads
As though we can pray someone into the fold.
“God’s will be done,” believers often say
But this is rendered more like a cliché
For when things occur differently from expected
It is blamed on not having faith when we pray.
To me our prayer should be largely thanksgiving
For all God’s blessings and the fact we are living,
He responds to our needs even before we pray
And he does this repeatedly each and every day.
Adoration and praise should punctuate our prayers
For there is none to compare to our God,
Fretting and bickering should decrease as we grow
For in doing such we exalt Satan, the fraud.
Our petitioning should focus more on others
Mostly that they would come to know the way
And that our rulers would depend upon God
Who gives direction to order each day.
Our prayer should be a tuning into God
To understand His will and purpose for our life,
Meditating on His Word deep in our hearts
And be not participants in Satan’s strife.
Listening to God is the principal thing,
Far more important than our many words,
Waiting in silence as we contemplate His word
Even though to some that may appear absurd.
Lord help us to stop talking and listen a while
To what it is you are saying to us
So that we may be directed concerning how to pray
In the name of your Son and our Savior, Jesus.
Stewart Russell © May, 2017