July 12, 2018
Every brother and sister knows that prayer is a way by which we communicate with God. Therefore, apart from in the morning and evening, we also pray before and after meals, at gatherings, on the Sabbath, and so on. However, how exactly should we pray so that our prayers can be accepted by God and conform to His will? Each brother and sister should know it. In fact, the Lord Jesus has already told us the answer to this question. Let us seek this aspect of the truth together.
1. Have a Heart of Humility, Stick to Our Position and Do Not Be self-righteous When Praying
Luke 18:9–14 says: “And he spoke this parable to certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.”
From the Lord Jesus’ parable, it is not difficult to see that the Lord liked the publican’s prayer but hated the Pharisee’s. Because the Pharisee’s prayer was playing the peacock and witnessing to himself. Looking down upon the publican, the Pharisee actually calculated his own merits before God, full of pretension and self-rightness. He did not know his status and position, had no attitude of godliness before God, and had already put himself on the position that was equal with God, so that God hated him. But the publican’s prayer was absolutely different: He knew he was a sinner with a lowly identity, so he could pray before God humbly, have an attitude of godliness, be truly regretful, and sincerely pray for God’s forgiveness, so that he got God’s mercy. Based on their different attitudes to God, the Lord Jesus said: “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.” If we want our prayers to be heard by God, we should avoid the Pharisee’s prayer, follow the example of the publican’s prayer, standing correctly in the position of a created being. In praying in God’s presence we should have an attitude of piety, treat God as God, frequently recognize ourselves and reflect on the evils we have done which do not please the Lord, and truly repent and confess before God; moreover, we absolutely do not be complacent or presumptuous. Only in this way can our prayers be accepted by God. Just as Jehovah God once said: “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. Now my eyes shall be open, and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place” (2 Chronicles 7:14–15).
2. Pray to God Truly and Honestly
The Lord Jesus once taught His disciples: “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly” (Matthew 6:5–6). From the Lord Jesus’ command to the disciples, we see that the Lord Jesus hated the hypocritical prayers of the Pharisees. They purposely made their faces look very sad, pretended to make long prayer, so that people could tell that they were fasting and praying. However, in such prayers, they didn’t have a genuine connection with God, but went through the formalities, in order that the Jewish people saw that they were most loyal to God, so that people admired and looked up to them. This kind of prayer was cheating God and couldn’t be accepted by the Lord.
God is the Creator. When we pray before Him, we creations should have a God-revering heart and use our sincere hearts to worship Him. If we, like the Pharisee, take several hours to pray every day but don’t open our hearts to God, just going through the formalities and adhering to religious ceremonies and rules, then such prayers are dealing with God perfunctorily, cheating God and are loathed by God. The Lord Jesus said: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Therefore, when we pray, we should have a God-revering heart, accept God’s observation, and say what is really within our hearts to God. Only thus can our prayers please God.
3. Pray for Carrying Out God’s Will
Matthew 6:9–13 says: “After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. … And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” God hopes that more people can accept His salvation and depart from the harm of Satan, so that His will can be done on earth and the kingdom of Christ can be established on earth. Therefore, we should pray, not for our own benefit, but for these things: God’s will may be carried out on earth; the kingdom of Christ may be realized on earth; God’s gospel may spread; we may spread the gospel and bear witness for God; we may become those who are after God’s heart as soon as possible…. All of these prayers are accepted by God. Just like the record in the Old Testament of the Bible says that King David set his heart on building the temple for Jehovah God, so that people could worship God in the temple. Thus he became the person that brought Jehovah God joy. Such a prayer was accepted by God. And after Solomon became a king, Jehovah God told Solomon in his dream that he could ask something, yet Solomon neither asked riches nor asked long life, but asked for himself understanding to discern judgment. As a result, God not only gave him wisdom, but also gave him that which he had not asked, both long life and riches. Today, if we love God in the heart, are mindful of God’s will, and pray that God’s kingdom may come and that God’s will may come true, then our prayers will be accepted by God.
4. Pray to God With Perseverance and Resolution, and Do Not Lose Heart
Luke 18:1–8 says: “And he spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?” From the Lord Jesus’ parable, we understand that we should not be too anxious for quick results whatever we pray to God for, because God is a practical God, who does not do supernatural things. He accomplishes people’s prayers according to His principle: sometimes He tests our faith and loyalty before Him; sometimes He purifies our inner contamination. Accordingly no matter what difficulty we face in our life or in our service, we should, like the widow who asked the judge to avenge her, have a heart of persevering, come to pray and seek before God frequently, wait for God’s will to reveal itself to us and not be disheartened. Just as when the Israelites suffered the Pharaoh’s oppression in Egypt, they ceaselessly prayed and called to God so that He could deliver them from tribulations. Although God didn’t answer them at once after their prayers, they were not disheartened, but had a trust in and dependence on God, and constantly prayed to God. Finally, God raised up Moses to guide them out of Egypt and go to the good land of Canaan. Facing matters, if we can constantly pray to God, and not be discouraged or passive, we will be enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, and see God’s almighty deeds.
If we can try to practice according to the above several ways of prayer every day, our prayers will be accepted by God.