Things to Remember about Prayer - Lesson VII
Prayer in Harmony with the Father - John 11:41,42
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
Faith is the first gift, then knowledge, then wisdom. The heart is converted, and also the mind. Beginning with faith, the mind must grow in knowledge of God, His words, His ways, His wonders. This is in order to understand His grace, and grow in His knowledge and wisdom. These reveal His grace and mercy in providing a way of salvation for sinners, through the perfect life of righteousness and sacrificial death of His Son, given for us.
The question: why would our Sovereign Lord, Creator of the universe, grant us any power in such a simple thing as merely asking? How and why can prayer influence Him at all? The answer is found in the nature of the Trinity. The Father begat the beloved Son - equal and co-creator - a relationship of giving and receiving.
God purposed to have a relationship - that of giving. The Song had the right and position to ask and receive. The love of the Father was returned by the asking of the Son, and then by the gift of the Father the relationship was exercised.
Thus also prayer by believers was to be the result and reflection of this relationship offered to men. Jesus knew that the Father always heard Him, so does He give us the same assurance of the Father's always hearing the prayer of His children. It is in the relationship that the joy of the Father and the Son is most clearly seen, and understood.
Thus we see the nature of the being of God is one of giving, sharing, blessing. Thus His only-begotten Son, the creator and heir of all things, in Whom all things consist, Who holds the worlds together by the Word of His power. As Mediator, He calls for the petitions and intercedes for the needs of all those who come to the Father through Him.
It must be realized and accepted that through prayer God will do what otherwise would not have been done. How God came to be open to human influence is hidden in the mysteries of condescending grace and love given to us through the sacrifice of His Son. This love is communicated to us through the Holy Spirit, Who also communicates our prayer to the Father, through the Son.
"Through Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Teach us Holy Father the mysteries of why Thou has given us this unearned, and unearnable privilege. Through the Savior, Thy precious Son, Thou hast given us this blessing, to pray and be heard and to receive an answer, as certain as every Word and promise Thou hast already fulfilled, as certain as the righteousness of the life of Thy Son and the immeasurable value of His death on the cross.
We can thus be assured of the Father's love and concern for us, and His hearing and answering our prayers. God has foreseen and foreordained our prayers as forces in the course of events, however little we ever recognize this. In the eternal counsels of Divine will, we were given this role as we exercise our relationship of love and blessing with the Father through the Son. Amen.
Man was created in the image of God. As the fellowship that binds the Trinity together, we were created to partake in through prayer. The question is, what is man that God should so allow such a privilege to him? Sin has marred man, that we have no ability to discern the original purpose and method of communication God planned. Going back to the beginning, the Bible describes man's duties as God's representative to rule over the earth. God's will was to be maintained through communication and obedience of the man. The man was also given some freedom in the details.
Man's sin brought a destructive change called 'the curse'. God's plan of redemption brings a complete restoration. God chose Abraham to be the father of the nation that would prepare the way and be the people among whom the promised Savior would appear. We see prayer as a powerful part of the faithful ones of God, especially Abraham himself.
Man's ministry was part of God's original plan. The inner likeness unto God was created that man could communicate with God and rule the earth according to His will, to receive and give out God's blessings. Prayer remains the greatest proof that God created man for communication and fellowship with Him. Man is thereby responsible as God's representative to all of creation.
God's mercy, grace, and salvation have restored the original relationship. Christ has provided the way of reconciliation with God and all the rights that go along with that relationship. Thereby we have the right to ask what we will, in Christ's Name, and it shall be done unto us.
Our lives and work must be for the glory of the Father, the bearing of good fruit. His interests must be our interests. We thereby regain the dominion and use of divine power for that purpose. We are to act as citizens of His kingdom, and pray for its ultimate fulfillment. We must act by work, words, and prayer as God's representatives on Earth.
"What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" Sin has so blinded man that most people cannot recognize their own created image of God, the spiritual part of our nature. The mind has been in the darkness of sin and selfishness, and even evil. So few are converted to the truth of God through Christ, and so few of them come to realize the privilege and power they are also granted through Christ.
Through Christ, the way has been made for us to be God's children, with all the rights of asking and receiving that that relationship includes. This is especially true concerning prayer. The promises have been given for us to claim and exercise in the furtherance of the Gospel and up building of the Church, all to the eternal glory of God, both now and forever. To recognize must be to exercise, every single day!
This article was written by my father T.O.D. Johnston, who was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran Baptist Church on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. View more lessons at his Bible Study Lessons page.