Prayers: Casting our Burdens on God II
By: Deji Yesufu
A Brief Introduction to the Subject of Prayer
First, we must understand that we cannot pray beyond the theology we know. The more we know God, the more our prayers grow in depth. Theology is the discipline that studies God. To human beings, God can be virtually anything. This is why Christians take time to define who their God is based on what the Bible teaches. The God of scriptures is triune. The God Christians worship is one God that has come to us in three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit. A defective understanding of the Trinity leads ultimately to faulty praying. The God of the Bible is also sovereign. This means that God’s actions are not dependent on man; God is not reactionary, rather he is the cause of all things that happen on our earth. History is the outlining of what God has predestined to happen in the nations. God has determined all things from eternity past and whatever is playing out today is according to his will and good pleasure. The presence of sin and evil does not render the sovereignty of God defective; God is just and cannot commit evil. We see then that if we would begin to pray at all, we must begin with a solid understanding of who the God we are praying to is. A defective picture of the God we are praying to will lead automatically to defective praying.
A second thing we should keep in mind as we consider the whole subject of prayer is that the God whom we are praying to is the creator of the whole earth. Jesus speaks about God sending his rain on the good and the bad. It means that God has the good of all creation at heart. It also means that when created beings approach God in humility and through prayers, God, according to his will, grants their requests. This is where the universality of prayers comes into play. This is why people of differing religions, outside Christianity, seek God in prayers and find answers to their petitions. There is a mercy of God that he bestows on all of his creation, particularly man whom God has made in his own image. I believe God grants the petition of many who themselves are not Christians because he seeks to draw such people to himself in true devotion. And testimonies abound of how people of differing religions have sought God in prayers and after receiving answers to their petition, then turned to the true God as the one whom they would live all their lives in service to. One typical example is how Naaman, the leper, turned to worship the God of Israel after he had been healed of his ailment (2 Kings 5:15,17-18).
One final thought along the lines of what true prayer consist of will be this: God answers prayers according to his will. God is not a slot machine; there are no such things as saying or doing the the right things to instigate God to your side to answer your petitions. This is the reason why doctrine is so vital in the Christian life. If we understand who God is and what he wants, we can position ourselves carefully to ask certain petitions and we can be sure he would answer those prayers. It also means that there are many other petitions that are not worth asking God. For example, there is no point asking God to grant a petition which centers on sin; God is holy and he would not have anything to do with iniquity. Therefore it is tantamount to a waste of time to ask God to grant a sinful request.
Another thing along the line of God’s will is that an individual can so position himself in the will of God that all of his life is simply an outworking of answered prayers. This is what I mean: in the occult world, one of the things people seek the most is trying to know what tomorrow holds. It is this cultic dimension that plays itself out in people seeking prophecies from pastors and supposed prophets. They think that if they know what tomorrow holds, they can rightly position themselves in God’s will and then receive the various blessings God wishes to bestow on them. I have come to the realization that God does not wish for Christians to know tomorrow. Our business is not in seeking out prophecies and night dreams, and pursuing their realizations. One way to remain within God’s will and see his good pleasure manifest in our lives is to live in holiness. I might not know what tomorrow holds, but if I will walk in the will of God (holiness and obedience) I am walking ultimately in the path that God wants for me. This path may lead through hardship, tribulation and difficulties, but the mere fact that one is in God will provides a comfort through the difficult times. In such times also, prayer becomes a blessed time, because we can come to God in the purity of our hands and entrust our challenges to him. The greatest of blessing of a lifestyle like this is that the time of deliverance will come and we will realize that we can win with God. Such victories are often mind boggling and they further enforce our determination to walk the right path – the path of holiness. When we walk in purity of life, prayer is bliss to us and we can then see God working out issues of our lives practically. Prayers, in such times, will no longer be continual petition but a time of worship because we are continually seeing God working and we are just thanking him for his mercies. It is also important to note that there is no walking in the will of God that does not start from a converted a life. The prayer of the wicked is an abomination to God but the prayers of the righteous is his delight. A true walk in the will of God and in holiness begins with a devoted life to Jesus Christ.
Concluded in Part 3.
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