The Word of Jesus on Prayer

They ought always to pray.

— St. Mark. 18:1

The skeptic may scoff, “We know that the wind blows: why should we not know that God answers prayer?” I reply, What if God does not care to have you know it at second hand? What if there would be no good in that? The sole assurance worth a man’s having, even if the most incontestable evidence were open to him from a thousand other quarters, is that to be gained only from personal experience—that assurance in himself which he can least readily receive from another, and which is least capable of being transmuted into evidence for another. The evidence of Jesus Christ could not take the place of that. A truth is of enormous import in relation to the heart, and conscience, and will; it is of little consequence merely as a fact having relation to the understanding. God may hear all prayers that ever were offered to him, and a man may believe that he does, nor be one whit the better for it, so long as God has no prayers of his to hear, he no answers to receive from God. Reader, if you are in any trouble, try whether God will not help you; and if you are in no need, why should you ask questions about prayer? True, he knows little of himself who does not know that he is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; but until he begins at least to suspect a need, how can he pray? And for one who does not want to pray, I would not lift a straw to defeat such a one in the argument whether God hears or does not hear prayer: for me, let him think what he will—it matters nothing in heaven or earth; whether in hell I do not know.

Commentary

by Leah Bond

They ought always to pray.

I aught always to pray.

The sole purpose of God for us, is for us to know Him. Not the idea or fact of Him, but to turn and look to Him, face to face, and to return to being his children, whose face so resembles His.  “For God and those who seek His help are closer than two hands clasped hard in love.”  There is no second-hand knowledge or evidence for our own self reaching out into the space before us, which is mercifully left open wide to be filled with Faith, and His touch embracing our own small being in His.

Facts, knowledge, intellectual assent to the evidence and information of a fact, however true of reality, do not effect in our hearts the reality that will save us. It is in the space between our face, our open eyes, and His, and our “hands clasped hard in in love.”

“Until he begins at least to suspect a need, how can he pray?”

God works for the greater purpose of Spiritual Life, breathed into us by the Holy Spirit, which carries us, but until we know we are spiritually dead and see that we mistake the physical world for a spiritual banquet, we will never know how thirsty our soul is to be hand-in-hand with the One who made us in His image and loves us.  We will never know what we truly long to be in him if we do not spend time studying the face of Him.

Suffering, brokenness and humility, powerlessness, these may uncover the depths of our being, not to punish us, but to open our deepest essential being to complete and total trust and intimacy with God.

God did not spare his own self, His being, from suffering, brokenness and humility.  He had perfect knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of Love and Truth.  He entered the kingdom of man, and was a subject to it for a time. We can at least, know, that in this Divine author of life, is one who we can share in our need.

Prayer is this, turning our self to His, our eyes open to his, our hands clasped. The element of Abandon takes us to him, to turn to Him and see him face to face. We cannot demand to see the path before we take the first step. There is no proof but to take the step and know.