The Word of Jesus on Prayer

They ought always to pray.

— St. Mark. 18:1

Perhaps a man has once believed in God, and prayed to him in great trouble of heart and mind, and at last decides that God did not hear him, and has not prayed since. How, I ask, do you know that he did not hear you? “He did not give me what I asked, though my very soul depended on it.”  In your judgment. Perhaps he knew better. “I would have believed in him if he had heard me.” Till the next desire came which he would not grant, and then you would have turned your God away. A desirable believer you would have made! A worthy brother to him who thought nothing fit to give the Father less than his all! You would accept of him no decision against your desire! God has not to consider his children only at the moment of their prayer. If a man be not fit to be refused, if he be not ready to be treated with love’s severity, what he wishes may perhaps be given him in order that he may wish it had not been given him; but barely to give a man what he wants because he wants it, and without further purpose of his good, would be to let a poor ignorant child take his fate into his own hands. Yet is every prayer heard; and the real soul of the prayer may require, for its real answer, that it should not be granted in the form in which it was requested. God knows you better than you know yourself. You shall be satisfied, if you will but let him have his way with the creature he has made. That God should as a loving Father listen, hear, consider, and deal with the request after the perfect tenderness of his heart, is to me enough; it is little that I should go without what I pray for.

Commentary

You Shall Be Satisfied
“...they ought always to pray.” (Luke 18:1)

by Dave Roney

I have written the following knowing full well that it does little justice to prayer, especially that “fervent effectual” praying of a righteous man, which avails much.  Poor saints we, should our faithfulness to God in prayer be at all dependent upon what results we see, and evaluate from our low perspectives.  He may not give us what we want because “Perhaps He knew better!”  Let us not, then, be such as those who turn away from their Father, from speaking to Him, who lose hope, because He has chosen for our best to respond differently than we had supposed and desired.

That our Lord would even utter that men should pray, and that the children should always do so is as needful to us as it was to His men; that it was necessary He should say it is a benevolent shining forth of the love of God toward us, sent out from the Heart of our Father through His Son; “Here ye Him!” echos the Voice of Heaven.  For the Son speaks nothing of Himself; He is ever saying only what the Father says.  Poor children!  He must say it, and the reason is clearly shown to us in them.  For, when He was with them, they seem to have offered up no prayers of thanksgiving, and when He was seized by force they all scattered as sheep; in bounty they took Him for granted, in poverty they despaired; they did not pray as they ought.  They were very much the same as are we. 

Do you doubt it?  What does St. James say to us concerning prayer except his twofold admonishment: We have not because we fail to pray, and in praying we have not because our prayers are amiss!  He prefaces this claim by telling us that our “passions are at war” within us.”  It is these passions upon which we act, and react, without praying; it is also these same passions which drive our prayers when we do pray.  How shall our Father respond, for He hears our every prayer?  If we do not pray, He will bring to our lives those things which shall drive us to praying.  If we pray amiss, for those desires which are contrary to our good, as through passions, He may, often does, refuse our petition; yet He may also grant a man what he asks of Him, for “...with love's severity, what his wishes may perhaps be given him in order that he may wish it had not been given him.”

How shall we best pray?  Is it not by first the emptying of Self, our self-inflicted crucifixion of desires within us which we place before and above His desire and will for us, the surrender of all we are to all God is, along with willingness to love what he gives, knowing it the greatest Good for us even though for a season it may be dreadful?  And to pray, even as our great Brother has taught us, “Not my will but Your will be done!”  There is no prayer uttered by men which the Father does not hear and answer, for; “God should as a loving Father listen, hear, consider and deal with the request after the perfect tenderness of His heart.”  And if we stand in the place of Christ Jesus, we will know it is well with our souls, and say with utterly honest satisfaction that whatever our lot, it “is to me enough; it is little that I should go without what I pray for.”