There is also a poem which I believe describes the true essence of prayer.
Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye,
When none but God is near.
Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is something deeper than words that is already present in our heart before ever being formed into words, and it abides long after words have faded away.
Letting Jesus Come into Our Need
Prayer simply means letting Jesus come into our needs. This means submitting to Jesus to use His power to alleviate our distress. As He does, He will glorify His name. And, for Jesus to glorify His name is to glorify the Father.
The results of prayer are not dependent upon the power of the one who prays, nor fervent emotions, nor eloquent vocabulary. In fact, the one praying does not necessarilyr need to have a clear comprehension of what he prays. None of these are reasons why prayer is answered.
Prayer is heard and answered when the one praying simply opens his heart to Jesus and gives Him access to his needs. This permits Jesus to exercise His power in dealing with these needs. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.” (Zech. 4:6) This is effectual prayer.
God has designed prayer in such a way that the youngest, willing Christian can make use of it. Many believe that effective prayer is dependent upon human strength, but this is not so. It is not by our human power but by our willingness to give Jesus full control of our life, then by faith asking Him to meet every need as He sees fit. Prayer is simply lifting our eyes to Jesus in faith. This is what the poem above is saying.
How It Works
We come with a heart attitude that is bent in faith toward God. This attitude, God immediately recognizes as prayer because it is the cry of our heart to His. Whether or not this prayer has taken the form of words is not nearly as important to God as our heart attitude. God looks upon the heart. If God has impressed us to pray and how to pray, our heart will desire to obey. On the other hand if, perhaps after eloquent “oratory”, the person praying still harbors guile in his heart, eloquent words have not profited.
TWO ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OF PRAYER
There are two essential ingredients absolutely necessary to the essence of effectual prayer:
1) admission of our own inability
2) faith in Christ’s ability
Rom. 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Humility and Helplessness
Instead of saying “our inability” we might say “our humility and helplessness.” Prayer and helplessness are inseparable. Only a Christian who feels helpless in his human ability can truly pray.
Helplessness Plus Faith
Prayer is the power of God through the believer; helplessness is one of the vehicles of this power. Helplessness plus faith places a call from the heart of man to the heart of God, a call to which God responds.
In fact, until we feel helpless, we cannot have faith. So long as we hold on to some confidence in our own ability, our faith will be hindered by pride.
Humility is the vehicle of faith. It says I am nothing and God is all. I am unable and God is absolutely able. Faith grows with humility. Pride and faith are incompatible. Faith must accompany helplessness.
It is our humility and helplessness which is instrumental in opening the door to Jesus and allowing Him to take over. We no longer cling to our natural human resources, but only to God’s almighty sufficiency. Our human resources are His to use and empower. He created them that He may inhabit and empower them.
Jesus said, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” (Jn. 15:5)
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