God has given us the key to unlocking his great power in the world around us - prayer.
But we often fail to use it because we are discouraged - or we don’t believe it really matters.
The great Christian author, Andrew Murray, says that’s a shame - and a sin. It’s a sin because we are to obey God and prayer is a Biblical command. Prayer demonstrates our dependence on God and establishes intimate relations with him.
So, what does Murray recommend to help us use this gift - this key that God has given us? Cry: “Help!”
In his book The Ministry of Intercession, Murray says we first need to confess our own impotence. We can be sure that the Lord will help us.
Then, we must throw ourselves on the Lord, realizing the Christ lives within us and is our sole source of strength. As Jesus told us, we can do nothing of eternal value by ourselves.
“This dependence upon God secures our true independence,” says Murray. We are freed from self and yielded to the Lord of the universe who governs everything.
Many of us - myself included - are afraid to let God have full control of our lives, fearing we will have to give up too much that we treasure. But vital prayer for others - intercession - depends on allowing God to lead and us to follow.
The next step is to rely on the Holy Spirit to move within us (Romans 8:26). The Spirit is already praying for us when we don’t know how to pray.
Murray goes on to Jesus’ amazing words in Mark 11:24: “Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”
The author says there are several important elements in these words:
- Desire: The word for “ask” in this verse is translated “desire” in the King James version of the Bible. As we are yielded to God, the Spirit plants his desire in our hearts. Murray calls this the “soul of prayer” - without it, our prayers are feeble;
- Pray: Our desires must be expressed in concrete words and thoughts - not just general wishes. We count on God to give us the grace of prayer as we express our desires in words;
- Believe: Jesus asks us to have faith that God will answer our prayers. This may be just a pinch of faith - at the very least, we must be willing to trust the Lord to do what he has promised to do; and
- Receive: “Faith has to accept the answer, as given by God in heaven, before it is found or felt upon earth,” writes Murray. He acknowledges this causes problems for many believers, but he suggests spiritual answers to prayer can only be accepted on a spiritual level before they are visible. If we have prayed according to God’s will, we must praise the Lord for whatever the answer is that he gives us - even if the answer is a long time coming.
Initially, we may not feel differently as we pray like this, Murray says.
But, “in due time, we will become conscious of his presence and power”.