PRAYER MUST COMPLY WITH THE WILL OF GOD
Jesus held that we must always pray and never give up. Sooner than later, our heavenly Father will do what is best and what is right for us (Lk. 18:1). He, Himself, prayed after His baptism (Lk. 3:21), often alone before an important decision (Mk. 3:35; 6:46), and before He was betrayed (Mk. 14:32-38). Jesus preferred the “closed to public prayer” (Mt. 6:6), and He was against long prayers with unnecessary words (Mt. 6:5). He believed that prayer was a deterrent for temptations (Lk. 22:40, 46), and that prayer could alter conditions like persecution or tribulation (Mt. 24:20). And Jesus practiced and taught intercessory prayer (Lk. 6:28; 22:32; Jn. 14:16; 16:26; 17:15-20).
Prayer has many facets and can be expressed in many different ways by different people. With one hundred people in a room, there may be one hundred different needs and ways to express those needs. And when we pray, we are not always certain, that what we ask for may be to our benefit. Our will does not always coincide with the One, who is to answer our prayers. In many ways, we are like infants picking the toys, which are the least useful to us. For this reason alone, our prayers should begin with, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God knows best and we must trust Him with the rest. This was consistent with the way Jesus prayed. He complied with the will of his Father in heaven. Prayer cannot be answered or completed unless God’s will is done on earth (Mt. 6:10).
How does one determine what the will of God is? Is God’s will always the best for us? The truth of the matter is that God has no need, other than be honored by those, who are created in his image. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus laid down for them some basic guidelines, in what has become known as the “Lord’s Prayer.” The first principle is that God is our Father. Our origin is with Him. He called us into being before our biological parents conceived us. We were in His mind before the foundations of the world came into existence. We are His children and He expects us to address Him as, “Our Father.” He expects us to honor Him and to feel free to come to Him with all our needs. He will sort them out, and give us what is best for us. If our earthly fathers know how to give good things to us, how much more will our heavenly Father do for us (Mt. 7:11). All our prayers, in public or in secret, must be made to the Father. In fact, He knows what we need before we do (Mt. 6:8). And He will answer, in such a way, that it will not put another child at a disadvantage. He will, for instance, “forgive the way we forgive those that have transgressed against us” (Mt. 6:14). He absolutely does no favors to one group over against another. God, the Father, cannot intervene in behalf of one team over another; unless, there is injustice being committed. And then, it must be sorted out by a human legal system, and if that fails, final judgment shall fall on the guilty. In this world, we are all on our own. We win or lose on the mere basis of our strategy and ability to execute. The Hebrew-Christian God does not take sides in our silly games, prove absolutely prove nothing. These ideas, which have crept into our faith, come from the Greek pagan world.
The second rule is that, “Our Father is in heaven.” And He is not sitting at a computer, or switchboard, and directs traffic of his little human robots. All these tiny robots have free wills and can make their own decisions. God will not stop them, if they take the wrong way. They must come to realize, by themselves, or through others, that they must change directions. The only time God has stepped in was when His children did what was right and their best was not good enough to succeed. That was why He delivered Israel from Egypt. He sent His Son, Jesus, to deal with human sin. History is filled with instances, when a divine hand stopped evil from doing its worst. The latest in our day was the war with Iraq. A shift of the wind deterred the enemy from releasing their poisoned gas and a heavy rain uncovered their mines. As a result of this unexplained intervention, few lives were lost. Unfortunately, the credit went to the forces of USA and associates. This writer personally knows, that God sent a stranger to save him from drowning, two strangers from being devoured by fire, and a physician for some unexplained reason ordered a second blood test and his cancer was detected. God is our Father and He is in heaven. Nevertheless, His eye is not only on the sparrow; but it is far more so on us, who are of greater value than sparrows. He counts every hair, which they lose in their earthly struggle (Lk. 21:18). And He can be reached any time, via a prayer line.
The third fact is that, “the Father in heaven is holy.” That means God is pure, clean and untouched by human mistakes or sin. This holiness or perfection is not something that is entirely removed from human beings. Men and women can attain it. At the same time, humans cannot take their frailties up to heaven. Holiness can come down; but, sin cannot go up. It is in prayer, where we begin to make that transition or choice to become holy or perfect. It is all within our attitude. We can come before God to justify ourselves and be rejected, or we can humble ourselves in remorse, and we can be received. That was the difference between the attitude of the Pharisee and the publican or sinner (Lk. 18:13). The Lord was not interested in his enumeration of his deeds; but in a sinner’s recognition, and cry for mercy. A person, who experiences a sense of perfection, is one, who prays for those that intend to harm him (Mt. 5:48). It is very much like Christ, who forgave those that crucified Him. He did not allow human hatred or revenge to get between Him and his enemies. And that kept the path of prayer, to His Father in heaven holy, and open. As long as there is animosity and suspicion between us, we cannot expect our heavenly Father to accept one of us, and reject the other one. We are both his children and He cannot and will not take sides. It is only after we are reconciled to each other, that He accepts us, and our gifts (Mt. 5:24).
The fourth reason is, “To hallow His name.” What then is God’s name? Moses posed that question and he was told, “I am that I am” (Ex. 3:14). In spite of all our human attempts, there is no term that can name God. But there is another name that has been given under heaven, namely; the name, “Jesus” (Ac. 4:12). He is, “Emmanuel or God with us” (Mt. 1:23) and He came in the name of the Father (Jn. 5:43). When Jesus asked the Father to glorify His name, the voice from heaven singled out Jesus as the, “Beloved Son of God” (Jn. 12:28; Mt. 3:5; 17:5). He that honors the Son honors the Father and vice versa (Jn. 5:23). Those, who serve the Son, also shall be honored by the Father (Jn. 12:26). All requests, service and work that want to reach the Father must go through the Son (Mt. 9:39; Jn. 14:13-14; 15:16-18; 16:23-26). In his name, children must be received (Mt. 9:37) and adults must believe (Jn. 3:18). The Good News to the world must go forth in, “His name” (Lk. 24:47). “His name” is the only one that offers life to the believer (Jn. 20:31). Even, the Holy Spirit shall be sent in “His name” (Jn. 14:26). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father but through Him (Jn. 14:6). Jesus also prayed that “His name” would be manifested in his followers, past, present and future (Jn. 17:11-26). No one has articulated this more accurately than Paul the Apostle in Philippians 2:9-11.
“Therefore, God has exalted him and given him a name that is over every name, in order that every knee in heaven or on earth shall bow at the name of Jesus, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” God did not want man to know “His name,” but God does want us to know His Son’s Name, “Jesus.”