A Word from the Pastor
Learning to Pray
Something wonderful is happening at Hopeful - God is teaching us to pray as Jesus taught the disciples when He was among them. We have bonded together as a congregation in a concentrated focus on prayer from a Bible perspective. We are beginning to realize that believers are unstoppable from their knees. We are learning that prayer is always to be God-centered and God exalting. We are greatly encouraged to recognize that God answers the prayer of repentant sinners and not “perfect people.” Our prayer life is expanding when we realize that our Father in heaven gives us what He knows is good for us.
When we are tempted to give up, wondering what is the use in praying, God shows that persistence in prayer will prevail when giving up won’t. Thomas Watson, a Puritan pastor from 350 years ago, asked in his book, Body of Divinity, "Why does God delay an answer to prayer?" In other words, why would God ever keep us asking and seeking and knocking when he could respond sooner? He gives four answers:
- Because he loves to hear the voice of prayer. "You let the musician play a great while before you throw him down money, because you love to hear this music."
- That he may humble us. We may too easily assume we merit some ready answer, or that he is at our beck and call like a butler, not as sovereign Lord and loving Father.
- Because he sees we are not yet fit or ready for the mercy we seek. It may be he has things to put in place—in us or in our church or in the world. There are a million pieces to the puzzle. Some things go first to make a place for the others.
- Finally, that the mercy we pray for may be the more prized, and may be sweeter when it comes.
Growing in commitment to prayer is clarifying our position before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We must keep this simple fact before us: God is Father and we are children. The Father always reserves the right to do what is best for the children even if they don't understand why it is best. If this were not so, then we would be saying that we should run the Father's house. We should be the Father and he should be the child. Which, in this case, would mean we should rule the universe and God should learn from us how to do it.
I remember a very nervous mother telling me as a child not to go in the water because I did not know how to swim. While I understood what she meant, I wondered how I was supposed to learn to swim without getting in the water. I learned that she meant I needed someone to teach me. So it is with prayer – we are forever praying students of prayer. While praying we are learning how God wants us to pray. While requesting of God, we are learning to pray for what He wants for us. While admitting our faults, we are learning what He means by confessing our sins. We are learning about biblical prayer in the midst of a prayerful examination of God’s Word.