Prayer and Devotion
By Larry White
We pray little because we desire little from God. A full soul, full of the world and fat on the plenty and pride of this world, will not be a praying soul. He has need of nothing. The hungry soul longs for God, never resting, ardently searches for God. "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" (Psa.42:2) Our lack of praying shows our lack of desire. To see God, to know God, and to live for God, should be the all consuming thing in our hearts. Our lack of fervency, strength and courage, our weakness in prayer stems from our weakness of desire. And that soul who never seeks God's face, who has left‑off praying altogether, should fear, for he has left‑off and forgotten God.
Prayer must be fervent, i.e. intense concentration and seriousness. It's "the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man" that avails much. (Jam.5:16) Fervency is born in the heart that truly needs and desires what God can supply. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" and "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst". It's the soul that sees its true dependency on God, who feels keenly his weakness and poverty of soul who comes near to God. It was the Laodiceans who thought they were rich and increased with goods, who had need of nothing, who didn't realize that they were wretched and miserable, poor, blind and naked. When it recognizes its emptiness and miserableness without a close communion with God, that soul is the one that will seek God out and strive to come near, and won't rest until he rests secure in the warm and loving presence of the Father in prayer. Our highest good, our closest comfort, our fullest joy, and the sweet peace of the presence of God is ours in the intimate communion of our hearts with the heart of our heavenly father in prayer.
It was always Jesus' burning desire and need to be in constant prayer to his father. His desire and his devotion to God was so intense, he would go without sleep ‑ all night in prayer to God. He would begin the day in prayer. The ever abiding hunger and need of his soul was that close contact and communion that communication with his father.
To walk with God is the keeping of his word and walking in the light of his revealed truth. It is also a life of close communication, a living and ever active communion with him who is our life and love. As we strive to live and worship according to God's revealed word, maturing and becoming knowledgeable in the truth, let us not forget to become also close to God, "lifting up holy hands" and sincere hearts in blameless and pure devotion to our father which is in heaven.
But we must definitely begin. We must set our goal. The range of goals could extend from the penitent sinner's goal of simply drawing near to God (Jam.4:8‑10) clear to the lofty goal of walking closer to God and being more intimately in communion with him, than all that have gone before us ‑ walking with God as Enoch walked with God. But whatever our condition of heart or goal we set for our desires; know this, that like Daniel of old, from the first day that we set our hearts to understand, and to chasten ourselves before our God, our words will be heard. (Dan.10:12) Drawing closer to God in secret, he will reward us openly and abundantly.
And here we can again stress the need of faith. To the centurion who wanted his servant healed, Jesus said "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." (Mat.8:13) God may very well answer our prayers in the same way. So how important is our faith? There are depths in the Christian life that we haven't even begun to fathom, heights we haven't yet begun to scale. Paul prayed that God "would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph.3:16‑19) Is this desire of Paul's your desire too? Then let us study our Bibles diligently and fervently express our desires to God in faith. Our Lord can give us a very strong and rich understanding in his wisdom and knowledge. The spiritual understanding in his word cannot be tapped dry.
David prayed, "Let my cry come near before thee, O Lord: give me understanding according to thy word." (Psa.119:169) The prayer of spiritual understanding, the prayer of sincere love, the prayer of confident trust, can move heaven and earth by our request. For the almighty God, our heavenly father, hears, and will mightily and abundantly answer our prayers.
Isaiah lamented that there was no one who "calls upon thy name, that stirs up himself to take hold of thee." (Isa. 64: 7) Is our time and nation like Isaiah's? Is there anyone who really prays? The church needs devoted Christians. The church needs men and women who stir themselves up to take hold of God. The church needs saints in the truest sense. Our strength and vitality as a congregation of the Lord's people is dependent on the individual holiness and devotion of each of our members. Let us, each one, make a humble and concentrated effort to come nearer to God, to take hold of him and his blessings ‑ to know God and speak to him in our prayers.
"Because he hath set his love upon me,
therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high,
because he hath known my name.
He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:
I will deliver him, and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him,
and show him my salvation."