How Should We Pray?

Man in Prayer

“Grace” – by Eric Enstrom (1918)

“If ye be risen with Christ seek those things which are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your affections upon the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth, for ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3)

My brothers and sisters, when God put me out in my spiritual wilderness in 1980 (about the time that Mount St. Helens blew one cubic mile of earth and ash across the states of Washington and Idaho), He shut down any sense in me that He was listening to my prayers. I prayed everything I could think of to get that nil-state to end in me. I would eventually find out after thrashing around over those many years which followed that He was not going to answer any prayers that were against what He put in my life to fix what HE was fixing in me. Or, as Bob Mumford put it, “If you fix the fix that God fixes to fix you, he will just fix another fix to fix you.” It wasn’t until many years of me trying fix His fix in my life that I finally gave up and He finally heard from me what He was waiting for. “Lord, I belong to you and if you want to leave me in this perpetual death and nothingness, that is your business. Once again I surrender “my life,” for what its worth, to YOU!” The purpose of this long lesson was to cause a heart change in me. I was to learn in my heart what Paul spoke of when he wrote,

Alone in the wilderness- web

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

… for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. (Phil 4:11-13, AMP – emphasis added)

This is the secret to a happy and confident life IN Christ where we are focused and occupied with what is happening in heavenly places IN Him. I would like to include the following quote from T. Austin-Sparks that gets right down to where our real need is. Here he is using the type of Old Testament temple which speaks of our eternal lives in the NEW Covenant.

…[The] blood is always in the Scripture a witness against what is of the old creation, to cut it off, and to bring in a new creation; a witness against the earthly, the worldly and the fleshly, and therefore the satanic; a witness unto the heavenly, the spiritual, and that which is of the Lord. It means here that the blood of the sin offering being sprinkled on the horns and on the altar makes everything heavenly. Our prayer life has got to be on a heavenly basis. It is not enough just to be praying for our earthly affairs. It is so easy to get up in the morning and hurry through a few words asking the Lord to bless us and ours, and our earthly things for the day, as though these things of this life were all. Oh, no! The Lord would have prayer touching things heavenly, things spiritual, related to that which is not of time but of eternity, not of this world but in relation to His eternal, heavenly intentions. He would have us separated from the merely temporal. There is a place for bringing those before the Lord, but they have got to be lifted in relation to the heavenly and not be dealt with as things in themselves. The blood makes everything heavenly, separating from the old creation. There is a very great deal of the old creation in our prayers; it is [about] our convenience, our deliverance from inconvenience and discomfort, our salvation from what would bring us a great deal of trouble and sorrow. That is the motive behind a good deal of our praying. “Lord, don’t let anything bad happen today, because it would spoil our life today!”

But supposing the Lord would lift us into something altogether new through sorrow, are we then going to pray that prayer? No, our prayer must be: “Today, Lord, I want that which is of greatest account in relation to spiritual values and if that must be by way of trial and adversity, I do not pray to be delivered from it.” I say, “Lord, there is power to carry me through, and by prayer I come into touch with that power to carry me through the trials of every day in relation to the meaning of the trial.” That is heavenly praying. That is praying with your heart in heaven. “If ye be risen with Christ seek those things which are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your affections upon the things which are above, not on the things which are on the earth, for ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3). “Our citizenship is in heaven.” Now the life of the believer is to be, therefore, one with heavenly interests always in view, and our prayer life is in relation to those interests.

Where prayer counts most vitally and effectually is in the heavenlies. Ephesians makes that perfectly clear: “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers… the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” Then, providing for that warfare, he gathers it all up, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”. The warfare is in the heavenlies, and the prayer is most effectual there. That is where the power is indeed against the spiritual forces, and that blood brings us out there as our protection for a realm which is spiritual and therefore counts for most. The place of the altar of incense, the holding of it to the end till everything else has been brought in, gives to prayer tremendous significance.

Now one closing thought. There was to be a crown of gold round the top of this altar of incense (verse 3), and that crown speaks of the glorifying of the Lord Jesus as the Victor. “But we behold… Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour” (Heb. 2:9). The crown of the Victor over sin and death and the reason for that victory in this connection is in Isaiah 53: “He made intercession for the transgressors.” The implication is that by His intercession for the transgressors in His cross He won. There were transgressors doomed under judgement, and His cross was a great work of intercession for the transgressors — and we were among them. By intercession in His cross, His great ministry of intercession in giving Himself, He saved us. You and I are today in Christ, saved men and women, because of the intercession of the Lord Jesus. He triumphed in intercession for us, and as High Priest He ever lives to make intercession, and every day we are living in the benefit of His continual intercession. That is the point in the crown of gold, the crown of glory. Now the Lord is calling us into that ministry. It is not only to share the travail, but to share the glory, not only to share the humiliation but to share the crown, and the crown is not just some objective thing given to us but for the Lord to come and crown our lives. That is to be His seal upon us, and He will say, “Well done! As I have overcome so you have overcome; share with Me My throne.” If that can be because my life was a life of prevailing prayer, that is the glory of it; and even now to know what it is to prevail in prayer is glory; it is the crown of glory.

Now you see there is a glory connected with prayer. The Lord calls us, then, to consider our prayer life, because everything depends upon it. It must be the time for trimming the wick, the works of the flesh. It must be the means of keeping the light clear and strong against the darkness and it must be the means of power, the ground of power, and of prevailing. The Lord use His word, then, to bring us back, if needs be, to the strength of a full prayer life. ( emphasis added by me. “The Altar of Incense” http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/003691.html)

(I would like to thank Becky Johnson in Colorado for bringing this fact of our spiritual life IN Christ to my attention once again through her blog article, (https://occupiedwithchrist.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/a-tried-heart-flooded-with-light/ )

 

15 comments on “How Should We Pray?

  1. Beautiful! God Bless 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post, Michael. ⭐

    At first I wanted to add the link to Becky’s blog post, just in case someone wants to check it out.

    https://occupiedwithchrist.wordpress.com/2018/09/21/a-tried-heart-flooded-with-light/

    We again and again experience hardships where our prayer life is tested. Sometimes it seems to me that following Jesus is like embracing a chain of crises that has no end. Nonetheless, I believe we need to come to our wits’ end in every area of life before we are inclined to seek real help from above. Setting our affections on the heavely realm is something our old nature cannot do and does not want to do, either. If God has not given us a new heart before that seeks Him more than anyone/anything else, we cannot help but running around in circles by trying to ‘pray away’ what should stay in His view so that we get a new (divine) perspective on temporal matters. But as it is in all cases,

    “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
    If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:4-8 ESV)

    Prayer for me is seeking to abide in Him whether I ‘feel’ something good, that is, His presence, or not. It appears to me that it is all about faith. Our good feelings might follow our God given faith if He wills, but the mere existence of good feelings does not prove that they have sprung from real faith as our soul can produce feelings of any kind at any time through our restless thought life.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Susanne,
      Feelings are deceptive for sure. As one person told me, “Feeling must follow behind faith, not the other way around.” Praying that we might have spiritual eyes to see each situation as HE does I think is key. Once that gift has been given us then we will know what our part is in it whether we are to remain “outside” and pray or whether we are called to roll up our sleeves and act as His ambassadors in it. It all comes back down to speaking and praying by the Spirit and acting only under His unction. In His kingdom there is a sign on the door in big red letters, “THE FLESH NEED NOT APPLY.”

      Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, thanks again for your comment above with the URL correction. As you can tell, I need a good proof reader. :-p I also wanted to mention that I have seen many the griefs and burdens that the Lord allows in your life as you have in mine and I have GREAT faith that the outcome will be glorious with Christ shining forth in His radiance from you. You will remain in my prayers, dear sister. God is in control.

      Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are trained by it. (Heb 12:11, KJ2000)

      Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1John 3:2, KJ2000)

      I love you in Christ whom I see in you and it is a joy to me,

      Michael

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you so much for your countless prayers and these encouraging words, Michael. 👍🏻 You have been in my prayers as well. 🙏🏼

        Your sister who loves you in Christ and hears His voice through yours as well,

        Susanne ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Kenneth E Dawson says:

    Father I believe—-Help me with my unbelief

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Michael, oh indeed! We so often have a knee-jerk reaction to the pain & suffering, whether that be literal and physical, or spiritual, and we alone in our flesh want it GONE, and since the Lord is able, we think He is obliged to change it so others can see Him and how good He is. Alas, it is in those very seasons when we have yielded to and submitted our wills to His, whatever the circumstance, that the Lord is manifested and put on display in a way altogether other than the rest of the world. That is a sweet aroma that cannot be ‘preached,’ only lived.

    As I am coming up a far ways behind you on this journey, I will add this as to prayer life also: mine had seemed to come to a screeching halt a few years back. Any sense to pray what I believed I needed to pray was all locked up; the way it looked, sounded, to whom I should pray for, to what I should pray about, and the results of pray, all of it was as if a dam had been erected and I could not make sense of it. all I could do was allow it, trusting that I need not fear, but that in this strange place the Lord’s signature was all around it. We are creatures of habits and religiously probably more so. Even when we’re not aware of the deep ways the environment and the myriad of things we have heard or read on the topic have been deeply seated in us. It is all the flesh. And when the Cross begins its work at cutting between our old nature in Adam and our new creation in Christ, there must be a great chasm, a season of silence or inactivity, in order that we accept & reckon our flesh having been crucified with Christ on that Cross on that particular point the Lord is working in us, and not to stay in death, no! Never to stay down and under and defeated. But rising in a living union with our risen Lord Jesus Christ – amen! I cannot say I have arrived in regards to prayer, but do know a change has taken place in the prayers. If the Spirit is not in it, I will keep quiet, period. (Kind of a huge deal for this former mouthy one.) But, as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12, and is spread across all of our journey’s, Lord willing:

    Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.

    Thank you, Micheal!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Becky, I don’t see you as all that far behind me as I read your latest blogs. In fact, I think we are on the same page in the book of life IN Christ. I agree, all the things I read in the past by the “recommended experts on prayer” did me no good. When God turns a corner and we are slow to follow (we tend to overshoot the corners because of our former teachers and human traditions upon which our flesh feeds), I am so glad that He is patient with us as we finally get the message and get back on track with Him.

      Right now, all I can say about prayer was summed up in yours and my latest blogs. REAL prayer comes from seeing things as He does and praying in agreement with Him, not praying from the needs of ours or anyone else’ flesh. Sparks really nailed that down in that article he wrote from which we quoted. This kind of prayer is what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Whatsoever you ask in my name, it shall be granted unto you.” His name is who He is in the Father, His very character and person-hood, not some magic moniker we hang on the end of our fleshly requests. So, to pray “IN His name” is to be in the unity of the Father and the Son and speak what they put on our hearts in these matters. This is why Jesus could pray before the tomb of Lazarus in that humanly impossible situation, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me…” and see results.

      I knew this old saint many years ago named Mary. She was known to be a “prayer warier” and I was going through a hard time so I asked her to pray for me. She said, “No, I won’t unless God tells me to.” Well, I thought, “How UN-Christian!” Yet, Mary understood something that I did not… she was praying IN His name in the reality of what it means.

      It has been good to hear from you again, Becky. I will watch for your blog articles and understand why they come in a non-periodical way. 🙂
      Your brother in Idaho,
      Michael

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Amen!
    Thank you for the uplifting words. A long lesson indeed to let God be God in our lives.

    We all mature at different times, and through His words and our Lord Jesus’ testimony (life) we can see clearly what prayer is. True prayer comes from the heart in sincerity, in knowing Jesus’ gift that through Him we have connection with the Father to approach His throne and Him in confidence. As His children for the spirit of Christ is in us in our belief. We cannot come to the Father without Christ.

    Prayer is talking, spiritually having a conversation with Him about everything going on in our lives, the good the bad and the ugly; which is a private matter between us. Hence in a quiet space we have a One on one. Through each phase of our lives He opens our senses, our spiritual eyes to realize the changes that need to be made. Sometimes it takes us longer to realize He’s been carry us, but once we do a blessing when we acknowledge Him and our need for His involvement in our lives.

    Beginning with thanksgiving for life itself, humble gratitude for the lessons and growth. The clarity to know, ‘this too shall pass’ when hard times hit, the assurance He’s always there, reminding us He overcame, and through Him we as well for that spirit is IN us. In which the principalities+ would rather keep hidden and us ignorant. Alas doubt almost always sticks its head out to make us fear. We’re told ‘not to fear’, but always look up in prayer and He will sustain us through all the ugliness this world can mustard.

    Clarity comes from different sources, His Word in applying and following it; a good word (reminder) from a friend, a song that hits the right notes in our soul and so on. All things that are good, are desire to live honorably and guilt free. To get to this point we gotta let go of self and our one mindedness of self. We have purpose here and now And in the new heavens and earth to come. With wisdom comes ‘the fear of God’, this fear is not in anger but in love in not loosing His nearness, His Presence in our lives, life itself. He is both life and love so deep our carnal mind is limited to its understanding. Yet, in Him and in us opening our hearts to Him can begin to know Him, establishing a relationship that will carry us home.

    I also agree with Mr. Austin, ‘There is power to carry us through…” in where we can only learn through trials, the meaning of His grace, to persevere and trust Him who knows every hair on our head. If ‘God brings you to it’, because of our actions, ‘He will bring you through it’, as well when we acknowledge Him and our rebellion. Only then can the lesson that takes time to learn/observe when one is going through the trial, can be justifiable in changing us within. As citizens of heaven and a reminder at the right time assures us God is indeed listening. And provides as He sees fit for He sees our future of what benefits us then and now.

    Why pray? Because it brings us closer to our Heavenly Father, in humble acceptance. How should we, by all the good reasons you have pointed out and the connection we feel, the freedom it offers to our soul. Prayer is powerful as a one on one and especially when two or three are gathered for others.

    Thank you again for the good post. Definitely got me thinking 🙂 (as you can tell by my essay.)
    Your in my prayers. May our Heavenly Father continue to richly bless you, Michael. And all of us in reading His inspired words through you. Amen. In Christ always for that’s when God listens the best. Shalom!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Aida, you wrote, “As citizens of heaven and a reminder at the right time assures us God is indeed listening.” Yes, He seems to get the message through to me when I get a “second witness” through some means, that I am to write on a subject, do a certain thing or obey what He wants me to see, hear and do. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on prayer and thank you for your prayers for me. May Jesus continue to draw you into an ever deeper relationship with the Father and the Son. Amen
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A beautiful reminder. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

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