- Prayer unleashes God’s business among men. In His instructions, Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6:10). Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 6:9-13 are statements in reference to God’s work among men. If we would unleash the power of God on earth in the hearts and events of men, then our prayers must be in tune with the will of God. God’s will is done on earth when men submit to the will of God as it is done in heaven.
Jesus reigns in the hearts of men when believers submit to His kingdom reign from heaven. In this way, therefore, the kingdom reign of Jesus comes to a particular place of the world when people believe on Jesus and submit to His kingdom reign from heaven. We would pray for the kingdom reign of Jesus to come to a particular area of the world by pleading to the Father that His will be done in the hearts of men on earth as it is done in heaven.
If we pray that the kingdom come in a particular region of the world, then we would certainly be praying for those who would take the gospel to the people of the region. This too is what Jesus asked of His disciples: “Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest so that He will send laborers into His harvest” (Mt 9:38).
- Prayer builds character. Jesus said, “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Mt 6:12). Forgiveness is not only a condition for the Father to forgive our sins, but also the foundation on which our character is changed into being godly. God is a forgiver because He does not wish that any perish from an eternal relationship with Him (2 Pt 3:9). We forgive in order that our friendships on earth not perish.
We must keep in mind that we must bless those we ask the Father to bless. We must pray the hardest, therefore, when it is the hardest to pray. When we are offended, sinned against, and tormented by our persecutors, it is indeed hard to pray. But when we have a forgiving spirit on our knees, it is hard to fall. The cross of Jesus indeed stands tall when we are on our knees, emulating in our lives the spirit of forgiveness that came forth from the cross. From the cross, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34). We must simply not forget, as someone said, “Kneeling in prayer keeps you in good standing with God.” We must simply remember that it is difficult to stumble when we are on your knees in prayer.
We also must not forget that Satan is the greatest believer in our prayers, simply because he is the one who suffers the most from our prayers. A wise poet wrote,
If prayer is made the center of our life,
God will remove our strife.
If one petitions God in humility,
God will bless with tranquility.
We sometimes pray to God for strength in order to achieve great things. What God often gives in answer to our prayers is weakness in order that we realize we must find strength in Him. Some would ask for health in order to do great things for God. But the answer to such a prayer may be infirmity in order that we depend more on His work and less in our own. We would not ask for riches in order to be happy, but for contentment with those riches we already have. We ask not for power to be praised of men, but for weakness in order to feel our need for Him. We do not need all things in order to enjoy life, but as the humble African villager, have few things in order to enjoy all things. At the end of the day, we are usually not given all the things for which we ask, but certainly we are given everything we need. We would be known for that which God desires that we be known: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all people” (Is 56:7). Our desire to serve the Lord is certainly the engine of our destiny, but it will never start up without the fuel of our prayers.
And all things you ask in prayer,
you will receive.
The Christian must continually reexamine his character. No one can be true to himself if he is self-deceived or narcissistic. Some seek to lead a secret life deep within themselves, but their inner self will always be revealed to others through their behavior. If there is a inconsistency between one’s deep inner feelings, and what one seeks to portray to the world, then he is leading a life of self-deception. The spiritual struggle of the Christian is to bring harmony between one’s inner feelings and beliefs and his character that he manifests to others. This is being true to oneself, and in one word, being sincere.
When on our knees to the Father, we must never deceive ourselves into believing that the Father does not know our inner most desires and character. If one prays to the Father contrary to his inner most desires and character, then he is seeking to be a hypocrite before the Father.
We should not expect insincere prayers to be answered. It is for this reason that we must continually struggle to bring our prayers into harmony with our inner most beliefs and feelings. If we find an inconsistency between the hidden inner self, and the character we seek to portray to others, then only repentance will bring us peace of mind.
Over a century and a half ago in 1867 Alfred Bernard Nobel moved the world beyond black powder by inventing a more powerful explosive mixture that he called dynamite. He was thirty-four years old when he was granted the patent for the mixture in 1867. He became fabulously wealthy because his invention of dynamite was sold to governments throughout the world to make war.
Nobel’s last will and testament was dated November 27, 1895. At the end of his life he realized all the damage to humanity that his invention had caused. As a result of this realization, in his last will and testament he wanted his wealth given in special grants to encourage the building of societies. He requested that his wealth be given in grants to build and not destroy. The grants were eventually called the Nobel Prizes. The financial grants were to be given to those who excelled in social development in the fields of physics, chemistry, psychology, medicine, literature, and above all, peace. The profits of his invention that caused so much grief in war, eventually led to encouraging humanity to prosper.
It may be that we too need repentance in our lives to develop characters that humanity, instead of living a life of destruction. This is what the Ephesians did, for Paul wrote the following of their past:
Among whom also we all once behaved in times past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest (Ep 2:3).
The end of the story for the Ephesians can be the glorious end of all those who change their characters from being “children of wrath” to being people who bring glory to God.
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Ep 2:4,5).