Regarding to the connection between prayer and our private devotion, Professor Louis Finkelstein, a 20th-century Jewish scholar, said, “When I pray, I speak to God; when I study (read the Bible), God speaks to me.”
There is a Bible passage which bears out this idea to perfection, Numbers 7:89 which says ” And when Moses had gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of One speaking to him from the mercy-seat on the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubs. And He spoke to him.”
When Moses went to pray, whether for himself or for his nation of Israel, and prepared to wait for God’s instruction, inevitably he found God waiting for him. We can and should learn from this.
Jesus had words for us too on the matter of Prayer and the Word of God. Matthew 6:5-6 makes prayer an imperative for all born-again Christians, for as Jesus Himself said “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your room. And shutting your door, pray to your Father in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.” Notice it says “when you pray.” Prayer then, is not an option for Christians, but the means, the normal means and normal method of communication, between us and God.
Notice also how Moses went into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with God; compared to us, who can pray anywhere, but are recommended to use a private, closed and quiet room. When we go to pray, God will be there to meet us. For Christians, it is not about show, it is not about the public and outward manifestation of prayer ritual, but it is all about the private words given and heard, in secret.
A PRAYERFUL SPIRIT
For us to approach God, we need to develop a prayerful spirit, for it is when we are in that spirit, that God will speak. This is a listening, humble, quiet and expectant spirit, not a self-focussed, brash, impatient spirit. A prayerful spirit is a spirit full of desire to hear the Word of God and desperate to communicate with God, for in true communication with God, the presence of God is as real and as tangible as our own presence. Scripture can help is in this, such that both reading and praying, become true fellowship with God.
A RIGHT PLACE
As we saw in Numbers 7:89, Moses went into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with God. We also saw in Matthew 6:6, that we need to go into our own private room or cupboard or quiet place, to practice communication with the Living God. We are called to enter our quite place and pray to the Father who is in secret and He will meet us, but any private place where we can be alone and concentrate on God and God alone, will suffice. But there we must be separated from all else, to achieve that which God wants us to achieve – focus on Him and on Him and His Word, alone.
Yet we need more than this – we need a heart set with intent on communication with God and of meeting Him personally. When we have this, and when we go to speak with God, He will hear.
A RIGHT POSTION
Throughout the Bible, and especially in the Old Testament, there is only one position of supplication before a higher authority, let alone before God. In Genesis 23:13 “Abraham bowed before the people of the land” and in Exodus 34:8 “Moses made haste and bowed toward the earth, and worshiped.” Thus we can well understand how Moses positioned himself in the tabernacle of the congregation before the Mercy Seat, from where God talked to him. Moses and all others bowed before the Living God. This is the right position for us in prayer – bowed in reverence, before the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Living God. When we are in that position before the Mercy Seat, we can know with certainty that an upward look, will find God’s eyes. As Psalm 51:17 tells us “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
A RIGHT MIND
To come to pray to God with expectancy that He will listen, we first need to come with, as mentioned earlier, a listening attitude. It is, after all, not about us. It is, and always will be, all about Him.
Typically we come to God in either of two conditions, first with blank minds – not knowing what to say. Or second, conversely, with a “shopping-list” of prayer requests, as though God works for us and is our servant, doing our bidding. With these attitudes, we will be always talking, but never listening, thinking He has nothing to say to us. Isaiah 66:1-2 gives advice on the correct mind for entering before God in prayer saying “So says Jehovah, Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. Where, then, is the house that you build for Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those My hand has made, and all those exist, says Jehovah. But to this one I will look, to the afflicted and contrite spirit, and the one who trembles at My Word.”
A right mind is the result of a humble heart; a heart humbly waiting for God to speak – no matter how long it takes. The Word confirms for us that when we enter into prayer with the right attitude and mind, not only will God hear, but God will answer, for ours is relational God. He so much wants to have a relationship with us, and a relationship devoid of hollow ritual, but filled with authenticity. To this end, God has given us not just His Word, but also the Holy Spirit, the paraclete – the one who comes alongside, to help us.
A RIGHT WORD
Reading the Bible, reveals one simple message from God to us – that Prayer and His Word are not just intrinsically and inseparably linked, the Word gives matter and substance to prayer. The Word not only tells us what God will do for us, but also what and how we should do things for God. God has set His protocols in the Word and they are very important to Him. To be in God’s will, does not only mean understanding God’s will, it means understanding God’s will at that time. For God requires of us His Will, at His time, and His way and in compliance with His protocols. The Bible, the living Word of God, provided this for us in clear and simple language.
Yes, the words to God come from our lips, but when we ask, as in Psalm 19:14 to “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer” we are bringing God’s will into our hearts and in doing this, we pray His will.
The Word of God gives us the path of prayer, the power of prayer and the answers to prayer. All we need to do is give up our will and let the Lord have free reign over our lives. To understand why this is so, we need only to look at Prayer and the Word. Prayer and the Word have the same single centre – God. We can see that Prayer seeks God and quite clearly, the Word reveals God. They are two faces, as it were, of the same coin. Thus, as Finkelstein (and many others) and Numbers 7:89 say, in Prayer mans asks God, and in the Word, God answers man. As Andrew Murray wrote in his book “Daily Experience with God”, “In prayer, man rises to heaven to dwell with God; in the Word, God comes to dwell with man. In prayer, man gives himself to God, in the Word, God gives Himself to man.”
God, as we have seen, is at the centre of the Word and at the centre of Prayer. In the Word and in Prayer, God is all there is, and all there needs to be. To pray as God wants us to pray, we need to understand this and make God the centre of our lives, the centre of our hearts, the centre of our minds, the centre of our marriages, the centre of our families. There is no other position for God, other than at the centre of all we do, all we think and all we say. When we achieve this, both Prayer and the Word take on a new meaning and a new an unimaginable blessed fellowship with the Living God Himself. For as Second Corinthians 6:16 says “For you are the temple of the living God, as God has said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Amen and Amen and Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come before you as a confessed sinner and with only one thing on my mind. I pray that You will change me and teach me to Pray to you. I long for a true relationship with you. I long to hear your voice. As I bow before you Lord, please change me from the inside out. I give my will freely to you and ask You Lord, to have Your way and only Your way, in my life. Lead me Lord, such that Your destiny for me will be fulfilled in Your way and at Your time.
In Jesus name I pray. Amen.