By William Hirsche
Much prayer, earnest and fervent as it may be, is of little avail not because a faithful Heavenly Father fails to take it into account or is unmindful of His exceeding great and precious promises, but simply because there has been no insight into the situation from which it springs. A right diagnosis has not been made. Matters have not been sized up from God’s viewpoint. If we are to pray aright and achieve, we must see things, as it were, with His eyes. God often is moving in one direction and we in another. We have not heeded the divine injunction, “Be still and know that I am God.”
To pray the prayer of faith, the prayer of the righteous man which availeth much, we must learn to distinguish the voice of the Lord and know what He is about. Success depends not so much upon our
much asking, our persistent speaking, as on our careful listening. “I will stand upon my watch,” said the prophet, “and see what he will say unto me…” (Hab. 2:1). As we see in chapter one, the prophet had prayed: “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? For spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous therefore wrong judgement proceedeth.” How often we cry in similar fashion unto the Lord. There is wrong, there is suffering, there is oppression, we are misunderstood and slanderous tongues sting us as though they were the bite of a serpent; we find ourselves at what has been called “wit’s end corner”; we cry unto God but there is no answer. We must do as did the prophet. He decides at last to quiet his soul. He resolves to be still and first get God’s viewpoint. The result is miraculous. He does not sit long upon his tower and watch to see what the Lord will say unto him, before the answer comes. “And the Lord answered
me and said, Write the vision and make it plain upon tables that he may run that readeth it… though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” All whining ceases and the prophet stands with God’s instrument. The prophet had been praying his prayer of complaint which was nothing short
of a whine and grumble, which got him nowhere. But when he sees things as they really are after a quiet waiting on God, and gets the right diagnosis of the situation, he swings around and prays along the line of God’s revealed will and plan and brings to light the fact that Israel is to suffer for corrective purposes which
love cannot fail to bring to bear upon her sin, and that the Chaldeans, once the judgement of God is consummated through them, are in turn to be judged for sins even more heinous.
If we would not have our prayers be useless, all weak sentimentality must be consigned to the Cross. We come again to the principle of positional praying. Indeed, it is Romans six where we are told that “the old man” – that corrupt self life – was crucified together with Christ that the body of sin might be destroyed. The carnal mind (see Rom. 8:7) which is enmity toward God and which sees everything in the light of its own interest, judging as good what favors “self,” and coldly disregarding the sovereign claims and purposes of God, can never make a right diagnosis of any situation. To see correctly we must stand where Paul stood when he said: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of god, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The Lord Jesus, our Adorable Saviour, is our example here as in all other matters. He could do that for though He was as we read in I Tim. 3:16, God manifest in the flesh, yet it was flesh of our flesh in lieu of which He could be tempted in all points like as we. But this human cry wrung from the Redeemer’s soul sorrowful unto death in the hour of the sweat of blood, was followed by another which fully represented God’s viewpoint, witnessed to by the wondrous plan of the ages as it appears in Holy Writ, and by the fact that the Lamb of God was in a real sense slain from the foundation of the world, as may be seen in Israel’s ancient types. “Not my will, but thine be done.” And the Son of God, who was no less the Son of Man, went forth from the dark shadows of Gethsemane to set His face like flint, as the prophet said He would, toward Calvary.
If we could only see what God is aiming at, namely, our conformity as Christians to the image of our crucified Lord, how different our prayer life would be. Paul said that his supreme desire was to be made, in the power of the Saviour’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, conformable unto His death and adds the admonition, on the heels of a passionate expression of his desire to be one with Christ in death and resurrection, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded” (see Phil. 3:13-15). If we could see the glory of the divine achievement from the viewpoint of heaven and eternity we would not pray for the removal of our particular thorn as did Paul for the removal of his. We would glory in our thorn as also did Paul once he caught a vision of its meaning from the point of view of the throne, and we would
give thanks because the Lord is saying, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” We would be satisfied knowing that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Too often we see only from the point of view of time. Our measure is success and health and comfort. God works from the standpoint of eternity with Christian character, into which the Lamb-hood nature of Christ must be worked, as the goal. With conformity to the Crucified as the goal we can glory in that against which and for the removal of which much of our praying has aimed.
We pray that wars might cease and that men might beat their swords into pruning hooks and we have God’s Word for it that the day will come when such will eventually be the case. but to expect it now
would be a violation of sound Biblical interpretation. There is no use praying for millennial blessings now. As Christians, of course, we hate the satanic thing called war and may within proper bounds pray for peace. Praise God for all peace-loving souls who pray for understanding among nations. May their number be
multiplied a thousandfold. Yet withal, lest we come to despair, let us not overlook the fact that according to the Word of the atchless One who was not only Priest and King but also Prophet, this present age will close in a time of trouble and a deluge of blood such as history has never known. “Take heed that ye be not
deceived… Nation shall rise against nation… there shall be signs… upon the earth distress of nations… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:8,10,25-28). The stage is being set. The times of the Gentiles seem to be fast running out. We may and should pray for peace. And god in His great mercy may hold off the
judgements (as was the case when Abraham prayed for Sodom whose overthrow was postponed until Lot was delivered), with which, according to Scripture, this wicked age will come to its end. But to expect and to pray for a world order such as Christ’s appearing alone can bring, is to proceed on the basis of a wrong diagnosis which is a blind alley that can only lead to despair.
When we pray the prayer with which the Bible closes, the prayer of the seer on the lonely Isle of Patmos, “Come Lord Jesus,” we are on safe ground. The Christian revelation of Holy Writ bears witness. We have Christ’s Word for it that He is coming again. We have the testimony of the apostles inspired of God. Many of the signs of which the Saviour was wont to speak are even now upon the horizon. Israel is again a nation, as Scripture declares she would be after long centuries of dispersion which the Saviour Himself declared would be the sign of the close of the age of Gentile supremacy. The answer which Christ the Lord gave to John’s prayer was, “Surely, I come quickly.” Our praying should be along the lines of God’s revealed purposes as we look to the future and long for the dawn of a new age, one in which the curse of wickedness,
the fruit of a depraved humanity, shall have ended forever. To be governed by weak sentimentality is to bury our heads in the sand as the ostrich does when he sees the storm approaching. The doctrine of the end-time is no popular doctrine. But those who seek smooth sayings and popular doctrines at some point along life’s way will have to part company with the One who came to the bitter Cross because His message cut across the grain of human pride like a sharp two-edged sword.
(The above material was taken from Prayer’s Deeper Secrets.)
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