THE HARDEST SEVEN WORDS TO PRAY
By Jeannette Haley
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,
Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
What a wonderful privilege we have as Christians to come before the Majesty in heaven in prayer. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” The reason we can boldly come unto the throne of grace is because “…we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” (See Hebrews 4:14.) Without our great high priest, who has passed into the heavens, it would be impossible to “come boldly.”
There are always conditions, however, and coming to God boldly does not mean coming before Him irreverently. It doesn’t mean we can waltz into His presence in an arrogant, casual or flippant manner; nor does it mean we can approach Him in unbelief, unrepented sin, or in the wrong spirit. Jeremiah 19:13 says, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” All our heart means with everything within us—mind, will and emotions. It means being “naked” before Him with no hidden, or personal, agendas, selfish goals or preconceived ideas of our own. Our only goal is to seek HIM, for Who He is, and not for what we want because we want it.
Sooner or later there will come a time in our lives when we “hit bottom” and we must come to God with the words of Jesus emblazoned on our weary souls in a spirit of true humility, reverence, fear, and adoration, “Not my will, but thine be done.” We can give lip service to these seven words, but the Lord knows our heart of hearts, and He knows what we’re holding onto “in the secret places.” “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” Jeremiah 17:10.
Sometimes when we’re so overwhelmed that we feel on the verge of breaking we manage to take time to pour our hearts out to the Lord; but even so, we can still hang on to a place “deep down” underneath it all that we reserve for our own will to be done, “just in case.” To throw ourselves on the altar as a living sacrifice takes a lot more than a rush of emotion, or a well-planned theatric, or a religious impulse. Any such response to Romans 12:1, which says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” is an unacceptable sacrifice to God. If we are to be “holy” and “acceptable” to the LORD, we must approach Him in “spirit and in truth” (see John 4:24) as Jesus did when He uttered the words, “Not my will, but thine be done.” It’s called total surrender.
Unfortunately, because of the “soft-on-sin,” “easy-believism,” “cheap grace” unsound “doctrines of devils” that have taken center stage in the visible, established, man-centered, post-modern churches, there are generations of people who think they are saved, when in reality they are lost. Many, sometime in their life, gave lip service to “the sinner’s prayer” resulting in a false sense of eternal security. Thus, it’s become commonplace in our day and age for “Christians” to declare that they’re saved no matter what they think, feel, or do. This false sense of security is constantly reinforced by the harlot and Laodicean churches of today, none of which warn, through sound preaching and teaching, that Jesus taught us by word and example to pray “Not my will, but thine be done,” as well as, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
If we are to truly be people “after God’s own heart,” then we must come into agreement with Him on every point. We may not always understand it, but that is where faith and trust come in. We may not like His warnings and rebukes, and it may not “feel good” to deny ourselves of the very thing our heart may be set on, but if we are to please God, then never forget, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” Micah 6:8?
Word of God warns, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” Isaiah 29:15, says “Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? And who knoweth us?” Consider this verse in Ezekiel 8:12, “Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? For they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth”. God will not hear us if we “regard iniquity” in our hearts. (See Psalm 66:18.) Consider Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” And, yet, in spite of the perversions, pornography, sorceries (drug addictions), involvement in the occult, witchcraft, syncretism, fornication, idolatry, covetousness, disregard for the commandments and principles of God’s Word, etc. people are still asking why there is no power in the churches, no visions, no miracles, no healings, and saddest of all, no true conversions.
Over half a century ago, A. W. Tozer wrote (and I quote from a lengthy treatise on revival which is apropos for today): “The result over the last twenty years has been a religious debauch hardly equaled since Israel worshipped the golden calf. Of us Bible Christians it may truthfully be said that we ‘sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.’ The separating line between the Church and the world has been all but obliterated.
“Aside from a few of the gross sins, the sins of the unregenerate world are now approved by a shocking number of professedly “born-again’ Christians, and copied eagerly. Young Christians take as their models the rankest kind of worldlings and try to be as much like them as possible. Religious leaders have adopted the techniques of the advertisers; boasting, bating and shameless exaggerating are now carried on as a normal procedure in church work…..
“The holy faith of our fathers has in many places been made a form of entertainment, and the appalling thing is that all this has been fed down to the masses from the top.
“That note of protest which began with the New Testament and which was always heard loudest when the Church was most powerful has been successfully silenced. The radical element in testimony and life that once made Christians hated by the world is missing from present-day evangelism.
“Christians were once revolutionists–-moral, not political—but we have lost our revolutionary character. It is no longer either dangerous or costly to be a Christian….. We are busy these days proving to the world that they can have all the benefits of the Gospel without any of the inconvenience to their customary way of life. It’s ‘all this and heaven too.’…
“For this reason, it is useless for… believers to spend long hours begging God to send revival. Unless we intend to reform, we may as well not pray. Unless praying men have the insight and faith to amend their whole way of life to conform to the New Testament patterns, there can be no true revival.”
Like the Prodigal Son, wandering Christians and the wayward church need to wake up to the fact that at the core of their spiritual leanness is pride and rebellion. The Prodigal Son revolted against the will of his father, and demanded that his own will concerning his inheritance be done instead of his father’s will. Like so many today who merely tack Jesus on to their life, they are driven to get all they can get out of this present world while they can get it, regardless of the will of the Father. And, just like the Prodigal Son, eventually they hit bottom and find themselves lost, alone and spiritually starved. The turning point came for him when he looked reality full in the face, “came to his senses,” and said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (Luke 15:18). This is repentance, true brokenness, humility, and total submission to the will of the father. This was the Prodigal’s Son’s moment of turning away from his own will, and returning to do the will of his father.
Notice that at no time did the father chase after his wayward son, but he watched and waited for his return. The Lord doesn’t pursue after us in our rebellion, but instead lets us taste the bitterness of reaping what we have sowed so that when we get to the end of ourselves, we will begin to remember His love, care and provision for us, and that His will is always best. “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed” Psalm 103:2-6.
Restoration and reconciliation are God’s heart towards His wayward children. The Prodigal Son’s father said, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” Luke 15:24a. Note that he declared his son was “dead” and “lost.” If we insist on going our own way, doing our own will and living contrary to His will, then we are both dead and lost as well. How much better it is to submit to the will of God, which is for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, than to insist on our own way to our own destruction. “For thus saith the LORD GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not” Isaiah 30:15.