True Praying in the Holy Spirit (5)
WHAT TO PARY FOR
By G. H. C. Macgregor
"With reverence and godly fear." ¾ Heb. 12:28.
"Let us come boldly." ¾ Heb. 4:16.
No careful reader of the Word of God can fail to be struck with the importance attached in it to the manner of prayer. We saw something of this in our study of the nature of prayer. We saw that the words employed in Scripture when speaking of prayer teach us that in our approaches to God there must be intensity, deliberateness, simplicity, and importunity. In this chapter we shall further deal with the manner of prayer, that we may learn that as we need the Holy Spirit to teach us what to pray for, so we need the Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray.
How our need is met we shall now show.
The Holy Spirit, that we may pray aright, reveals to us the real value, weight and worth of those things for which we pray. How much we need this! How much of the feebleness of our prayers is due to lack of it. To pray "instantly", "unceasingly", "agonizingly", for things the worth of which we do not appreciate is a moral impossibility. The eye affects the heart, and the eye must see if the heart is to desire. We cannot pray aright for holiness until we pray as men who have had a vision of its beauty, and who know that without holiness no man can see God. We cannot pray for the conversion of our children aright until God the Holy Spirit has revealed to us the value of an immortal soul. We shall not as we ought plead with the Lord of the harvest to thrust forth laborers into His harvest, until we realize the awfulness of the fact that millions are dying without God.
As knowledge of our needs is necessary to teach us what to pray for, so knowledge of urgency of our needs is necessary to teach us how to pray. And the Blessed Spirit who gives us the one is He who alone can give us the other.
In teaching us how to pray, the Holy Spirit fills us with delight in God. He removes the spirit of bondage, which makes our prayers slavish. He makes us sensible of the greatness of our privilege in having such a God to come to. He fills us with such a desire for fellowship with God that instead of restraining prayer, we are glad of every excuse, which takes us to our Fatherís presence. And He does all this by revealing God to us. Spiritual blindness is always the cause of spiritual deadness. As someone had said, the great lack of our religion is, we do not know God. We do not live aright because we do not know God; we do not work aright because we do not know God; we do not pray aright because we do not know God. But the Spirit helps our infirmities. He reveals to us God as our Father. He tells us of our Fatherís love, of His readiness to meet the needs of His suppliant children. He encourages us to make our requests known. He whispers in our ears, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven give good things to them who ask Him." Then He tells us of our Fatherís power. Faith in Godís being, faith in Godís love, faith in Godís power, are all essential to true prayer, and are all wrought in our hearts by God the Holy Spirit. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we are brought to real faith in GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHT.
The vision of God given by the Holy Spirit will beget in our souls that reverence which is the mark of true prayer. When we see how great God is we shall worship and adore as we draw near. We shall "be of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer" (1 Pet. 4:7). We shall recognize the infinite distance that there is between God and us, and shall lay aside all lightness and frivolousness as we come to the presence of the Holy One.
And the vision of God will give us boldness. As we see the love in our Fatherís face we shall hear the call, "Come boldly, come boldly! What is thy petition and what is thy request? Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you."
In teaching us how to pray, the Holy Spirit keeps our hearts fixed on Jesus Christ as the only Mediator between God and man. He reminds us that "no one comes to the Father but by the Christ"; that "no one knows the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." Thus, He teaches us to pray "for Jesusí sake." He teaches us that we have no access to God except through the merits of the Savior Substitute, and leads us to look for an answer not to anything in ourselves, not to the greatness of our need, or the earnestness of our asking, but to the worthiness of our Advocate. We ask and receive for Jesusí sake.
And then He teaches us to ask "in Jesusí name". This is something different and something higher. It does not mean simply that we make use of the name of Jesus in our prayers. It means that by the Holy Spirit we have been so brought into sympathy with mind of Jesus, with the purposes of Jesus, that He can endorse our requests, and so we can say to our Father, "Father, this is not only what I desire. It is what Jesus desires. What I ask, He asks, for He has bidden me ask it in His name." This asking in Jesusí name is essential to prevailing prayer. But only the Holy Spirit can teach us this art. Oh! Believer, lay it to heart once more. You cannot pray aright, unless your whole being is open to the influence of the Spirit of God. You must be filled with the Holy Sprit if you are to pray in the Holy Spirit. But if by the Spirit you are led to pray in the name of Jesus, your prayers shall prevail. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13, 14).
Further, in teaching us how to pray, the Holy Spirit teaches us to wait on God. The importance of the waiting attitude for true prayer cannot be overestimated. The soul who would know the deep things of God must be more occupied with the God from whom the blessing is to come than with the blessing, which is to come from Him. "Before you pray, bow quietly before God, just to remember and realize who He is, how near He is, how certainly He can and will help. Just be still before Him, and allow His Holy Spirit to waken and stir up in your soul the childlike disposition of absolute dependence and confident expectation. Wait on God till you know you have met Him; prayer will then become so different. And when you are praying let there be intervals of silence, reverent stillness of soul, in which you yield yourself to God in case He may have aught He wishes, to teach you, or to work in you. Waiting on Him will become the most blessed part of pray." (Rev. A. Murray, Waiting on God).
Here is the innermost secret of the true manner of prayer, and it is a secret the Holy Spirit alone can teach us. We may hear our God say, "Be still, and know that I am God"; we may answer back, "My soul, wait thou only upon God"; but until the Blessed Spirit calls in our wandering thoughts, fixes our hearts on God, and pours into them His blessed peace, the attitude of waiting cannot be attained nor maintained.
Then, as we actually engage in the work of prayer, the Holy Spirit aids us in a way that must be experienced to be known. Words cannot describe it. The great Puritan divine, John Owen, when referring to this, says: "The Holy Spirit having truly affected what whole soul¾ enlightened the mind in the perception of the truth, beauty and excellency of spiritual things, engaged the will in the choice of them, and excited the affections to delight in them, in the actual discharge of the duty of prayer¾ works in the soul by the power and efficacy of His grace such a laboring of heart and spirit, such a holy, supernatural desire and endeavor after a union with the things prayed for in enjoyment of them, as no words can utter or expressly declare." But though no one can describe this work of the Spirit, everyone who has prayed in the Spirit knows what it means. Sometimes by the Spirit we are borne up as if on eaglesí wings¾ we are conscious of a wonderful liberty and joy in prayer. We know that through Jesus we are having access, and we boldly take hold of our God. And sometimes by the same Spirit we are plunged, as it were, into the depths of God, overwhelmed with the greatness of His glory, and of our unworthiness, filled with a kind of agony which forbids words, and makes our prayer the echoes of "groanings which cannot be uttered." It is in these seasons when the soul is, as one might say, actually in the hands of the Holy Spirit, that the wonder and the glory and the power of prayer are manifest, and we understand why it is meant to occupy such a place in the believerís life.
You are reading chapter 4 of the book, True Praying in the Holy Spirit, by G.H.C. Macgregor. If you are interested in reading the previous chapter, you can find it by clicking on PRAYERPATHWAYS.
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May the riches of the blessings of the Lord come upon your prayer life!
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