What is prayer? O. Hallesby, one of Norway’s leading Christian teachers, said that prayer is an attitude of our hearts toward God. It is an attitude of helplessness. This attitude of helplessness is not meant to drive you to anxiety but rather to drive you to God. In other words, prayer is helplessness plus faith. We may stumble over this until we realize that faith is simply coming to Christ with our helplessness. When we petition God in prayer, we come to Christ and tell Him what we and those for whom we pray are lacking. It is opening up our needy lives to Him.
Let us be very specific in defining some of our “needy moments” that promote this attitude of helplessness that can give birth to true prayers. Let us look at times when we tend to be fearful and anxious.
One year I asked God to give me clear insight into my own unhealthy fears. If you do this you may be surprised how significant a motivating force fear is in your life. For example, ask the Lord, “What are things I say or do not say and things I do or do not do that are motivated by a fear of rejection?” The relevance of this is that we are to seek God in prayer at every point of our fears. Look at Psalm 34:4: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
“Prayer is an attitude of helplessness.”
As we seek God at our point of fears, we need to look for specific promises that can transform our fear responses into faith responses. The first time I was asked to speak on a nation-wide radio broadcast and answer questions from people who would call in from the audience, I agreed to pray about it. My fear was what would happen if I could not answer the questions. As I sought God He used Psalm 67:7 to assure my heart and calm my fears. That verse says, “God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.” I saw the principle that I could count on God’s blessing as I sought to benefit others. God is eager to help us process our fears as we seek Him in prayer.
In Philippians 4:6 God graciously commands us to “be anxious for nothing.” If He stopped there with His instruction it would only make us more anxious. Now we would be more anxious because we would also realize that we are clearly disobeying God!
In God’s kindness He also instructs us how to process our anxiety. Every time you are tempted to be fearful or anxious, view it as a prompting of the Lord to pray. God uses three words to explain this process—prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. In prayer we talk to God about our anxiety. We may even need to ask Him what it is that is bothering us. In supplication we petition Him and tell Him what we would like Him to do about it. You will never have real peace until you do. In thanksgiving you turn your attention away from the problem and to God. If you only prayed and supplicated or petitioned, and neglected thanksgiving, you would become more wrapped up in the problem. Thanksgiving links your heart to God as you praise Him for His knowledge and concern of the situation as well as His desire to carry the burden.
In prayer God can train us to cast our cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). Some anxieties are easier than others to cast upon God. The more something means to you the harder it is to trust God with it. God tells us that when Abraham offered up Isaac on the altar, his faith was “perfected” (James 2:22). It was “perfected” in that God’s goal for Abraham had been reached. His goal is to train His people to trust Him with the most precious thing of their lives. The most precious gift of God to Abraham was his beloved son Isaac. In previous times he had had lapses of faith where fear struck him and Abraham took matters in his own hands (Genesis 12, 20). At this time he had come to the point that he could trust God with his most precious gift—even when being asked to do something that he did not fully understand (Genesis 22; Hebrews 11:17–19).
What is your “Isaac”? Are you willing to surrender the matter to God and realize that He is able to guard what you entrust to Him (2 Timothy 1:12)? What you try to control is up to you to worry about and work out. Let this battle be used of God to raise up many times of precious prayer. Why not talk to Him right now about your “Isaac”?
by Bill Thrasher
Why is it so hard to pray? It’s something many Christians can relate to: the desire to pray but the failure to execute. A Journey to...
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