This book is divided into 31 meditations. In each one Jesus takes us to school on prayer. Here are some brief summaries of what Jesus is trying to teach us in each mediation:
- We need to be taught by Jesus how to pray since it is both simple and difficult. As Paul said, we really don’t know how to pray as we ought.
- Worshiping in spirit and in truth moves prayer from the prayer closet and the church to our everyday life. Making our whole life (24/7) a prayer of worship to God is essential to our walk with God.
- Not withstanding the need to take prayer out of the prayer closet, getting alone with God is essential to developing a life of prayer.
- Jesus’ Model prayer (the “Our Father”) covers all of the basics for our prayer life. It is intended for the very beginning stages of walking with Jesus. (See Chapter 19)
- He who comes to God must believe that He exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him. All prayer needs to be done with the full assurance that God will hear and answer (even if the answer is a refusal).
- The basis for our assurance that God will answer is our on-going relationship that we have with the Father.
- The greatest and most assured answer to prayer is the gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence. This is the one prayer that never fails (Sorry Father Tim!).
- Several points: Intercessory prayer for others needs to come out of our deep love for them. Persevering prayer happens because we know and fully trust our rich Friend in heaven; faith is the gold out of which persevering prayer grows.
- Jesus gives His followers the dignity and responsibility of causality in the advancement of the Kingdom. To respond to this call to prayer requires us to get close to Jesus’ heart and to have the faith that He answers.
- Prayer must be specific and definite (No: “Save everyone in my family” prayers).
- Once we learn from the Spirit that what we are asking is the right thing and in the right spirit, by faith we must hold fast to the belief that we will receive the answer we are asking for.
- In answer to the question, how can we have the faith necessary to believe our prayers are answered, Jesus teaches us to HAVE FAITH IN GOD by maintaining 24/7 intercourse with God.
- Faith needs a life of prayer to grow and to keep strong. Prayer needs fasting to fully develop.
- Just as our relationship with God must be clear for prayer to be answered, our relationships with our fellow-men must be clear as well.
- Just as solitude is essential to learn how to pray, so too, public united prayer is essential.
- In answer to the question, why do we need to persevere in prayer, Murray turns the answer on its head. He claims that God is the one who is long-suffering and answers as speedily as possible. Our job is to give God time.
- The mysteries surrounding prayer (especially when practiced with diligence) are to drive us deeper into the heart of God to help us grow up.
- God has called man to rule the world and prayer is our chief tool to rule.
- In Jesus’ early lessons to his disciples, prayer was chiefly about their personal needs. At the end of His ministry, in preparing the disciples for the work ahead, the focus was that prayer was the channel through which the power to do the work was received.
- The object of all prayer is the glory of God.
- Abiding in Christ is the primary and all-inclusive condition to answered prayer.
- Listening to God’s voice is the secret to obtain the assurance that He is listening to me!
- Answers to prayer are conditional to our bearing fruit.
- The name of Jesus is not used as a magic phrase but rather an expression of the confidence we have that because of our relationship with Jesus, we can confidently ask for anything in His name and He will give it.
- If we are living in the Spirit, our prayers will be God’s prayers and we can ask anything of the Father because we are so in tune with His Spirit. And God will grant it.
- Because we are in Christ and Christ ever-liveth to make intercession, we are to intercede with Jesus.
- Jesus calls us to follow Him in all aspects of His life here on earth. And one of those roles is as high priests. We are to follow the model of John 17 and pray for our selves; for those immediately around us; and beyond to the universal Church.
- Christians often see the prayer “Not my will be done, but …” as the perfect prayer (“The prayer that never fails”). Murray blasts that notion out of the water, teaching us that the “Not my will…” needs to be our sacrificial view of our whole life and thereby we abide in Jesus. As we sacrifice our will for God’s, he brings us to “Ask whatever ye will.”
- The secret to having our requests granted in prayer is that they be according to God’s will. And we can know what God’s will is as we soak in the word and walk in the Spirit.
- All Christians are called to be priests. Few enter into that calling. But know that by His blood you are cleansed and by His Spirit He leads you to intercede on behalf of this world.
- Because Jesus ever liveth to intercede, we are to follow His lead and cultivate a life of unceasing prayer.
From here on, I will provide very little commentary, because Murray says it better than I ever could say it. Anything indented and plain text is Murray. Anyone Murray quotes is indented and italicized.
The more we abide in Him and grow unto His likeness, will His priestly life work in us mightily, and our life become what His is, a life that ever pleads and prevails for men. ‘Thou hast made us kings and priests unto God.’ Both in the king and the priest the chief thing is power, influence, blessing. In the king it is the power coming downward; in the priest, the power rising upward, prevailing with God.
The passages quoted by Murray in Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 seem to be a mistranslation. Where the KJV has ‘Thou hast made us kings and priests unto God.’, the Greek has what the modern translations have: “made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father,” (ESV). So, are we made kings or made into a kingdom of priests? Do we abandon Murray’s insight into prayer as kings under the King of kings? No. In 1 Corinthians 4:8 Paul tells the Corinthian church that they are already kings. So, we are called not only to the upward intercessory role, but to the downward power, influence and blessing role as kings whose life has become like the life of the King of kings.
It is under a deep impression that the place and power of prayer in the Christian life is too little understood, that this book has been written.
But when we learn to regard it [prayer] as the highest part of the work entrusted to us, the root and strength of all other work, we shall see that there is nothing that we so need to study and practice as the art of praying aright.
it is only when the Church gives herself up to this holy work of intercession that we can expect the power of Christ to manifest itself in her behalf.
‘Lord, teach us to pray;’ Or, The Only Teacher .
‘And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, that when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray.’—Luke xi. 1.
Though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that the feeblest child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise.
Yes, we feel the need now of being taught to pray. At first there is no work appears so simple; later on, none that is more difficult; and the confession is forced from us: We know not how to pray as we ought.
Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray.
To know how to speak to God is more than knowing how to speak to man.
Chapter 1 Summary – We need to be taught by Jesus how to pray since it is both simple and difficult. As Paul said, we really don’t know how to pray as we ought.
‘In spirit and truth.’ Or, The True Worshippers.
‘The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be His worshippers. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.’—John iv. 23, 24.
And so one of our first lessons in the school of prayer must be to understand what it is to pray in spirit and in truth, and to know how we can attain to it.
Among Christians one still finds the three classes of worshippers. Some who in their ignorance hardly know what they ask: they pray earnestly, and yet receive but little. Others there are, who have more correct knowledge, who try to pray with all their mind and heart, and often pray most earnestly, and yet do not attain to the full blessedness of worship in spirit and truth. It is into this third class we must ask our Lord Jesus to take us; we must be taught of Him how to worship in spirit and truth. This alone is spiritual worship; this makes us worshippers such as the Father seeks. In prayer everything will depend on our understanding well and practicing the worship in spirit and truth.
A lesson of deep importance. How much our Christianity suffers from this, that it is confined to certain times and places. A man, who seeks to pray earnestly in the church or in the closet, spends the greater part of the week or the day in a spirit entirely at variance with that in which he prayed. His worship was the work of a fixed place or hour, not of his whole being. God is a Spirit: He is the Everlasting and Unchangeable One; what He is, He is always and in truth. Our worship must even so be in spirit and truth: His worship must be the spirit of our life; our life must be worship in spirit as God is Spirit.
Chapter 2 Summary – Worshiping in spirit and in truth moves prayer from the prayer closet and the church to our everyday life. Making our whole life (24/7) a prayer of worship to God is essential to our walk with God.
‘Pray to thy Father, which is in secret;’ Or, Alone with God
‘But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee’—Matt. vi. 6.
Moses gave neither command nor regulation with regard to prayer: even the prophets say little directly of the duty of prayer; it is Christ who teaches to pray.
And the first thing the Lord teaches His disciples is that they must have a secret place for prayer; everyone must have some solitary spot where he can be alone with his God.
Chapter 3 Summary – Not withstanding the need to take prayer out of the prayer closet, getting alone with God is essential to developing a life of prayer.
‘After this manner pray,’ Or, The Model Prayer
‘After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven.’—Matt. vi. 9.
‘Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.’ This petition is too frequently applied alone to the suffering of the will of God. In heaven God’s will is done, and the Master teaches the child to ask that the will may be done on earth just as in heaven: in the spirit of adoring submission and ready obedience.
As bread is the first need of the body, so forgiveness for the soul.
In each prayer to the Father I must be able to say that I know of no one whom I do not heartily love.
Chapter 4 Summary – Jesus’ Model prayer (the “Our Father”) covers all of the basics for our prayer life. It is intended for the very beginning stages of walking with Jesus. (See Chapter 19)
‘Ask, and it shall be given you.’ Or The Certainty of the Answer to Prayer.
‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened,’—Matt. vii. 7, 8.
‘Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss.’—Jas. iv. 3.
Here (in Matthew 7:7-8) He wants to teach us what in all Scripture is considered the chief thing in prayer: the assurance that prayer will be heard and answered.
It is one of the terrible marks of the diseased state of Christian life in these days, that there are so many who rest content without the distinct experience of answer to prayer. They pray daily, they ask many things, and trust that some of them will be heard, but know little of direct definite answer to prayer as the rule of daily life. And it is this the Father wills: He seeks daily intercourse with His children in listening to and granting their petitions. he wills that I should come to Him day by day with distinct requests; He wills day by day to do for me what I ask. It was in His answer to prayer that the saints of old learned to know God as the Living One, and were stirred to praise and love (Ps. xxxiv. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”, Psalm lxvi. 19 “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”, Psalm cxvi. 1, “I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.”).
There may be cases in which the answer is a refusal, because the request is not according to God’s Word, as when Moses asked to enter Canaan. But still, there was an answer: God did not leave His servant in uncertainty as to His will.
It is not hid from Thee, O my Lord, with what reasonings my heart seeks to satisfy itself, when no answer comes. There is the thought that my prayer is not in harmony with the Father’s secret counsel; that there is perhaps something better Thou wouldest give me; or that prayer as fellowship with God is blessing enough without an answer. And yet, my blessed Lord, I find in Thy teaching on prayer that Thou didst not speak of these things, but didst say so plainly, that prayer may and must expect an answer. Thou dost assure us that this is the fellowship of a child with the Father: the child asks and the Father gives.
Chapter 5 Summary – He who comes to God, must believe that He exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him. All prayer needs to be done with the full assurance that God will hear and answer (even if the answer is a refusal).
‘How much more?’ Or, The Infinite Fatherliness of God
‘Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?’—Matt. vii. 9-11
In these words our Lord proceeds further to confirm what He had said of the certainty of an answer to prayer. To remove all doubt, and show us on what sure ground His promise rests, He appeals to what every one has seen and experienced here on earth. We are all children, and know what we expected of our fathers. We are fathers, or continually see them; and everywhere we look upon it as the most natural thing there can be, for a father to hear his child. And the Lord asks us to look up from earthly parents, of whom the best are but evil, and to calculate HOW MUCH MORE the heavenly Father will give good gifts to them that ask Him.
As simple and intelligible as this parable is, so deep and spiritual is the teaching it contains. The Lord would remind us that the prayer of a child owes its influence entirely to the relation in which he stands to the parent. The prayer can exert that influence only when the child is really living in that relationship, in the home, in the love, in the service of the Father. The power of the promise, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you,’ lies in the loving relationship between us as children and the Father in heaven; when we live and walk in that relationship, the prayer of faith and its answer will be the natural result.
And what is the true child-life? The answer can be found in any home. The child that by preference forsakes the father’s house, that finds no pleasure in the presence and love and obedience of the father, and still thinks to ask and obtain what he will, will surely be disappointed. On the contrary, he to whom the intercourse and will and honour and love of the father are the joy of his life, will find that it is the father’s joy to grant his requests.
This is the one chief thought on which Jesus dwells here, and which He would have all His scholars take in. He would have us see that the secret of effectual prayer is: to have the heart filled with the Father-love of God. It is not enough for us to know that God is a Father: He would have us take time to come under the full impression of what that name implies. We must take the best earthly father we know; we must think of the tenderness and love with which he regards the request of his child, the love and joy with which he grants every reasonable desire; we must then, as we think in adoring worship of the infinite Love and Fatherliness of God, consider with how much more tenderness and joy He sees us come to Him, and gives us what we ask aright.
The child who only wants to know the love of the father when he has something to ask, will be disappointed. But he who lets God be Father always and in everything, who would fain live his whole life in the Father’s presence and love, who allows God in all the greatness of His love to be a Father to him, oh! he will experience most gloriously that a life in God’s infinite Fatherliness and continual answers to prayer are inseparable.
Chapter 6 Summary – The basis for our assurance that God will answer is our on-going relationship that we have with the Father.
‘How much more the Holy Spirit’ Or, The All-Comprehensive Gift
‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?’—Luke xi. 13.
The best gift a good and wise father can bestow on a child on earth is his own spirit. This is the great object of a father in education—to reproduce in his child his own disposition and character. If the child is to know and understand his father; if, as he grows up, he is to enter into all his will and plans; if he is to have his highest joy in the father, and the father in him,—he must be of one mind and spirit with him. And so it is impossible to conceive of God bestowing any higher gift on His child than this, His own Spirit.
This truth [The Father can bestow no higher or more wonderful gift than this: His own Holy Spirit,] naturally suggests the thought that this first and chief gift of God must be the first and chief object of all prayer.
And now, the lesson Jesus teaches us today in His school is this: That the Father is just longing to give Him to us if we will but ask in the childlike dependence on what He says: ‘If ye know to give good gifts unto your children, HOW MUCH MORE shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.’
Chapter 7 Summary – The greatest and most assured answer to prayer is the gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence. This is the one prayer that never fails (Sorry Father Tim!).
‘Because of his importunity;’ Or, The Boldness of God’s Friends
‘And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine is come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’ and he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.’—Luke xi. 5-8.
He adds the beautiful parable of the friend at midnight, to teach them the two fold lesson, that God does not only want us to pray for ourselves, but for the perishing around us, and that in such intercession great boldness of entreaty is often needful, and always lawful, yea, pleasing to God.
Let us confine ourselves to the chief thought: prayer as an appeal to the friendship of God; and we shall find that two lessons are specially suggested. The one, that if we are God’s friends, and come as such to Him, we must prove ourselves the friends of the needy; God’s friendship to us and ours to others go hand in hand. The other, that when we come thus we may use the utmost liberty in claiming an answer.
And so our Lord, in seeking to unfold to us the spiritual mystery of prayer, would fain have us approach God in this relation too, as those whom He has acknowledged as His friends, whose mind and life are in sympathy with His.
Intercession is part of faith’s training-school. There our friendship with men and with God is tested. There it is seen whether my friendship with the needy is so real, that I will take time and sacrifice my rest, will go even at midnight and not cease until I have obtained for them what I need. There it is seen whether my friendship with God is so clear, that I can depend on Him not to turn me away and therefore pray on until He gives.
O what a deep heavenly mystery this is of persevering prayer. The God who has promised, who longs, whose fixed purpose it is to give the blessing, holds it back. It is to Him a matter of such deep importance that His friends on earth should know and fully trust their rich Friend in heaven, that He trains them, in the school of answer delayed, to find out how their perseverance really does prevail, and what the mighty power is they can wield in heaven, if they do but set themselves to it.
It is when the answer to prayer does not come, and the promise we are most firmly trusting appears to be of none effect, that the trial of faith, more precious than of gold, takes place. It is in this trial that the faith that has embraced the promise is purified and strengthened and prepared in personal, holy fellowship with the living God, to see the glory of God.
Nothing is at first so strange to us as that God should really require persevering prayer, that there should be a real spiritual needs-be for importunity.
Chapter 8 Summary – Several points: Intercessory prayer for others needs to come out of our deep love for them. Persevering prayer happens because we know and fully trust our rich Friend in heaven; faith is the gold out of which persevering prayer grows.
‘Pray the Lord of the harvest;’ Or, Prayer provides Labourers.
‘Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.’—Matt. ix. 37-38.
THE Lord frequently taught His disciples that they must pray, and how; but seldom what to pray. This he left to their sense of need, and the leading of the Spirit.
In this chapter, Andrew develops the idea that the Lord of the harvest
wants us to ask Him to send out laborers to His harvest. As with us, Andrew finds this statement of our Lord strange:
Strange, is it not, that He should ask His disciples to pray for this? And could He not pray Himself? And would not one prayer of His avail more than a thousand of theirs? … And would not He, in His own good time, send forth labourers without their prayer?
Murray claims that if we can find the answer to that question, we will become convinced:
that prayer is indeed a power, on which the ingathering of the harvest and the coming of the Kingdom do in very truth depend.
To the question: Why are we not more moved by this statement of Jesus to pray for more workers, he says
- We miss the compassion of Jesus, which gave rise to this request for prayer.
- We believe too little in the power of prayer to bring about definite results. We do not live close enough to God, and are not enough entirely given up to His service and Kingdom, to be capable of the confidence that He will give it in answer to our prayer.
Chapter 9 Summary – Jesus gives His followers the dignity and responsibility of causality in the advancement of the Kingdom. To respond to this call to prayer requires us to get close to Jesus’ heart and to have the faith that He answers.
‘What wilt thou?’ Or, ‘Prayer must be Definite’
‘And Jesus answered him, and said, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?’—Mark x. 51; Luke xviii. 41.
In our dealings with God the business element must not be wanting. With our expression of need and sin, of love and faith and consecration, there must be the pointed statement of what we ask and expect to receive; it is in the answer that the Father loves to give us the token of His approval and acceptance.
Alas! how many prayers are wishes, sent up for a short time and then forgotten, or sent up year after year as matter of duty, while we rest content with the prayer without the answer.
True humility is ever in company with strong faith, which only seeks to know what is according to the will of God, and then boldly claims the fulfilment of the promise: ‘Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’
Chapter 10 Summary – Prayer must be specific and definite (No: “Save everyone in my family” prayers).
‘Believe that ye have received,’ ‘
Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.’—Mark xi. 24
WHAT a promise! so large, so Divine, that our little hearts cannot take it in, and in every possible way seek to limit it to what we think safe or probable; instead of allowing it, in its quickening power and energy, just as He gave it, to enter in, and to enlarge our hearts to the measure of what His love and power are really ready to do for us. Faith is very far from being a mere conviction of the truth of God’s word, or a conclusion drawn from certain premises. It is the ear which has heard God say what He will do, the eye which has seen Him doing it, and, therefore, where there is true faith, it is impossible but the answer must come.
The key-note of Solomon’s prayer (2 Chron. vi. 4), ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who hath with His hands fulfilled that which He spake with His mouth to my father David,’ is the key-note of all true prayer: the joyful adoration of a God whose hand always secures the fulfilment of what His mouth hath spoken.
In one aspect there must be faith before there can be prayer; in another the faith is the outcome and the growth of prayer. It is in the personal presence of the Saviour, in intercourse with Him, that faith rises to grasp what at first appeared too high.
It is in prayer that we wait for the leading of the Spirit to show us whether we are asking the right thing and in the right spirit.
Chapter 11 Summary – Once we learn from the Spirit, that what we are asking is the right thing and in the right spirit, by faith we must hold fast to the belief that we will receive the answer we are asking for.
‘Have faith in God;’ Or, The Secret of Believing Prayer.
‘Jesus, answering, said unto them, Have faith in God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what He saith cometh to pass; he shall have it. Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.’—Mark xi. 22-24.
Murray starts by addressing the question that is on everyone’s hearts the first time they read Mark 11:22-24.
THE promise of answer to prayer which formed our yesterday’s lesson is one of the most wonderful in all Scripture. In how many hearts it has raised the question: How ever can I attain the faith that knows that it receives all it asks?
C.S. Lewis addresses this in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. I will start the summary here by quoting Lewis’ answer to Murray’s question.
The New Testament contains embarrassing promises that what we pray for with faith we shall receive. Mark XI:24 is the most staggering. Whatever we ask for, believing that we’ll get it, we’ll get. No question, it seems, of confining it to spiritual gifts; whatever we ask for. No question of a merely general faith in God, but a belief that you will get the particular thing you ask. No question of getting either it or else something that is really far better for you; you’ll get precisely it…
How is this astonishing promise to be reconciled (a) With the observed facts? and (b) With the prayer in Gethsemene, and (as a result of that prayer) the universally accepted view that we should ask everything with a reservation (“if it be Thy will”)?
As regards (a), no evasion is possible. Every war, every famine or plague, almost every death-bed, is the monument to a petition that was not granted. At this very moment thousands of people in this one island are facing as a fait accompli the very thing against which they have prayed night and day, pouring out their whole soul in prayer, and, as they thought, with faith. They have sought and not found. They have knocked and it has not been opened. “That which they greatly feared has come upon them.”
But (b), though much less often mentioned, is surely an equal difficulty. How is it possible at one and the same moment to have a perfect faith — an untroubled or unhesitating faith as St. James says (I:6) — that you will get what you ask and yet also prepare yourself submissively in advance for a possible refusal? If you envisage a refusal as possible, how can you have simultaneously a perfect confidence that what you ask will not be refused? If you have that confidence, how can you take refusal into account at all?…
As regards the first difficulty, I’m not asking why our petitions are so often refused. Anyone can see in general that this must be so. In our ignorance we ask what is not good for us or for others, or not even intrinsically possible. Or again, to grant one man’s prayer involves refusing another’s. There is much here that is hard for our will to accept but nothing that is hard for our intellect to understand. The real problem is different; not why refusal is so frequent, but why the opposite is so lavishly promised.
Shall we then proceed on Vidler’s principles and scrap the embarrassing promises as “venerable archaisms” which have to be “outgrown”? Surely, even if there were no other objection, that method is too easy. If we are free to delete all inconvenient data we shall certainly have no theological difficulties; but for the same reason no solutions and no progress… The troublesome fact, the apparent absurdity which can’t be fitted in to any synthesis we have yet made, is precisely the one we must not ignore. Ten to one, it’s in that cover the fox is lurking. There is always hope if we keep an unsolved problem fairly in view; there’s none if we pretend it’s not there.
Before going any further, I want to make two purely practical points:
- These lavish promises are the worst possible place at which to begin Christian instruction in dealing with a child or a Pagan. You remember what happened when the Widow started Huck Finn off with the idea that he could get what he wanted by praying for it. He tried the experiment and then, not unnaturally, never gave Christianity a second thought; we had better not talk about the view of prayer embodied in Mark XI:24 as “naif” or “elementary.” If that passage contains a truth, it is a truth for very advanced pupils indeed. I don’t think it is “addressed to our condition” (yours and mine) at all. It is a coping-stone, not a foundation. For most of us the prayer in Gethsemane is the only model. Removing mountains can wait.
- We must not encourage in ourselves or others any tendency to work up a subjective state which, if we succeeded, we should describe as “faith,” with the idea that this will somehow insure the granting of our prayer. We have probably all done this as children. But the state of mind which desperate desire working on a strong imagination can manufacture is not faith in the Christian sense. It is a feat of psychological gymnastics.
It seems to me we must conclude that such promises about prayer with faith refer to a degree or kind of faith which most believers never experience. A far inferior degree is, I hope, acceptable to God. Even the kind that says “Help thou my unbelief” may make way for a miracle. Again, the absence of such faith as ensures the granting of the prayer is not even necessarily a sin; for Our Lord had no such assurance when He prayed in Gethsemane.
How or why does such faith occur sometimes, but not always, even in the perfect petitioner? We, or I, can only guess. My own idea is that it occurs only when the one who prays does so as God’s fellow-worker, demanding what is needed for the joint work. It is the prophet’s, the apostle’s, the missionary’s, the healer’s prayer that is made with this confidence and finds the confidence justified by the event. The difference, we are told, between a servant and a friend is that a servant is not in his master’s secrets. For him, “orders are orders.” He has only his own surmises as to the plans he helps to execute. But the fellow-worker, the companion or (dare we say?) the colleague of God is so united with Him at certain moments that something of the divine foreknowledge enters his mind. Hence his faith is “evidence” — that is, the evidentness, the obviousness — of things not seen.
As the friend is above the servant, the servant is above the suitor, the man praying on his own behalf. It is no sin to be a suitor. Our Lord descends into the humiliation of being a suitor, or praying on His own behalf, in Gethsemane. But when He does so the certitude about His Father’s will is apparently withdrawn.
After that it would be no true faith — it would be idle presumption — for us, who are habitually suitors and do not often rise to the level of servants, to imagine that we shall have any assurance that is not an illusion — or correct only by accident — about the event of our prayers. Our struggle is — isn’t it? — to achieve and retain faith on a lower level. To believe that, whether He can grant them or not, God will listen to our prayers, will take them into account. Even to go on believing that there is a Listener at all. For as the situation grows more and more desperate, the grisly fears intrude. Are we only talking to ourselves in an empty universe? The silence is often so emphatic. And we have prayed so much already.
So with Lewis’ words (and questions) ringing in our ears, Andrew “What say ye?”
It is this question our Lord would answer today. Ere He gave that wonderful promise to His disciples, He spoke another word, in which He points out where the faith in the answer to prayer takes its rise, and ever finds its strength. HAVE FAITH IN GOD: this word precedes the other, Have faith in the promise of an answer to prayer. The power to believe a promise depends entirely, but only, on faith in the promiser.
Listen to the lesson Jesus teaches us this day: HAVE FAITH IN GOD, the Living God: let faith look to God more than the thing promised: it is His love, His power, His living presence will waken and work the faith.
So the cure of a feeble faith is alone to be found in the invigoration of our whole spiritual life by intercourse with God. Learn to believe in God, to take hold of God, to let God take possession of thy life, and it will be easy to take hold of the promise.
God’s promise will be to us what God Himself is. It is the man who walks before the Lord, and falls upon his face to listen while the living God speaks to him, who will really receive the promise.
Chapter 12 Summary – In answer to the question, how can we have the faith necessary to believe our prayers are answered, Jesus teaches us to HAVE FAITH IN GOD by maintaining 24/7 intercourse with God.
‘Prayer and fasting;’ Or, The Cure of Unbelief.
‘Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible to you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting’—Matt. xvii. 19-21.
He teaches us two lessons in regard to prayer of deep importance. The one, that faith needs a life of prayer in which to grow and keep strong. The other, that prayer needs fasting for its full and perfect development.
Chapter 13 Summary – Faith needs a life of prayer to grow and to keep strong. Prayer needs fasting to fully develop.
‘When ye stand praying, forgive;’ Or, Prayer and Love.
‘And whensoever ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any one; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.’—Mark xi. 25.
THESE words follow immediately on the great prayer-promise, ‘All things whatsoever ye pray, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.’ We have already seen how the words that preceded that promise, ‘Have faith in God,’ taught us that in prayer all depends upon our relation to God being clear; these words that follow on it remind us that our relation with fellow-men must be clear too.
Life is a whole, and the pious frame of the hour of prayer is judged of by God from the ordinary frame of the daily life of which the hour of prayer is but a small part.
Chapter 14 Summary – Just as our relationship with God must be clear for prayer to be heard, our relationships with our fellow-men must be clear as well.
‘If two agree;’ Or, The Power of United Prayer
‘Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.—Matt. xviii. 19, 20.
ONE of the first lessons of our Lord in His school of prayer was: Not to be seen of men. Enter thy inner chamber; be alone with the Father. When He has thus taught us that the meaning of prayer is personal individual contact with God, He comes with a second lesson: You have need not only of secret solitary, but also of public united prayer. And He gives us a very special promise for the united prayer of two or three who agree in what they ask. As a tree has its root hidden in the ground and its stem growing up into the sunlight, so prayer needs equally for its full development the hidden secrecy in which the soul meets God alone, and the public fellowship with those who find in the name of Jesus their common meeting-place.
Chapter 15 Summary – Just as solitude is essential to learn how to pray, so too, public united prayer is essential.
‘Speedily, though bearing long;’ Or, The Power of Persevering Prayer.
‘And He spake a parable unto them to the end that they ought always to pray, and not to faint. . . . And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry to Him day and night, and He is long-suffering over them? I say unto you, that He will avenge them speedily.’—Luke xviii. 1-8.
OF all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need of persevering prayer is one of the greatest. That the Lord, who is so loving and longing to bless, should have to be supplicated time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes, we cannot easily understand. It is also one of the greatest practical difficulties in the exercise of believing prayer. When, after persevering supplication, our prayer remains unanswered, it is often easiest for our slothful flesh, and it has all the appearance of pious submission, to think that we must now cease praying, because God may have His secret reason for withholding His answer to our request.
It is by faith alone that the difficulty is overcome. When once faith has taken its stand upon God’s word, and the Name of Jesus, and has yielded itself to the leading of the Spirit to seek God’s will and honour alone in its prayer, it need not be discouraged by delay.
God will not delay one moment longer than is absolutely necessary; He will do all in His power to hasten and speed the answer.
But why, if this be true and His power be infinite, does it often last so long with the answer to prayer? And why must God’s own elect so often, in the midst of suffering and conflict, cry day and night? ‘He is long-suffering over them.’ ‘Behold! the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being long-suffering over it, till it receive the early and the latter rain.’ The husbandman does indeed long for his harvest, but knows that it must have its full time of sunshine and rain, and has long patience.
As a father who longs to have his only child home from school, and yet waits patiently till the time of training is completed, so it is with God and His children: He is the long-suffering One, and answers speedily.
Let us learn to give God time.
… we must give ourselves to prayer
Chapter 16 Summary – In answer to the question, why do we need to persevere in prayer, Murray turns the answer on its head. He claims that God is the one who is long-suffering and answers as speedily as possible. Our job is to give God time.
‘I know that Thou hearest me always;’ Or Prayer in Harmony with the Being of God.
‘Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest me. And I knew that Thou hearest me always.’—John xi. 41, 42. ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of me, and I shall give Thee.’—Ps. ii. 7, 8.
Childlike simplicity accepts the truth without difficulty, and often cares little to give itself or others any reason for its faith but this: God has said. But it is the will of God that we should love and serve Him, not only with all the heart but also with all the mind; that we should grow up into an insight into the Divine wisdom and beauty of all His ways and words and works.
While prayer and faith are so simple that the new-born convert can pray with power, true Christian science finds in the doctrine of prayer some of its deepest problems. In how far is the power of prayer a reality? If so, how God can grant to prayer such mighty power? How can the action of prayer be harmonized with the will and the decrees of God? How can God’s sovereignty and our will, God’s liberty and ours, be reconciled?—these and other like questions are fit subjects for Christian meditation and inquiry. The more earnestly and reverently we approach such mysteries, the more shall we in adoring wonder fall down to praise Him who hath in prayer given such power to man.
Prayer has its rise and its deepest source in the very Being of God. In the bosom of Deity nothing is ever done without prayer—the asking of the Son and the giving of the Father.
Chapter 17 Summary – The mysteries surrounding prayer (especially when practiced with diligence) are to drive us deeper into the heart of God to help us grow up.
‘Whose is this image?’ Or, Prayer in Harmony with the Destiny of Man.
‘He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?—Matt. xxi. 20. ‘And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’—Gen. i. 26.
The more we meditate on what prayer is, and the wonderful power with God which it has, the more we feel constrained to ask who and what man is, that such a place in God’s counsels should have been allotted to him.
Through thy members, as kings and priests unto God, would God rule the world; their prayers bestow and withhold the blessings of heaven.
God is seeking kings. Not out of the ranks of angels. Fallen man must furnish Him with the rulers of His universe. Human hands must wield the sceptre, human heads must wear the crown.—The Rent Veil, by Dr. H. Bonar.
Chapter 18 Summary – God has called man to rule the world and prayer is our chief tool to rule.
‘I go unto the Father!’ Or, Power for Praying and Working.
‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do.’—John xiv. 12, 13.
AS the Saviour opened His public ministry with His disciples by the Sermon on the Mount, so He closes it by the Parting Address preserved to us by John. In both He speaks more than once of prayer. But with a difference. In the Sermon on the Mount it is as to disciples who have only just entered His school, who scarcely know that God is their Father, and whose prayer chiefly has reference to their personal needs. In His closing address He speaks to disciples whose training time is now come to an end, and who are ready as His messengers to take His place and His work. In the former the chief lesson is: Be childlike, pray believingly, and trust the Father that He will give you all good gifts. Here He points to something higher: They are now His friends to whom He has made known all that He has heard of the Father; His messengers, who have entered into His plans, and into whose hands the care of His work and kingdom on earth is to be entrusted. They are now to go out and do His works, and in the power of His approaching exaltation, even greater works: prayer is now to be the channel through which that power is to be received for their work.
[The first lesson is that] Effectual working needs first effectual prayer. And now the second lesson: He who would pray must work. It is for power to work that prayer has such great promises.
Chapter 19 Summary – In Jesus’ early lessons to his disciples, prayer was chiefly about their personal needs. At the end of His ministry, in preparing the disciples for the work ahead, the focus was that prayer was the channel through which the power to do the work was received.
‘That the Father may be glorified;’ Or, The Chief End of Prayer.
I go unto the Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.’—John xiv. 13.
Every answer to prayer He gives will have this as its object [God’s glory]: when there is no prospect of this object being obtained, He will not answer.
Not as if the believer does not at times desire [that God get the glory]. But he has to mourn that he has so little attained. And he knows the reason of his failure too. It was, because the separation between the spirit of daily life and the spirit of the hour of prayer was too wide. We begin to see that the desire for the glory of the Father is not something that we can awake and present to our Lord when we prepare ourselves to pray. No! it is only when the whole life, in all its parts, is given up to God’s glory, that we can really pray to His glory too. ‘Do all to the glory of God,’ and, ‘Ask all to the glory of God,’—these twin commands are inseparable: obedience to the former is the secret of grace for the latter.
What a humbling thought that so often there is earnest prayer for a child or a friend, for a work or a circle, in which the thought of our joy or our pleasure was far stronger than any yearnings for God’s glory. No wonder that there are so many unanswered prayers: here we have the secret. God would not be glorified when that glory was not our object. He that would pray the prayer of faith, will have to give himself to live literally so that the Father in all things may be glorified in him.
Chapter 20 Summary – The object of all prayer is the glory of God.
‘If ye abide in me;’ Or The All-Inclusive Condition.
‘If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’—John xv. 7.
IN all God’s intercourse with us, the promise and its conditions are inseparable. If we fulfil the conditions, He fulfils the promise. What He is to be to us depends upon what we are willing to be to Him. ‘Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.’ And so in prayer the unlimited promise, Ask whatsoever ye will, has its one simple and natural condition, if ye abide in me.
When we compare this promise with the experiences of most believers, we are startled by a terrible discrepancy. Who can number up the countless prayers that rise and bring no answer? The cause must be either that we do not fulfill the condition, or God does not fulfill the promise.
Believers are not willing to admit either, and therefore have devised a way of escape from the dilemma. They put into the promise the qualifying clause our Saviour did not put there—if it be God’s will; and so maintain both God’s integrity and their own. O if they did but accept it and hold it fast as it stands, trusting to Christ to vindicate His truth, how God’s Spirit would lead them to see the Divine propriety of such a promise to those who really abide in Christ in the sense in which He means it, and to confess that the failure in the fulfilling the condition is the one sufficient explanation of unanswered prayer.
What is abiding in Christ? Murray says:
This is the true abiding, the occupying of the position in which Christ can come and abide; so abiding in Him that the soul has come away from self to find that He has taken the place and become our life. It is the becoming as little children who have no care, and find their happiness in trusting and obeying the love that has done all for them.
And how does this relate to answered prayer?
To those who thus abide, the promise comes as their rightful heritage: Ask whatsoever ye will. It cannot be otherwise. Christ has got full possession of them. Christ dwells in their love, their will, their life. Not only has their will been given up; Christ has entered it, and dwells and breathes in it by His Spirit. He whom the Father always hears, prays in them; they pray in Him: what they ask shall be done unto them.
The abiding, as the Master meant it, is within our reach, for He lives to give it us. Let us but be ready to count all things loss, and to say, ‘Not as though I had already attained; I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus.’
Chapter 21 Summary – Abiding in Christ is the primary and all-inclusive condition to answered prayer.
‘My words in you.’ Or, The Word and Prayer.
‘If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’—John xv. 7.
Before prayer, it is God’s word that prepares me for it by revealing what the Father has bid me ask. In prayer, it is God’s word strengthens me by giving my faith its warrant and its plea. And after prayer, it is God’s word that brings me the answer when I have prayed, for in it the Spirit gives me to hear the Father’s voice. Prayer is not monologue but dialogue; God’s voice in response to mine in its most essential part. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine.
Chapter 22 Summary – Listening to God’s voice is the secret of obtaining the assurance that He is listening to me!
‘Bear fruit, that the Father may give what ye ask;’ Or, Obedience the Path to Power in Prayer.
‘Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He may give it you.’—John xv. 16.
‘The fervent effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much.’—James. v. 16.
THE promise of the Father’s giving whatsoever we ask is here once again renewed, in such a connection as to show us to whom it is that such wonderful influence in the council chamber of the Most High is to be granted. ‘I chose you,’ the Master says, ‘and appointed you that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide;’ and then He adds, to the end ‘that whatsoever ye,’ the fruit-bearing ones, ‘shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.’ This is nothing but the fuller expression of what He had spoken in the words, ‘If ye abide in me.’
Andrew recognizes that some Christians will fear that this truth is at variance with the doctrine of free grace. He claims that it doesn’t go against free grace as properly understood. He then lists many scriptures that talk about how works and prayer go together. (1 John iii. 22; Ps. xviii. 20-26. See also Ps. vii. 3-5, xv. 1, 2, xviii. 3, 6, xxvi. 1-6, cxix. 121, 153.)
If we carefully consider such utterances in the light of the New Testament, we shall find them in perfect harmony with the explicit teaching of the Saviour’s parting words: ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love;’ ‘Ye are my friends if ye do what I command you.’
Chapter 23 Summary – Answers to prayer are conditional to our bearing fruit.
‘In my Name;’ Or, The All-prevailing Plea.
‘Whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do. If ye shall ask me anything in my Name, that will I do. That whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, He may give it you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in my Name. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my Name: ask, and ye shall receive. In that day ye shall ask in my Name.’—John xiv. 13, 14, xv. 16, xvi. 23, 24, 26.
In this chapter, Andrew talks about how we use a person’s name. “When I mention or hear a name, it calls up before me the whole man, what I know of him, and also the impression he has made on me.”
But what does it mean to do a thing in the name of another?
It is to come with the power and authority of that other, as his representative and substitute.
And what is it when Jesus gives us power over His Name, the free use of it, with the assurance that whatever we ask in it will be given to us? The ordinary comparison of one person giving another, on some special occasion, the liberty to ask something in his name, comes altogether short here,—Jesus solemnly gives to all His disciples a general and unlimited power of the free use of His Name at all times for all they desire. He could not do this if He did not know that He could trust us with His interests, that His honour would be safe in our hands.
He makes the point that, in the natural, we can only use the name, authority and power of another if we have a relationship with that person.
When it says, ‘Do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus,’ we see how this is the counterpart of the other, ‘Ask all.’ To do all and to ask all in His Name, these go together.
‘WHATSOEVER ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do.’ Jesus means the promise literally. Christians have sought to limit it: it looked too free; it was hardly safe to trust man so unconditionally. We did not understand that the word ‘in my Name’ is its own safeguard. It is a spiritual power which no one can use further than he obtains the capacity for, by his living and acting in that Name. As we bear that Name before men, we have power to use it before God.
Chapter 24 Summary – The name of Jesus is not used as a magic phrase but rather an expression of the confidence we have that because of our relationship with Jesus, we can confidently ask for anything in His name and He will give it.
‘At that day;’ Or, The Holy Spirit and Prayer.
‘In that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my Name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. At that day ye shall ask in my Name: and I say not, that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father Himself loveth you.’—John xvi. 23-26.
‘Praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God.’—Jude 20, 21.
Andrew claims the 1 John 2: 12-14 describes three phases in the life of the believer: Infancy; Middle Childhood; Maturity. He makes the bold claim that we can see three phases in Jesus teaching the disciples on prayer.
In Christ’s teaching on prayer there appear to be three stages in the prayer-life, somewhat analogous. In the Sermon on the Mount we have the initial stage: His teaching is all comprised in one word, Father. Pray to your Father, your Father sees, hears, knows, and will reward: how much more than any earthly father! Only be childlike and trustful. Then comes later on something like the transition stage of conflict and conquest, in words like these: ‘This sort goeth not out but by fasting and prayer;’ ‘Shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night unto Him?’ And then we have in the parting words, a higher stage. The children have become men: they are now the Master’s friends, from whom He has no secrets, to whom He says, ‘All things that I heard from my Father I made known unto you;’ and to whom, in the oft-repeated ‘whatsoever ye will,’ He hands over the keys of the kingdom. Now the time has come for the power of prayer in His Name to be proved.
one of the marks of that wonderful spirit-dispensation was to be a power in prayer hitherto unknown—prayer in the Name of Jesus, asking and obtaining whatsoever they would, is to be the manifestation of the reality of the Spirit’s indwelling.
Murray claims that the day Jesus is speaking of is the day of Pentecost. When Jesus sends His Spirit, our prayer life changes. We can now ask for anything and expect it because we are living in the Spirit.
Chapter 25 Summary – If we are living in the Spirit, our prayers will be God’s prayers and we can ask anything of the Father because we are so in tune with His Spirit. And God will grant it.
‘I have prayed for thee;’ Or, Christ the Intercessor.
‘But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.’—Luke xxii. 32.
‘I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you.’—John xvi. 26.
‘He ever liveth to make intercession.’—Heb. vii. 25.
Murray starts this chapter by talking about how being “in Christ” affects our prayer life:
Because He prays, we pray too.
It is the sight of Jesus in His intercession that gives us power to pray in His Name: all right and power of prayer is Christ’s; He makes us share in His intercession.
we share with Him in His intercession too; it is not a work He does without us.
His life in us is an ever-praying life.
Chapter 26 – Summary – Because we are in Christ and Christ ever-liveth to make intercession, we are to intercede with Jesus.
‘Father, I will;’ Or, Christ the High Priest
‘Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given me may be with me where I am.’—John xvii. 24.
We are a kingdom of priests. In this chapter, Murray teaches us how to pick up that mantle by following Jesus’ example of His high priestly prayer.
Disciple of Jesus! here you have the first lesson in your work of priestly intercession, to be learned from the example of your great High Priest. To pray in the Name of Jesus is to pray in unity, in sympathy with Him. As the Son began His prayer by making clear His relation to the Father, pleading His work and obedience and His desire to see the Father glorified, do so too. Draw near and appear before the Father in Christ. Plead His finished work. Say that you are one with it, that you trust on it, live in it. Say that you too have given yourself to finish the work the Father has given you to do, and to live alone for His glory. And ask then confidently that the Son may be glorified in you. This is praying in the Name, in the very words, in the Spirit of Jesus, in union with Jesus Himself.
priestly intercession, to be learned from the example of your great High Priest. To pray in the Name of Jesus is to pray in unity, in sympathy with Him. As the Son began His prayer by making clear His relation to the Father, pleading His work and obedience and His desire to see the Father glorified, do so too. Draw near and appear before the Father in Christ. Plead His finished work. Say that you are one with it, that you trust on it, live in it. Say that you too have given yourself to finish the work the Father has given you to do, and to live alone for His glory. And ask then confidently that the Son may be glorified in you. This is praying in the Name, in the very words, in the Spirit of Jesus, in union with Jesus Himself.
The disciple of Jesus, who has first in his own circle proved the power of prayer, cannot confine himself within its limits: he prays for the Church universal and its different branches. He prays specially for the unity of the Spirit and of love. He prays for its being one in Christ, as a witness to the world that Christ, who hath wrought such a wonder as to make love triumph over selfishness and separation, is indeed the Son of God sent from heaven.
Chapter 27 Summary – Jesus calls us to follow Him in all aspects of His life here on earth. And one of those roles is as high priests. We are to follow the model of John 17 and pray for our selves; for those immediately around us; and beyond to the universal Church.
‘Father! Not what I will;’ Or, Christ the Sacrifice.
‘And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; remove this cup from me: howbeit not what I will, but what Thou wilt.’—Mark xiv. 36.
How, Andrew asks, can we reconcile the prayer instruction just given by Jesus (“Ask whatever you will and it will be done for you”) and “Not my will, but thine?” Andrew says that we must understand this “Not my will” prayer in the context of the great suffering on his part. He claims that it was never meant to be used when praying for someone else.
It was by Christ’s submittal in Gethsemane to have not His will done, that He secured for His people the right to say to them, ‘Ask whatsoever ye will.’
He spake, ‘Not as I will,’ that He might say to us, ‘If ye abide in me, ask what ye will; it shall be done unto you.’
Murray claims we are to live the life of “Not my will…” but it is in living that kind of sacrificial life that we have access to the “ask what ye will.”
In Thy death I would daily live; in Thy life I would daily die.
Chapter 28 Summary – Christians often see the prayer “Not my will be done, but …” as the perfect prayer (“The prayer that never fails). Murray blasts that notion out of the water, teaching us that the “Not my will…” needs to be our sacrificial view of our whole life and thereby we abide in Jesus. As we sacrifice our will for God’s, he brings us to “Ask whatever ye will.”
‘According to His will; Or, Our Boldness in Prayer. ‘
And this is the boldness which we have toward Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us. And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of Him.’—I John V v. 14-15.
Andrew starts this chapter by exposing our hindrance to believing prayer. He says that we don’t know if the specific prayer is God’s will or not. And as long was we doubt this, we cannot have assurance that the request will be granted.
John supposes that when we pray, we first find out if our prayers are according to the will of God. They may be according to God’s will, and yet not come at once, or without the persevering prayer of faith. It is to give us courage thus to persevere and to be strong in faith, that He tells us: This gives us boldness or confidence in prayer, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.
Murray says we must have Christ’s word in us and the Spirit in us. If we only have one, we cannot be capable of knowing God’s will.
… if I would have the leading of the Spirit in prayer to assure me what God’s will is, my whole life must be yielded to that leading; so only can mind and heart become spiritual and capable of knowing God’s holy will.
Chapter 29 Summary – The secret to having our requests granted in prayer is that they be according to God’s will. And we can know what God’s will is as we soak in the word and walk in the Spirit.
‘An holy priesthood;’ Or, The Ministry of Intercession.
‘An holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’—I Peter ii. 5.
‘Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord.’—Isaiah lxi. 6.
Murray defines for us what it means to be a priest of the Lord:
A priest is thus a man who does not at all live for himself. He lives with God and for God. [And] He lives with men and for men (Heb. v. 2).
Our priestly power with God depends on our personal life and walk. We must be of them of whose walk on earth Jesus says, ‘They have not defiled their garments.’
And above all, we consent to give up all inheritance on earth; to forsake all, and like Christ to have only God as our portion: to possess as not possessing, and hold all for God alone: it is this marks the true priest, the man who only lives for God and his fellow-men.
Just as the sons of Aaron were priests by birth but needed to be consecrated:
Every child of God is priest in light of his birth, his blood relationship to the Great High Priest; but this is not enough: he will exercise his power only as he accepts and realizes his consecration.
Beloved fellow-Christians! God needs, greatly needs, priests who can draw near to Him, who live in His presence, and by their intercession draw down the blessings of His grace on others. And the world needs, greatly needs, priests who will bear the burden of the perishing ones, and intercede on their behalf.
Chapter 30 Summary – All Christians are called to be priests. Few enter into that calling. But know that by His blood you are cleansed and by His Spirit He leads you to intercede on behalf of this world.
‘Pray without ceasing;’ Or, A Life of Prayer.
‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.—I Thess. v. 16, 17, 18.
He who seeks to pray without ceasing because he wants to be very pious and good, will never attain to it.
What is required to live such a life?
The first thing is undoubtedly the entire sacrifice of the life to God’s kingdom and glory.
This life devoted to God must be accompanied by the deep confidence that our prayer is effectual.
But the chief thing we need for such a life of unceasing prayer is, to know that Jesus teaches us to pray.
Praying without ceasing is the earthly manifestation of heaven come down to us, the foretaste of the life where they rest not day or night in the song of worship and adoration.
Chapter 31 Summary – Because Jesus ever liveth to intercede, we are to follow His lead and cultivate a life of unceasing prayer.