Prayer and The Bible
How God's Will is Realised
But most of these expressions were sealed (1 Pet.1:10‑12; Matt.13:16‑17; Dan.12:9). Nearly all were dark sayings and parables and therefore unintelligible, and by men much misunderstood and misapplied. None but the "wise" or spiritually‑minded can understand the "deep things" of God, and then only when these are due to be revealed (Dan.12:10; Acts 1:7‑8; 1 Cor.2:9‑16). But as soon as the sealed communications of God are comprehended, they are re‑expressed plainly, and at once the requisite power is granted to carry them into effect. Jesus was the first to have this honour (Col.1:17‑18). When he was baptised with the Holy Spirit at Jordan the "heavens were opened unto him," and he then gained an understanding of many of the dark sayings of the past (Matt.3:16). The types became clear to him through his spirit of discernment; for the Holy Spirit has an enlightening action on the mind. Christ was thus enabled to re‑express the previously sealed declarations of God, that the will of God might be accompplished or realised (Heb.1:1‑2: Heb.2:3‑4).
The unfolding of the Old Testament Scriptures revealed to Jesus what was the will of the heavenly Father regarding the part he had himself to perform in the great work of salvation; and thus knowing the perfect Divine will he prayed for its fulfilment. As the result of his prayers our Lord was able to address his followers with life‑giving words, and carry on his miracles and works of healing. We read in Mark 1:35‑39 that Jesus, "rising up a great while before day,…departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." Immediately after this he is reported as preaching the Gospel and healing the sick. Also in Luke 5:16, after mentioning that the fame of Christ had gone abroad so that great multitudes came together to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities, the narrative relates that "He withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed." It then declares that the "power of the Lord was present to heal them." These and other examples demonstrate the intimate connection between the prayers of Jesus to his heavenly Father, and the manifestations of power by which he was able to preach with effect, and perform miraculous healings. They are consistent with his own confession, which he constantly impressed upon his disciples, that: "I can of mine own self do nothing…because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30). Because he delighted to do the will of the Father his prayers were always honoured, as he himself intimated: "The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him" (Psa.40:8; John 8:28‑29). And not only in the matter of preaching and healing did he require to pray, but for wisdom also that he might correctly interpret the will of God in other features of the Divine Plan.
Just as Jesus Christ received the spirit of discernment to enable him to comprehend and give intelligible expression to the dark sayings of the ancient prophets, so his followers have been granted a like power. As Jesus said: "Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God" (Mark 4:11); but to the world in general these things are still sealed. Jesus even thanked the Father that the Plan of Salvation was hidden from the wise and prudent of the earth, and was revealed only to those who like children had a humble and teachable disposition (Matt.11:25‑26; 18:1‑4).
In furtherance of Jehovah's wise arrangement to conduct the operation of the Plan in secret, and thus make accurate knowledge of it the exclusive privilege of his covenanted, spirit‑begotten people, Jesus himself never addressed the multitudes except in parables (Matt.13:10‑13.34‑35). His answers to the direct questionings of the sceptical, fault‑finding rulers were evasive, for he did not intend they should understand. Even the explanations of his parables granted to his enquiring and truth‑hungry disciples are not comprehended by any who are not faithful children of God, (Mark 4:33‑34; Luke 10:22‑24). The hard heart of unbelief is impervious to the simple message God's love (Prov.28:14; Mark 8:14‑21). The world therefore are altogether unable to give expression to the will of God, for they do not know it. And as they cannot give expression, God's will or idea concerning the Kingdom is not realised through their agency. No, it is the Church of the Living God who understand his will and are honoured, as was Jesus, to give voice to his purposes and thus call into operation all the resources of Jehovah's mighty power to accomplish his work (1 Cor.2:14‑16). This is the teaching of Eph.3:9‑12 (Diaglott).
The World's Greatest Battle
The earthly life of Jesus furnishes us with many illustrations of how the power of God is exercised when his will is expressed in prayer. The greatest conflict ever waged was during these forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness after being anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power. Satan, the powerful adversary of God, there tried his utmost to entice away Jesus' heart‑loyalty to his heavenly Father. "Fall down and worship me," he said, 'and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world.' But Jesus expressed Jehovah's will by replying: "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matt.4:8‑11). The utterances of God's spirit‑begotten children, when expressed harmoniously with the Divine will and in implicit faith, is of the nature of prayer.
Jesus could not be induced, even under the trying conditions of hunger and thirst, to forsake his God and give his heart to another. He would not allow his sweet communion with his heavenly Father in heaven to be severed. Satan, by his deceptive lie, had succeeded in the garden of Eden in enticing away the heart of man to himself; and because communication with God was broken he had retained his power over the world. But the Man Christ Jesus resisted him, and through the wonderful power of his Father's words defeated the enemy of God and man forever! Jehovah had re‑established everlasting communication with the hitherto alienated earth through the heart of another, loyal, man (Matt.3:17; 12:17‑18); and he there began to reclaim His earthly Kingdom, because His perfect will was now done on earth once more. All previous communicative work was tentative, and based upon the foreknown work of Christ (John 8:56; 1 Pet.1:10‑12).
From this time onward Jesus called into requisition the power of the Lord of heaven and earth by means of prayer. Through his loyal heart God could operate and finish his great work, his seventh‑day‑rest work, of reclaiming the fallen world to himself. The Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, are the first to escape the condemnation; for the power of God exerted through his loyal Son accomplishes a sanctifying work in those who heed the message (John 17:15‑20; Rom.1:16). These hear the word of reconciliation, and in response to the invitation: "My son, give me thine heart," they take away their (unwitting) allegiance to the god of this world, Satan, and give their heart‑loyalty to the heavenly Father (Prov.23:26; Col.1:8‑13). God is then able to use them to accomplish further features of his purposes, and to send his operative power through the medium of their prayers (Col.4:3; 1 Thess.3:10; 1 Pet.3:12; Phil.1:19).
Although Satan is vanquished he is allowed his freedom temporarily in order that the power of God may be manifested in winning over a few here and there by the message of love. Such as respond to this message are said to be delivered from the power of darkness, and are translated into the Kingdom of God's dear Son (Col.1:13). And after a sufficient number have joined forces with the Conqueror, giving their heart's loyalty to him and agreeing to do his will, the devil will be bound for a thousand years (Rev.20:1‑2), during which all the remainder of his deluded subjects will be won over under more favourable conditions, and will learn to love their new Ruler with all their heart (Isa.25:8‑9). And when the evil one is let loose at the end of the thousand years, and tries again to entice men to give their services to him, he will not succeed (Rev.20:7‑8). The love of their victorious King will be so much appreciated that they will then be immovably loyal to him (Rev.21:4‑5). The incorrigible who lack love will be destroyed with the devil (Matt.25:41‑46; Rev.21:6‑8). God's will shall then be done on earth (in all men's hearts) as it is now done in heaven.
Next time‑God's Power Works Through Prayer