Prayer and The Bible
The Sacrificial Life is Misunderstood
One whole Christian life is to be one of sacrifice, that our brethren in the Lord, and afterwards the world of mankind, may benefit. It is more blessed to give than to receive. We shall therefore give God our heart and homage. We shall give Jesus our trust and fellowship, and our love, for we are to be his Bride. We shall give our brethren our strength, and lay down our lives for them. And being planted together in the likeness of our Lord's death, we shall be baptised on behalf of the dead world (Rom.6:5; 1 Cor.15:29). The great driving power which will enable us to do all this is love out of a pure heart. Of course our love will be misunderstood, as was the love of Jesus. This is one of the principle reasons why it is necessary for us to pray. We are so prone to be discouraged when our loving acts, looks and words are misinterpreted, wrong motives even being applied to them, that we must pray to God earnestly that we shall have the necessary strength, the power of the Holy Spirit to maintain this Christ‑like attitude.
Experienced Christians know that it takes the mighty power of God within to enable them to be steadfast in pure and fervent love. But none need despair, because we keep up our communication with God in Christ Jesus' name, the power will surely come. And remarkable though it is we shall find that we can actually continue our loving acts, looks and words even toward those who misunderstand them most! We shall be astonished ourselves to find how comparatively easy it is. It is prayer that brings this stupendous power. God cannot transmit it to us unless we keep up the connecting wires of prayer. Every one knows that when the wire is broken, electric energy cannot be transmitted. Every Christian should know that unless he is in direct connection with the Lord who is the source of spiritual power, he cannot get the necessary forces into his life to make him a channel of blessing to others—the real purpose of a Christian life. For in its truest sense prayer is not so much on our own behalf, but on behalf of others. We need not imagine that we can generate this power within ourselves. It comes from above. Jesus expressly said; "Apart from me, ye can do nothing." We simply cannot get power to flow out of us to bless, unless we keep unbroken our "prayer‑wire" with God so that power may flow into us. It must flow in first, and fill us up, and then it shall flow out to others and give them all the blessings we can possibly desire.
We likened prayer to a wire, through which stupendous power comes from God to ourselves. But is it necessary to have stupendous power? It is indeed! The Bible does not say in vain: "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov.16:32). The general who successfully leads his armies and captures strongly fortified positions is rightly applauded and honoured, for it requires no mean mental power to perform such leadership. The Scripture quietly says, however, that the man who can rule his own spirit is mightier than a great general. This is not a vain saying; it is true!
"Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself" (Heb.12:3). Christ Jesus was the only one who could rule his own spirit all the time in harmony with his Father's will. We are enabled to rule our spirit as we yield ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit of love. It is a gradual growth in our case, and requires patience to cultivate. By means of prayer we gain the necessary power. Now, all this is in strict line with God's glorious Plan of the Ages, and is therefore according to his will. For we are God's prospective priests and kings, joint‑heirs with Jesus Christ, and foreknown by God from before the foundation of the world. We must be prepared unto good works, and we can thus pray that everything necessary, whether it be things spiritual or natural, shall be granted to enable us to prepare for the work of blessing all the families of the earth as Abraham's Seed (Gen.22:18; Gal.3:29). The saying of Jesus: "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you," takes on a deeper meaning. We perceive that we cannot successfully ask for anything except as we are in Christ the anointed, and unless Christ's words, which are God's words, that is, God's expression of his great Plan of Salvation, dwell in us (Col.3:16). "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Col.3:17[Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17 ESV)]).
Next time—Hindrances to Prayer