Jouko Haapsaari | The Voice of Zion November 2021 --
Jesus once said, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Another time He said, “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:8). Our human mind might begin to ponder whether it is necessary to pray, if God knows what we are going to ask before we do so. Our mind can argue against God’s Word and say that prayer isn’t so important for us.
Why did Jesus encourage us to pray? Why did the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray? What is the benefit of prayer and what is the correct use of it? Can prayer be used wrongly?
First, I would like to say that God knew how much we need the gift of prayer. God clearly knows how weak, forgetful and doubtful we are. Jesus had to rebuke and remind the disciples often because of their actions and doubts and we are no different. The gift of prayer hasn’t been given for God’s sake, but for our sake. In prayer we can approach God, speak to Him of our worries, doubts and needs. We can pour out our hearts like a trusting child does to his or her parents. That is the correct use of the prayer. It is our “golden path” to God.
The Bible teaches us how to pray and what to pray. Jesus’ disciples felt they needed advice, so they asked the Lord to teach them to pray as John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray. That is when Jesus taught His disciples the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:1). In that connection a little later Jesus told them a parable of a person who received guests at a late hour. That man had nothing to give to his guests, so he went to knock on the door of his neighbor, who gave him what he asked for, although it was very inconvenient for him. Jesus taught that the neighbor helped him because of his diligence in prayer and said that we should do likewise (Luke 11:8).
James speaks about praying without doubting (James 1:6), because doubting rises against God’s power and is insulting to God, as happened when the spies returned from searching the promised land (Num. 14:11). I was once taught about this when I spoke to a special-needs child about prayer. I asked if God hears her prayers and she said yes, God hears them. Then I asked if God answers her prayers and this teacher of righteousness taught me, “God always answers my prayers with peace.” I was dumbstruck and felt ashamed for my little faith.
God certainly hears our prayers and answers them. Sometimes He says “yes,” sometimes “no” and quite often He says “later.” I am an impatient and forgetful one, and it can happen that when God finally sees that I am ready to receive the blessing I asked for a long time ago, I have totally forgotten that I have ever prayed for it. Oh, what slow and difficult children we are to God! I have thought that my relationship with God is like that of a teenager, who thinks that their parents don’t understand much. I ask for foolish things, forget to thank Him for His blessings and don’t even see all the good that He does for me. Yet He carefully guides and leads my life’s way towards the real object of my prayers, eternal home in heaven.
I promise to try to thank Him more often and ask for less. May God help me in that.