Greetings and good morning, brothers and sisters. This is Dr. James Perry continuing with our series where we seek to explore the deeper meanings of our relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the years, the heavenly Father has revealed many revelations of spiritual truth to me, and I want to share them with you. This morning we examine the cycle of prayer. We examine the process whereby we make petitions to the heavenly Father and receive answers to those petitions.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Cycle of Prayer
"Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Philippians, Chapter 4, Verse 6
Brothers and sisters, we know that some petitions may not be answered because they lack spiritual content; others may not be answered because of our inability to comprehend the divine answer; while still others may not be answered because we lack faith. This last factor we shall devout most of our attention to, but let us consider some other factors first.
Lack of Spiritual Content: We are material creatures and it is only natural that we should direct our material concerns to the heavenly Father. Especially is this true of those desires that are of supreme importance to our material natures. It may be a loved one suffering from a physical affliction or grave illness. It may be a request for a job that has been lost or for a better job. It may be a request for a mate. It may be a desire for financial assistance or any of a thousand and one material requests. But while we may experience great satisfaction in making these petitions, there can be no direct answer to them. The Father is spiritual and all petitions must be of a spiritual nature; and so must the answer to such petitions be spiritual. In the face of these material difficulties, we should ask the Father, rather, for the wisdom, grace, the moral and spiritual stamina to sustain us while we work through all of these material difficulties.
Though material praying cannot change material reality, it often leads to our actions that bring about the desired results. The material realm is governed by material laws, just as the spiritual realm is governed by spiritual laws. Thus when we comply with material laws governing these requests, the desired results are obtained. Material reality responds to the action of the mind, the area where intelligence reigns. The mind is able to discover the laws governing material reality and to make use of those laws to bring about desired effects. And we have witnessed and continue to witness amazing breakthroughs from understanding and applying the material laws governing such breakthroughs.
Inadequate Comprehension: Sometimes the reach of our prayers are beyond our own level of comprehension, beyond our level of maturity. It is like a young child asking to drive an automobile. Now the child has seen the automobile in operation by older persons and has a desire to do the same. But there is a level of maturity that must be reached before the child can safely operate a motor vehicle. The wise parent knows that when the child is older, the request will be granted. So it is with the heavenly Father. Because of our spiritual imaginations we can foresee many spiritual value states of the future and sometimes we request them prematurely. Even though we can visualize the value, we can’’t comprehend its meaning. But growth and development will usher in a state where we will comprehend the meaning. And the value state that we so unwisely requested during a former state of development will be waiting for us just as soon as we are competent to comprehend it.
Lack of Faith: Even when the spiritual content of our prayers is satisfactory and our petitions are commensurate with our status, without exercising faith, we will not pray and nor will we receive an answer. Faith is the foundation upon which we stand when we make acceptable petitions to the heavenly Father. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: For he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Faith is important because our actual status is material, and our developing status is spiritual but incomplete and thus not able to operate as a finished product. Therefore the heavenly Father gives us this gift that will allows us to operate in the spiritual world even though we are incomplete.
Let us consider a material analogy of a bow and arrow to gain further insight into the operation of faith. Our moral will is the force that pulls the string of desire on the bow. Our faith is the arrow. When we release the string of our desire, the arrow of faith shoots towards the target of the spiritual value that we are desirous of obtaining. If our target of spiritual value is appropriate, the arrow of faith when released by our moral will, will hit the target of spiritual value head on. Now assuming that all these factors are in play, the request has spiritual content (the value is appropriate for our level of maturity and our faith is living), we shall now see how the cycle of faith works.
In our relationship with the Father, we must remember that our relationship is always in the "now." The eternal Father knows no past or future. He always exists in the everlasting now. Even with our earthly Father, though they have a past and a future, practically regarded, our relationship with him is always in the present. And this is true despite the fact that they have memories of the past and can plan for the future. And even though we have past experiences with the Father as we are time creatures, our relationship with him is always in the present. This understanding has important consequences to our petitions. The Father can only answer our petitions in the "now."
The domain of our petitions is spiritual since he is spiritual. The nature of our petitions centers around his command for us to be spiritually perfect even as he is spiritually perfect. This spiritual perfection is the perfection of our moral and spiritual characters. The goal is to acquire a character as demonstrated by Jesus; the template for acquiring this character dwells in and around our souls. In essence, we want to learn how to love one another as Jesus loves us.
Starting out as we do, lacking perfection of insight and wisdom and being truth-deficient, we often find ourselves at a loss as to how to proceed so that others receive the maximum amount of love and mercy they can as we interact with them. Often times the challenge is daunting both within ourselves and external to ourselves. There are certain qualities we need as we negotiate the conquest of self and the conquest of perfected service to our brothers and sisters.
The cycle of prayer begins when we recognize that we are deficient in some essential spiritual quality needed in a given situation or interaction. The need having manifested itself, we petition the Father for what we need. If we exercise living faith, that is, believe that he hears us and that he answers us, we will receive the spiritual answer that is appropriate for that particular situation or interaction. The situation may be so complex that we don’’t know what to request. But that should not alarm us, for the Father is perfectly cognizant of our needs. At that very instant, we petition the Father to give us what we need to execute his will, to reveal his divine nature in a given situation.
He responds with necessary revelations of truth, beauty, and goodness. "Ask and you shall receive." "Knock and the door shall be opened." All who ask shall receive and all who seek shall find, according to the Father’’s will. We should waste no time in requesting answers that are not applicable to the situation at hand; therefore all anxiety and fear as to how we will proceed should be abandoned. "Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
As we interact with the situation or the person, we display what the Father has given us. And remember the divine qualities of the Father are always present, so there is no delay in displaying them when we request them in the moment they are required. The next step in the cycle of prayer is to give thanks for what we have received. By giving thanks, we acknowledge that we have received the answer from the Father and that we have implemented the answer to our petition. This gives us confidence and strengthens our faith in the reality of the answer. This is the final step that makes answers to our prayers real in our consciousness. And as we survey the situation, we can see what the Father has given us to display. What he has given us may be an exercise in patience, an exhibition of mercy, a revelation of the truth of the situation, or a new insight, or some other spiritual values needful for the task at hand.
When we survey the results of choosing the Father’’s will, we may feel that more should have been done, that the outcome falls shorts of our ideal, but it is all that can be done in that particular instance. Remember the effective display of the Father’’s gift is according to the degree to which we have learned to do the Father’’s will, the degree of our acquiring the image of his Son, Jesus But even so, we cannot override the free will choice of others if they choose to disregard the display. In our expressing the Father’’s will, we must remember that we acquire the image first and subsequently display the image. So that any dissatisfaction in displaying the image should be the occasion where we not only acknowledge the limitations of the display in any particular instance, but should reinforce our effort to do the Father’’s will, to acquire more perfectly the divine image. But even so, we should remember even when all things are working perfectly, we cannot override the free will choice of others who choose to disregard the display. We should continue to practice the cycle of prayer, for like all things practice makes perfect.
This concludes today's message on understanding the cycle of prayer. We hope you find something in this message to ponder and pray about as you go about your day.
Until next time, this is Dr. James Perry.