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 seek to understand the nature of the silent prayer.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Silent Prayer
"Behold the Lord passed by, and a great wind rant the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire, and after the fire a still small voice." First Kings, Chapter 19, Verses 11 and 12
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast we discuss the nature of the silent prayer. Prayer is the process whereby we petition the father for favors. Since we have such varied unmet needs, it is only natural that we should ask the Father to meet those needs. We have petitioned him with strong feelings and tears. We have assumed as humble an attitude as we know how, bowing and prostrating ourselves before him. We have gotten on our knees seeking his help. We have read many books and listened to many ministers trying to discern the secret of receiving an answer to prayer. We have been told that if we tithed or planted seed money, the Father would answer us tenfold, a hundred-fold, and even a thousand-fold. We have prayed with faith, expecting an answer and have been told that unbelief is the reason for the lack of the answer.
But still we have prayed to him, begging and pleading to be delivered from some painful and protracted experience. We have sought his strength and his comfort. We have sought his guidance. We have expressed our requests to him in words and thoughts. We have even bargained with him, promising that if he grants us our petitions, we will do thus and so. We have even tried flattering him by saying if he does this for us, we will give him the glory. Often we have waited and waited, sitting on the dock of hope, looking and looking towards the horizon of the sea of faith, trying to catch the mast of the ship of our answers. But we have received no answer that we can recognize as the answer to our petitions.
We know the Father speaks to our hearts as a small still voice. Concerning the answer to our prayers, we are told "Ye ask and receive not because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." In other words, we are asking for the wrong things. This implies that certain areas of our lives are not the province of prayer. We are also told to "delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust in him, and he shall bring it to pass." If we delight ourselves in the Lord, then implied in that attitude is the quality of admiration, pleasure, joy, and worship towards him. In short, if we delight ourselves in the Father, then we will want to be like him. We don’’t find pleasure or joy or worship in that which we find spiritually repugnant. In short, when we delight ourselves in the Father, we are delighting ourselves in his magnificent character. Having done so, the desires of our heart undergo a transformation so that they reflect the character of the Father. Now we know somewhat of the Father’’s character’’s since his Son revealed him to us while he lived the life in the flesh, and his Spirit of Truth continues with the revelation of the Father’’s character, ever revealing him in our varied moral and spiritual experiences.
Jesus made it clear that the heavenly Father loves us and that we are his children. He made it clear that when we pray, we should go to God as "our Father who art in heaven." Children don’’t always know and appreciate what is best for them. They more or less tend to want what is immediate and pleasurable. And since they are children, thus unwise, the desires of their hearts are also likely to be childish and immature. As Jesus said, "Just because your child asks for a serpent, will you give it to him?" We must learn to trust and have faith in the Father’’s goodness. The Father is only activated by that which is in the best interest of our eternal welfare. Like all children, we must grow up. We must cease to pray for material things and ease but rather should pray for growth and values. We must recognize that our petitions must be related to our struggles for growth and ultimately for divine perfection. Therefore must we seek the Father’’s will.
The Father in his perfect wisdom has interlaced our lives in such a way that we interact with each other as well as with our environment. This arrangement provides the stimulus for growth. Jesus made it clear that in the world we would have tribulation but that we should be of good cheer, for he had overcome the world. Through him, we can overcome the world also. Sometimes the response to these stimuli often requires difficult, protracted, and sometimes painful efforts. These stimuli present problematic situations and things that must be resolved. In responding to the challenges and acceptably meeting them, we gain knowledge. After gaining knowledge and trying to implement it, we gain wisdom. This combination of gaining knowledge and wisdom equals growth.
Understanding now that we are here to make progress and not for the purpose of a nonstop joy ride, what is the correlation between our efforts to progress and our petitions to the Father? It really requires quite a spiritual adjustment in our spiritual attitudes to switch from praying for material values to praying for spiritual values. But such a switch in reality is not as hard as we might initially suspect. This switch can be made readily because in reality we have been experiencing the challenges of growth all along. All that is required is to recognize the reality what we have been experiencing.
We all know from experience that if we wish to achieve some worthy goal, without sustained effort on our part, all the praying in the world will not bring it about. The Father helps those who help themselves. But what is the nature of this help (grace) that the Father gives us in response to our petitions? The Father gives a sustaining purpose by revealing the true meaning of goal achievement. He inspires us. He gives us strength, determination, and courage to continue the struggle until the goal is achieved. And in those situations where we are frustrated in our efforts through no fault of our own to achieve a worthy goal, he gives us hope. He surrounds us with his love and mercy, which causes us to grow in trust and faith in his goodness.
But sometimes we become overwhelmed with the struggle to progress. Sometimes the emotional responses are staggering and we temporarily lose our conscious equilibrium. We flounder emotionally like a fish out of water. This can be very upsetting, this discovery that we are human and subject to all the qualities of being human, which include pain, sorrow, and disappointment. Sometimes these three blind mice of pain, sorrow, and disappointment cover our consciousness with shades of temporal darkness and shut down our ability to consciously respond with the petitions that we think we need in order to raise these shades of darkness up and let the light of well-being into our minds and souls. At such times we wonder whether our petitions are getting through, and whether we have somehow taken a wrong turn in the road of progress. But we should remember what Jesus said: "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." "I will never leave you or forsake you." When we pass through the waters of affliction, he will be with us, and when the rivers of adversity overflow us, he will not forsake us." He will comfort us.
But strange to record, when we experience these difficult situations in life, they seem to spur our spiritual growth. Our grasp of truth meanings and the values of goodness become greatly extended. We become more and more like the Father in spirit. Our character undergoes amazing transformation into the image of his Son. Our trust and faith increase to levels far beyond those levels that we held when we were sailing on the smooth waters of life.
What is the explanation for this accelerated spiritual and moral growth in the midst of all this turmoil in our minds? We return to our quote: "Delight yourself in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way unto the Lord; trust in him, and he shall bring it to pass." There is no temporal force that can steal or derail the desires of our hearts. They exist beyond the reach of all except our free will. The Father responds to the true desires of our hearts. Therefore, "Words are irrelevant to prayer; they are merely the intellectual channel in which the river of spiritual supplication may chance to flow. The word value of a prayer is purely auto-suggestive in private devotions and socio-suggestive in group devotions. God answers the soul's attitude, not the words."
If we desire to commune with the Father, to ask for his help, to talk with him, our petitions move to a higher level, a level beyond the din of earthly confusion. We move to the level where true communion takes place. Desires born of our delight in the Father’’s character rises to that level where what the true son desires and the Father wills, is. If we really desire to do the Father’’s will, that desire is proof that we are doing the Father’’s will, acquiring the divine nature. Thus, through the communication of desire, the Father receives our requests and answers that request by making us like he is, perfect. Therefore, in reality, despite the psychological benefits of expressing our desires, verbally or mentally, the highest form of prayer is the silent prayer. The small still voice is the display of the Father’’s character; the silent prayer is the desire for that emulation of that glorious character.
This concludes today's message on understanding the nature of the silent 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