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 how prayer transform us.
And now, sit back and listen to today's message.
The Transformation of Prayer
"Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Thessalonians, Chapter 5, Verse 17
Brothers and sisters, in today’’s broadcast, we share some insights into the transformative power of prayer. We have been taught to pray, as Jesus said, "Men ought always to pray and not become discouraged." Our prayers are not designed to change the Father but to change our attitude towards the situation. Prayer is designed to help us discern the Father’’s will. In short, the effect of praying is our transformation into the image of His Son.
In discerning the Father’’s will, we should keep in mind that "Some degree of moral affinity and spiritual harmony is essential to friendship between two persons; a loving personality can hardly reveal himself to a loveless person. Even to approach the knowing of a divine personality, all of man's personality endowments must be wholly consecrated to the effort; halfhearted, partial devotion will be unavailing." Apparently even the lowest possible revelation of the heavenly Father requires our supreme effort. To receive the revelation of the heavenly Father requires our supreme loyalty, faith, and trust. We cannot approach the Father with doubt. In order to have a relationship with him, we must believe that he exists and that such a relationship is possible. The Father receives us as we are. All he requires is faith and sincerity. If we have these, we can forge a relationship with him, which begins with prayer and ends with worship.
Having done so, we have made an effort to shift our minds away from ourselves, at least to the extent that we are willing to include him in our lives. This is the basis of our transformation. Our heavenly Father is unselfish; we are selfish. The Father is living love; we are not. We are desirous of having a relationship with this loving and unselfish spiritual being. It is obvious that we must change to do so. Now, the Father is generous and merciful. He knows our frame. The Father deals with us according to our potentials, just as earthly parents deal with their offspring. We are hardly adorable at the start, but the endless future reveals our true status--perfected souls. Therefore does he lovingly send his spirit to live in our minds and souls to transform us. He meets us where we are and gradually changes us into the image of his Son.
Our prayers initially are selfish and materialistic, but as our souls grow and develop, they add an unselfish and spiritual flavor to our consciousness. The spirit also adds the urges and impulses of unselfish love in our souls and minds. When we respond to these urges and impulses, we choose the Father’’s will, and we become a little more like he is. Being material beings, it is natural that we would make selfish and material petitions to the heavenly Father. When Jesus urges us to always pray and not become discouraged, he is not instructing us for the purpose of changing the Father’’s attitude towards the petition but is giving us instructions on how to establish a true relationship with our heavenly Father.
Persistent prayer (which is no more than communion with our heavenly Father) places us under his loving and merciful influence. Even in human relationships, if we are around someone we admire, the identification process occurs so that we become more and more like the person with whom we are identifying. This also happens in our relationships with the heavenly Father. We assume that the heavenly Father is someone we admire and desire to become like. Otherwise we would not spend very much conscious time in his presence. And though the Father is always present in our minds and souls, his effective presence depends on our choosing His will. As we begin to spend more and more conscious time in his presence, our souls are influenced more and more. We become and more like His Son, Jesus. Our character gradually changes. Thus we start out with selfish and materialistic prayers and gradually move towards unselfish and spiritual prayers.
As we continue to pray, we become more aware of the Father’’s will, the Father’’s presence. And as we embrace this will, we become more and more like He is. We become more and more unselfish and more loving. As we become more and more unselfish and loving, we further open the lines of spiritual communication so that the Father can reveal Himself to us. But when we pray for others, this process speeds up. And this is just why Jesus places such an emphasis on praying for others. Effective prayer in its social repercussions requires that we be in contact with the person for whom we are praying. When we pray for someone else, we shift our minds and souls away from self and place them upon the heavenly Father and others.
This is tantamount to further opening the channels of spiritual communication so that the unselfish Father can really flow to and through us in greater quality and quantity. In praying for others, we become sensitive to their needs and gain true insight into how to really help them, how to wisely serve them. Consistently praying for ourselves does none of this, while it drags our consciousness back down to the material level wherein there is fear, doubt, isolation, and something akin to panic. When we finally reach the point where we consistently pray for others, we are better able to appreciate what the Father has done, is doing, and will do for us. This appreciation opens the door to thanksgiving, the prelude to true worship.
When we reach the level of thanksgiving in our relationship with the Father, we signal that we have learned to appreciate the divine values of love, that we recognize the divine meanings associated with them. In order for us to recognize divine values and subsequent divine meanings, we must grow spiritually. And the only way we can grow spiritually is by choosing to submit our will to the Father’’s will; otherwise the things of God will appear to be foolish. They will remain unknown because they can only be known by loving and experiencing them.
Divine things have to be loved in order to be known. All divine values are concealed by our inability to recognize them. And we correct this lack of recognition by consistently seeking the Father’’s will, which expands our capacity for recognition of divine values. When we do recognize them, we acknowledge that they are true, beautiful, and good. We have become spiritually self conscious of the Father’’s presence and look forward to our partnership with him whereby we seek to deepen our appreciation of and for divine values and heighten our understanding of divine meanings that are revealed in the ever- progressing experiences of loving our brothers and sisters.
The gratitude associated with thanksgiving is always associated with the desire to serve. "Religious desire is the hunger quest for divine reality. Religious experience is the realization of the consciousness of having found God. And when a human being does find God, there is experienced within the soul of that being such an indescribable restlessness of triumph in discovery that he is impelled to seek loving service-contact with his less illuminated fellows, not to disclose that he has found God, but rather to allow the overflow of the welling-up of eternal goodness within his own soul to refresh and ennoble his fellows. Real religion leads to increased social service." After we move to this phase of thanksgiving, it is spiritually natural that our ever-increasing gratitude should obtain such heights that they reach the threshold of true worship.
True worship signifies that our identification has become complete. Our souls have completely identified with the Father’’s will. We have become one with him and he is one with us. We now fully understand and happily accept our spiritual purpose. Our only purpose spiritually is to reveal the Father’’s love to our brothers and sisters, which now flows joyfully through us. We are the vine on the branches. We are so happy and our chief delight is to bestow this love upon our brothers and sisters. We look forward to meeting our newly recognized brothers and sisters so that we can bestow this transforming love upon them. Gone are the days of selfish and materialistic praying. Gone are the days of confusing spiritual reality with material reality. Gone are the days of doubting our divine status. We know the Father because we are like Him. And we always do what is acceptable in his sight. We are his representatives and represent him faithfully.
Our faith has won the victory for us, and we are forever thankful for the liberation of His truth in our souls and minds. We are inexpressibly happy to be delivered from the darkness of selfishness. No more do we stumble in spiritual darkness seeking the light. We have found the light, and not only have we found it, we radiate it. We are happy souls. Glory, glory to the Father, and glory to the Son and the Spirit.
This concludes today's message on understanding how prayer transform us. 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.