Find the Shepherd:
I pray to the Lord every day, and especially the morning prayer and evening prayer, are essential parts of my everyday life. Moreover, I constantly persist in doing it like this. But many times, even though I pray to the Lord, I am unable to feel Him, and I obviously feel that the Lord doesn’t hear my prayers. Having prayed for many years, yet I feel that my life has no progress or change. Therefore, I have no faith unknowingly. I don’t know why is this so. Can you tell me how to pray in accord with the Lord’s will?
Brother Tao Xin:
The situation you said is generally existing in our church. Why does the Lord not hear our prayers? As for the reason why, mostly, it is because our prayers are not in accord with the Lord’s will. To understand how to pray in line with the Lord’s will, we firstly need to know what types of prayers are not commended by the Lord. Next, let’s seek and discuss it together. May the Lord lead us!
1. Half-hearted Prayers Can’t Be Heard by the Lord
Sometimes when we wake up, we may pray like this, “God, today, I commit my entire day to You. I am willing to let You guide me throughout the day. Please watch over me so I do not encounter any evil or temptation. Let me live in the radiance of Your countenance. May God bless me. Amen!”
We also often pray in this way, “Jehovah God, You are the Creator of the heavens and earth and all things. You control human destiny. Lord Jesus, You are our Savior. You shed Your blood on the cross to cleanse us of our sins. You no longer see us as sinners. You see us as righteous. Therefore, you do not define our misdeeds as sins. No matter how corrupt we are or how we sin, You forgive us. Lord Jesus! Your words are our guiding light. You are our everything. You are our Lord. We are Your sheep. You watch over and keep us every day. You bless our parents, our children and our families.” However, though we kneel down, our mouths speaking unceasingly, yet our hearts are closed to God, and what we say is not what is in our hearts. We are just talking to ourselves, talking into thin air. We don’t care at all whether the Lord is pleased with it. So, even though we pray once in the morning and once in the evening, and sometimes we even pray for one or two hours, we have no results at all.
Our half-hearted prayers are not heard by the Lord, because we are deceiving Him. It is said in the Book of Isaiah, “For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me” (Isaiah 29:13). Because such prayers are not devout, and we don’t treat the Lord as the Lord should be treated, but treat Him as if He were empty air, thus we can’t receive the work of Holy Spirit, nor do we have the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. As a result, though we have prayed to the Lord for many years, we have produced nothing. We still live in the state of sinning each day and confessing each night. We can neither see any changes to our life disposition nor live out the decorum of the saints.
2. Going Through the Motions of Praying to the Lord Is Not Heard by Him
Sometimes we rush to do things or to go to work, and even if we pray, we are going through the motions. For example, sometimes we pray like this, “God, I entrust You with this matter. I entrust You with my children and parents. I entrust You with everything. God, please bless and protect me. Amen!” Our prayer is as quick as a rabbit. Our hearts are impatient. The prayer consists of only a few sentences and it is over. Sometimes we pray to the Lord thanking Him for the food, but we have to rush off to work, so we pray quickly, “God, You have blessed me with this meal. You have given me this meal. I will never forget Your grace. I will not forget your love for me. I pray in the Lord Jesus’ name, Amen!” We speak some words in a hurry and the prayer is over again. There are also times when we realize our children don’t obey us, we close our eyes and pray, “Lord, I entrust this child to You. I cannot discipline him. He does not obey me. I give the child to You. Lord, You are almighty. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen!” But after prayer, we go our own way. Such prayers are going through the motions. God says, “People believe in God, love God, and satisfy God by touching the Spirit of God with their heart, thereby obtaining His satisfaction; when engaging with God’s words with their heart, they are therefore moved by the Spirit of God.” We don’t use our hearts to pray but go through the formalities, and if we always pray in this way, our prayers will become religious ceremony, which is going through the motions for the Lord, is deceiving the Lord, and can only be despised by God.
3. Praying With a Tone of Doubt Is Not Heard by the Lord
Each of us believers longs for the Lord’s coming. Sometimes we may pray like this, “O God, You promised to lead us into the kingdom of heaven and reveal Yourself to us. You promised to raise us up to meet with You in the air. Why haven’t You honored this promise yet after all this time? Why is this?” When we are sick, if our illness is not be healed, we will pray, “O Lord, I rely on You truly. Why do You not heal my illness?” When we quarrel with someone, or somebody bullies us, we will pray, “O Lord, this man is so wicked. Why do you not discipline or punish him?”
This type of prayer is also not approved by the Lord. Why do we say so? Because when we pray like this, we are questioning God and treating God as our equal. God is the Creator while we are created beings. We can never be equal with God. If we talk to the Creator like that, our relationship with the Lord is improper. Besides, we will never receive the Lord’s approval.
4. Praying With Motivations to Make Deals With the Lord Is Not Heard by Him
There are many behaviors like that. For example, when we fall ill, we will pray in this way, “Oh God! You must save me! I beg You to get rid of this illness, to get rid of this cup of suffering as soon as possible! You must cure me.” Sometimes when we face disasters, we may pray, “God, if You save me and keep me from disaster, if You don’t let me die, I will offer my whole being to You.” When we sink into spiritual darkness or are incapable of feeling the Lord, we will pray, “O Lord, I’ve believed in You for twenty or thirty years and sacrificed much for You! I gave up a good job for You! I didn’t earn any money for twenty plus years! I’ve eaten bland food and worn ordinary clothes! I’ve suffered persecution, tribulation, ridicule and slander, all for Your sake! Today, I hope You can raise me into the kingdom of heaven when you return, but I’ve already waited all of these years without hearing anything or feeling anything from You. Lord, have You forsaken me? If You really have forsaken me, then You have no credibility!”
The above types of prayers don’t conform to the Lord’s intentions. Why is it said that such prayers are not approved by Him?
The reason why we pray in such way is because we want to use God to achieve our own ends, want to use our exertions and spreading the gospel, our sufferings, and the price we pay to exchange His blessings, to avoid disasters and enter the kingdom of heaven. We are making deals with God. When our intentions are wrong, people can see through us, no matter what we say. Thus, it’s even easier for God to figure it out by searching our hearts. In addition, as we don’t have true communion with God, our actions can’t accord with God’s will, and we don’t have a proper relationship with Him, prayers like these are not accepted by God. Just as the Lord Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity!” (Matthew 7:22–23).
Since the above are all not approved by the Lord, then how do we pray to conform to His will?
1. Quieting Our Hearts Before the Lord, Speaking the Words in Our Hearts, and Bringing Our Actual Difficulties Before the Lord
For example, when we realize our children don’t obey us, we can pray in this way, “Lord! Nowadays raising a child is too difficult. Without the truth I cannot teach the child, and the child won’t obey me! O Lord, humans are created by You. You gave me this child. Truly I see now that I don’t have the truth, nor am I what should be as a human, and I have no way to teach the child. I entrust this child to You and I am willing to rely on You to teach him!”
We already have enough money to get by, but we still want to earn more and enjoy more. We may pray to the Lord, “God, I now see that my heart is very covetous of wealth. Others are all able to forsake everything and be content with clothes on their back and the food on their plate. Why can’t I be content? Why do I still cling to wealth in my heart? Please God, I ask You to save me! I don’t care if You discipline me or if You use some other method, it’s all okay.”
Sometimes, we see some illegal actions of the pastors and elders, but we can’t see through them. Then, we can pray to God, “God, Your words reveal the Pharisees, but I cannot see through them clearly. On the outside they seem very devout, why can’t I see their essential hypocrisy? Especially their essential hatred of the truth, I can’t see through to that. So, in my heart I have always looked up to them and I always wanted to ask them if I came across problems. I also feel this is incorrect, but why can’t I let it go? Why am I unable to see through to their inner nature and forsake them in my heart?” Isn’t through this way of praying that we quiet ourselves before the Lord and converse with Him earnestly? It is just like how we would have a heart-to-heart talk with another person. In both cases, we are speaking from the heart, and we speak out our greatest problems. When God sees these, He will know we’re sincere and not trying to fool Him or sweet-talk and deceive Him. Then the Holy Spirit will do His work. So, after praying, we’ll feel brightened in our hearts, as if a burden has been lifted.
2. Praying to the Lord as a Creature of God, Making No Demands and
Requests of the Lord, and Being Able to Obey the Lord Truly
If we get a serious illness suddenly, we will ponder inside, “Why do I fall ill? Will I get cancer? If it is God’s way of punishing me, if He wants me to die, then I will submit. If it is God’s way of refining me and cleansing me, I am willing to accept such refinement.” Then we will pray to God in our minds, “Dear God, if You want me to die I will submit, and I guarantee I will have no complaints. I was created by You and I have done many things that do not conform to Your intentions, and I should receive punishment for this.”
After such a submissive prayer, we will be moved very much, and will not be so constrained by future and destiny. Furthermore, we will have the will of obeying God within, and will no longer make any demands on Him. Why can such prayers be effective? It is because we put our positions right. We are standing in our places as a creation of God and having a submissive heart to pray to and seek God. So, later on, before we pray, we should think first and be fully prepared. Regarding the difficulties we face and the things we need God to clarify for us, we should develop a simple outline of how we should seek help from God, how we should fellowship with God. And then, we should find a suitable opportunity and the appropriate environment to kneel before God and pray. This way, it shall be easy to quiet our hearts before God and receive the work of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, our spiritual life can continue to grow.
Find the shepherd
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