in the school of prayer - lesson seventeen

Want to learn more about building a life of prayer? Me too. Meet me here on Wednesdays for an ongoing series exploring prayer using Dr. Andrew Murray's book, With Christ in the School of Prayer. I'm honored to learn alongside you.

Now we come to one of the most beautiful chapters in this book, "Prayer in Harmony with the Being of God." 

Dr. Murray begins by reminding us that we are to know God and pray to Him with both our hearts and our minds.  Prayer is both the simplest of acts and the most challenging.  Any child can believe and ask, and yet the mature believer can hardly plumb the depths of the doctrines of prayer.  And in those depths lie some heavy questions, things we ourselves have asked during this study:

Is He not the Infinite Being, who owes what He is to Himself alone, who determines Himself, and whose wise and holy will has determined all that is to be?  How can prayer influence Him, or He be moved by prayer to do what otherwise would not be done?  Is not the promise of an answer to prayer simply a condescension to our weakness?  Is what is said of the power—the much-availing power—of prayer anything more than an accommodation to our mode of thought, because the Deity never can be dependent on any action from without for its doings?  And is not the blessing of prayer simply the influence it exercises upon ourselves?

The answer, Dr. Murray tells us, is in the very nature of God Himself.

"...we find the key in the very being of God, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.  If God was only one Person, shut up within Himself, there could be no thought of nearness to Him or influence on Him.  But in God there are three Persons.  In God we have Father and Son, who have in the Holy Spirit their living bond of unity and fellowship.  When eternal Love begat the Son, and the Father gave the Son as the Second Person a place next Himself as His Equal and His Counsellor, there was a way opened for prayer and its influence in the very inmost life of Deity itself.  Just as on earth, so in heaven the whole relation between Father and Son is that of giving and taking.  And if that taking is to be as voluntary and self-determined as the giving, there must be on the part of the Son an asking and receiving."

The secret to prayer is in God's willingness to ask and receive, to give and take.  That secret is sacrificial LOVE, the very nature of God Himself.

"The asking of the Son was no mere show or shadow, but one of those life-movements in which the love of the Father and the Son met and completed each other.  The Father had determined that He should not be alone in His counsels:  there was a Son on whose asking and accepting their fulfilment should depend.  And so there was in the very Being and Life of God an asking of which prayer on earth was to be the reflection and the outflow.  It was not without including this that Jesus said, “I knew that Thou always hearest me.’  Just as the Sonship of Jesus on earth may not be separated from His Sonship in heaven, even so with His prayer on earth, it is the continuation and the counterpart of His asking in heaven.  The prayer of the man Christ Jesus is the link between the eternal asking of the only-begotten Son in the bosom of the Father and the prayer of men upon earth.  Prayer has its rise and its deepest source in the very Being of God.  In the bosom of Deity nothing is ever done without prayer—the asking of the Son and the giving of the Father." 

Dr. Murray instructs that this incredible weaving of prayer into the very nature of the Trinity is why our prayers can have effect on God's will.   We come through Christ, whose voice and will are always heard at God's throne.  Through Him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  (Eph. 2:18)

This chapter is well worth reading a few times.  For brevity's sake I haven't discussed it here, but the last section of the chapter on Eternity and the Ever-Present-Now is worth meditating on for awhile.   Many of the questions that have churned in my mind for years were addressed in this tiny little chapter.  It will take some time to get ahold of them.  ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!’

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Let's pray:

Dearest Lord,

We come to You today with hearts full of gratitude.  What kind of love is this that draws us in and welcomes us?  That invites us to ask and to receive?  Once our minds begin to comprehend it we are overcome with awe:  How could You include us?

Oh Lord, thank You for being who You are; for Your eternal love.  Thank You for reaching out to us and drawing us in.  May we not shrink away from this privilege.  May we not treat lightly the door Your love has opened for us.  May we come boldly to You in prayer and in praying, ask of You and receive from You. 

Thank You for Your mercy.

In Jesus' precious, precious name,

amen

Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts from Lesson Eighteen: "Whose is This Image?" or "Prayer in Harmony with the Destiny of Man."

Previous entries in this series can be found here:  Wednesday Prayer Series