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.
Dr. Murray begins this chapter by confronting a common christian conundrum:
IN all God’s intercourse with us, the promise and its conditions are inseparable. If we fulfil the conditions, He fulfils the promise. [...] fully and wholly ABIDING IN HIM, we have the right to ask whatsoever we will, and the promise that it shall be done unto us. [...]When we compare this promise with the experiences of most believers, we are startled by a terrible discrepancy. Who can number up the countless prayers that rise and bring no answer? The cause must be either that we do not fulfil the condition, or God does not fulfil the promise.
Believers are not willing to admit either, and therefore have devised a way of escape from the dilemma. They put into the promise the qualifying clause our Saviour did not put there—if it be God’s will; and so maintain both God’s integrity and their own. (emphasis mine)
Guilty. I have prayed this more often than I dare admit, trying to make the way smooth for God so that He never need be held to His own words. In fear I shield myself from confronting the fact that either God doesn't keep His promises or I am not abiding in Christ. My faith is so often a shriveled and tepid thing.
Dr. Murray tells us that as we grow in the life of Christ, we come naturally to understand the need for both faith and obedience to His will and to see the need for something more:
'In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father and ye in me, and I in you.’ [...]
It was after Jesus had spoken of our thus through the Holy Spirit knowing that He is in the Father, and even so we in Him and He in us, that He said, ‘Abide in me, and I in you. Accept, consent to receive that Divine life of union with myself, in virtue of which, as you abide in me, I also abide in you, even as I abide in the Father. So that your life is mine and mine is yours.’ This is the true abiding...
To those who thus abide, the promise comes as their rightful heritage: Ask whatsoever ye will. It cannot be otherwise. Christ has got full possession of them. Christ dwells in their love, their will, their life. Not only has their will been given up; Christ has entered it, and dwells and breathes in it by His Spirit. He whom the Father always hears, prays in them; they pray in Him: what they ask shall be done unto them.
Beloved fellow-believer! let us confess that it is because we do not abide in Christ as He would have us, that the Church is so impotent in presence of the infidelity and worldliness and heathendom, in the midst of which the Lord is able to make her more than conqueror. Let us believe that He means what He promises, and accept the condemnation the confession implies.
And yet, we should not be discouraged. "The abiding, as the Master meant it, is within our reach, for He lives to give it us. " We must not turn this into more striving, but more love of Christ. This is the very will of God: that we live and move and breathe in Him, our very beings consumed with love for Him and His ways. "And then as we abide, and grow evermore into the full abiding, let us exercise our right, the will to enter into all God’s will. Obeying what that will commands, let us claim what it promises."
Friends, we do not need to be timid in our prayers. Whatever we ask according to His will, HE WILL DO IT. We need only to be abiding, resting, remaining in Him to know that will.
Let us pray:
Teach us what it means to abide in You, to remain in You. May Your will be our own breath, our own life.
Many of us will read these words with fear or discouragement. We will see our own shortcomings and hitch up our boots and try to find The Way to Abide. Still others of us will shrink back hopeless and confused, too afraid to even try anything new.
Lord, lead us into Your rest. Teach us to love You in each moment; to turn to You in hope and fear and sorrow and joy. Teach us to simply dwell within You, delighting our souls in Your words and Your ways. May we find rest in Your Spirit. And as we rest safely within Your love, then lead us into prayer. Lead us into Your perfect will. Teach us day by day what this synergy of will and submission, rest and trust and provision is supposed to be.
How we love You, Lord. How much You have taught us through these lessons and these weeks. Thank You for teaching us even more.
Lead us dear Father into Your rest.
In Jesus name,
Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts from Lesson Twenty-Two: ‘My Words in You’ Or, The Word and Prayer. I hope you'll join us.
Previous entries in this series can be found here: Wednesday Prayer Series