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.
Prayer is not a monologue, Dr. Murray tells us, it is a dialogue. We speak to God, God speaks to us with His Words. We are both to ask and to listen and receive.
In a man’s words he reveals himself. In his promises he gives himself away, he binds himself to the one who receives his promise. In his commands he sets forth his will, seeks to make himself master of him whose obedience he claims, to guide and use him as if he were part of himself. It is through our words that spirit holds fellowship with spirit, that the spirit of one man passes over and transfers itself into another. It is through the words of a man, heard and accepted, and held fast and obeyed, that he can impart himself to another. But all this in a very relative and limited sense. But when God, the infinite Being, in whom everything is life and power, spirit and truth, in the very deepest meaning of the words,—when God speaks forth Himself in His words, He does indeed give HIMSELF, His Love and His Life, His Will and His Power, to those who receive these words, in a reality passing comprehension.
In God’s Word God gives us HIMSELF; His Word is nothing less than the Eternal Son, Christ Jesus. And so all Christ’s words are God’s words, full of a Divine quickening life and power. ‘The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.’
Listening to God in His Word allows us to hear His voice, learn His promises and passions, learn from His mind and heart and thoughts. We begin to acquire the language of God, with which we can truly enter into the power and mystery of prayer.
This hearing the voice of God is something more than the thoughtful study of the Word. There may be a study and knowledge of the Word, in which there is but little real fellowship with the living God. But there is also a reading of the Word, in the very presence of the Father, and under the leading of the Spirit, in which the Word comes to us in living power from God Himself; it is to us the very voice of the Father, a real personal fellowship with Himself. It is the living voice of God that enters the heart, that brings blessing and strength, and awakens the response of a living faith that reaches the heart of God again.
This is not just intellectual knowledge, a parsing of language and memorization of facts. This is true listening, taking into the heart and spirit that which God is speaking. It is conversation, living and active and urgently immediate.
How well the Old Testament saints understood this connection between God’s words and ours, and how really prayer with them was the loving response to what they had heard God speak! If the word were a promise, they counted on God to do as He had spoken. ‘Do as Thou hast said;’ ‘For Thou, Lord, hast spoken it;’ ‘According to Thy promise;’ ‘According to Thy word;’ in such expressions they showed that what God spake in promise was the root and the life of what they spake in prayer. If the word was a command, they simply did as the Lord had spoken: ‘So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken.’ Their life was fellowship with God, the interchange of word and thought. What God spoke they heard and did; what they spoke God heard and did. In each word He speaks to us, the whole Christ gives Himself to fulfil it for us. For each word He asks no less that we give the whole man to keep that word, and to receive its fulfilment.
Nothing can make strong men but the word coming to us from God’s mouth: by that we must live. It is the word of Christ, loved, lived in, abiding in us, becoming through obedience and action part of our being, that makes us one with Christ, that fits us spiritually for touching, for taking hold of God. All that is of the world passeth away; he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. O let us yield heart and life to the words of Christ, the words in which He ever gives HIMSELF, the personal living Saviour, and His promise will be our rich experience: ‘If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’
It is not enough that we speak to You. True prayer demands our listening and responding to Your voice. We thank You for Your words, given to us that we might hear You and know You and obey. Lord, make those words alive to us. Let us move beyond simple study and memorization to hearing, responding and receiving Your active, living words day by day. Plant Your word deep within us that we may know how we ought to pray, but also quicken the word to us moment by moment so that we may hear and know and obey. Make Your word a living conversation within our spirits. Help us to abide within You so we may walk in obedience. Please give us believing hearts like the patriarchs of old, who simply heard Your words and followed them. May we not confuse ourselves or others with complicated expositions of Your words, but simply listen in prayer with willing hearts and minds and then obey as You command. And Lord, give us faith to hold You to Your promises. May we take You, simply, at Your word.
Lord, thank You for stretching and teaching. Continue this deep work in our hearts. Continue to draw us to prayer. For those who are weary today, I pray Your grace and life and strength. Refresh and renew.
In Jesus name I ask all these things.
Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts from Lesson Twenty-Three: ‘Bear fruit, that the Father may give what ye ask’ Or, Obedience, the Path to Power in Prayer I hope you'll join us.
Previous entries in this series can be found here: Wednesday Prayer Series