Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
This is a justly famous and dearly loved passage, but it strikes me just now that it is asking God to do what the first part of the Psalm, through verse 16, has already said that God can and does do. In other words, it is giving God full permission. Much of life actually is like that, and particularly much of prayer. I don’t think we can force God to do anything, but we can get in line with the good He already wants to do. I think prayer will be a mystery, though a delightful one, until we are before God’s throne and nothing is between us. Prayer is an incredible privilege, yet it is inherently illogical. After all, why would the omniscient, omnipotent Creator listen to the prayers of His creatures? Nevertheless, we are created with an impulse and a desire to pray. All of us squash that sometimes, and many squash it most of the time, but it’s there nonetheless. That’s why practically everyone prays in times of extreme need, even supposed atheists. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible overflows with examples of prayer. Not all of it is necessarily good examples, but this one is excellent. This illustrates the attitude we all should have, of yielding to God and asking that His will be done. This is a prayer we can be sure God will be delighted to grant!
Growing up in a home that was pervaded by prayer, it seems as natural to me as breathing. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve always made full and proper use of it. I feel my prayers sometimes lack the intensity they perhaps need. I am certainly not a shouter when it comes to prayer. One thing that actually keeps me from praying is the awareness that there is literally no limit to things to pray about. I have been included in a prayer group on social media that is based in India. Just in that subcontinent there is enough to pray about that I could be at it 24/7 and not run out of topics, and that isn’t even where I have been called to minister! Right here where I am, I could pray to exhaustion and not cover everything. That’s why I need to let the Holy Spirit choose my battles, so to speak. We have the great comfort of Paul’s words on the subject: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27) I am never to stop praying, but neither am I to think I have to do it all, because I am just one part of the Body of Christ. I have been the beneficiary of the prayers of others and I have had the privilege of seeing my prayers for others answered, so I am never to hesitate to pray specifically, but it must all be in the context of how Jesus taught us to pray: that God’s Name would be acknowledged as holy and His kingdom come to this earth as His will is done perfectly, in and through me, for His glory.
Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of prayer. It grieves me, and often amazes me, how even Christians are so often hesitant to pray. I ask for a spirit of prayer on this church, that we would all learn the joy of intimate communication with You, to better be Your children and Your agents, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!