By Irven Lee
Man has been given the wonderful privilege to approach boldly the throne of God in prayer. God, with all His mighty power, is holy, and man is weak and sinful. The opportunity to pray is not at all based on man’s merit. It is an offer made by God, and this blessed offer is based upon the amazing grace of God. We can see the depth of God’s love as we look by faith at the gift of His Son on the cross that our sins might be forgiven.
Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who gave Himself upon the cross? We do if we believe the Bible to be heaven’s message to man given through the holy apostles and prophets as they were guided by the Holy Spirit. In this pleasure-mad world many do not believe in God or in His Son Jesus Christ. Prayer is not for them. They think they are animals which evolved by chance from lower forms of life. Such people, having no hope, are without God in the world (Eph. 2:12). If the evolutionists are correct, man with his senses, glands, digestive system, nervous system, respiratory system, and with power to remember, reason, and love, is a very, very remarkable example of what can happen by chance.
The Bible is a book that has influenced hundreds of millions to live useful lives of service. It has given these believers purpose for living, an explanation of their origin and destiny, and it has filled them with hope which is an anchor of the soul. Stable homes where love and loyalty abide have been by-products of faith. Honest, law-abiding citizens which exalt a nation come of faith in God. Prayer is for these people. The Bible teaches us to pray. It is people who recognize the Bible to be the word of God who pray.
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8). Generally speaking it is the unbelieving who are the murderers, whoremongers and liars. Such people are counted very unworthy. These unbelievers do not pray. Their unbelief opens the door to unrighteousness and closes the door to prayer, righteousness, and hope. It opens the door to the second death, and closes the door to life everlasting. “He that believeth not shall be damned.”
Of course, there are some decent citizens and good neighbors who do not have a living faith. They may have been taught decency by believing parents and their behavior is in spite of their lack of faith. It is very evident in America today that humanists (atheists) are not examples of moral purity, honesty, and decency.
Our Savior often said: “O ye of little faith” (Matt. 6:30; 8:26). He would have occasion, evidently, to say that to many if He were on earth today. The sin of unbelief is the sin that doth so easily beset us (Heb. 12:1). Think of Hebrews eleven on faith and chapter twelve as the context of Hebrews 12:1. Is not unbelief the besetting sin? “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). Great and eternal danger lies in this sin which can cause us to depart from God.
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). “And he spake a parable unto them to the end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Lk. 18). “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Lk. 21:36). “Continuing instant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). “Praying always with all prayer and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:18). “Continue in prayer and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). Are these not commandments? How do faithful servants of Christ respond to His clearly stated commands? We understand that when an ambassador of Christ says, “Repent and be baptized,” men should repent and be baptized. If He says, “Pray without ceasing,” men should pray without ceasing.
Prayer is not a burden that is placed on man. “The effectual fervent pray of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 3:16). This is speaking of a wonderful blessing that is offered to man. The cleansing of erring Christians — all of us — is related to prayer. Peter told Simon to “repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:22). We make confession and talk with God in prayer. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). This confession is necessary to our proper relationship to God.
The Savior took for granted that His followers would pray, and He gave instruction to help them (Matt. 6:5-15). He gave encouragement to reassure them (Matt. 7:8-11; Lk. 18:1-14; Matt. 6:24-34; Phil. 4:6,7). We have wonderful examples of prayer, and the Lord thus shows us what He wants us to do. Paul mentions his regular prayers and thanksgiving at the beginning of each epistle. “Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God” for Peter when he was in prison at Jerusalem (Acts 12:5). Paul and Silas prayed in the jail at Philippi. Teachable people like Lydia and Cornelius were given to prayer. Do these examples mean nothing to us? They certainly should have significant meaning for us.
People sometimes get offended and refuse to speak to those who were their friends. This is a way to insult or to indicate one’s lack of respect for another. Is one refusing to speak to his heavenly Father when one fails to pray? Abraham was called a friend of God (Jas. 2:23). This friend often prayed. Surely every one who can be called a friend of God does pray. Prayer is an outgrowth of the warm gratitude to God and of full confidence in His power and love. The Father who wills that we come boldly to His throne deserves our happy response.
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork” (Psa. 19:1). The Father and all His angels can minister to our little needs (Heb. 1: 14). Let none lack faith in God’s power to answer the prayers of His saints. Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and others could testify to the fact of God’s providence. Let men everywhere lift up holy hands and pray without wrath and doubting (1 Tim. 2:8).
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 15, pp. 451-452
August 1, 1985