THE PRIVILEGE OF PRIVATE PRAYER
Prayer is such a privilege, such an exalted advantage. It implies connection to the Almighty, an adjoining to our Creator. What joy to pray and know we will be heard. What unspeakable joy! “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if ye ask anything according to His will, He heareth us” (1 John 5:15). I doubt there could be a better or more blessed assurance than to know that God not only knows who we are, but hears what we say.
I was thinking awhile back about how we can pray the simplest of prayers, prayers, that are not intended to be heard of anybody but our Father, and know that we have come into His presence. Is that not wonderful, and does it not embolden our faith and enliven our hope, to know that He not only hears, but cares what we are saying and will grant what we wish according to His will?
It seems to me that simple prayers are the best. No flamboyance, no pretense, no seeking to be heard by anyone but our Father. He needs no assurance of our ability to articulate great phrases and employ educated terminology. He just wants a prayer that comes from the heart, one that is open, honest, without admixture or pretense. “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15) means more than just praying with a good attitude and with the truth. It means that I reach down into the inner-most parts of who and what I am, the reach up in adorning reverence for the approval of God, the Almighty. It means that I use that lasting part of me which He gave me—that eternal spirit—to give back to Him my filial devotion and unfettered worship.
Simple prayer is very personal, too. It is intimate, a private time reserved for you to make grand affirmations and glorious praises to God without any interference or intrusion. It is a time between just you and your Father, and, in my opinion at least, is a privilege superior because it involves the two of you in the most private of conversations, one where there is no facade, no dressing up or down, just plain, purely personal talking between two who love one another.
Prayer deals with the heart. Without heart-involvement, there is no such thing as prayer — it becomes empty verbiage, vain talking devoid of any significance, a conversation without substance or marrow. To “pray with the spirit” is to give heart-felt devotion, punctuated with words of adulation and praise. No other kind is acceptable. In fact, no other kind is prayer.
Here are three simple prayers, prayers you can pray too, methinks.
“Lord, give me a clean heart.” “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10) is a noble and honorable prayer. It suggests, first of all, that this kind of heart must be created; that is, only God can forgive sin and thereby create a new heart, one cleansed of unrighteousness and impure living. A clean heart is a heart forgiven. A prayer for a clean heart also suggests by implication, that one is looking not only to have that clean heart, but to maintain its cleanliness, to exercise the most careful vigilance to keep it from the world and its tarnish. A clean life can only come from a clean heart; and a clean heart can only come from God, the Father. ‘Tis a prayer worth repeating!
“Lord, give me a clear heart.” I use the word “clear” here to depict an understanding heart. “The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge” (Proverbs 15:14). This prayer for clear perception is purely practical, for it tends toward making wise decisions and choosing good ways to go. This clear heart understands what is vital, what is imperative, what is necessary. It differentiates between the carnal world and God’s eternal design for mankind. It sees life as a probation and looks past the partiality to the real and complete life, the one for which Christ died. This prayer is pragmatic, immensely practical.
“Lord, give me an open heart.” “The entrance to thy words giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). A heart that is open can receive the words of light when they come. It is not so with the closed one. A closed heart is a prejudiced heart, one that has been shut up with its own presuppositions, one that is not disposed to any sort of intrusion from any source. Prejudice—the shut up heart—is the bane of our society. It keeps out the truth and closes the doors to true knowledge. It takes various forms, ranging from sheer ignorance to high intellectualism. It is not only acceptable among the intellectuals, but to such an extent that snarling rebukes come to those who would dare question their “wisdom.” An open heart, on the other hand, is a heart disposed to look for truth, no matter its source, to revere and respect it, even when it indicts or accuses—and especially when it offers spiritual correction. The open mind is a mind acclimated to truth and tuned to verity.
Prayer! What a blessed privilege. What an exalted pleasure. What a tremendous asset to the Christian.
Let us pray.
— via College View Columns, Florence, Alabama