Matthew 6: 5-6
1 Chronicles 4: 9-10
Daniel 9: 3-4, 20-23
It will be readily noticeable that these scriptures refer to the matter of prayer. I would love to be a greater exponent of it. What I have read relates mainly to individual prayer. I suppose as we usually say, and it is right to say, that the Lord would be our Model in these things. It says of Him, “having been baptised and praying”, Luke 3: 21. That is Luke’s account that the Lord Jesus, “having been baptised and praying”, bringing out a line of dependence, dependence upon God.
I read these few verses in Matthew. They give us some direction as to prayer. It says, “And when thou prayest”. It is something that we can enter into any time, I suppose, but Matthew gives us certain directions. He tells us first of all what we have not to do in our prayers. We have guidance here. It is mainly secret. Others may not be aware of it, because each one of us is forming part of that great vessel, the assembly, that we have been singing of, and is to have our own individual links, mainly in prayer, with divine Persons. So we have not to pray as the hypocrites do, and it tells us their mode of praying, that “they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets so that they should appear to men”. I think it would indicate that prayer is to be secret and to God. Of course there is public prayer in which others are onlookers, we might say, and sympathetic with those who are praying, but in verse 6 it says, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father”. The whole thought of this, I feel, is what is our own, what would attach to each individual. It says, “enter into thy chamber”, that would be a place that is available for this kind of prayer, and then it says, “having shut thy door, pray to thy Father”. How wonderful that is, a heavenly Father, One who cares for us. Sometimes, indeed often, we sing that hymn, “A holy Father’s constant care” (hymn 138), and His care isconstant. “Pray to thy Father who is in secret”. I would just like to encourage the saints on this line that this is a secret matter. It is to be entered into, and not only entered into but I believe continued in, because other scriptures speak of persevering in prayer, persevering, Col 4: 2. How easily, I would have to say, I give up, but I read recently, and I have to be careful what I quote, but I read recently as to one who said that he could see the answer to his prayers of forty years, J Taylor vol 50, p114. God, our Father, is an Answerer of prayer: “Pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who sees in secret will render it to thee”. How fine that is, not only that the Father is “thy Father”; it is a wonderful matter to pray to the Father; but then it goes on, “and thy Father who sees in secret will render it to thee”. I cannot say much as to these things, but I would just like to encourage each one. When we are younger, how we need to cultivate these things, how we need to make it something that we enter into.
I read in relation to Jabez because his prayer is very interesting. It says that “Jabez was more honoured”, or ‘more honourable’ (footnote), “than his brethren; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with pain”. Then it goes on to say, “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, Oh that thou wouldest richly bless me”. How God delights to bless, and here is one who is asking to be blessed. “And Jabez called on the God of Israel”: what can He not do, beloved hearers, the God of Israel? And it says, “Oh that thou wouldest richly bless me, and enlarge my border”. He had expansive thoughts in his mind, not natural thoughts for what was his own, but it says “that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil”. The Lord’s prayer in John 17 - what a prayer it is! These things enter into it. He did not pray that we would be taken out of the world but preserved from the evil in it. I suppose Jabez’s prayer is on these lines. How we need to pray! There is a whole line of things which opens up in the matter of prayer. There are our individual prayers, our own matters which sometimes we are a bit selfish as to, but then how much there is to pray for. We have all our local brethren to pray for. I would remind the brethren again - I think I have said it before - as to one who said of an old sister that, during the night, she covered the whole world in her prayers. What scope there is for this kind of prayer! “That thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!”, and it says, “And God brought about what he had requested”. Oh, think of that! “God brought about what he had had requested”. Have you ever made a request like this? Beloved hearers, make a request like this because God will answer it.
Well, I read in relation to Daniel because we know that Daniel was marked by habitual prayer. It says earlier “his windows being open ...towards Jerusalem, he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed”, chap 6: 10. That was the outlook he had in his prayers, and it is the kind of outlook I would suggest we should have. This great vessel that is being formed, what a thing it is to pray for! But it says here in chapter 9: 3, “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes”. You see, there is more than just prayer, not that I want to enter into that, but prayer here was the first thing anyway, “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications”. I often quote where it says, “Be careful about nothing; but in everything”, - everything - “with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”, Phil 4: 6. I feel how far short I come in these things, but I would just desire to encourage one another. It is a thing we have recourse to, the matter of prayer. Then later on in verse 20 he says, “And whilst I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before Jehovah my God for the holy mountain of my God”. What thoughts he had in his mind! What a prayer this is! He was “confessing my sin and the sin of my people”. Well, there may be room for that and I think there is, but he goes on to say, “and presenting my supplication before Jehovah my God for the holy mountain of my God”. We often speak of whole thoughts. I think Daniel represents that, one who prayed in relation to these whole thoughts, “the holy mountain of my God; whilst I was yet speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, flying swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation”. Oh, how fine that is! There was something going up to God, and I believe there is that in prayer that it is going up to God. I think his prayer here had the character of the oblation. Oh, how suitable, shall we say reverently, that was to the nostrils of God. And it goes on to say, “And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, Daniel, I am now come forth to make thee skilful of understanding”, and I just want to finish, “for thou art one greatly beloved”.
Well, I feel the necessity for these things. As younger ones, we need to cultivate this line of things, make it habitual. There are good habits. We take on the bad habits so quickly, but I would just like to finish with what it says of Daniel that he was a man “greatly beloved”. Well, may we be encouraged, for His Name’s sake.
18th December 2007