April 16 - Effective Prayers
If our God is ever present, all knowing and all-powerful, our only link to Him is through our prayers. Once we are in prayer, we are at once transposed to heaven where He is and be quickly connected to His knowledge and power. It is like children coming before their loving father. Prayer is the key to our spiritual growth as God’s children. However, because of our pagan background, we do not have a correct concept about praying to God. We either go to God for things or use prayer as a means to show off our spirituality.
Out of such pagan backgrounds, Jesus taught on prayer with parables. From the first two parables, He contrasted three different types of prayers by three individuals. The first person was the persistent widow. She was going before a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. However, at the persistent plea of the widow, he gave her justice against her adversary. What the widow did was to wear the judge down by her continual pleading. Persistence pays off and we should always pray and not lose heart. God’s answer will come, listen to the rhetorical questions of Jesus: “And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them?” Yes, God will give justice to the persistent prayer and answer them speedily. A persistent prayer is a person of faith. Faith breeds persistence and persistence brings God’s answer.
The second parable contrasts two prayers and their different styles of praying. From one’s prayers, we may analyze their spiritual condition. The first man was a Pharisee who was self-righteous and treated others with contempt. When we elevate ourselves above God and others, we are not praying to God but to ourselves, for the “self” is our real God. Our prayers are religious in nature, a display of our worthiness and obligate God to doing something in return. When you think that you have done all that is required, you tend to see others not being able to meet that requirement and you accuse them before God. This kind of “justified” prayer is not justified in the eyes of God.
The kind of prayer acceptable to God is the prayer of the tax collector. His prayer was based on the unworthiness of the self and the worthiness of God. He could not even lift up his eyes to heaven, kept beating his chest, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He knew his own conditions before God and pleaded for mercy. This is the only position we have before a just and holy God. He got the right idea and so became a recipient of God’s grace.
Praying is not merely saying empty words, it is a reflection of your relationship with God. You relate to God in prayer through faith. How is your prayer life today?
Ps 55:9-15 Josh 13:1-14:15 Luke 18:1-17 Prov 13:7-8