by Mike Ratliff
27 For You, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made a revelation to Your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore Your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to You. 2 Samuel 7:27 (NASB)
There is a difference between how a genuine believer should pray and how most professing Christians actually pray. Our perception is that we pray as we feel or desire or as the result of viewing both our needs and other’s needs. What we often overlook is that God is heavily involved in all aspects of our sanctification and that includes leading us in prayer. God loves those who are His and blessing them is part of His expression of that love.
Look at the passage I placed at the top of this post. It is part of 2 Samuel describing David’s desire to build a temple to God and how He responded to the king. David wanted to honor God by building Him a house, but God would not allow it. Instead He told David something special.
8 “Now therefore, thus you shall say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make you a great name, like the names of the great men who are on the earth. 10 I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, 11 even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. 12 When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”’” 2 Samuel 7:8-16 (NASB)
How often God does for us what we desire to do for him! David desired to build the Lord a house, and the Lord built him a house. When God’s servants are not accepted one way, they are another. Neither do they take it ill that the Lord puts them off from the work upon which they had set their desires; but they learn his will, bow before it, and praise him for it. David went in and sat before the Lord, and offered prayer, for he felt moved in heart, so that he could not do otherwise. When the Lord promises, we should supplicate: his giving times should create for us special asking times.
How did David come by his prayer? He “found courage to pray this prayer” 2 Samuel 7:27). David found it and that tells us that he was looking for it. Those who pray at random will never be accepted like those who pray as David did. We must carefully seek out our prayers. Carefully read the following passage from Job.
1 “Behold, my eye has seen all this,
My ear has heard and understood it.
2 “What you know I also know;
I am not inferior to you.
3 “But I would speak to the Almighty,
And I desire to argue with God.
4 “But you smear with lies;
You are all worthless physicians. Job 13:1-4 (NASB)
Job was responding to the accusations of his three “friends” who supposedly came to comfort him after Satan has struck him with a loathsome disease. They professed to have heard from God that Job was suffering because of some horrible unrepentant sin he had not confessed. Job counters with truth and says that these fellows are forgers of lies who have not carefully sought out their prayers. Instead, they have conjured up their own supporting “doctrine” from their fleshly driven “prayers.” Do you see how praying incorrectly can result in heinous error?
Look where David found his prayer about building the house for God. He found it not in a book, not in his memory, not in his head, not in he imagination, and assuredly not on his tongue. No, he found it in his heart by having the courage to look there.
2 My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalms 84:2 (NASB)
This is more proof that David was a man after God’s own heart. David knew how to search it and ponder what God had placed there. For David to be as close to God as he was he must have searched it a great deal.
6 I will remember my song in the night;
I will meditate with my heart,
And my spirit ponders: Psalms 77:6 (NASB)
David was a regenerate believer. He had a living heart and the proof of this is that a living prayer, placed there by God Himself, was within it. His heart was a believing heart. Only a heart like David’s can both hold these prayers and present them to the one seeking them. We must ask ourselves if this is how we seek direction and guidance from God not only on how to pray, but what to pray. I have found that there are times when I do this and find a prayer there that I know I could not have made myself. No, I am a believer and am regenerate, but I too struggle with knowing how to pray for some things. However, I have found that if I will stop trying to come up with the answer myself then search my heart while pleading with God for direction that I do find the treasure.
Like most of you, I have times of great joy and intimacy with God. Then it is easy to pray isn’t it? Then we find nuggets in our hearts that our loving God put there. Then we pray deeply and fervently. What joy that is! However, God does allow me to struggle at times. Then I must dig deep imploring Him for help. It is even more joyous to come upon that implanted prayer put there by our loving God so we can draw near unto Him in humble adoration while imploring Him to answer the prayer He gave us.
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 (NASB)
I used to think that this was only the Holy Spirit taking what I prayed and making the prayer better. I think He does do that, but I have become convinced that He also guides us into prayer as He did with David. David’s heart was a praying heart because it was serious about the things of God. It was not flippant, forgetful, cold, or indifferent. If that had been so then he would have found it full of vanity, but not prayer. We must ask ourselves and examine ourselves to determine if prayer can be found in our hearts at this time.
11 So Ephraim has become like a silly dove, without sense;
They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. Hosea 7:11 (NASB)
If we are helter-skelter in our spirituality, in our service to God, in how we pray then we will be like Ephraim (Israel) who could not seek God in prayer because the people were too busy going after the ways of the world. In utter contrast, David’s heart was nothing like that. What made the difference? David had a humble heart. Look at his prayers throughout Psalms and 1st and 2nd Samuel. He prayed God’s will back to Him my brethren and he was able to do that because he found God’s will in his heart by looking for it.
If this is not how you pray then I implore God to grant that you may yet find it in your heart to do so. We must seriously examine how we pray. If we just say prayers and they do not come from the heart then how can they reach God’s heart? We must never forget that it is God who puts prayer into our hearts. How dare we lazily spout out what ever comes to mind or simply ask God to handle the weather or have our team win. What is burdening your heart? Examine it! Ask God to help you come to grips with it by seeking His will there. If we will do this then we are working closely with the Holy Spirit who is instructing us how to pray.
The Holy Spirit gives us the sense of need. He works within our God-given faith and then we plead with God when we are sure He will keep His promise. When the Holy Spirit brings forth before our minds God’s promises we pray to our Father that which has been revealed to us. All of this teaches us our necessity to be totally dependent on Him. It is quite humbling, which is exactly what God is doing through this transformation process.
Remember, God inclined David to pray. He did it by warming his heart, gladdening him with bright prospects, and communing with him. Prayer does not grow in an ice-well. God warms our hearts to Him. Then joy comes. When we ponder and mediate on the eschaton, for instance, then our prospects seem unimaginable. God communes with us. What a joy this is! All of these things move us to pray. Absolute promises from God do not render prayer needless. Contrarily, when we see the true reality of who we are in Christ it should bring us to prayer. This, of course, is the Lord inclining us to pray.
God’s promises to us encourage us to pray. We should never take them for granted. If you have then your prayer life has probably taken on a cold spell. No, we must mediate on God’s promises to His people, rejoice in them. David heard from God that He would build David into a “house” that would endure forever. God sealed this home into David’s heart. God made this covenant with him and it encouraged David to pray. God encourages us to pray by His wonderful promises.
37 ‘Thus says the Lord God, “This also I will let the house of Israel ask Me to do for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so will the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”’” Ezekiel 36:37-38 (NASB)
God also brings to our hearts remembrance of His former great mercies in our lives as He has answered prayer. He supplies our needs. He is all-powerful and will never forsake His children. Let us think on these things as He leads us into prayer. Never forget that our Lord Jesus Himself is an intercessor who is always pleading with success. Shouldn’t this put it into our hearts to pray? As we remember that the Holy Spirit is right there with us to help us pray it should also encourage us to do so.
How do we discover prayer in our hearts? We will never find it there if we don’t look. Therefore, we must make diligent search. It is such a tragedy to be so distracted by the world that we neglect this. We start this search by thinking of our own need. Then as the petitions come to mind we cry out to God in prayer. Think of the ways the world is spitefully using you. This will bring you to humbly cry to the Lord. Think of the promises, the precepts, and the doctrines of truth. As we meditate on these wonderful things then we should fall to our knees and pray back to God how wonderful and magnificent He is from a grateful heart. Have Christ in your heart. I promise you that you will not be able to stop praying if this is so. Think of Paul after our Lord knocked him from his horse, blinding him, telling him who He was and that Paul was to serve Him from now on. What was Paul doing before Ananias came to lay hands on him? He was praying. (Acts 9:11)
I know that many reading this have a deep desire to be used by God, to bring Him glory. I applaud that and I understand that deep desire because I have it as well. This comes to those who live near unto God. I would prefer that all Christians would live this way and it is a major focus of this ministry to facilitate God drawing as many as possible to live near unto Him. It is as we walk this way that we often speak to Him because we are constantly examining our hearts. This is a huge part of walking in repentance. Some have accused us of preaching self-righteousness, but my understanding of this walk is that we are at polar opposites from that. We preach holiness and righteousness, but not by being self-righteous. No, we become holy and live righteously as we live near unto God and pray continually.
Examine yourself. Do you find prayers and other holy things in your heart? Praise the Lord if that is so. Draw near unto Him my brethren. Or is your heart full of vanity, worldliness, ambition, and ungodliness? Remember that you are what your heart is.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. (Proverbs 23:7 KJV)
Soli Deo Gloria