The Essentials of Prayer
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1995
The subject of prayer is a most important one in the Holy Scriptures. When all the cognate forms of the word "prayer" are considered, it is referred to several hundred times in the whole of the biblical revelation, both the Old and the New Testaments.
The basic meaning of the word "prayer," ecumenically speaking, is to "entreat," or "to call upon." And in this case it means to refer to God as the one who is entreated. Or, youíre calling upon Him, the deity, God your Father, for something.
Sometimes the word has the significance of "crying out," even "to plead," "to beseech," and to "seek." It can also mean to "ask for something" or even "to demand" something from God, or from Christ. We will, however, see what that means as we progress in this lecture.
It means at times also to acknowledge Godís greatness, and His power, and His authority. It can also have a secondary significance of praising God, but this is not the ordinary and usual meaning of the attribute, and it should not be pressed as an essential characteristic of prayer, though that is important ó to praise God.
Prayer really means, "to petition," or "to call" on God for something, which He can, and will, supply to you. Now itís most important that we realize those two verbs, can, and will, supply to you. We know that He can, but what we have to ask is, will He do it for us? We have to know if He can (and we know that), we have to know if He wills, and we can know that.
Note the model prayer that Christ gave to His first apostles and disciples. When you analyze it, you get a wonderful principle which involves all of these factors that we have been mentioning. Thereís one factor that it doesnít mention, which I will get to a little bit later on when we come to some of the later epistles of Paul, and of John, and of others. But in itís simplistic form, we can find this prayer given to the disciples, and to the apostles, by Christ Himself, is kind of a prologue to the whole thing, we can see here the main factors of prayer, which are very important for us to understand. And these principles which we can find in this model prayer here, really are very effective for all forms of prayer that you can discover in the Bible.
Jesus mentioned this by saying (Matthew 6:9Ė13):
then He starts out with "Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..."
"After this manner therefore, pray you..."
"Hallowed" means to be holy. His name, His authority, His position, His power is holy. And notice the very first identification here. He is called "Our Father." That is the first thing that every single one of us should understand. And usually, we find our theological friends, our preachers, even our evangelists, and even lay people do not understand this first principle of praying to someone in heaven, especially to the divine head of heaven and Earth, the Creator. He is called "Our Father." That is the first principle that Jesus gives to us. He doesnít say in an un-intimate way, "Our God," though obviously, He is our God. He is our divine sustainer, and the one who created us.
But at the same time, there is something very personal here that Jesus gives to us, and itís the very first principle that we should understand, and that is, He is our Father. Now what is a Father? All of us who are born on this Earth are children. Now maybe you did not know your father. Maybe he died very early in your life, and you were unable to know of him. But most of us know our fathers, and in fact, if you do not have a father that you could relate to, you can see how others should have a proper father.
Fathers are well known in this earth. I am a father. And all of you, if youíre not yet married, and you will get married, and have children, and you will be fathers, or you will be mothers. But in this particular case here, you petition God not as a mother, but as a father. He is the Father.
"Our Father which art in heaven."
And thatís where He is living at the present time. You have a means of communicating with Him on a very personal level. That is what Jesus is giving us here at the very beginning of His discourse on prayer. He is a Father to us, and you can communicate to Him. His name is holy, and you should always understand what His name really is.
He has many names. He has many titles. He has many attributes associated with Him, and each of us should know, in the Scripture, what they represent. But you know, the general title, and the one which is the most appropriate for us in prayer to God is "Our Father." That is as close as you can get to intimacy as you can imagine. And itís hard for me, I think, as an adult individual thatís been around on this Earth a little over 60-some years, and having experienced life quite a little bit, to understand that this Father in heaven is some kind of a non-being. Itís hard for me to understand that. In fact, it would be hard for anyone else, I think, to understand it. And it certainly would have been to the apostles back there, and to the disciples listening to Jesus when He was giving this model prayer.
When He said "our Father in heaven" they just automatically recognized that He was their Father. And you know, if He is the Father, or was the Father of Jesus, and of the apostles, and of the disciples who heard Him back there; and if He is your Father, then fathers beget their own kind. They beget the same type of beings that their children are, and the two go harmoniously together. Saying "Our Father" means that you are a child of the living God in heaven. You must remember that. And you must approach Him as a Father.
So, we find here that His name is Holy, and He is your Father. He says here, to the Jews, at this particular time, and they were anticipating the kingdom to come. He says well, "thy kingdom come." That was what they wanted, and in this particular prayer Jesus was telling the Jews at that time that they should ask for that. Now whether you should ask for it or not is another thing.
The last essential that Iím going to give you in this lecture ó and I want you to listen to it ó is that youíre going to find that you are in a position much higher than even the Jews at that time who were looking for a kingdom. You do not have to really ask for the kingdom like they did. Iím going to show you this a little bit later on.
There are other priorities that you should be asking for. Other things that God has given to you, other responsibilities, and indeed, other positions of power and authority, that you can be asking God for, certain things which did not even apply back here when He gave this model prayer to the Jews. Now remember, He was giving this some months before He was crucified. He was giving this before He ever became the sinner for mankind to die in our place. He had not been resurrected from the dead yet. The Christianity that you and I know, and particularly that revealed to the apostle Paul and the others after 63 AD, called the Mystery, was not even understood by the people at the time.
Nevertheless we find in this model prayer here some very good indications, principles, that Iím talking about. And those principles, by the way, have to be modified as we go on because with education, with knowledge, with more understanding of where we are, who we are, why weíre here, and what we are to do in the future. These things can be modified, and they should be modified.
But in principle, weíre getting some excellent teaching here of a preliminary nature that Christ was giving back there, and it can apply to us in principle today. But we have to apply particular factors, different factors, for us as we go on. And Iím going to show you some of those things in this lecture.
"Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven..."
Now that is a most important principle that never varies. You can never deviate from this one here. Itís an asking that His will, the Fatherís will, always to be put into action, as it is in heaven, let it be here on Earth. That is the attitude you must have. Now it didnít say "your will." It didnít say "my will." It didnít say the "will of our government." It didnít say the "will of our king, or queen," or something like that. It didnít say the "will of our father, or our mother." It didnít say the "will of our children." But it does say "Your will, in heaven." Whose will? The Fatherís will.
Now Iím going to have a few things to say about this as well, but this is a principle here, and by the way, it is the first principle. After understanding that you are talking to your Father, the first essential principle of prayer is that you are asking that His will be done in your life. And in the lives of all of those around you that you are responsible for, or that you love, or whatever ó including all of those outward in your country, and all the people in the world. You must ask for, and believe in, that Godís will should be done. And this is not necessarily your will. I am going to show you a little bit later, however, that, believe it or not, that your will and Godís will shall mesh together into a single will, if you really have a proper understanding of this whole thing. Because you see, Godís will works in each of us, and in actual fact, when you are really educated in the understanding of Godís truth, your will and His will shall be exact and precise.
In actual fact, what youíll find out is that it is Godís will working in us all the time that will prevail. But you still should be asking in your mind, with your attitude, that His will prevails in all circumstances. Now once you have that in mind, then your attitude in prayer is well understood, and itís proper, because youíre motivating your mind to be like His, so that your will is in agreement with His will, and the two wills together, when you look at them, are one and the same. And weíre going to find that as we go here in the Scriptures that I will give to you a little bit later.
It says (verse 11):
"... Give us this day our daily bread."
Here is an acknowledgment that He is the supplier of all things. And you should be thankful for what you get every single day, and appreciative of it. And one of the things that you should do is to thank Him for things like that. "Give us this day our daily bread," and notice it says "daily." If youíre going to ask Him daily, that should surely show that you must be asking Him on a daily basis. Now that doesnít mean that youíre kneeling before God in prayer all the time. In fact, the attitude, the physical attitude, that you have whether youíre kneeling; whether youíre walking: whether youíre standing; whether youíre lying on the ground face down, like many people were, or whatever, is not the thing Iím talking about in this particular lesson, these essentials of prayer. The essentials that Iím going to be giving to you will automatically allow you to do the things that you feel you need to do in regard to that as we go along.
But principles are what Iím going to give you ó the essentials. And the thing that you should be asking for is for our daily bread. And you should be forgiving. It says:
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
So that shows that youíre to do things as well. As I treat my neighbor, I want my neighbor to treat me. But more than anything else, I want you, Father, to treat me that way. And I want you to forgive me for my wrongs. This automatically here, this verse 12, suggests that youíre going to continually be asking God for this, because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And you know something? Thereís not a one of us that is perfect, completely. And in your daily prayers, wherever they may be, and however you may utter them, you should understand that He is the one who can, and will, forgive you.
Now the thing is He also says that you should be forgiving others as well as they forgive you, and then He will come along and forgive at the same time in this model prayer here.
"And lead us not into temptation..."
Temptation, it says, which really means "into trial," into a trial. God can put us under trial, if He wishes. He certainly put the Israelites in the Old Testament in many occasions under trial. Some of you, at this very moment, are undergoing various trials. But you know, you can also ask Him not to put you under trial, in a particular circumstance, or whatever it might be. In fact, He even says here "bring us into trial, but deliver us from evil," which means trials. And He can do that, too. However, you have already said "your will be done," you remember? You already said that, so that is before you ever get to the trial section here. If you are under trials, you have to recognize that He is in control. And by knowing that Heís in control of your life gives you an attitude in prayer which is far different than if you do not know He is in control. Do you see the point? You already acknowledge and understand that He is in control. And by the way, He is.
[which means "into trial"] "but deliver us from evil" [that is the bad] "for yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever" [or for the ages all the time]. And then He says "amen," so be it, which was the technical name for "let it be" at the end of any type of a prayer of this nature.
"Lead us not into temptation"
He went on to say in John 14:13, when He was teaching His disciples later on, that when you pray, and when you ask God the Father for anything, He did say to do it "in my name," in the name of Jesus Christ. Now He stated that several times. And that simply means to do it by the authority of Jesus Christ. And let me tell this, you of yourself may not have any authority of yourself, except that which God may give to you. But when you come to a spiritual relationship with God the Father, through His firstborn Son Jesus Christ, then you all of a sudden, take on the mantle of Jesus Christ Himself. And when you use the term, or the phrase, "in the name of Jesus Christ," youíre actually saying "by the authority, and in the authority, of Jesus Christ" may these things be done.
Now I would weigh my words very carefully to God before I would say something of that nature. But if youíre relatively assured, in fact if you can be absolutely assured, that what youíre saying is in conformity to the will of the Almighty God; if youíre paying attention to these principles here, and first of all saying "your will be done in Earth, under all circumstances," then youíre going to know that whatever happens in your life is the way that God wants it. Now it can be changed, if He wills it. Now your will and His will have to come into conformity. In actual fact, it is His will that will always be there to predominate in all circumstances. Iím going to show you this as we go along.
Prayer is not so much for you to get something from Him that He does not want you to have in the past, or that you have to remind Him of, so to speak, because He knows everything that you need. Thatís what Jesus said, even before talking about this prayer here. But itís a means of acknowledging to Him that in conformity to His will on these matters and itís a daily affair that you have with him, and itís an affair of talking with your Father, and He responds as a father to a child. Itís a family relationship, and thatís most important for us to understand.
There are prayers in the Bible, both in the Old ó particularly in the Old ó but also in the New, where there are dedications made by a king, for example, in which he petitions God, as the king, for the whole of the people. But under normal circumstances, now that does occur, and itís perfectly proper to do it that way. But under normal circumstances, itís an individual person coming with contact with the God of heaven and Earth, on a personal relationship where itís as father to child. And that is how the relationship should be.
Now if you say at the end of your prayer, however, "by the authority of Jesus Christ," which is the same thing as saying "by the name," or "in the name of Jesus Christ," do you know that youíre bringing into the relationship the firstborn son of the Living God, who we read in other Scriptures is none other than the Creator of heaven and Earth? Do you know that the Father gave to Him that power and authority? And that you are being identified with that firstborn One? Now thatís most important because Iíll tell you this, God will listen to His children. He will listen to His child. He will listen to His firstborn. And you know who His firstborn is? Jesus Christ.
But later revelation shows us that you and I are "in Christ." We are in Him in a spiritual sense, in a legal sense. And when we petition God in prayer ó and Iíll show you this as we go along here a little bit based upon this preliminary introductory type of prayer here ó even more sophisticated prayers can come along. But the sophisticated prayers never deviate, from the one-on-one relationship of Father to child. And the Father to child [relationship] is that youíre not just one child out of a multitude of others, but you are an individual child of His recognized as His firstborn through Christ Jesus.
Now you have to realize that everybody else who is a Christian, is a Christian in the same boat. But your whole attitude should be that He is most interested in His firstborn son, or daughter, in this case. Heís most interested in you, and if you petition Him as a father, He is going to listen to you as a father, and you as a child. Now it doesnít mean an infant. You must really understand that. It means a person who is educated, who is intelligent, who may be 60, 70, 80 years of age, or 20, or 15, or 10. It doesnít make any difference. But it means a person who is a part of the very family of God.
Now the last essential that Iím going to give you, and Iím going to give you a prologue for Him, on this, is the fact that youíve got to recognize who you are. When you pray, if you know who you are, youíre not going to have any trouble in praying. If you do not know who you are, youíre always going to be asking "should I ask for this, should I ask for that, should I pray this way, should I be in this attitude of mind, or this physical attitude, or whatever." You can think of a thousand different things that you would ask, but if you know who you are, and Iím already beginning to show you here, you are a child of the Living God, and you are coming in the authority of Jesus Christ. John 14:13, and several other Scriptures, shows that you have that authority to come to God the Father Himself on a one-to-one relationship without anybody else coming in between, except if you want to say Jesus Christ. But Jesus Christ is the actual firstborn, and you are in Him, and He is in you, and both of you are in the Father. Now thereís the divine trinity, if you want to know what a trinity is. Itís not that the Holy Spirit, which is the power of God, is a part of a trinity separate from you, and God the Father and Christ.
Iíll tell you the true trinity, though the word "trinity" does not occur in the Bible. I hope you understand that. But at the same time, Iíll tell you who it is. Itís God the Father, itís Christ Jesus the firstborn, and you; you in the singular, in the firstborn. And Iíll tell you that you have a divine trinity right there, and donít let anybody take that power and authority away from you. That is what Jesus Christ told the apostle Paul, and Peter, and John, after He was telling these Jews back there, before His death and resurrection you see, He was giving them teaching and this model prayer, within an environment of them expecting the Kingdom of God to come.
In actual fact, this is not the model prayer for you, or for me, however. We can see certain principles in it, which we can adapt, and adapt into our own lives. Thatís true. But this is not the model prayer thatís intended for you. However, it does start out with "Our Father," and that you are a child, an adult child.
Later on, weíre going to find that when you have Christ Jesus there in the midst of you, and youíre in Him, and Heís in you, all of us are reckoned by the Father as being firstborn ones. Itís most important for us to realize that fact.
Now when we come to this prayer, and the manner of prayer, we have to see that God is our Father. And the first principle of praying, to begin with, is that Godís will must be done. Remember that? Matthew 6:10, right there, the central part of this prayer? "Thy" [Godís] "will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
Now we find the apostle Paul continually saying this. In Romans 12:2, we find that he is here writing to these Roman Gentiles, and telling them about the power of God, and through Christ Jesus, and he said for them not to be:
(thatís verse 2), "but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
"... conformed to this world"
You have to know what the will of God is. Let me ask YOU a question right now, and YOU just think about this. Weíre going to turn over the tape in just a moment, but before we do, just think about this. How many of you know what the will of God is in your life? Right now? At any given moment? Right now, letís say, about any given circumstance of your life thatís affecting your life at the present time? Do you realize that what you ought to be asking for is the ability to know what is the will of God, and then to walk in it? Thatís one of the things you should be asking for, that the will of God will be manifested in your life.
And the apostle Paul says for you to start proving something, proving it. Prove what? Well, "be not conformed to this world." That means to this society, to this age that weíre in which is in rebellion in most cases to God.
"But be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Almost on all occasions ó Iím going to be rather arrogant right now, but you can be arrogant with me, or better, the word is "confident" ó I can be very confident that in almost all occasions of my life at this present time I have proved what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God is in my life. Believe it or not, I have done so.
Now Godís spirit is what guides you. Now in not all occasions am I absolutely certain, in every single case, but you know when I made that statement I have enough Scriptures in my mind, that come all together in my mind, that tell me what the will of God is, first of all in nature, what the will of God is for mankind, what the will of God for me as far as the future is concerned, what Iím going to be, who I am now, all of these things. Do you realize I know, and I am confident, by faith, what the will of God is, for me at this present time? And so do you, if you just think about it. If you have any problems on that, though, you just listen to the end of this tape. And before you know it, youíre going to begin to understand how to prove what is the perfect will of God in your life.
It goes on to say in 1 John 5:14 ó you see this is all over the Scripture really, but Iím concentrating primarily in the New Testament as you can well imagine. But 1 John 5:14:
[And] this is the confidence that we have in him..."
Now a moment ago I said to you that I am confident ó I used the word "arrogant," but better yet, itís "confident." I am confident. And he says, in the "we" here:
[with confidence], "that, if we ask any thing... he hears us."
"... we have in him"
Thereís one thing I left out: "according to his will..."
What you have to know is, what is His will? And you know almost on all occasions I know what His will is. Almost on all occasions. And the ones I do not know, itís simply a matter of knowledge and education. Overall, I know exactly what His will is for my life. I know exactly where Iím going. I know exactly where Iíve been. I know exactly who I am here. I know exactly that Iím going to be saved without any doubt in the world. I know many things which I accept through faith, and confident, I am absolutely certain, and so can you be.
[End of side 1]
On the other side of this tape, I was explaining the number one essential factor that we must take into consideration when we are praying. And Jesus gave it in His preliminary prayer, His model prayer, for the Jews back at that time.
As I said to you, there are more sophisticated things for us to take into consideration. And Iím going to give you some of those as we go through the rest of this lecture. But at the same time there was an essential factor, imbedded within that prayer, which you should never forget, and should be a part of all prayers that you utter. And that is "thy will" [that is, Godís will] "be done in Earth, as it is in heaven."
That is the very first thing you should, in a sense, start out with, as far as attitude is concerned. Once you know that youíre talking to your Father, once you know that He is holy, once you know that He recognizes you as a son or a daughter, and not only just an ordinary son or a daughter, but as a firstborn son or a daughter in Christ ó once all of that is recognized, then in the inner part of this prayer, or prayers that you will utter, must always be the prevailing attitude that Godís will shall be done. Donít you put anything in your prayers that would say "I want my will to be done." Now you may do that on occasion, but you must always remember at the back that whoís will is going to prevail in the first place, and so you should be right up front with God and tell Him, "your will be done in all occasions." You do that, and youíre going to be in excellent shape with the Father.
Now the thing is this, we ought to prove what is the acceptable will of God. Thereís where education comes in. You have to know what is the will of God. I mentioned to you a little earlier on in this lecture, 1 John 5:14, where he says "this is the confidence that we have in him."
And I hope you have this confidence. Iím sure you do. If you donít by the end of this lecture, all you have to do is to ask God for this confidence. And once you ask Him for it, believe He will give it to you, and He will. And then go on your life. Every time you pray, pray with confidence. This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
Now what you have to do is to find out what His will really is. And the way you find out His will is first of all find out the general will of God for all humanity, then break it on down until it comes right to you, and there is where the final essential Iím going to give you really comes into it. Because youíre going to have to recognize, as Iíve already told you, the Bible has made it clear, but the Bible is going to make it even clearer to each one of us. We have to recognize who we are. Or better yet, who you are.
If you donít know who you are, just go to a mirror, look at the mirror see the reflection of yourself, point a finger at yourself and say "You are you." All right, now once you know who you are, relative to you, then you have to ask God "who am I?" God will tell you who you are. You are His child. Youíre just not an ordinary child; you are His firstborn in His eyes, with many other firstborn around. Thatís how precious, beautiful, and wonderful you are to Him. He has a role for you to play in this world. And what He wants you to know is this ó that His will is for you, under all circumstances, no matter what trials you are going through, or what difficulties you have, He is there with you, and for you. This is the thing that you should recognize.
Even Jesus, when He prayed to the Father ó remember, on the night before His crucifixion He said "that not my will, but thine be done." He wanted in His own physical way to get out of the pain, and the excruciating ordeal, of the crucifixion. He asked three times that He could be released from it. But on every occasion He said "your will be done." That is what made Jesus Christ to be our elder brother that we can have confidence in Him that by using His authority by His name at the end of our prayers, we are going to absolutely put the divine stamp of approval upon what you ask for.
But remember, do like Jesus did. Your will be done, Father, and not mine.
We find that Jesus said "Not my will, but thine be done." I mentioned that, but also that Jesus prays to the Father for each of us at this present time, according to the apostle Paul in Romans 8:27, it says that Jesus is there before the Father, pleading with the Father, on our behalf, at this present time. But do you know what it says? Jesus prays (now get this) "according to the will of God." That is Romans 8:27.
Now the will of God is to benefit you. The will of God is to benefit me. But it does not to do it sometimes in the way that we think. That is why you must always, in your prayer, like Jesus said, "thy will be done, and not mine." Weíve got to know what is His will. Iím going to give you some of the Scriptures which will show you His will that you can have confidence in, relative to anything that you ask of Him. But you must have that confidence, realizing that Godís will is for your good. Not only in the end, but even right now. Even through trials and troubles and difficulties. And even when we find Christ in heaven pleading with the Father on your behalf at this present time, still Jesus prays even to the Father, according to His will.
They have a plan that theyíre working out here for each single one of us. Weíre all a part of it, and itís going to go in a beautiful way, just the way God wants it Now we look around and we find all types of troublesome things and difficulties, and all of that. But Iíll tell you, if we know that our Father is in charge of everything, which He is, weíre here for a purpose. And Iíll tell you, the main reason that we have our trials, and tribulations, and difficulties, is for educational purposes ó to teach us the things that we need to know about the consequences of good, the consequences of evil, and oh my, do we not have experience in all of those things, according to the will of God?
Do you know that itís the will of God that there be evil in the world? Itís the will of God that there be good in the world. But Heís in charge of it, youíre not. Evil is something that is a part of nature, so to speak, we would say. You are told to flee, that is, God says flee from it. But Heís very much in charge of it, all the time. That is why sometimes He uses it for your own good, to teach you lessons, and to teach us lessons. Just as we, as parents, can sometimes punish a child for some of the things that that child may do to teach it lessons, and to keep the hands off the hot stove, or from running into the street, or things like that. God can do the same thing, even though with more severity than sometimes we might have to deal with our own children.
But the point is this, we should always pray ó and this is the first essential in everything that we say ó that Godís will must be done.
Secondly, though, we must find out what is the will of God. We must prove what is the will of God. There is where study of the Holy Scripture comes in, both of the Old and the New Testaments, but particularly those sections of Scripture that pertain to us, we who are a part of the adult understanding of God, through the mystery that He gave to the apostle Paul, and others, in 63 AD onward, we should have enough basic understanding, mature and adult understanding, to realize many other things that others do not. And we should be able to realize that Godís will is very much in evidence in everything that we do.
Now, here is a cardinal Scripture that we should always understand, and that is Philippians 2:13. The apostle Paul here speaks about Jesus Christ and His role of coming into this Earth. First of all of lowering Himself from the great power and authority He had before, coming down here according to the will of God, to do certain things for man. And some of those things that God allowed Jesus to do, or gave Him orders to do, were not very nice. I mean to Christ. He suffered tremendously, according to the will of God.
Some of us have to suffer, thatís quite true, according to the will of God. But you know, Jesus Christ came forth out of that grave with a much more powerful existence, in one way of looking at it, than He had before. And that type of existence is going to be given to you, and to me. The same thing, because we are all "in Christ," and we should also suffer with Him from time to time. That is a part of the will of God, believe it or not, it is. Itís not the will of God that you just have a "Scot-free" existence of pain, of difficulties, of problems, and all of that
In fact, there was one prominent legislator in the United States Congress who said that "you know what we have in life, life is nothing more than one crisis after another." And you know, that really is the case. And God is in control, however. That is why Philippians 2:13 is most important for us to realize. It says this, Paul does:
"For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
He is the one working in you, causing you to do certain things, according to His will, and the will that you do many times is nothing more than the will that God has placed in you, coming directly from Him. And you may not realize it, but itís a fact.
We need to know what His will is. Now whatever His will is, in any given circumstances, we should ask God for knowledge of what His will is, why He is doing the things He is doing right now. And maybe you might not be able to understand every little detail at this present time, but youíre always going to know that everything is according to His plan, according to His will, and you are going to come out, even now, a winner, even though it may not seem like it at the present time. Youíre going to come out a winner because God is working in you.
Now when you pray, you should pray to walk in Godís will for your life, and to accept His will as working in your life. And thatís the number one essential factor, that God is at work in you. You find out what Godís will is. And Iíll tell you how you find it out, and that is by study of the Holy Word of God. Youíve got to grow in grace, and youíve got to grow in knowledge. And when you find out what the will of God is, relative to your life, and to the life of the whole human species, so to speak, the human race, youíre going to find out that His will for us is very glorious indeed. Itís a wonderful will and weíve got to realize it.
I want to show you one of the major wills of God. We got to know the will of God? All right. How about 1 Timothy 2, verse 4? Iím just going to give you one. Iím going to give you one will of God that you can know, and you have confidence in. And no matter what happens, no matter what the circumstances are around you that might lead you to believe that this is not the will of God, Iím going to show you that it is because the Holy Scripture says it is, and cannot fail. 1 Timothy 2:4. Yes, verse 4 will be fine, and going on through 5 and 6. But hereís what it says, 1 Timothy chapter 2:
[and that pronoun there is referring to God] "will have all men to be saved..."
You know in the original Greek, when you look at it, it is actually what His will is, for His will is to save all mankind. That is His will. Itís not just simply His desire. Some people say "well, thatís just His desire, but He does not have the power, or the will, to carry it out."
I beg your pardon. This word here is "thelo," and actually what it means ó thelo means will "will." Itís the same word that is used time and again for Godís will. For example, John 17:24:
(the apostles), "whom you have given me, be with me where I am..."
"... I will that they also"
Thelo. And Iíll tell you, if Jesus Christ wills it, theyíre going to be there. You see, thatís one of the wills that you can know God believes, and has, in your life. He had that for the original apostles. But you know you can read others. Heís got the same thing in mind for YOU. Thatís why you can have confidence in it. You can know thatís His will. And you can say "my goodness, it doesnít look like it is right now because of the circumstances Iím going through," but you know that faith shows you that that still is not the case by the circumstances. His will is to save you. His will is to save, Jesus said, "I will that they also be with me." He went on to say in that same chapter, "I will that the ones that they talk to come to a knowledge of the truth, be with me as I am with Father."
Now you can know that is His will. Canít you have that as confidence? Of course, you can. Thelo. Itís one of the most important of words. "I will that he tarry till I come... I will that he tarry." That was another section. And then Acts 18:21:
"... if God will."
That was one statement that was made. Romans 9:18:
[God] "has mercy on whom he wills..." and "... whom he will he hardens..." as far as the heart is concerned.
Itís "thelo" the same word that we have here, where it says that God wills that all men, all mankind, be saved. So you can know what Godís will is relative to all mankind. But you can study further and find out that that trickles right down to you. And youíre able to call Him a Father in an intimate sense, in Philippians 2:13, what Iíve quoted to you before, it says that "God works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," is the same word, "thelo."
And you can go on in James 4:15:
"If the Lord will we shall live..."
Well, in this case He does will it. And Heís going to bring you up in a resurrection from the dead. That is absolutely willed by God, and is going to happen, it makes no difference what. In 1 Peter 3:17, he said:
"If the will of God be so... "
Peter always put it that way. Whatever happens, itís the will of God. And you can go through... I just was selecting some Scriptures here where this word "thelo" was used. But the number one thing that you can absolutely know, and you can prove clearly, if you believe the Word of God, is that all mankind are going to be saved, and you can absolutely believe that.
A second essential that we must know is this. That nowhere in the Scripture do you find that prayer is to be accepted, in the way Jesus looks at it, as a ritual or as a ceremony. Thatís most important. So many of us have accepted it that way. But itís to be on a personal level.
Letís go back to that original teaching there that Christ did give to the apostles. Now remember, this is teaching right at the very beginning of His ministry, and it was for them back there, but the principles can apply in our case here, and you can see it very clearly. In Matthew 6:1, before He gave this model prayer, so to speak, this is what He said:
[that is giving something to people], "do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you. They have their reward."
"Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when you do your alms"
Their reward is to have glory of men, and the men glorify them. Now this is speaking of alms here. But letís go on down just a little bit farther, verse 5. The same principle applies here.
"And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are..."
The word "hypocrites" means "actors." Those going around acting.
[where lots of people are around] "and in the corners of the streets" [you know, out on the streets you see some preachers out there preaching, or praying, or whatever], "that they may be seen of men..."
"... for they love to pray standing in the synagogues"
Or they go to a restaurant, or something like that, and you can see them bowing their heads, and praying, and things like that. Christ says donít do that. Thatís not the place. YOU know this is exhibitionism. This is making a ritual, and a ceremony, out of prayer ó to be seen of men.
"But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward YOU openly. But when you pray, use not vain repetitions..."
You know, like a rosary, or something like that. You have one bead in one hand when you say something there. Have another bead, you say another one. And another bead, you repeat here. And you have repetition, repetition, repetition. The very things He says not to do, most Christians are doing today, the very opposite of what Christ says to do.
Well, my goodness, it seems like no wonder their prayers are not being answered when you really get down to it. Because they are going contrary to what Christ has actually said here.
[that is, the nations]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. [But] be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him."
"But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do
And there you are, and then He gives the model prayer. He already knows what you need. You just recognize that He knows, then say "your will be done." And you know you donít have to spend very much time doing all that time, do you? No. Look you got work to do. Now, that doesnít mean you shouldnít pray, but there are some people who will pray for hours, and hours, and hours ó vain repetition, you know. It takes them an hour to get worked up. I donít pray that way at all. I have confidence God hears me immediately. He knows what I need before I even start in. But I honor Him by recognizing who He is.
Now the third essential, and this is the most important of all!
God knows who He is. God knows who you are. But do you know who you are, you see? If you know who you are, then you will have no trouble in praying whatsoever. Let me tell you one verse out of a whole panoply of verses that will tell you who you are. And you need to know this. And once you know, you wonít have any trouble in praying to God. You turn with me to 1 John 3:1 & 2, and youíre going to read here divine Scripture that tells you who you are. 1 John 3:1:
[now notice heís coming to the Father] "has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God..."
"Behold, what manner of love the Father"
In actual fact itís "children of God." Man, woman, the genders makes no difference, you are a child of God ó now:
"... therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not."
They didnít think Jesus was the Son of God, the firstborn Son. And you know most people donít think you are either. Well, it doesnít make any difference what most people think. The important thing is what you think. God knows who you are. You know, even Ernest Martin knows who you are, that Iím speaking to you here. But do you know who you are? Most people in the world donít know who you are. But you ought to know who you are. You are a child of the living God, and it doesnít mean an infant. It means an adult, child, a member of the very family of God. Thatís who you are. It goes on:
[or children] "of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be:" [right now in this physical] "but we know that, when he shall appear" [that is Jesus Christ at the Second Advent], "we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is..."
"Beloved, now are we the sons"
Heís coming in all glory. At that time weíre going to be resurrected from the dead, and weíre going to be glorified like He is. The apostle Paul said, through the revelation of the mystery, in Ephesians, chapter 1, that we have been predestined before the foundation of the world to be conformed to the very image of Jesus Christ.
And do you know where weíre sitting now? Weíre sitting, in Him, in Christ, in the heavens ó with Him, legally. Ephesians 2:6, says we are now legally sitting with Christ, on the right hand of the Father in heaven.
Who are you? Go look in the mirror. Iíll tell you who you are. Put your name there in front of it. Thatís right. But you are just not that person, you are a child, an adult, a living child of Almighty God. And we find in Hebrews 12:23, that every single one of us have the rank of firstborn on him or her. And where are we sitting right now, as far as God the Father is concerned? On His right hand.
Do you know all you have to do is to look over your left shoulder, so to speak, and talk to your Father. And you know something? Heís sitting there not as a blob of green smoke, or spirit where you cannot see Him. Heís sitting there just like a human being. Do you know that Jesus Christ is sitting on the right hand of the Father right now, and youíre in Him, youíre in the same position He is. Thatís how you should talk to your Father. Thatís how close you are to Him. You need to know who you are. And when you know who you are, youíre not going to have any trouble speaking to Him. You wonít make a ritual out of it, will you, with a little bead in your hand? "Wait a minute, Father, Iíve got to get this bead out, and talk to Him." Heíll sit over there and say "well, get on with your business then." Why, you donít talk to your own father that way, do you? Samuel doesnít talk to me (Iím his father) that way. If he did I would say "straighten up, man, and get right." Itís about time you start talking to your Father in the proper way.
Do you know that Jesus Christ, right now at this very moment (1 Timothy 2:4, 5, and 6) it says that He is a man, Heís an "anthropos" in heaven, and at the same time, He is God the Son, sitting next to the Father. And Heís "anthropos." An "anthropos" ó you know what that Greek word means, donít you? Anthropology. It means "man." It means like you and I are. And we are children of God. We are members of the very family of God, because we have the Holy Spirit within us. And we differ from the others in the world at the present time because we have that Holy Spirit.
Theyíre all destined, however, by the will of God, to be the same way we are. And you know, you ought to know who you are. And when you know who you are, then the responsibility that you have is a different one than most people in the world. I never have considered myself, once I understood this divine truth, that I now am a representative of God to the world. Iím not a human representative of God to the world. Iíll tell you who I am. I am a firstborn son of the Living God, and a member of the family of God.
But wait a minute. So are you. Iím not just selecting myself out. So are you. And you know something? Since you are a member of the family of God, donít you think that itís proper for you to talk to the Father, and even to your elder brother, once in awhile? Of course. Thatís what prayer is. And you know, you should pray that the will of the Father always be in action. Thatís principle essential number one.
Essential number two is the fact that you should realize that all the time itís not a ritual, or a ceremony, that is where the underlings all do that. You know the people that are the slaves, the people who are the ones out yonder, away from the Father. Youíre sitting next to the Father, in Christ. Thatís who you are.
All you have to do every morning, at noon if you wish, in the evening, wherever you are ó talk to the Father, knowing who you are. Talk to others knowing who you are, with all humility. Recognizing who they are as well. And you know when we start to understand these principles of who we are, and the main essential is this ó that once you know who you are, then you just go over your left shoulder, so to speak (now you understand thatís a symbol, that is a figure of speech), and talk to your Father who is just sitting right there next to you, and He looks like a human being, just like you do. He is no different than you are. Heís an anthropos, but Heís a God. He is the Father. Thatís what you need to realize. And once you do, youíre going to know the essentials of prayer, because prayer is coming into divine communication with that Father. Youíre His firstborn son and daughter.
Ernest L. Martin
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