Gilbert Beebe on Prayer 2

“For we know not how to pray as we ought,” nor can we learn from all the prayer books ever published, or by any lessons taught by good or bad men. It is only the Spirit that can search or know what is the mind of God, or make intercession for the saints according to the will of God. The spirit of our flesh would ask that God would yield to our carnal desires; but the Spirit of God teaches us to say, “not our will, but thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” and to ask for grace to reconcile us in all things to God. — The Spirit of our God will never lead to pray for or desire that God should grant us anything more or less than what he has in store for us; and when we pray for the gratification of our carnal desires, we surely pray amiss, and it will neither be for our good or his glory, and therefore he graciously denies our requests. The saints are instructed to pray without ceasing, and in all things to give thanks. We do not understand this injunction to mean that all our time is to be devoted exclusively to a form of prayer, for vain repetitions in prayer are forbidden; but at all times in our heart to breathe forth our desire to God to preserve us from evil, and lead us by his counsel and wisdom in all things. There is no place or period of our pilgrimage when we can say our prayers are ended, or that we can cease to call upon the name of the Lord. And in all things, whether agreeable or painful to us, we are to give thanks to God. — The peculiar trials which are experienced by God’s praying children, when their prayers seem to be unheard, and they feel as though they were sinking in deep waters of sore affliction, should not lead them to conclude that God’s ear has become heavy that he cannot or will not hear them; for he often withholds the answer to our prayers for the trial of our faith and patience, and that we may the better understand and more fully appreciate the blessings when received. Our blessed Lord spake a parable of the unjust judge and importuning widow, “to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” {Luke xviii. 1-5} A sense of our abject poverty and utter unworthiness should not cause us to faint, or despair of the mercy of the Lord, for it is the poor, humble, contrite, laboring, heavy laden child that God has made welcome to come boldly to his throne of grace in their Redeemer’s Name; and the promise is that they shall obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need; but the rich, self-righteous, he sends empty away. The poor publican, bowed down under a sense of unworthiness to even raise his eyes to heaven, in deep contrition smites upon his breast, and the hidden anguish of his heart in trembling accents cries, “God, be merciful to me;” and to this last petition he signs his name and character, “a sinner.” He does not claim to be a saint, nor indulge a thought that his sad prayer is meritorious. If God shuts out his prayer, and spurns him from his presence, he feels in his heart that God is just. But with fear and trembling he feels that this is his last, his only hope; for if God withholds from him his mercy, he sinks in hopeless despair. But O, what wondrous grace! His prayer is heard, and he is justified rather than the boasting Pharisee. — There are times with some who have hoped in the Lord, when they have had so deep a sense of the infinite majesty and holiness of God, and so deep a sense of their own pollution, as, like the publican, to stand afar off, and because they dare not to lift up their eyes to heaven, or take the sacred name of God upon their lips, have concluded that they have not, cannot pray; when perhaps in no part of their experience have they in reality and truth prayed more, or with greater acceptance. Their prayers have not been formed into words, nor articulated with their voice, but from the deepest recesses of their aching heart the pent up ejaculation has in unutterable groanings, in heaving sighs and flowing tears, expressed the desire and confession, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” —

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