PRAYER IN THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE
Prayer in the present Dispensation – in general
The term prayer in the Dictionary is “a request from God” or “Supplication to God”( = to beg, ask for mercy). We know that beleivers in past times also carried out prayers and thanskgiving to God in hard times (Daniel 9:19-20, Psalm 109:4), and so did Christ (Luke 22;39-46, Hebrews 5:7). In the broader sense prayer represents the relation of the believer to Gdo, as a child (son) to his father. For example: how does the child behave to his father, is he thankful for what he receives, does he love his father, does he listen to him? Every believer is a child of God ( Galatians 3:26, “son” in the Greek) through faith in Christ, and therefore the relationship FATHER and SON exists (Galatians 4:6, John 1:12-13)
“FOR YE HAVE NOT RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AGAIN TO FEAR, BUT YE HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION, WHEREBY WE CRY: ABBA, FATHER” (Romans 8:15).
Notice carefully that we cry “Abba Father”only IN THE SPIRIT, that is, as believers. We can see clearly that the unbleiever is not a child of God ( he is not born of God). Therefore his prayer to God is not legitimate since he prays to God while he doesn't know anything about Him and HIS reguirements.
Of course God, accordint to His own will and Grace can asnwer the prayer of the unbeliever. But nevertheless, the unbeliever is still dead to God in his trespasses and sins. This situation will not change as long as the unbeliever hasn't accepted the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior and His God. How often we see unbelievers crying out to God for help while they are totallly ignorant of His Word, in which He says that only through the Lord Jesus Christ there is entrance and access to the Father (Romans 5:2).
“FOR THROUGH HIM ( CHRIST) WE BOTH HAVE ACCESS BY ONE SPIRIT UNTO THE FATHER ( Ephesians 2:18)
“FOR THERE IS ONE GOD, AND ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN, THE MAN CHIRST JESUS” (I Timothy 2:5)
Already here we see how precious it is that we have a FATHER in the heavens of Whom we are children, and how natureal it is for us to reach, communicate and develop a personal relation with Him. ( The reader will do good to read the story in Luke 15:11-32 – which will surely warm his hearttogether with Romans 8: 31-32 , to get an idea about the mercy, lvoe and richess of God's Grace towards His children) We proceed further to see that although God knows our hearts (Romans 8:27, I Samuel 16:7, Matthew 6:18 etc). He wants us to let Him know all our requests.
“BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING, BUT IN EVERYTHING IN PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD” (Philippians 4:6)
Here one may ask: “Why does God ask us to let Him know everything, while He knows our hearts even before we begin praying? “ Well , of course, primarily, we have to be obedient. But the answer is, that our relation towards the Father is based on prayer. It is not a one-side relation! Therefore we read His Word, learning His attitude towards us (what He has done, does now, and will do) and what His requirements are in this present Dispensation of Grace. So, in the same manner and measure He wants us to reveal our attitude to Him. This is one of the reasons why we should pray loud. In the same way we REVEAL our plans and thoughts to others (with words, talking to them), in the same way with God.
“SO ALSO CHRIST... WHO IN THE DAYS OF HIS FLESH, WHEN HE OFFERED UP PRAYERS AND SUPPLICATIONS WITH STRONG CRYING AND TEARS UNTO HIM THAT WAS ABLE TO SAVE HIM FROM DEATH, AND WAS HEARD IN THAT HE FEARED. THOUGH HE WAS THE SON YET LEARNED HE OBEDIENCE BY THE THINGS HE SUFFERED ( Hebrews 5; 7-8)
As we can see, prayer to God fulfills a very important part in a healthy spiritual life. Without prayer there is no mutual relationship between the believer and God. Reading Gods Word and praying to together.
Prayer in the present dispensation - practical-
1 To pray to the FATHER in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17, I Timothy 2:5, Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:18)
2 In this Dispensation of Grace we know not what how we should pray for as we ought. Therefore the Spirit of God maketh intercession for us. God helps us through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us ( Romans 8: 26-27, 34)
3 In spite of everything, to be careful for nothing and with security we can pray to God the Father at any time or situation! ( Philippians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 3:3-12)
Results: it is not primised that we shall receive what we asked for, however:
1 “The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”( Philippians 4:7)
2 God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think “( Ephesians 3: 20)
3 “God is able to make all Grace abound towards you, tha tye always having all sufficiency in all things....”( 2 Corinthians 9:8, Philippians 4:19)
4 “All things work together for good to them that love god, to dthem who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)
HOW to pray and FOR what?
1 To pray in the Spirit , fervent in Spirit in Spirit (Ephesians 6:18, Romans 12:11, I Corinthians 14:15).
2 To pray with the understanding ( not to ask and pray for things while the Word of God teaches otherwise etc) I Corinthians 14:15
3 To pray with supplication and begging (Ephesians 6:18, I Thessalonians 3:10)
4 To pray with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6, 1: 3-4, I Thessalonians 5:18 it is the will of God , 1: 2, Ephesians 1:16, 5:20, Colossians 4:2, 2 Thessalonians 1;3, Philemon 4)
5 To pray without ceasing, always, not to cease, continuing in prayer, stedfastly, instantly (Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 1:9, 4:2, I Thessalonians 5:17, Romans 12:12).
7 To pray together with others ( Acts 20;36, 21:5).
8 To back nd support our prayers with a spiritual life (I Timothy 2:8 together with Isaiah 1:15)
9 Prayer in marridge ( I Corinthians 7: 5 and the widow I Timothy 5:5)
1 To pray for growing in knowledge ( spiritual growth Ephesians 1: 16-23, Philippians 1:9, Colossians 1:9-10, I Thessalonians 3:10, 2 Thessalonians 1;11, Ephesians 3:18-19)
2 To pray for bein strenghtened with might in the inner man by His Spirit Ephesians 3:16.
3 To pray that God will help us to open our mouth to preach the mystery of the Gospel , and the mystery of Christ ( Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 4; 3-4)
4 To pray for the execution of our duties ( Romans 15: 30-31, 2 Corinthians 1:11, Ephesians 6: 18-19, Colossians 4: 3-4, 2 Thessalonians 3:1
5 To pray for other believers, to mention them in our prayers for every need ( Romans 1:9, 2 Corinthians 9:14, 13:7, Ephesians 1;16, 6:18, Philippians 1; 3-4, 19, Colossians 1: 3, I Thessalonians 1:2 , 5: 25, 2 Thessalonians 1: 3, 11, Philemon 4, 22)
6 To pray for everything, in everything (Philippians 4:6)
7 To pray for all people, kings, rulers – it is the will of God that all will be saved ( I Timothy 2: 1-5, Romans 10:1, Titus 2:11, Matthew 5: 44-45, romans 12:4, 19, 21, 2 Timothy 4; 14, 16).
8 To pray for the sanctification of food, and to give thanks ( I Timothy 4: 3-5)
An important note:
As we saw, the prayer is to God. It is a request FROM HIM, supplication and begging FROM HIM, thanks is given TO HIM, and also our remarks and problems are directed TO HIM! Sometimes when we pray together with other believers – using the fact that they hear our prayer – we try to get a message across to them. This is a dangerous situation whereas the prayer is directed to the believers who are sitting in front of us, rather then TO GOD, the ONLY one who can help. We have seen already that God sees the heart Romans 8:27 and He KNOWS exactly to where the prayer is directed, and to whom intended. Henceforth the Word of God teaches us, how important it is to direct our thoughts ABOVE Colossians 3:1-2, Matthew 6:9. Even if these Scriptures, in the local context, do not belong to the theme of prayer, it is clearly seen that our Lord is in in HEAVEN, there is HIS SITTING PLACE, and to that place heaven, our prayers should be heading!
The prayer of the believer manifests the glory of God:
“FOR WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST PRINCIPALITIES, AGAINST POWERS, AGAINST THE RULERS OF THE DARKNESS OF THIS WORLD, AGAINST SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES. “ Ephesians 6:12
Our spiritual warfare is manifested in many aspects, among them in the subject of prayer. As the above verse states, the adversary (satan and his kingdom -principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, spiritual wickedness-) is possitioned in high places. There he accuses the believers Revelation 12:10 in front of God. Christ, Who sits far above all, maketh intercession before God for us Romans 8:34.
“ THE GOD OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE FATHER OF GLORY... RAISED HIM CHRIST FROM THE DEAD AND SET HIM AT HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES, FAR ABOVE ALL PRINCIPALITIES, AND POWER, AND MIGHT, AND DOMINION, AND EVERY NAME THAT IS NAMED, NOT ONLY IN THIS WORLD, BUT ALSO IN THAT WHICH IS TO COME; AND HATH PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET....” (Ephesians 1:15-23)
As we already saw before, God sits in the heaven, far above all. When we pray to HIM, our prayers pass through the territory of the spiritual wickedness in high places!!! These spiritual wicked powers
notice the passing through of the prayers of the believers, but they can not by no mean influence it. And therefore, through the Church which is His Body – through their prayers -the manifold wisdom of God is made manifest.
“AND TO MAKE ALL MEN SEE WHAT IS THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY, WHICH FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD HATH BEEN HID IN GOD, WHO CREATED ALL THINGS BY JESUS CHRIST: TO THE INTENT THAT NOW UNTO THE PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS IN HEAVENLY PLACES MIGHT BE KNOWN BY THE CHURCH THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD, ACCORDING TO THE ETERNAL PUROSE WHICH HE PURPOSED IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD: IN WHOM WE HAVE BOLDNESS AND ACCESS WITH CONFIDENCE BY THE FAITH OF HIM”
Note : The local context of the above scripture talks about the mystery. This mystery, which is Jew and Gentile in one Body, the CHURCH, is the manifold wisdom of God manifested to the principalities and powers in high places. However, every single member of the Body of Christ can honour God by walking in the Spirit. Galatians 5:16, 2 Timothy 2: 20-21 doing His will 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
We hope this study will be a blessing to you. Furthermore, we shall always pray for you that the Lord might give you more light and understanding in the Word, through the Holy Spirit which dwells in us, to stand strong for the Gospel of the Grace of God, which is the message for us today! Amen