Hello Brothers and Sisters of Spiritual Q&A:
I pray to the Lord every day, but many times, even though I pray to the Lord, I am unable to feel Him, and I feel it very obvious that the Lord doesn’t listen to my prayers. I have prayed for many years, yet I feel that my life has no progress or change. Therefore, I unknowingly have no faith. I don’t know why this is so. Can you tell mein accord with the Lord’s will?
Brother Tao Xin:
The situation you mentioned is common in the churches. To understand how to pray in line with the Lord’s will, we firstly need to know what types of prayers are not commended by the Lord. Let’s seek and discuss it together. May the Lord lead us!
1. Half-hearted Prayers
Sometimes when we wake up, we may pray like this, “God, today, I commit my entire day to You. I am willing to let You guide me throughout the day. Please watch over me so I do not encounter any evil or temptation. Let me live in the radiance of Your countenance. May God bless me. Amen!”
We also often pray in this way, “, You are our Savior. You shed Your blood on the cross to cleanse us of our sins. No matter how corrupt we are or how we sin, You forgive us. Lord Jesus! Your words are our guiding light. You are our everything. You are our Lord. We are Your sheep.” However, though we kneel down and our mouths speak unceasingly, our hearts are closed to God, and what we say is not what is in our hearts.
The Lord doesn’t listen to our half-hearted prayers because we are deceiving Him. It is said in the Book of Isaiah, “For as much as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me” (Isaiah 29:13). Because such prayers are not devout, and we don’t treat the Lord as the Lord should be treated, we can’t receive, nor can we have the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. As a result, though we have prayed to the Lord for many years, we have gained nothing.
2. Going Through the Motions of Praying
Sometimes we pray when we are in a rush to do something or go to work, but this is just going through the motions. For example, sometimes we pray like this, “God, I entrust You with this matter. I entrust You with my children and parents. I entrust You with everything. God, please bless and protect me. Amen!” When we pray, our hearts are impatient. The prayer only consists of a few sentences and then it is over. Sometimes we pray to the Lord thanking Him for our food, but because we have to rush off to work, we just speak some words in a hurry. There are also times when we realize our children don’t obey us, so we close our eyes and pray, “Lord, my child does not obey me but I cannot discipline him. I entrust this child to You. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen!” But after praying, we do things our own way. Such prayers are going through the motions. We don’t use our hearts to pray but go through the formalities, and if we always pray in this way, our prayers will become a religious ceremony, which is going through the motions, is deceiving the Lord, and can only be despised by God.
3. Praying With a Tone of Doubt
Each of us believers long for the Lord’s coming. Sometimes we may pray like this, “O God, You promised to lead us into the kingdom of heaven and reveal Yourself to us. You promised to raise us up to meet with You in the air. Why haven’t You honored this promise yet after all this time? Why is this?” When we are sick, if our illness is not healed, we will pray, “O Lord, I truly rely on You. Why do You not heal my illness?” When we quarrel with someone, or somebody bullies us, we will pray, “O Lord, this man is so wicked. Why do you not discipline or punish him?”
This type of prayer is also not approved by the Lord. Because when we pray like this, we are questioning God and treating God as our equal. God is the Creator while we are created beings. We can never be equal with God. If we talk to the Creator like this, our relationship with the Lord is improper. Besides, we will never receive the Lord’s approval like this.
4. Praying With Motivations to Make Deals With the Lord
There are many behaviors like this. For example, when we fall ill, we will pray in this way, “Oh God! You must save me! I beg You to get rid of this illness, to get rid of this cup of suffering as soon as possible! You must cure me.” Sometimes when we face disasters, we may pray, “God, if You save me and keep me from disaster, if You don’t let me die, I will offer my whole being to You.” When we sink into spiritual darkness or are incapable of feeling the Lord, we will pray, “O Lord, I’ve believed in You for twenty or thirty years and sacrificed much for You! I gave up a good job for You! I hope You can raise me into the kingdom of heaven when You return, but I’ve already waited for all these years without feeling anything from You. Lord, have You forsaken me? If You really have forsaken me, then You have no credibility!”
The above types of prayers don’t conform to the Lord’s intentions.
The reason why we pray in such way is because we want to use God to achieve our own ends, want to use our exertions and sufferings, and the price we pay to exchange for His blessings. We are making deals with God. When our intentions are wrong, people can see through us, no matter what we say. Thus, it’s even easier for God to figure it out by searching our hearts. In addition, as we don’t have true communion with God, our actions can’t accord with God’s will, and we don’t have a proper relationship with Him; prayers like these are not accepted by God. Just as the Lord Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? and in Your name have cast out devils? and in Your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity!” (Matthew 7:22–23).
Since the prayers above are all not approved by the Lord, then how should we pray to conform to His will
1. Quieting Our Hearts Before the Lord and Speaking the Words in Our Hearts
For example, when we realize our children don’t obey us, we can pray in this way, “Lord! Nowadays raising a child is too difficult. Without the truth I cannot teach the child, and the child won’t obey me! O Lord, we humans are created by You. You gave me this child. I truly see now that I don’t have the truth, nor do I have humanity, and I have no way to teach the child. I entrust this child to You and I am willing to rely on You to teach him!”
We already have enough money to get by, but we still want to earn more and enjoy more. We may pray to the Lord, “God, I now see that my heart is very covetous of wealth. Others are all able to forsake everything and be content with clothes on their back and the food on their plate. Why can’t I be content? Please God, I ask You to save me! I don’t care if You discipline me or if You use some other method, it’s all okay.”
Sometimes, we see that the church has become desolate and it seems that it does not have the Holy Spirit’s work, but we are not sure about it. Then, we can pray to God, “God, the church is now in desolation but I can’t see through whether or not it has lost the Holy Spirit’s work. May you lead me to see through this thing and lead me to find a church with the work of the Holy Spirit.” By communing with the Lord like this, we are quieting ourselves before the Lord and earnestly praying to Him. It is just like how we would have a heart-to-heart talk with another person and speak out our problems. When God sees that we’re sincere and not trying to fool Him or sweet-talk and deceive Him then He will hear our prayers.
2. Making No Demands and Obeying the Lord
If we suddenly get a serious illness, we should believe that our illness is occurred with God’s permission, that God is righteous, and that nothing He does is wrong. Even if we were to die, we should obey God and pray to Him, “Dear God, if You want me to die I will submit, and I guarantee I will have no complaints. I was created by You and I have done many things that do not conform to Your intentions, and I should receive punishment for this.”
After such a submissive prayer, we will be moved very much, and will not be so constrained by future and destiny. Furthermore, we will have the will of obeying God within, and will no longer make any demands of Him. Why can such prayers be effective? It is because we put our positions right. We are standing in our place as a creation of God and having a submissive heart to pray to and seek God. So, in the future, before we pray, we should think first and be fully prepared. Regarding the difficulties we face and the things we need God to clarify for us, we should develop a simple outline of how we should seek help from God, how we should fellowship with God. And then, we should find a suitable opportunity and the appropriate environment to kneel before God and pray. This way, it shall be easy to quiet our hearts before God and receive the work of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, our spiritual life will continue to grow.
Brother Tao Xin, that’s it for today’s fellowship—we hope it’s been helpful for you.
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