Prayer Changes the Man

Prayer Changes the Man

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

In all our praying, however, it is important that we keep in mind that God will not alter His eternal purposes at the word of a man.

We do not pray in order to persuade God to change His mind. Prayer is not an assault upon the reluctance of God, nor an effort to secure a suspension of His will for us or for those for whom we pray. Prayer is not intended to overcome God and “move His arm.”

God will never be other than Himself, no matter how many people pray, nor how long nor how earnestly.

God’s love desires the best for all of us, and He desires to give us the best at any cost. He will open rivers in desert places, still turbulent waves, quiet the wind, bring water from the rock, send an angel to release an apostle from prison, feed an orphanage, open a land long closed to the gospel. All these things and a thousand others He has done and will do in answer to prayer, but only because it had been His will to do it from the beginning.

No one persuades Him.

What the praying man does is to bring his will into line with the will of God so God can do what He has all along been willing to do. Thus prayer changes the man and enables God to change things in answer to man’s prayer.

From A.W. Tozer, Price of Neglect: and Other Essays, pp. 51-52.

 

To consider:

One of the most intriguing aspects of prayer is that it’s intended to change the one praying, not the God to whom he prays. Prayer is not about convincing the all-knowing God to change His mind and do something He never intended to do in the first place. It’s intended to get us on God’s page, to help us to see the wisdom of His perfect will, and to bring us to want what God wants rather than what we want.

What we want for our selves is not always what’s best for us; what God wants for us always is. So, lingering before God, sitting in His presence, even bargaining with Him as Abraham did when he interceded for Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33), is transformative – it brings us to see things as God sees them.

  • How does this line up with your conception of prayer?
  • Do you find yourself disappointed when your prayer is not answered the way you want it to be answered?
  • Could this be due to a lack of ‘lingering’ with God on the subject? The goal for the believer in prayer is to discover God’s will – “Not My will, but Thine,” was Jesus’ words in Gethsemane.
  • Do you go to prayer with the desire to discover God’s will or simply to express your own? How might you change this?
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Comments

  1. This blog spoke perfectly to me today. It hit me right between the eyes. When it comes to major decisions for my life I sometimes try to use my prayer time to “convince” God that my way is best and that I know what I want and what I need. I find myself using phrases like, “God if it be your will.” When all along I know it’s really my wish list/my will. As I grow in Christ I discover that God not only knows what I need and want but desires it and knows it far greater than what I could think of. I must learn to linger and trust Him!

    • I agree, Bob, I do the same exact thing. I have to consciously avoid the “wish list” and ask God to change me. One thing that I have found that starts me off on the right foot is to thank Him first for what he has done and already given me, and the times He has already shown me that His ways were always better than mine.

  2. I have learned that the valuable lessons in life come through hardship and brokenness. My greatest testimony to the need to be in alignment with God’s will came on the hardest day. As my daughter lay struggling to live, with a very precarious quality of life ahead of her, I went before God and, to my surprise, found myself not begging him to let her live, but asking His will to be done. She was on life support and the ICU doctors were just waiting for the newest medicine to “kick in”(it could have taken 72 loooong hours to do so). I felt as though she was a guinea pig at that point. When I surrendered her to her Father in Heaven he took her quickly. To say I felt that “peace that passeth all understanding” would be an understatement. It was the moment I knew beyond a doubt that God carries us. It definitely changed the way I experience prayer. And God used that time to draw me into a personal relationship with my Savior. No matter how difficult, painful,
    God’s will is always the best place to be. Because the blessings and the joys there are indescribable!!

    • Thank you for that testimony, Anne. That is how we know that God is here, with us and loving us with that witness of Him and His supernatural power to bring peace where no peace in the flash would have been possible.

  3. Lately I have found that my prayers are characterized by hungry pleading for my eyes to be opened to His will. I know this is beyond my ability to envision from this earthbound perspective. I don’t just want to walk in His kingdom purpose but desire to be a willing participant in it. To co-labor in His perfect design will involve a daily death to self. Release from my fallen self-will is relief, rescue and rest from worry, anxiety and discontent. That’s the first thing that came to mind reading the testimony of surrender our sister, Anne, described earlier. The exact things I feared most in life DID happen. But that was not the end of my story of walking with my Savior. My imperfect will was not His best plan. To say that I understand now all that He was doing would be untrue. He is a God so infinite, He cannot be grasped by the finite mind. I am confidently abiding in His goodness by the power of His boundless grace and eagerly awaiting His return.

  4. I can definitely say that I am in a time of learning how to pray. I’m learning that I need to not have a wish list, even though right now there is plenty I could ( and do) ask for. And it’s not just silly stuff like wishing for a quiet five minutes or letting the bills make it to the Superbowl. Its stuff that I think that God would want, but maybe it’s the how and the how long he wants it to take. I have a quiet but apparently strong will that I need to learn to change to his will in all aspects. All the details. I need to let go of my will and cling to his. Then I can have that peace that surpasses all understanding. If I’m still clinging to my will that peace won’t be there.

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