The Mystery of Prayer
Introduction by Arthur J. Licursi:
From the article below by Richard Jordan it is plain to see how that whatever occurs in our lives as ‘believer’s’ during today’s age of “the dispensation of the grace of God” … we are to have no fear or fretting in our circumstances. For we are to “know that all things” in our lives (both the good and the bad) are occurring under the managed ‘work’ and loving care of God our Father’… who working in and by “all things” in accord with not only His universal eternal plan but also for our individual ‘eternal good.’ All of our circumstances and situations are used of God … that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son” Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 8:29, below). Thus, one man wrote: “The more confident we are in the goodness and power of our Creator and Sustainer - the less we sense a need to make prayers of request and more likely to produce prayers of thanks.” George Addair wrote: "The proper attitude in prayer is not to beseech Him to do our bidding, or to have Him submit His will to us, but rather that we are fulfilling His bidding and submitting our will to Him."
All of our circumstances and situations are used of God … that we might be “conformed to the image of His Son” Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 8:29, below).
“And we know that All Things Work Together For Good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, [so] that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:28-30 (KJV)
Many Christians speak of their intercessory prayer life but actually, under today’s Gentile grace program, The SPIRIT of CHRIST Does ALL for Us, even making intercessory prayer “for us.”
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Romans 8:34 (KJV)
Yet, Paul did give us prayer instruction to deal with our concerns.
“Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And The Peace Of God, which passeth all understanding, Shall Keep Your Hearts and Minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)
Note in verse 7 the result of our prayer, how that we do not necessarily get WHAT WE WANT. The fact is that as we mature in Christ we will come to know and accept the fact that our prayers will never alter His perfect will and ongoing work for us. We are to enjoy ‘His peace’ and ‘rest’ … by letting go to trust in Him and His handiwork in our lives.
Knowing and trusting the forgoing truth, we can endure “all things,” while having “the peace of God” in the face of “all things” unto our Rapture to dwell with Him “eternal in the heavens” (cf. 1Thes 4:13-18, 2Cor. 5:1b).
‘The Mystery of Prayer’
By Richard Jordan, President, Grace School of the Bible
How clearly it is that I can still hear those words from the lips of that dear lady! I was attending a YMCA convention in my home town. We had been assigned to groups of ten, with an advisor for each. One evening as we discussed the subject of prayer, our instructor burst into a heartbroken sob and told us not to get our hopes up too high because, “it just doesn’t work like the verse says it does.” The verse was Matthew 21:22, where Jesus said;
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
What a heartbreak to see this dear woman — and there are thousands like her — crushed under the weight of claiming God’s Word by faith and then having it fail! But what a joy to be able to whisper into her ear the answer—that while Matthew 21:22 is indeed God’s Word, it was not God’s Word to her.
The vast majority of believers today have great inner fears about their prayers. They hear the exciting testimonies of “successful” prayer warriors who give illustration after illustration of personal triumphs in prayer. They hear—and they fear. For when they apply the offered “success formula” it only confirms what their heart feared all along — “it won’t work for me.” Confusion and bitterness are often the result.
The basic fallacy in modern-day prayer preaching and prayer practice comes from the failure to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” (2Tim. 2:15) — which leads to the claiming of prayer promises that have nothing to do with the dispensational age in which we live today, but belong rather to another program, Israel’s program, which God Himself has interrupted and is temporarily holding in abeyance for Israel.
The answer to the seeming mystery of prayer is “the mystery [Gk. musterion, secret]” that Jesus first revealed through the Apostle Paul for us today. Indeed, no one can say that prayer is a simple matter if they fail to recognize the distinctive ministry and message committed to Paul (for the church called “the body of Christ”).
Israel’s prophetic program called for the blessings of God to go to the Gentiles through Israel, Abraham’s seed (Gen. 12:1-3; 22:17-18, etc.). When our Lord appeared He took up the theme of the prophets, proclaiming to Israel; “Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17), and going “about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23; cf.9:35, etc.). All this because, as Rom. 15:8 clearly says;
“Jesus Christ was a minister of the Circumcision [Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers [of Israel].”
The Twelve Apostles were trained and sent out to preach this same message to Israel (Matt. 10:1-8). After the resurrection their ministry was enlarged (Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8), but not changed. Still the blessings were to go to the nations through Israel, Abraham’s seed. Thus, Peter declares to them;
“Repent ye [the children of Israel] therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”
“And He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you:”
“Ye are the children of the prophets [of Israel], and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”
“Unto you [Israel] first God, having raised up His son Jesus, sent Him to bless you [Israel], in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:19, 20, 25, 26).
It is not until after the stoning of Stephen (Act 7:58) that the record gives any indication of a change in the established program of the day. And how things do begin to change with the salvation of Saul of Tarsus! Our ascended Lord not only reached down and saved His chief enemy, but also made him His chosen vessel to carry a hitherto hidden message of grace to a rebellious world. Salvation—not through Israel’s rise to Kingdom glory, but rather in spite of her rebellion, indeed, through her “fall” — was now to be sent to all men alike (i.e., Jew and Gentile alike, Rom. 11:11, 30-32).
The prophetic program (concerning Israel) has been set aside for a time and the unprophesied Gentile “dispensation of the grace of God” has replaced it. Today Jesus’ Kingdom program (for Israel) is held in abeyance — temporarily suspended — while God is forming “the [Gentile] Body of Christ.” With this change in program, Israel and her program are set aside, replaced by “the mystery [the formerly secret program]” committed to us through the ministry of Paul (Eph. 3:1-9).
Our ascended Lord Jesus gave to Paul — and through him to us — the very secret of His will, the “eternal purpose” that had been “kept secret from before the foundation of the world” (Rom. 16:25)! As I Cor. 2:7 declares,
“…we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery [secret], even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.”
What a glorious calling we grace believers do have today!
What a shame to fail to appreciate it by failing to recognize and practice our standing in grace! Nowhere is this made clearer than where the subject of prayer is concerned.
How a recognition of “the mystery” affects our prayer lives — and that for the good! Rather than trying to force Jesus’ Kingdom promises for Israel to work today, as seen in Matt. 21:22, how much better it is to practice and rest in the words of Rom. 8:26-28;
“…for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession [praying] for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
“And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession [praying] for the saints according to the will of God.”
“And we know that All Things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Instead of wondering why John 14:13-14 does not “work” in our situation today, how much more blessed to apply Phil. 4:6-7!
“Be careful [anxious, wary] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Instead of developing ‘theological gimmicks’ as excuses when the promises of Mark 11:22-24 for Israel do not work for us today, how much more reassuring to rest in the truth of Ephesians 3:20-21 (below)!
“Now unto him that is able to Do Exceeding Abundantly Above All That We Ask or Think, according to The Power That Worketh In Us,”
“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
These verses really fit us today. They are God’s Word to us — so they work for us today!