The following quotes are taken from “The Joy of Following Jesus,” chapter 13 – The Disciple’s Prayer Life, written by J. Oswald Sanders. Though the author stepped into heaven in 1992, a disciple’s prayer life is age-old and universal. (The explanations inside parenthesis are mine.)
“Prayer is . . . a blending of simplicity and profundity.”
“To the maturing disciple, God’s interests will always be paramount.”
“The first half of the (Lord’s) prayer is totally occupied with God and His interests. Only after that do personal petitions find a place. Worship, praise, and thanksgiving have first place.”
“Restful and trustful prayer has an important place in the Christian life, but Paul taught and practiced a different kind of praying. Only strenuous and aggressive prayer that laid hold of the power released by the cross and the resurrection would dislodge the enemy from his age-long stronghold.”
“It is surprising that our prayers are so tepid. They seldom soar above past experience or natural thought. How seldom we pray for the unprecedented, let along the impossible!”
“God is moved by the importunate entreaty of His children.” (Prayer that makes urgent, insistent requests.)
“God’s children receive the answer to their urgent prayers.”
“Tepid praying does not move God’s arm. John Knox cried, ‘Give me Scotland or I die!’”
“The necessity of importunity lies in us, not in God. William E. Biederwolf suggests that importunity is one of the instructors in God’s training school for Christian culture.” (Importunity: making persistent requests.)
“The mature disciple will not stumble because of apparently unanswered prayer. He will examine his prayers and seek to discover (therein) the cause of failure.”
“Our Lord’s brother gives one reason for unanswered prayer: ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives’. God does not undertake to answer every self-centered petition, but He does promise to answer every prayer that is according to His good and perfect will.”
“Unanswered yet! Nay, do not say, ungranted,
Perhaps your part is not yet fully done.
The work began when first your prayer was offered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
You shall have your desire --
Ophelia R. Browning
Another of my favorite writers is Andrew Murray. In his little book “Abide in Christ,” subtitled “The Joy of Being in God’s Presence,” we may be given further insight into receiving what we’ve prayed for. Let’s take a look at the Scripture Oswald Sanders referenced:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3).
In his chapter, So Will You Have Power in Prayer, Murray makes the following observations:
“It is the believer . . . who takes time in secret prayer to wait until he has received . . . who will really grow strong in Christ.”
“He does not think so much of prayer… as a means of getting blessing for ourselves, but . . . the blessings of Christ’s redemption are to be dispensed to the world.”
“Ours shall be the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man, availing much, like Elijah’s for ungodly Israel.”
36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, "LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 "Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again." 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!" (1 Kings 18:36-39).
“Abiding in Christ teaches the believer in prayer only to seek the glory of God.”
“Abiding in Christ is the place for receiving answers. Out of Him the answer would be dangerous—we should consume it on our lusts.”
“Abiding in Him is the condition of power in prayer.”
“Believer, abide in Christ, for there is the school of prayer—mighty, effectual, answer-bringing prayer. Abide in Him, and you shall learn what to so many is a mystery: That the secret of the prayer of faith is . . .the life that abides in Christ alone.”