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Greetings All,

After just getting hit with a significant snow storm here in the Philly area, and having another right on its heels that is supposed to be even bigger than the last, many may find themselves snowed in (at least for those of us here on the East Coast). Thus I offer this 'thought' as one to both ponder and practice as snow slows you down and possibly keeps you housebound or unable to make it to work.

It is from Daniel W. Whittle (1840-1901). Through the influence of D. L. Moody he became an evangelist, and also wrote many books and hymns. This thought speaks of prayer, it's ultimate purpose, and the needed attitude of humble resignation to His wisdom when it comes to asking for specific answers. It comes from his book: The Wonders of Prayer. Enjoy.

"Prayer is to bring us into communion with God, for the growth of the spiritual life that is ours by Christ Jesus. To leave it upon any lower plane than this is to rob it of its highest functions and to paralyze it of its lasting power for good in any direction.

The promises of God are conditioned upon our being in this state of heart toward God: "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will and it will be done unto you" (John 15:7). Abiding in Christ, our will will be His will and we will desire that which will most advance the divine life and promote confidence in God. Even our desires for material blessing will be subordinated to this motive. We must follow a line of truth that will lead us away from the spirit of dictation in our prayers (ie: telling God what He must or should do for us) when it comes to matters pertaining to our worldly concerns.
We cannot tell what is for our highest good. The saving of our property or the taking of it. The recovery from sickness or the continuance of it; the restoration of the health of our loved one or his departing to be with Christ; the removing of the thorn or permitting it to remain.

'In everything' it is indeed our blessed privilege to 'let our requests be made known to God,' but, praise His name, He has not passed over to us the awful responsibility of being assured that 'in everything' the requests we make known will be granted. He has reserved the decision where we should rejoice to leave it -- to His infinite wisdom and His infinite love...

The highest use of prayer is to bring the soul nearer to God, and not the making of it a mere matter of convenience to escape physical ills or supply physical necessities."

In an age where 'faith' is often confused with a more secularized 'belief in the power of positive thinking,' it is sometimes easy to think that it's our ability to actually believe something into existence, rather than God's wise and loving fatherly determination to give us what is best (for His greater glory and our ultimate good) that determines whether prayers get answered as we would prefer.

If we fall prey to such an idea (which could be included in what Whittle calls "a spirit of dictation") the remedy for it would be a better reading of Scripture, which would hopefully deliver us from such a misconception. In the end, it is not our faith, or the power of positive thinking that determines whether we will get that for which we pray -- it is God. No matter how much 'faith' we try to muster up while praying, God will never affirmatively answer any prayer that would dishonor His Name, or do us (in the end) spiritual harm. All prayers (even those prayed with immense 'faith' or 'positive, strenuous and undoubting energy') must pass through the filter of His all-knowing wisdom and love. For it is not faith that is Sovereign, but a holy, loving, all-wise, motive-seeing, future-knowing God!

As Whittle rightly points out: "We cannot tell what is for our highest good." This is true. Who could disagree? And because it is true, we should also agree with his further assertion: "He has reserved the decision (of how our prayer will be answered) where we should rejoice to leave it -- to His infinite wisdom and His infinite love..."

In the Bonds of Christian Charity, Pastor Jeff