Posted May 22, 2008
Perhaps 99 out of every 100 Christians, when they pray, set their mind simply to ask God for something. They may be asking God for a healing, a job, a happy marriage, a favorable lab report from a cancer test, etc. Certainly the prayer of petition (sometimes called impetration), is authentic prayer, for it expresses our creatural God-dependency and is mentioned numerous times in God’s word. Jesus specifically enjoins us to ask: “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt.7: 7).
Yet, truly prayerful petition should involve far more than just asking the Lord for favors. It should draw our hearts into agreement with the will of God and entail a willingness to accept God’s will for us in the very things we ask for. It’s not a matter of trying to “change God,” for he is unchangeable (Num. 23:19); it’s ultimately a matter of changing ourselves. In the words of Ralph Martin, “Prayer ‘succeeds’ when it melts into commitment and obedience; it fails when it is treated as a recital of our needs in an attempt to entice God to act.” These four talks show how the real power of prayer is in empowering the petitioner.
John H., C.M.F.