I Know How to Pray Rationally
By Bai Wei, China
One day I got a call from my daughter, and she said, “Mom, the relocation certificate of my residence has been sent here from the hinterland, but my work is keeping me busy. Please help me get it registered at the relevant local department….”
In order to make it a success, I prayed to God, “Oh God! Tomorrow I want to get my daughter’s residence registered. Please help me make it. Oh God! There is much red tape to do this matter, because I need to go to several government departments to have the relevant certificates. I ask You to help me make it smooth. Amen!” And the next morning before I left, I gave the same prayer. I thought that since I had prayed to God, He would surely help me and open up a path for me, and that. everything would go all right.
However, the fact was totally beyond my expectation. I went to three government departments and all met with failures. At the end of the day, I was tired but accomplished nothing. I thought in my heart: The Lord Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). God promised that as long as we pray and call out to Him, He will provide us with everything we need and open up a path for us. I had prayed to God in this matter, but why didn’t it go smoothly? Why did God not listen to my prayers?” I felt very puzzled about this. In my search, I saw God’s words saying, “Some people take the wrong position when they pray, and regardless of whether it conforms with God’s will or not, they demand God to bestow what they ask for upon them. … this word ‘ask’ carries an element of force, and is like exerting pressure on God to make Him do it. Moreover, you predetermine your own matters.”
God’s words touched me. I finally knew the reason why God did not listen to my prayers was that I was not seeking His will but was demanding things of Him. My prayers carried my forcing God to do things according to my will. That I made such kind of prayer showed I took the wrong position. I couldn’t help but think of my thought in my prayer: As long as I prayed to God, He would help me, and this thing would surely go well. That means after I prayed to God and told God what I want to do, He must make a good arrangement for me, so that I could make it smoothly. Was I not asking God to do things according to my will?
I saw the words of Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life: “People always make demands of God, asking God to satisfy them and treat them this way or that way, but they never consider what requirements God has of them. Does this kind of person have sense? They always make demands of God and always want extravagant desires. Are they pursuers of the truth? Those people who don’t pursue the truth are definitely those who are not honest; the honest people have conscience and reason and are willing to satisfy God. If people always ask God to satisfy themselves but do not live for satisfying God, such people are dishonest, too deceitful and too selfish.” At this time, I realized I was so selfish and despicable. Dominated by my selfish nature, I always wanted to gain grace and blessings from God and to make Him satisfy my requirements and desires. I also realized my previous prayers were all for my own flesh. For example, several months before my daughter took the college entrance examination, I began to pray for her, asking God to help her enter a good college; each time I encountered troubles at home, I prayed to God for help and asked Him to solve them; when it came to my daughter’s residence, in my prayers I still wanted God to do things according to my intentions. My prayers were indeed too unreasonable and I hadn’t treated God as God, and always had requirements for Him. I was so selfish and arrogant. God is the Creator, and I am just a small created being. Does a created being have the qualification to make demands of God? How could God listen to my impure prayers?
After realizing all of this, I prayed to God, “Oh God! My prayers were at odds with Your will and I’m willing to change. May You lead and enlighten me and allow me to understand how to practice so that my prayers can conform to Your will. Amen!” Afterward, I saw God’s words saying, “In fact, prayer is mainly about speaking what is in your heart, just like a normal conversation. However, some people take the wrong position when they pray, and regardless of whether it conforms with God’s will or not, they demand God to bestow what they ask for upon them. As a result, the more they pray the duller it becomes. When praying, whatever your heart asks for, desires, and requests, or when you wish to take care of some matters that you don’t fully understand you ask God for wisdom, strength, or enlightenment, you must be reasonable in the way you speak. … You should seek and submit in your prayers; for example, if a matter came upon you that you didn’t know how to handle, then you say: ‘Oh God! This matter has come upon me, and I don’t know how to handle it. I am willing to satisfy You in this matter, I am willing to seek You, I desire for Your will to come to pass, I desire to do according to Your intentions, and not according to my own. You know that the intentions of man are in violation of Your will; they resist You and do not conform with truth. I only desire to do according to Your intentions. I ask You to enlighten me and guide me in this matter, so that I won’t offend You….’” From God’s words I knew that true prayer was not as simple as what I had thought before. It doesn’t mean simply telling God our own problems and difficulties, nor does it mean merely begging God to satisfy our own requirements. Instead, the most important thing about praying is to speak our hearts to God and to recount to Him about our difficulties and problems in life. Meanwhile, in prayer, we must take the right position, seek God’s will as well as what we should practice and enter in with a searching attitude instead of making demands of God. Only such kind of prayer can be approved by God. I remembered when Job underwent his trials, his possessions and his daughters and sons were taken away, and he had sore boils all over, he neither sinned with his lips nor said offensive words about God; he also did not pray to God to remove his pains. Instead, he submitted to God, sought His will standing in his place as a created being, and bowed down to Him praising His name. From Job’s prayer, we could see Job was a sensible person, and his prayer was approved by God. After understanding these, I found the path and decided to enter into true prayer in my later practice.
In the following several days, I pondered the truth regarding prayer: “How can I pray reasonably and have a godly attitude in prayer?” I consciously practiced this truth. A few days later, before I went to get the residence registered again, I came before God and prayed with a submissive heart, “Oh God, I’m going to have my daughter’s residence registered. I entrust this thing to You. No matter how You design and arrange, I’m willing to accept and obey it. I believe Your arrangement is best …” And then, I went to the local police station first to get a certificate and scanned the QR code. It went smoothly. I then took a car to the neighborhood committee and got another certificate. However, when I returned to the stateroom and give my daughter’s relocation certificate to the clerk, she said it didn’t work because it had been overdue for more than 20 days, and I needed to go back to the hinterland and get a new one. Learning this, I was a little worried and thought: “What am I to do then? It is so inconvenient to go to the hinterland and get a new relocation certificate.” At this time, I had requirements of God again and wanted God to let the clerk register the residence. But on second thoughts, didn’t this show that I still had demands of God? It was a manifestation of my irrationality. I should entrust this thing to God and obey His sovereignty and arrangements. So I prayed to God in my heart, “God, You preside over everything and orchestrate all things. My daughter’s relocation certificate has been overdue for more than 20 days, and whether her residence can be registered or not depends on You. No matter what the result is, I’m willing to obey Your arrangement….” After finishing my prayer, I packed all the credentials. When I was about to leave, the clerk stopped me, telling me to wait a moment and she would discuss it with her leader. After a while, the clerk and her leader came. He looked at the relocation certificate, and said to the clerk, “For this once, and register it.” Hearing his words, I thanked and praise God from the bottom of my heart. Everything in the universe is controlled by God’s hand, and He has the final say in how things will play. When I was willing to obey the environment that He orchestrated and had a submissive prayer, the wonder happened.
Through this experience I appreciated that all the people, event and things that God orchestrates are good, and there are His earnest intentions in them. Although I had some setbacks the first time I went to have the residence registered, through them I gained a lot. Not only did I understand some of the truth regarding praying, but I also saw God’s salvation and love for me. Had it not been for the setbacks, I wouldn’t have realized my failings in my prayers, and I would have continued to pray and call out to God unreasonably, which would bring me farther and farther away from God. Only when we stand in our places and seek and submit in our prayers, can our prayers be after God’s heart. These setbacks are a change in fortune for me. All the glory be to God!
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