Prayer To Live in Humbly Before God
Study 6 THE PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION – Words of Life Ministries
GREAT PRAYERS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT by Francis Dixon
Scripture Reference: Psalm 119: 18
In this study we are to examine this prayer of David: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
” Our object will be to see exactly what it tells us and then to suggest ways in which we should pray this prayer, for it is a prayer which should arise from our hearts every time we read God’s Word.
If we consider Psalm 119:18 carefully we shall see that this one petition embodies five truths. First of all we learn that:-
- (1) The Bible is a unique book. In this section of the psalm it is described as ”your word” (verse 17); “your law” (verse 18); “your commands” (verse 19); “your laws” (verse 20); ”your statutes” (verses 22 and 24); “your decrees” (verse 23), and the emphasis in each case is upon the word ‘your’. The Bible is unique because it is God’s Book; He is the Author. David’s Bible was much smaller than ours, but now we have in the completed canon of Scripture 66 books, all of which are unique as they are inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
- (2) The Bible contains wonderful things. David says this in his prayer, and when we think of the scope of the Bible’s contents - its histories, types, poetry, doctrines and its prophecies - we at once begin to realise how wonderful it is. It tells us about God, man, sin, death, heaven, hell and eternity, and above all about the amazing salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ - look up 2 Timothy 3:15.
- (3) Before we can see the wonderful things our eyes must be opened. It was this that David prayed for - that he might ”see” these things hidden in God’s Word. We are just the two who were walking on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13-35). As we pray the prayer of Psalm 119:18 the Lord Himself comes near, revealing Himself to us and opening our eyes, so that our hearts burn within us and we hold fast to His statutes (verses 31-35). Compare 1 Corinthians 2:14.
- (4) Only God can open our eyes to see the wonderful things in His Word. What we need is spiritual illumination, that given to Peter at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-18; compare Matthew 11:25 and Psalm 16:11).
- (5) To gain this illumination we must pray David’s prayer every time we come to God’s Word.
How should we pray? What things should we pray to see? There are three ways in which we, as individuals, should pray.
1. “Open my eyes that I may…” see myself and the sinfulness of sin.
We should begin here when we pray, for we were born in sin (Psalm 51:5); we have committed sin (Isaiah 53:6); and we only ever see ourselves and our sin as we look into God’s Word and He opens our eyes! In these days we are inclined to think that because of the progress man has made in so many areas, that our hearts are not so bad after all. Scripture teaches us the sinfulness of the human heart - Genesis 6:5; Isaiah 1:5-6; Isaiah 64:6-7; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19; Ephesians 2:1-3. Now read about Lot’s backsliding (Genesis 19:1-38), Achan’s deceitfulness (Joshua 7:19-23), David’s impurity (2 Samuel 11:1-27), Peter’s denial (Luke 22:54-62) and Diotrephes’ pride (3 John 9). Are we any better by nature? When God shows us ourselves the revelation is very humbling. It was for Job (Job 40:4); for Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5); for the bride (Song of Songs 1:5-6); for David (Psalm 22:6); for Peter (Luke 5:8); for the Prodigal (Luke 15:21); and for Paul (Romans 7:14).
2. “Open my eyes that I may…” see the love of God and His mercy and grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We know the story of the grace of God so well, which is declared in John 3:16.
How all-embracing is the love of God! Read again Luke 15:11-24 and revel in verses 20-24! The great proof of God’s love is seen at Calvary, and when my eyes are opened to see the Lord Jesus dying there for me I cry out, ”the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20), and humbly say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Have you had this view of Christ crucified for you and Christ raised and exalted as your Saviour at the right hand of God? Read Philippians 2:5-11 and say to yourself, ‘All this was for me!’
3. “Open my eyes that I may…” see the kind of Christian God wants me to be.
Do you ever read your Bible with this prayer on your lips and in your heart? If you do and if you read Psalm 1:1-3 you will see at once the kind of Christian God wants you to be. You will see this in Romans 6:12-14, Romans 8:37-39, Ephesians 4:31-32 and 2 Timothy 4:18.
God wants every one of His children to be victorious in Christian living and fruitful in Christian service, and He has made every provision for us to live for Him and to serve Him in this way.
The Lord Jesus has died and risen again to give us His own victorious life, and this life is imparted to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.These, then, are the three special prayers that we should always pray when we take up our Bible to read it. Many other things will be revealed to us as well - so let us pray this prayer and cultivate the habit of doing this often, remembering that the Holy Spirit is with us and in us, waiting to answer our prayer and to give the illumination we need.
My Prayer for Next Year
What dreams do you have for the new year? What do you wish would be different about you, your marriage, your family, your job, or your ministry?
Some of us may have been thinking about this since late last January when our shiny new resolutions had already grown stale and started to mold. Why do our good resolutions seem to go bad faster than a quart of milk and carton of eggs?
Far too many resolutions fail because we fail to pray. We set out with courage, ambition, and even some exhilaration.
We might pray over our resolution(s) on that first day of January, praying in the driveway before a long car ride.
But before we’ve even made it out onto the highway of another year, we’ve already left prayer behind, and with it, the power needed to persevere in any new habit or pattern.
Without prayer for God’s help, our most meaningful resolutions will either fade and fail altogether, or even worse, seem to succeed, but fail to say anything significant about God. Before you make any new resolutions, resolve to pray. If you don’t resolve to do anything else this year, resolve to pursue change and growth through prayer, and not through your own resolve.
“Before you make any new resolutions, resolve to pray.”
With only a few hours left in 2016, and a new year coming quickly, I’m thinking less about what I will do differently, and more about all that God might do in me and through me. The changes I need most in my life — my devotional life, my marriage, my eating, my exercise, my ministry — can’t start or end with me, so I must pray.
My new prayer, over every other prayer for next year, is this:
Lord, teach me more about yourself than I already know, humble me again with all that I do not know, and make what I do know more alive and real in my heart and life.
Lord, help me see more of you than ever before
Every new day, and every new year, begins with the same prayer, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things your law” (Psalm 119:18).
With the Spirit in us, and the infinite wonders of the very words of God himself before us, we never have any reason to be content with what we already know.
Without a doubt, we should expect to see and understand things about God this year that we’ve never seen before.We never stop praying that God might “give [us] the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of [our] hearts enlightened,” that we might know more of him — his hope, his wealth, his power (Ephesians 1:17–18).
Satan spends every second of every day lying to us about God (Revelation 12:9). We expose and defeat him with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17–18). Ask God to show you more of himself in his word this year than you’ve ever seen before.
Lord, reveal just how little I know of you
Satan is so devious that he turns even our knowledge of God into a temptation to sin. Ignorance of God will always lead to evil, but even knowledge of God can become ungodly. We may know enough about God to be saved, but most of us also know plenty to become proud.
“Ask God to show you more of himself in his word this year than you’ve ever seen before.”
As the apostle Paul warns, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God” (1 Corinthians 8:1–3). It is tragic when the theology that should utterly humble us strangely causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (Romans 12:3).
True theology — however refined, however developed, however articulate — sounds worship: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him” (Psalm 8:3–4). As God shows you more of himself, ask him to help you to see just how little you know, and just how little you deserve to know what you do. Ask him to make you humble.
Lord, make what I do know of you more real in my heart
From an early age, the world taught us to measure progress in all the wrong ways.
We spent twenty or more years learning a little more math, or a little more history, or a little more science, and we measured our ourselves year after year by test scores and final grades.
But the Christian life is not simply a Systematic Theology course. Maturity is measured by a spiritual heart monitor, not a theological Scantron. By character, not head knowledge.
How do we turn what we know into true Christian growth? Through prayer. Prayer is the match that lights the kindling of knowledge we’ve gathered over time. Tim Keller writes,
Prayer turns theology into experience. Through it we sense his presence and receive his joy, his love, his peace and confidence, and thereby we are changed in attitude, behavior, and character. . . .
Prayer is the way that all the things we believe in and that Christ has won for us actually become our strength. Prayer is the way that truth is worked into your heart to create new instincts, reflexes, and dispositions.
(Prayer, 80, 132).
“As the sun sets on another year, may the Son rise never before on the horizon of our hearts.”
Too often we have loved what we’ve learned about God more than God himself, and when we do, our lives remain essentially the same. We learn more and more, but never change.
But if we never really change, have we really known God at all? Keller continues, drawing on John Calvin, “You may know a lot about God, but you don’t truly know God until the knowledge of what he has done for you in Jesus Christ has changed the fundamental structure of your heart” (78).More of God, less of pride, and more Christ. As the sun sets on another year, may the Son rise never before on the horizon of our hearts.
Why Does God Wait to Answer Prayer?
Why would God wait to answer our prayers? Wouldn’t we expect that since God is all-powerful that He would answer immediately? What is the purpose for God’s delaying our prayer requests?
Outside of God’s Will
One reason that God may not answer our prayers or that He waits is that we are asking for the wrong thing. We may be asking for something that is not in God’s will for our lives and we might be asking for selfish reasons.
James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”(James 4:3).
For example, if we ask for money and we are not already giving to our local church or we have not been helping the poor, why should God give us more money so that we might spend it on ourselves? Also, we might have the wrong motives in asking for something.
If we ask for a better job, the job that we think would be better may actually be worse than the job we have now. God is sovereign and He knows what is best, and holds our best interests in mind for our future (Jer. 29:11).
In the Lord’s Prayer, we are to ask that His will be done on earth just as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10). We know that God’s will for believers is to grow in grace and knowledge, so we can ask for spiritual understanding of His Word just before we read the Bible.
There is confidence in praying when we know His will for out lives as it says in I John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”
We must remember to pray with faith.
When we pray, we may have serious doubts about God’s ability or willingness to answer our prayer.
James 12:6-7 indicates that if we pray in doubt, God will not honor our requests saying, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” God may be waiting for us to pray in real faith, in expectation of receiving an answer, or to see if we are serious enough to continue to pray for it.
Sin Stops Prayer From Being Answered
God will not answer the prayer of a believer if they are in a state of perpetual, unrepentant sin (I Pet. 3:12). Psalm 66:18 is clear that “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
“ If we are obedient, He will hear our prayers (John 15:7) but if we are unforgiving, He will refuse our petitions before His altar (Matt. 18:35).
Matthew 5:24 is says that when we fail to forgive others, this is cause for a failed request for His help, “leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”
Prayer is Answered in God’s Timing
God also expects us to wait patiently on His perfect timing (Psalm 66:18). In Hebrews 10:36, “For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.
” The minor prophet, Habakkuk speaks for all of us when he grew impatient in waiting for God to answer his request in 1:2, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” I can most certainly identify with Habakkuk in his sentiments.
Psalm 37 is a great Psalm to read when you are seeking the desires of your heart with the realization that it may take some time. Read these key verses from Psalm 37 on waiting:
7 “Rest before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not worry when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.“25 “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”
34 “Wait for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it.”
Sometimes the desires of our heart take time. They do not happen overnight. God is most often at work when He appears to be the most silent.
Even though Daniel had to wait three weeks before his prayer was answered, God had actually answered his prayer that very day that he prayed.
Don’t think that since God does not immediately reveal to you His answer, that He has not answered it and has not answered it right away.
Daniel had his prayer answered the very same day of his request but it took three weeks for God’s sovereign timing for it to reach him – and it did at exactly the right time, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them”(10:12).
Stories of Waiting For Prayer To Be Answered
Don’t ever give up on praying. God shows us that persistence pays off in Luke 18:1-8, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.
And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused.
But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.
However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” The point of this parable is that if we continue steadfastly in prayer God will honor that persistence. Never give up on praying because God may be waiting to see if it is important enough to us to continue in prayer, day and night, day after day.
I heard the story of a faithful mother who had been praying for 28 years for her son to come to faith in Christ. Year after year her son was rebellious. He abused drugs, was in and jail, and showed no signs of ever knowing Christ.
The days and years dragged on with absolutely no indication that there was anything different in the man‘s life. Then one day, 28 years after his mother first prayed for him, this man came to a saving faith in Christ.
Today this man, Terry Williams, uses his testimony to help other prison inmates find their way to a relationship with the only One Who can save: Jesus Christ.
What if this mother had given up? What if she decided it was not important enough to keep praying each and every day? What a difference this mother made in her steadfast prayers due to her undying love for her son. Today her son is making an eternal difference for others in prison. This was all due to prayer. Even though she had to wait
Another article you might be interested in:
Does God Answer The Prayers of Unbelievers?
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