Nov 28

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This third article on prayer will deal with words we use while praying. Therefore, it is necessary to say to the readers, there is no personal offence intended as we make this study. Remember, a study on any subject is to help us better understand the subject, and to help improve our personal efforts as they relate to the subject. As I have pointed out before, and keep telling my class, if you can learn a better way of saying something, learned it and use it. With these words to introduce this third article, let us begin.
As the person chosen to lead the congregation in prayer, we have the responsibility to express ourselves in the best possible manner. Remember, at the end of the prayer, the leader desires all to be able to say, “Amen,” to the words we have prayed. First, think about the words you used as you pray!
Many of the words used are words we have heard from those who have gone before us. So, we think they must be right! It is necessary just here to ask a question. Do we believe that God directly works on the mind of men today? Keeping in mind, the Holy Spirit did put into the mind of the apostles what they were to say, and to write; but the Holy Spirit no longer does this. It must be remembered, God (the Holy Spirit) does not circumvent the faculties of man, neither in words nor in skills. In other words, God does not put words in the mind of man, nor does he manipulate our skills. So stop for a moment and think about the words we use when praying. Do we at times ask God to do just this; to circumvent the faculties of man, by giving him words, or aiding him in his skills? If so, just how do we do so?
Once more, please keep in mind, this is not to offend anyone, nor to discourage any man from leading us in prayer, but to help us improve our praying, personally and publicly! Sometimes we pray, “God give the preacher the words that he needs as he preaches.” Or, “God give him a ready recollection of the things he has studied.” Are we asking God, the Holy Spirit, to directly give the preacher words, or directly bring to the mind of the preacher the things he has studied? Would this be a miraculous action? Would this be a circumventing of the preacher’s personal faculties, in this case his mind? Of course, we do not believe in a direct action of the Holy Spirit; so, no this is not what we are really praying for, is it?
Would it not be better, if we prayed that the preacher have a remembrance of the things he has studied, the things he has prepared? In doing this, we are not asking for a direct, miraculous action of the Holy Spirit upon the mind of the preacher. If the preacher has not studied, he is not going to remember; even if he has studied, there are going to be times, he just cannot recall a word he desires at the moment the wants to use it. The Holy Spirit is not going to help me, and we know this! Therefore, let the words of our prayers be according to our knowledge on the subject.
When praying for the sick, we sometimes ask God to guide the hands of the surgeon. Our we praying that the Holy Spirit miraculously circumvent the skills of the doctor? Or to give the surgeon skills he may not have? Not likely! We know God does not work miraculously today! So, would it not be best to pray that the doctor have skills and that he use them to the best of his ability as he operates on our love ones?
As we deal with this, let us pray that the preacher be bold in preaching the gospel. This expresses our desire, and tells the preacher that we expect of him to be bold; and it will help him be bold. There is no calling upon the Holy Spirit to do what he is not going to do; as the Holy Spirit no longer works directly upon the mind, and does not miraculously give boldness. Boldness comes from within; it comes from our convictions. The apostles stated it so well, when commanded not to speak in the name of Jesus, they replied: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:19). This is what we desire of the one who preaches! Therefore, we should pray: “Lord may our preacher be bold in proclaiming the gospel!”
There are any number of phrases we use when praying that appear to be asking God to act miraculously, but it is not our intent, even as we utter the words, to ask God to act miraculously! We just have not given enough thought to the words we use. It is not the easiest thing to do, to step forward and lead the congregation in prayer. As we lead the congregation in prayer, it is our desire that we do so in such a manner that all may be able to say with us, “Amen!”
It is understood when writing about prayer and leading prayer, it is so easy to be discouraging and to offend; but these words are not written to discourage, nor to offend; but to encourage those who are willing to lead us in prayer! We are so glad for every man willing to step forward, to express his thoughts, trusting that they will be acceptable to our minds that we can say, “Amen!” At the same time, we can all improve whatever we do, in whatever field or endeavor we may engage in. Remember, the challenge keeps coming to us: “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

— Frank R. Williams

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