(On Prayer 11)
His brief statement presents the greatest challenge known to mortal man. His teachings about prayer are a direct challenge to our profession of faith. If we believe that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, we must believe that some very important discoveries can be made regarding these essential facts about Him.
It is astonishing what men will do when inspired and motivated by the hope of finding the things of earth they so ardently desire. They sail uncharted seas, endure the scorching heat of the desert, scale the ice-covered mountains, and brave the dangers of a trackless wilderness in hope of discovering the things they diligently seek.
It does not require a chart, or compass, or costly equipment to find the things of God. We have no stormy seas to sail, no blistering sands to cross, no snow-clad mountains to scale, and no pathless wastes to encounter in our efforts to find the things we seek from God. We are not haunted day and night by the tormenting fears that we will not obtain the answer to our sincere petitions. We have not the slightest reason to doubt the validity of Christ's statement, "...He that seeketh findeth..." Our faith to seek the things of Christ are based on His integrity and veracity.
When Jesus said, "Seek, and ye shall find...," He was evidently speaking about finding the possessions of our heavenly Father. We are assured that His provision is as great as the manifold needs of His children. The weary can seek and find rest. The weak can seek and find strength. The sick can seek and find health. The Father wills to grant the various requests of His praying and trusting children.
When Jesus revealed the Father's promise to give the Holy Spirit in answer to prayer, He obviously intended to impress His trusting children with the fact that the Spirit would enable them to seek and find the treasures of truth. He later confirmed this remarkable fact regarding the ministry of the Spirit, saying,
"...When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth..." -- John 16:13.
We do not discover the things of God by mere chance; neither can we find them by a process of human reasoning. The things of God are revealed unto us by His Spirit. The Word declares,
"...Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." 1 Cor. 2:9, 10.
Prayer is like the telescope that enables a man to discover remote stars, blazing suns and whirling worlds in outer space. We may think of prayer as a microscope which enables a man to look into the realm of small things.
The Holy Spirit makes visible the invisible things of God. He enables us to pray so persistently that we can focus the light of Christ on the resources of God, and discover worlds, wealth, and wisdom unknown and unseen by the natural man. The inspired Apostle said,
"...We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." -- 2 Cor. 4:18.
We discover the eternal things of God in direct proportion to the measure of our seeking in prayer. The man who seeks diligently to know the things which God has prepared for them that love Him, will be rewarded by a greater measure of knowledge than the man who is casual and indifferent in his seeking.
It is necessary to deny ourselves of many things in order to seek and find the possessions of the Father revealed in His Son. The Apostle disclosed this truth when he said,
"...What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord...." -- Phil. 3: 7, 8
It is impossible to obtain a more perfect knowledge of Christ until we count all things loss for Him. We must lay aside the things we count gain. To be aware of Christ in daily life is of greater value than all earthly knowledge to be obtained in this world. It is written,
"...Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." -- Jer. 29:13
We cannot comply with the conditions stated in this promise unless we divest ourselves of all cumbersome cares.
When Jesus gave us the parable about the son asking daily bread of his father, He fully intended to impress us with several salient facts about prayer. The fact that the son seeks and obtains the things provided by his father is not the only truth contained in the parable. A son worthy of such a loving father would consider him to be more than a generous provider; he would rejoice because of his father's presence with his family. The presence of the father means much to an innocent child in this passing world.
Jesus would have us understand that our heavenly Father is present with His family in this world. We know that our Father has provided good things for us, but He means more to us than a generous Provider. The fact that He is present with us at all times, and in all places fills our hearts with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Philip expressed much in his brief prayer when he said to Jesus, "...Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us." When this faithful disciple made this request, he voiced the deepest longings of the human heart. We cannot be satisfied in this distressed earth without a clear revelation of our heavenly Father. Philip did not ask for the impossible when he made his importunate plea to Jesus. Perhaps he had heard Jesus say, "...He that seeketh findeth..." The Saviour answered Philip's request when He said, "...He that hath seen me hath seen the Father..."
If the Father revealed Himself in His Beloved Son in that distant day, we can expect Him to reveal Himself in His Son in this day. Our need is as great as the need of the pleading disciple. When Jesus said, "...He that seeketh findeth...," He had no intention of leaving us confused and in doubt concerning the things to be discovered through prayer.
The Master's word affords us a valid reason to expect the Father to reveal Himself to us in His Son. This is obviously the truth He would have us see in the parable of the son asking bread. It is absolutely unthinkable that an intelligent child would not be aware that his father was present when he asked him for daily bread. It is likewise contrary to truth to suppose that the child's father would be pleased to remain unknown and unseen by his family.
God's infallible Word reveals that He did manifest Himself to His people in the ages past. If the dateless past is the only time God has revealed Himself, then we in this dispensation of grace have no truth to substantiate our claims that Christ was raised from the dead, and showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs.
We cannot persuade ourselves to believe that Christ has clothed Himself with perpetual silence, and cannot and will not reveal Himself to His people. If a seeking soul cannot be as fully aware of Christ's presence as a child is aware of his father's presence, then the Master's words are utterly meaningless. When Jesus said, "...He that seeketh findeth...," He banished for ever our bewildering doubt and confusion of mind concerning the reality of the heavenly Father's abiding presence with His happy family.
If our minds fail to grasp the import of the Saviour's teachings about prayer, we should wait patiently before Him in humble submission and quiet meditation until our minds are clear and our faith strong. The prayer of faith can obtain the substance of things hoped for, and make real to us the evidence of things not seen by the natural eye.
It is not unusual to find reliable witnesses who will testify that Jesus has revealed Himself to them while they were devoutly seeking Him in prayer. These godly people are neither fanatics nor mystics. They consider the recurrent visitations of Jesus to be the norm of spiritual life.
During the peaceful hours of the early morning I was praying and waiting before the Saviour when He suddenly revealed Himself to me. I saw Him as clearly as anyone ever saw Him in the days of His flesh. I ceased to pray, and remained quiet and speechless in His Presence. The moments seemed too sacred for me to break the sweet silence by prayer. What could I have said to Him? Was He not the answer to all prayer?
I do not know how long He lingered with me on that memorable morning. I was not aware of the passing of time. To me, all time had ceased, and eternity had begun. No language can express my boundless joy and happy surprise when He stood before me. I shall never forget the beauty of His face and the glory of His garment. The glory radiating from His Person filled the room with a soft silent light. He spoke not a word to me. His attitude was as One who listens attentively when you speak. I realized as never before in my life that He wanted me to pray. My heart was immediately burdened to pray for a visitation of God. I humbled myself in His Presence and put my head between His feet and poured out my soul in the agony of intercessory prayer.
The vision of Jesus satisfied my heart and gave me perfect contentment of mind regarding His willingness to answer prayer. I realized that He was the end of all seeking and the answer to all problems of life. I bowed low before Him, and opened my inmost being to welcome Him as my Lord and Master. I devoutly worshipped Him in spirit and in truth. To this gladsome hour He is as real as the flesh of my body and the earth beneath my feet. I have never had one doubt regarding His presence.
Perhaps some will ask if there is a scriptural basis for believing that the Saviour will reveal Himself to His seeking people. I was confronted with this question after the Lord manifested Himself to me. Could it be that the vision was nothing more than the result of my wishful thinking? Was I a hopeless victim of an overwrought imagination? Was I suffering from a serious mental disorder? Was it a fanciful dream? These were some of the questions confronting me after the Lord had appeared in answer to my prayer of faith.
In my diligent search for truth, I recalled that the Saviour had said,
"...He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." -- John 14: 21.
The gracious words glowed with a new light, and disclosed a new meaning to my rejoicing soul. His assuring words were all I needed to confirm my faith and answer my perplexing questions. I found many promises in the Scriptures, but this one promise was sufficient to satisfy my heart and mind.
Some of my friends firmly believe that I am sick. Certain others are greatly concerned about my mental condition. Perhaps some have devoutly prayed for my immediate healing. I am thankful for their earnest prayers.
I have often wondered how some persons interpret the Saviour's own promise to manifest Himself to them that love Him. I wonder if they believe that such an experience is possible in this present age. I am convinced that many do not believe that the Saviour's promise extends to anyone except the chosen disciples. They evidently consider all reliable testimony as being fantastic and fanatical.
If we allow ourselves to be hindered by the unbelief of this modern age we will surely fail to grasp the fact that frequent visitations of the Lord are to be expected in a normal Christian life.
When Jesus said, "...He that seeketh findeth...," He intended to impress us with the fact that an obedient child of God would seek to please Him in all things pertaining to life. This truth is obviously revealed in the parable of the son asking bread. Surely the son would seek to please his father. A son worthy of the heavenly Father would seek to please Him in matters of life. The obedient son would also realize that the father was pleased with him. The perfect example of this is revealed in the Son of God. The Father witnessed to His pleasure in His Son when He said,
"...This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." -- Matt. 3:17.
The Beloved Son witnessed to this truth when He said,
"...The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." -- John 8:29.
We make the greatest discovery in life when we discover the secret of pleasing God. An obedient child of the Father that lives day by day with an awareness of His pleasure has found the pearl of great price.
Our human frailties and infirmities of body and mind will often hinder us in performing always those things which please our heavenly Father, but there is nothing in the world that prevents us from being a pleasure to Him if we are willing to obey Him in all things relating to life. We can be a pleasure to our Father long before we are able to understand how to do the things which are well-pleasing in His sight. The favor of God rests constantly on the people who believe Him and diligently seek Him. It is written,
"...Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." -Heb. 11:6
When we obtain His approbation we have received the greatest reward known to mortal man. The earthly pleasures we leave behind when we come to the end of life's journey are not important, but the eternal pleasures received at the end of the way are worth all it costs to obtain them.
(On Prayer 11)