Prayer’s Known Unknowns

What is the aim of prayer?

  • Secure a blessing?
  • Take up a holy confidence?
  • Make a petition?
  • Delight in God?

If a maxim of prayer is “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” then persistence is implied (Matthew 7:7). I am a beggar; God is a giver.

The charge to “pray without ceasing” is a particular conduct for every context in the “art of living,” whether to obtain a good or call attention to evil. Desires are to be spread out as we “live by faith” so that “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:9).

Remember, “God who cannot lie” will act according to His Word (Titus 1:2). There is no small comfort to me in knowing He will not compromise what is the “good” for you and me. God’s ambition is dictated by the promise of hope in the gifting of eternal life. However, as we possess the “knowledge of truth,” we must concede to godliness. So, as we “cast our cares” we can be on alert that He will not be idle in protecting the promise of allotting unfading “crowns of glory” as circumstantial evidence to His victory over sin and death (1 Peter 5:17).

Therefore, “because He cares for you,” make a conscience habit to rest in the fact that He will never sacrifice your eternal good for the “glory of the pastures,” those insecure pleasures which temporarily satisfy, but are predestined to “vanish, like smoke” (Psalm 37:20-24). If we are the object of God’s concern, then our prayers ought to reflect that our life is to “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22).

Prayer is not just:

  • To satisfy the surface
  • A Trinitarian tea party of sympathy
  • A thread to bind together splintered pieces
  • The categorization of concession, confessions, or contrition.
[Prayer Brackets the known unknowns]

Whether the pray offered is of faith, promise, confession, desperation, truth, or hope, it is to be the derailment of pride, and the coupling of freedom to “draw near to God” and “approach the throne of grace with boldness.” In order to “enter His rest” we must acknowledge the known unknowns of God that He alone “is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4 excerpts).

Prayer of faith to yield praise:
Hannah’s prayer:

1 Samuel 1:10-17 (prayer of faith)
She was deeply distressed, wept bitterly, and troubled in spirit. Hannah spoke from her heart as she poured out her soul before the Lord.

1 Samuel 2:1-10 (yield of praise)
Her heart yielded to and exulted in the Lord. She, in humility, declared the “knowledge of truth” that
“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” (v.2)

Prayer of promise to direct petition:
Daniel’s prayer:

Daniel 9:3-16 (prayer of promise)
He was aware of the promised curse being poured out because of sin against God. As God exists, His word must be carried out.

Daniel 9:17-19 (directing petition)
He pleaded on God’s quality of great mercy, “make your face shine,” “incline your ear and hear,” and “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act.” Daniel applied the “knowledge of truth” in the inferiority of our standards to the superiority of God’s standard.
“For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.” (v.18)

Prayer of confession to align purpose:
David’s prayer:

Psalm 51:1-11 (prayer of confession)
He admitted his transgression (willful acts of sin) as his conscience would not hide his guilt. We are born with the propensity for sin to shape our course of actions. For this reason, our hearts must be altered from this original condition, “create in me a clean heart,” and our spirits must be repaired, “renew a right spirit within me.”

Psalm 51:12-19 (align purpose)
He leaned on the “knowledge of truth” that though our natural tendency to sin and glorify the self must be turned back, God is faithful to forgive and “restore the joy of salvation.” God alone, through the Holy Spirit, sustains the soul from sin’s siege.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

Prayer of desperation to seek presence:
Sons of Korah’s prayer:

Psalm 88:1-12 (prayer of desperation)
They carried the surrender before the face of God. Weary in the abundance of troubles and evil, they were shut up and could not escape. The point of despair and depression is a heavy burden.

Psalm 88:13-18 (seek presence)
They projected themselves before the LORD God and spread out the reason of afflictions: The silence of God strengthened the oppressing siege with trouble lurking at every angle of perspective. “Do you cast my soul away? Do you hide your face from me?” The “knowledge of truth” they applied was that there is nothing more terrifying, nothing more fearful, than to be exiled from the presence of God. The devil’s darkness seeks only to devour never to rescue.
“But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.”

Prayer of truth to call performance:
Nehemiah’s prayer:

Nehemiah 1:4-11 (prayer of trust)
He sat down, wept, mourned, and fasted for days, all while speaking to the God of heaven. He wanted to recall to God’s mind the words charged to Moses that sincere repentance would cause God move to “gather them and bring them to the place that he has chosen, to make his name to dwell.” His pleasure in fearing the name of the Lord guided his request for God to rush to make his request prosper.

Nehemiah 2:1-12; 18 (call to perform)
He trusted that the “good hand of his God was upon him.” There was not an ulterior motive behind his ambition. God would act! He appealed to the steadfast love of the Lord with confidence that his request was aligned with the covenants of God. The “knowledge of truth” that “The Lord is faithful in all His words and kind in all His works” was his foundation. He believe that what he had purposed in his heart to do was from God.
The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we His servants will arise and build…”

Prayer of hope to grant possession:
Paul’s prayer:

Ephesians 1:13-23 (prayer of hope)
He wanted to give hope by considering the invitation that was unveiled in the gospel of Christ. In the power of the death and resurrection of Christ, the Messiah, the “riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and… immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe,” was to correctly understand that God’s covenants had been completed.

Ephesians 3:14-21 (grant possession)
He was encouraged by the “knowledge of the truth” that, since Christ has secured our position before God the Father, “strength with power through His Spirit in our inner being” is granted. God’s dominating strength will help us overcome any temptation or opposition. God dwells within us, in the here and now, and has granted us the inheritance of Heaven to dwell with God forever.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever, and ever. Amen.”

Sometimes life is more analogous to being poured out than the times of overflowing. No matter what state of life you are experiencing, it is good to remember, prayer is not just a gathering of thoughts, but a reflection on who our reliance is on, the God of Heaven. Prayer ought to indulge us in the character of God.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless.
I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping.
It does not change God – it changes me.” – C.S. Lewis


Psalm 149:4; Proverbs 15:8; 1 Peter 3:12

written by Michelle Kelso Kafer

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