Martin Luther on Prayer
We should pray by fixing our mind upon some pressing need, desiring it with all earnestness, and then exercise faith and confidence toward God in the matter, never doubting that we have been heard. St. Bernard said, "Dear brothers, you should never doubt your prayer, thinking that it might have been in vain, for I tell you truly that before you have uttered the words, the prayer is already recorded in heaven. Therefore you should confidently expect from God one of two things: either that your prayer will be granted, or, that if it is not granted, the granting of it would not be good for you."
It seems to me that right there you have the whole case for dailiy prayer. At this very moment I have a number of "pressing needs" in my life. I can feel some of them pressing against my heart and driving out other concerns. For one or two of them, I can see no earthly solution. But that is too presumptuous because it suggests that the solutions I can imagine for some of my prayers are somehow within my grasp. Better we should cast ourselves before the Lord and say, "Without you we can do nothing, absolutely nothing." And we should say that not just about the "impossible" requests, but also about the "routine" prayers we take for granted.
My favorite part is this. "Before you have uttered the words, the prayer is already recorded in heaven." That gives me great hope because my mind wanders so easily and my concentration lapses so quickly. God knows what we need before we ask him (Matthew 6:8), and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in our weakness with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26-27). We don't know how to pray as we ought, and when we can't pray, the Holy Spirit prays for us. So even when the request is not granted, we can know that is it not by accident that the answer was no. Better God's no than our yes. Meanwhile we pray on, weak though we may be, knowing that our prayers matter to God. Do you have some "pressing needs" in you life? Go ahead and pray in confidence, knowing that God is glad to hear from you. No prayer offered in Jesus' name can ever truly be in vain.
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