When I was praying the other day, this phrase dropped into my heart, "prayer keeps you from pride". As I was pondering on these words, I suddenly realised that the opposite is also true, "pride keeps you from prayer". [Sigh...] I know too well what that means - from experience!
Prayer Keeps us from Pride
Prayer has a way of humbling us because praying means that we acknowledge our need for God. It means recognizing that we are not able to face situations on our own; that we need help from above.
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
The simple act of asking means that we acknowledge that what we are asking for does not come from ourselves or from our own resources. We go to God because God is the One who has what we need. This makes us fully dependent on Him.
When we pray, we realise that our own resources are not enough - basically we haven't got what it takes and we can't make it in our own strength. So we simply go to our heavenly Father, asking for what we need, as a little child.
The only way to get there is from a place of lowliness, knowing that the One who gives is greater than the one who receives. He is our source.
The person who asks is a needy person and a lowly person. The person who keeps on asking stays needy and in a place of humility because they choose to depend on God.
Pride Keeps us from Prayer
Conversely, it should now be clear that it is our pride that keeps us from praying. The proud person does not pray. The person who thinks they have it all does not need to ask for anything. They won't admit that they need help and they stay away from putting themselves in a position of total dependence on God. Why should the proud wait on God when they can go ahead and fix things on their own?
Pride (hidden well within the deepest parts of our heart) makes us believe that we have enough capacities, talents, giftings, good intentions, strength of character, etc.. to be able to walk this Christian life without any help. In fact it can go so far as convincing us that God actually needs us, with all our talents, ideas and capabilities!
Well, this is actually completely foreign to what Jesus told us in John 15:5, "without Me you can do nothing". Not even a little - nothing!
This clever pride of ours - using various legitimate excuses (work, studies, tiredness, family, ministry...) - will attempt to keep us from going to God and unveiling our deep need of Him in prayer... May we all see through it by God's grace!
Again, prayer is a sign of humility. And Jesus, our ultimate example of meekness and humility, prayed while on earth. Prayer was in fact His lifestyle and He was in total communion with the Father. He would often withdraw to spend time alone with the Father.
His prayer life was so deep and out of the norm that the disciples had to ask Him, "teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). In reality I believe the reason He prayed so fervently is that He knew that, "the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do" (John 5:19). He had made Himself completely dependent on the Father and was totally submitted to Him. In the same way, we are called to be completely dependent on the Lord and submit totally to Him today.
What A Privilege
Alleluia! Prayer humbles us! Prayer shapes us more into the image of Jesus Christ. Prayer is the way to go!
Looking again at Luke 11:9, prayer is about 'asking', but it is also about 'seeking' Him and 'knocking' to enter the Lord's presence and fellowship with Him.
As the hymn says, "what a friend we have in Jesus" and "what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer". It is indeed a wonderful privilege to be able to have an audience with the King of kings. Let us not allow pride to rob us of that privilege and let us boldly approach His throne, again and again, so that we may remain in that place of humility and utter dependence upon Him.
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.
Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:5b-7)