By T.M. Anderson
"... Let your requests be made known unto God."--PHIL. 4:6.
Paul, the pattern saint, would have us see the value of revealing our needs to God in prayer. We must not presume that the things required to sustain life will be granted without making our requests known unto God. Our requirements on earth and God's resources in heaven are meant for each other. If we ask, we shall receive. When we fail to ask, we fail to receive. The Word declares, "Ye have not, because ye ask not." There would be no point in exhorting Christians to make their requests known unto God unless He had made a sufficient provision to supply all their need. The apostle revealed the abundant riches of God when he said ... My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."--v.19. This assuring promise discloses the resources God made available to His people in answer to prayer. In the clear light of this certified promise they have no justifiable excuse for spiritual poverty.
We can think of God's promise to be a certified check made payable to us the moment we present it for payment. No matter what gracious spiritual and temporal blessings the promise contains, we cannot receive them until we make our requests known unto God in prayer. It is possible to have an all sufficiency in all things by claiming the riches of God made available to us by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. When Paul said, "My God shall supply all your need," he is saying, "Christ is all you need." We are enriched in all things pertaining to life in time and in eternity when we possess Him. Christ is all we ever need to cope with the difficulties and dangers confronting us in the path leading to the Father's house of many mansions.
The temporal blessings received from the Lord are not sufficient to supply all our need in this world. Jesus stated this fact when He said, "... A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."--Luke 12:14. The fertile fields cannot produce true riches. A man is truly rich toward God when he possesses the resources of Christ contained in His certified promise to supply all our need. When Paul said, "My God ... " he disclosed the amazing fact that a man can possess God. It is written in the covenant of grace, "... I will be their God, and they shall be my people." -- 2 Cor. 6:16.
The paramount purpose of Christ is achieved the moment He gives Himself to us in the covenant of God. The Scriptures reveal that the Saviour has given everything to redeem us, and provided everything to supply us, and wills to give all that He is in His divine nature to satisfy us. If a man has not received the indwelling Christ in answer to prayer, he has failed to obtain the grand objective of all praying.
We do not find it difficult to make our requests known unto God when we are fully aware of His presence. Paul stated this fact when he said, "... The Lord is at hand."--v.5. This amazing revelation is evidently an essential part of the admonition to make our requests known unto God. The inspired apostle focused attention on a great truth when he said, "... The Lord is at hand." He is saying in substance, "The Lord is handy. The Lord stands ready to give aid and comfort to His praying people." No matter how we interpret the statement, "... The Lord is at hand," we are fully aware of His nearness when we make our requests known unto Him. Jesus confirmed this truth when He said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." He evidently knew that we had the mental and moral capacity to sense His presence at all times and in all places on earth. If we cannot know that He is at hand when we pray, then His promise has no place of value in our profession of faith.
To offer a prayer without realizing the nearness of the Lord would be like speaking meaningless words into empty space. How could we know that our requests had been made known unto God unless He responded by assuring us that our petitions had been heard? I am persuaded that it is not possible to pray with confidence toward the Lord without being aware of His presence. The inspired apostle said, "... This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him." -- 1 John 5:14,15. John is saying in substance, "If you know that God hears you, then you know you have the answer." It is apparent that we must first know that He hears us before we know that we have the answer. Knowing that God hears us when we pray is something vastly more than a beautiful theory about prayer. Spiritual perception in prayer is the norm of spiritual life. We rejoice in prayer when we perceive that the Lord is at hand. Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice." The realization that the Lord is near is the cause of constant praise.
If His abiding presence with us in this troubled world is not the only source of lasting joys, then let us hope that someone will come to guide our footsteps toward the place of endless happiness. God's Word reveals that the Lord will direct our weary feet into the path of praise. "Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore."--Psa. 16:11.
It is apparently true that the measure of our joy is always in proportion to the measure of our praying. One must pray without ceasing in order to have joy unspeakable and full of glory. God's praying people discover that the joy of the Lord is their strength, and His abiding presence is their shield. Perhaps Paul was in prison when he uttered the immortal words of praise. The dark and dingy prison was not so carefully guarded, and its rigid bars so firmly fixed that the Lord was prevented from entering its dismal confines to give comfort and courage to His suffering servant.
If Paul had been asked what he had found in the dank cell to cause him to sound such a note of praise, he would have said, "... The Lord is at hand." His consoling nearness caused the prisoner to praise, and His assuring presence inspired the suffering saint to sing. The dreary confines of a prison cannot stifle the songs of the soul girded with the gladness of God. The righteous may be incarcerated in dungeons, and the redeemed fastened in the stocks, but their achieving faith is not fettered, and their supplications are not shackled. From the inner cell of the common jail the singing servants of God shook the foundations of the earth, and caused hardened sinners to seek salvation.
The infirmities of the body may imprison a saint like the formidable walls of a federal prison; but the afflictions of the flesh and the trials of life cannot prevent the saints from singing in the shadows like those that sing in the shining. It is written, "... He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart."--Psa. 32:11.