I No Longer Pray Just for God’s Grace
Recently, I read an article about prayer on the internet, which caused me to recollect my former attitude toward prayer. When I was 9, I turned to the Lord, for I saw the manifestation of the Lord’s power in my mother. Having suffered many diseases for many years, thanks to the Lord, my mother got up from the sickbed. From then on, she has had good health, and is even capable of working for 10 hours every day, which can be witnessed by all those who know my mother.
When I was learning the Bible, I saw the Lord’s words: “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In addition, the preachers often said, “The Lord came not to enjoy man’s service, but to serve man,” “Everything we pray for to the Lord will be heard.” I was influenced unconsciously. I was further convinced that the Lord Jesus was a God who would bestow upon all of us believers grace and blessings, a God who would resolve all of our difficulties, and a God who would heal us of all of our diseases, and that He would answer all our prayers. Just as David said, “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me” (Psalms 23:4). So, before I went to bed, went out, attended an examination, began school…, I always prayed to the Lord and asked Him to protect me, and bestow upon me grace and blessings. The Lord Jesus became the Lord of my family, and moreover, He became my crutch, my doctor, and my teacher …
I took it for granted that believers in God should enjoy His grace, and I had never found any error about such an opinion until I was ill. I prayed to God for my illness, but He didn’t heal me. Then I complained against Him. Through Sister Su’s fellowship, I realized that my perspective of belief in God was improper.
It was a winter’s day, and I got the flu. I had a fever, a runny nose, a cough, and a headache. Slowly, I lost my appetite, my entire body felt weak, and I had no way to go on working. Although I prayed to the Lord every day, begging Him to heal me, and I also told my mother to pray for me, never did I expect that my illness wouldn’t improve at all. Lying in bed, I was very weak in my heart. I thought: Did the Lord not know my suffering these days? Why did He not heal me even if I prayed to Him for this every day?
Just when I was losing faith in the Lord, I thought of the miracle the Lord Jesus performed, which was recorded in Mark 2:11–12: “I say to you, Arise, and take up your bed, and go your way into your house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” Indeed, the Lord can make the lame walk, the blind see, and even the dead resurrect; the Lord’s grace is ample. I shouldn’t lose my faith. So I continued to pray to the Lord. However, my illness still didn’t improve. I lost all my faith. I didn’t have the heart to attend gatherings, and was not willing to read the Scriptures or pray to the Lord, for I thought it was no use believing in the Lord as I couldn’t gain His grace.
One day, Sister Su invited me to gather at Brother Wang’s house. I hesitated for a minute, but then grudgingly agreed.
When I arrived at Brother Wang’s house, I was half an hour late, and Aunt Li and Brother Wang’s sister were also there. When they saw me, they thoughtfully asked how my situation was during that time period. I derived some comfort from their care. Seeing their sincere eyes, I felt the Lord’s love didn’t leave me completely. So I told them about my experience that I became passive and weak when I prayed to God for my illness but was not cured. Sister Su looked at me and said sincerely, “Do we believe in God only to gain more grace and blessings from Him? Do we pray to God just for the peace and His care? If the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers or doesn’t satisfy our desires and demands, then won’t we believe in Him? What should we do to be true believers in God? And how should we pray to be after God’s heart?”
For a moment, I was at a loss how to answer, because I had never thought about this. I said to myself, “Will I not believe in God because He doesn’t answer my prayers?”
Sister Su said, “There are two passages of God’s words which clearly explain these questions. Let me read them. God says: ‘My deeds are greater in number than the grains of sand on the beaches, and My wisdom surpasses all the sons of Solomon, yet people merely think of Me as a physician of little account and an unknown teacher of man. So many believe in Me only that I might heal them. So many believe in Me only that I might use My powers to drive unclean spirits out from their bodies, and so many believe in Me simply that they might receive peace and joy from Me. So many believe in Me only to demand from Me greater material wealth. So many believe in Me just to spend this life in peace and to be safe and sound in the world to come. So many believe in Me to avoid the suffering of hell and to receive the blessings of heaven. So many believe in Me only for temporary comfort, yet do not seek to gain anything in the world to come. When I brought down My fury upon man and seized all the joy and peace he once possessed, man became doubtful. When I gave unto man the suffering of hell and reclaimed the blessings of heaven, man’s shame turned into anger. When man asked Me to heal him, I paid him no heed and felt abhorrence toward him; man departed from Me to instead seek the way of evil medicine and sorcery. When I took away all that man had demanded from Me, everyone disappeared without a trace. … Such is people’s faith in Me, and the way they try to fool Me. How could they bear witness to Me when they hold such views of Me?’
‘What I desire is your loyalty and obedience now, your love and testimony now. Even if you do not know at this moment what testimony is or what love is, you should bring to Me your all, and turn over to Me the only treasures you have: your loyalty and obedience. You should know that the testimony to My defeat of Satan lies within the loyalty and obedience of man, as does the testimony to My complete conquest of man. The duty of your faith in Me is to bear witness to Me, to be loyal to Me and none other, and to be obedient to the end. … My work is not so simple as you think, nor is it as worthless or meaningless as you may believe. Therefore, I still must say to you: You ought to give your life to My work, and moreover, you ought to devote yourself to My glory. Long have I yearned for you to bear witness to Me, and even longer have I yearned for you to spread My gospel. You ought to understand what is in My heart.’”
Then, Sister Su fellowshiped, “God has revealed our incorrect perspectives of faith in God that we are merely satisfied with gaining the grace and blessings. We pray to God, making blind demands of Him for everything, and we turn our back on God and even depart from Him when our prayers are not answered. It shows that our perspectives on belief in God are incorrect and that we don’t treat Him as God. In reality, God is the Creator, while we are nothing but created beings. We ought to worship God and submit to His sovereignty and arrangements, having no requests or demands of Him, regardless of whether He bestows grace upon us, regardless of whether He gives to us or takes away from us. This is the correct viewpoint of faith in God. Take Job for instance: When robbers robbed him of his great wealth, he didn’t complain that God hadn’t helped him keep his fortune, nor did he pray for God to give more faith or strength to him in order that he could get his fortune back. Rather, he prayed to God, ‘The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ We can see from his words that Job believed in God sincerely and had true faith. Regardless of whether God gave or took away, he worshiped and obeyed God as always. In the end, he gained more blessings from God because of his fearing God and shunning evil. We ought to follow the example of Job’s faith and obedience. In this way our perspectives of faith in God will be correct. When we have set our intentions right and truly borne witnesses, God’s grace will be accompanying us, even if we don’t beg Him for it. At that time, we will be much purer and more grateful to God in our hearts when we enjoy His grace and blessings, and we won’t take belief in God to enjoy His grace for granted any longer.”
Hearing that, I suddenly came to my senses. I couldn’t agree more with what Sister Su fellowshiped. Meanwhile, I felt both ashamed and humiliated, truly wishing to find a hole in the ground to hide in. Not only did I not have the dignity to face my brothers and sisters, but I was unworthy of God. I had made so many demands of God and I had been regarding Him as a God who granted all pleas. As a result, I was happy and delighted when God answered my prayers, and when He didn’t, I was passive and weak, and unwilling to attend meetings. I even lost enthusiasm in singing hymns and prayer. I cannot compare with Job in the slightest, for I simply didn’t treat God as God, but rather, I regarded God as a debtor and a tool. God created me and bestowed life upon me; it is heaven’s law and earth’s principle for me to submit to God unconditionally and follow the example of Job’s faith to worship God, which is the sense that a created being should possess.
We talked a lot that day. Although I was red-faced and humiliated because of my incorrect perspective of belief in God as well as my inferior sense and conscience, the enlightenment and illumination of the words of God, and the fellowship and assistance of my brothers and sisters enabled me to establish a proper perspective on faith in God and bid farewell to the beggarly life of believing in God, which was God’s true love for me.
Afterward, I no longer considered God to be my crutch, doctor, and teacher; instead, I was somewhat obedient to Him in my heart. As a result, my cold was cured before I realized it. When I was in trouble once more, I didn’t pray to God with my demands of Him, not begging Him to help me out of the trouble as soon as possible. Rather, I prayed for God to give me strength so that I could practice His words and become stronger in adversities and hardships. When the tribulation wasn’t removed, I learned obedience to God instead of opposing Him negatively. I believed I would gain more faith after undergoing the tribulation. When I was sick again, I prayed to God to examine myself, and realized that I still had many sins to put away in such circumstances. … Nowadays, I don’t pray for God to give me grace anymore, for I have gained a slight understanding of Him and established a correct perspective of faith in God. Thanks be to God!