Jesus taught us to “cry out day and night to God” (Luke 18:7). However, God should not be likened to some unrighteous judge from whom justice can be obtained only by wearing him out with insistent pleas.
Why is it written, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38)? If He is full of love, why does He not simply provide the laborers without waiting for our prayer?
We pray in order to obtain clarity. Only a life of prayer will teach you that neither questioning God nor theology have any part in prayer. Prayer will teach you to pass your life in silence, at the bosom of a God whom we cannot fully understand.
When extreme need or threat arises, it is good to cry out. Nobody whispers when threatened by a dragon. God says to Samuel, “Their cry has come to me” (1 Samuel 9:16). If the cry is missing, the realization of our great danger in this valley is missing. But after the cry the silence returns. It was a biblical custom to ask for signs from God. Jonathan tells his armor bearer, “If [the Philistines] say thus to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place…But if they say thus, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up. For the Lord has delivered them into our hand” (1 Samuel 14:9,10). Ask for certain
concrete things, as Jonathan asked for guidance in initiating a battle against his enemy. Make it clear what sign you wish and consider receiving the sign as guidance. You can even ask for answers to
concrete questions as David does in 1 Samuel 23:10–12. Let prayer for others, even for great sinners, be one of defense. Rabbi Nehemiah said, “When the Israelites constructed and worshiped
the golden calf, Moses sought to appease God’s anger, saying,
“Lord of the universe, they have made an assistant for You.
Why should You be angry with them? This calf will assist You: You
will cause the sun to shine and the calf will cause the moon to
shine; You will take care of the stars and the calf will take care of
the planets; You will cause the dew to fall and the calf will make
the winds to blow; You will cause the rain to fall and the calf will
cause vegetation to sprout.” The Holy One, praised be He, said to
Moses, “You are making the same mistake that the people are making!
This calf is not real!” Moses then replied, “If that is so, why
should You be angry with Your children?” (Exodus Rabbah).
Let your words with God also be wise and convincing. A man can pray in any decent bodily position. For instance, Elijah put his face between his knees, which is possible only after much physical exercise (1 Kings 18:42). Use your eyes in prayer. I do not know how the custom of closing your eyes in prayer arose. Jesus’ habit was to lift them. The bridegroom in Solomon’s song says to his bride, “You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes” (4:9). (“Having ravished the heart” is expressed by the single Hebrew word levavtini, which is the strongest word for uniting two hearts.)
Jesus is attentive to our eyes while we pray. He observed that a tax collector “would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven,” knowing his own sinfulness, and says, “This man went down to his house
justified” (Luke 18:13,14). At other times, believers show God great love through the expression in their eyes. Learn to use your eyes correctly in your communion with God and with men.
– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS