Helps For Time Alone With God
By Andrew Murray
Begin with Praise and Thanksgiving
As you enter your quiet place to be alone with God, let your first work be to thank Him for the unspeakable love which invites you to come to Him, and to converse freely with Him. If your heart is cold and dead, remember that religion is not a matter of feeling, but has to do first with the will. Raise your heart to God, and thank Him for the assurance you have that He looks down on you and will bless you. Through such an act of faith you honor God, and draw your soul away from being occupied with itself.
Think also of the glorious grace of the Lord Jesus, who is willing to teach you to pray, and to give you the disposition to do so. Think, too, of the Holy Spirit who was purposely given to cry "Abba, Father" in your heart, and to help your weakness in prayer (Rom. 8:15,26). Five minutes spent thus will strengthen your faith for your work in prayer. Once more I say – begin with an act of thanksgiving, and praise God for the quiet time with Him and the promise of blessing there.
Prepare for Prayer by Bible Study
It is helpful to prepare yourself for prayer by prayerful Bible Study. The great reason why the quiet time is not attractive is that people do not know how to pray. Their stock of words is soon exhausted, and they do not know what further to say because they forget that prayer is not a soliloquy, where everything comes from one side; but it is a dialogue, where God’s child listens to what the Father says, and replies to it, and then asks for the things he needs.
Read a few verses from the Bible. Do not concern yourself with the difficulties contained in them. You can consider these later; but take what you understand, apply it to yourself, and ask the Father to make His Word light and power in your heart. Thus you will have material enough for prayer from the Word which the Father speaks to you; you will also have the liberty to ask for things you need. Keep on in this way, and the inner chamber will become at length not a place where you sigh and struggle only, but one of living fellowship with the Father in Heaven. Prayerful study of the Bible is indispensable for powerful prayer.
Turn to Prayer
When you have thus received the Word into your heart, turn to prayer. But do not attempt it hastily or thoughtlessly, as though you knew well enough how to pray. Prayer in our own strength brings no blessing. Take time to present yourself reverently and in quietness before God. Remember His greatness and holiness and love. Think over what you wish to ask from Him. Do not be satisfied with going over the same things every day. No child goes on saying the same thing day after day to his earthly father.
Conversation with the Father is colored by the needs of the day. Let your prayer be something definite, arising either out of the Word which you have read, or out of the real soul needs which you long to have satisfied. Let your prayer be so definite that you can say as you go out, "I know what I have asked from my Father, and I expect an answer." It is a good plan sometimes to take a piece of paper, and write down what you wish to pray for. You might keep such a paper for a week or more, and repeat prayers for the items until some new needs arise.
Pray for Needs of Others
What has been said is in reference to your own needs. But you know that we are allowed to pray that we may help also in the needs of others. One great reason why prayer in the secret place does not bring more joy and blessing is that it is too selfish, and selfishness is the death of prayer.
Remember your family; your congregation, with its interests; your own neighborhood; and the church to which you belong. Let your heart be enlarged, and take up the interests of missions, and of the Church through the whole world. Become an intercessor, and you will experience for the first time the blessedness of prayer, as you find out that God will make use of you to share His blessing with others through prayer. You will begin to feel that there is something worth living for, as you find that you have something to say to God, and that He from heaven will do things in answer to your prayers which otherwise would not have been done.
A child can ask his father for bread. A full-grown son converses with him about all the interests of his business, and about his further purposes. A weak child of God prays only for himself; a full-grown man in Christ understands how to consult with God over what must take place in the Kingdom. Let your prayer list bear the names of those for whom you pray – your minister, and all other ministers, and the different missionary affairs with which you are connected. Thus the secret place will become a wonder of God’s goodness, and a fountain of great joy. It will become the most blessed place on earth.
It is a great thing to say, but it is the simple truth that God will make your secret place a Bethel, where His angels shall ascend and descend, and where you will cry out like Jacob, "The Lord shall be my God!" (Gen. 28:21). God will make it also Peniel, where you will see the face of God, as a prince of God, as one who wrestled with the angel, and overcame him (Gen. 32:24-30).
Carry the Attitude of the Quiet Time into Your Day
Do not forget the close bond between the personal time with God and the outer world. The attitude of the quiet time must remain with us all the day. The object of the time alone with God is so to unite us to God that we may have Him always abiding with us. Sin, thoughtlessness, yielding to the flesh or the world make us unfit for the quiet time and bring a cloud over the soul. If you have stumbled or fallen, return to the inner chamber, and let your first work be to invoke the blood of Jesus, and to claim cleansing by it. Rest not until by confession you have repented of and put away your sin. Let the precious blood give you a fresh freedom of approach to God. Remember that the roots of your life in the secret place strike far out in body and soul, so as to manifest themselves in business life.
Let the obedience of faith in which you pray in secret rule you constantly. The secret place is intended to bind man to God, to supply him with power from God, to enable him to live for God alone. God be thanked for the inner chamber, and for the blessed life which He will enable us there to experience and nourish.
– From The Prayer Life by Andrew Murray.