O. Hallesby - Prayer

I don’t believe it’s an overstatement to say that I think this is the most clear and profound thing I’ve ever read about prayer outside of the Bible! I started reading the classic work on Prayer by Ole Hallesby (1879-1961) this morning. (Someone gave it to me almost 10 years ago, and it’s been sitting on my shelf, unread, until God providentially brought it to my attention recently.) Here’s what struck me in just the first 20 pages:

“The results of prayer are… not dependent upon the powers of the one who prays. Our intense will, our fervent emotion, or our clear comprehension of what we are praying for are not the reasons why our prayers will be heard and answered. Nay, God be praised, the results of prayer are not dependent upon these things! To pray is nothing more involved than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting Him to exercise His own power in dealing with them. He who gave us the privilege of prayer knows us very well. He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. That is why He designed prayer in such a way that the most impotent can make use of it. For to pray is to open the door unto Jesus. And that requires no strength. It is only a question of our wills. Will we give Jesus access to our needs? That is the one great and fundamental question in connection with prayer.”

“What is the attitude of heart which God recognizes as prayer? …In the first place, helplessness. This is unquestionably the first and the surest indication of a praying heart. As far as I can see, prayer has been ordained only for the helpless. It is the last resort of the helpless. Indeed, the very last way out. We try everything before we resort to prayer. …I know very well that we offer many and beautiful prayers, both privately and publicly, without helplessness as the impelling power. But I am not at all positive that this is prayer. Prayer and helplessness are inseparable. Only those who are helpless can truly pray.

Your helplessness is your best prayer. It calls from your heart to the heart of God with greater effect than all your uttered pleas. He hears it from the very moment that you are seized with helplessness, and He becomes actively engaged at once in hearing and answering the prayer of your helplessness.”

Prayer …consists simply in telling God day by day in what ways we feel that we are helpless. We are moved to pray every time the Spirit of God, which is the spirit of prayer, emphasizes anew to us our helplessness, and we realize how impotent we are by nature to believe, to love, to hope, to serve, to sacrifice, to suffer, to read the Bible, to pray and to struggle against our sinful desires.”

“I never grow weary of emphasizing our helplessness, for it is the decisive factor not only in our prayer life, but in our whole relationship to God. As long as we are conscious of our helplessness we will not be overtaken by any difficulty, disturbed by any distress or frightened by any hindrance. We will expect nothing of ourselves and therefore bring all our difficulties and hindrances to God in prayer. And this means to open the door unto Him and to give God the opportunity to help us in our helplessness by means of the miraculous powers which are at His disposal.”

 

 

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