John Wesley on Prayer Lesson 12

*Be Anxious for Nothing

“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:32 NKJV

How much more, then, will it please our heavenly Father to give us food and raiment? And since you have such an inheritance, regard not your earthly possessions.

To the same effect, the apostle Paul wrote the Philippians (4:6 NKJV): “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

If men are not gentle toward you, yet neither on this nor any other account, be not anxious, but pray. Carefulness and prayer cannot stand together. “In everything” great and small, “let your requests be made known”; they who by a preposterous shame or distrustful modesty cover, stifle, or keep in their desires, as if they were too small or too great, must be racked with care. But from them they are entirely delivered, who pour them out with a free and filial confidence.

“To God”—it is not always proper to disclose them to people. “By supplication”—which is the enlarging upon and pressing our petition. “With thanksgiving”—the surest mark of a soul free from care and of prayer joined with true resignation. This is always followed by peace. Peace and thanksgiving are joined together (Colossians 3:15). Thus “the morrow shall take care for itself”—be careful for the morrow when it comes. Today, be free from care.

*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.

In this twelfth lesson on prayer, Wesley starts with Luke 12:32: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” He holds this up as the gold standard of giving from the Father. That is, if the kingdom is God’s good pleasure to give us, and that by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, what else is there that God cannot or will not give us? If God bankrupted heaven on our behalf in the giving of His only begotten Son, and it was God’s good pleasure to do so on our behalf, is there anything we could ask for that would not pleasure Him in the giving?

But to keep our longings in perspective, we must also look at Matthew 6:19-24, which reads,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ” The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ” Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Philippians 4:6 is certainly an important admonition to pray. But these verses from Matthew add the additional question, “What should we be praying for?” If God’s good pleasure is in giving us the kingdom, and if in seeking the kingdom first all other things are added to us, how should we, then, direct our prayers?

Published by doctorpaddy

An ordained minister, Christian communicator, and educator.

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