The art of praying in the will of God is illustrated in the story of a man who loved music. Daily he listened to a radio program featuring a symphony orchestra. Hoping to make music like that, he bought a violin and began playing with the orchestra. The music continued as usual, but his accomplishment screeched and sounded nothing like the radio. The man persisted. After much practice, he began hitting the right notes, and finally his music blended in tune with the symphony.
For some, prayer is a way of getting something, of having needs met. This may sound good, but if our requests are not in the will of God, those prayers are mere screeching. Instead, God wants us to seek Him that we might know Him and pray in His will. Only then will our prayers match the music of heaven. David expressed this also . . .
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple . . . Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! . . . I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:4–14)
Like David, I have sought the face of God and found that He has searched my face too . . .
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it . . . Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139: 1–6, 23–24)
For many, the idea of God knowing even their most private thoughts is a frightful thing. Rather than being open with Him, it seems safer to hide, to stop seeking, to harden my heart and hope that He is not paying attention to my life or the sin that I try to cover. Yet that also is foolish, for the rewards of seeking God far outweigh the risks. Some of the benefits are in this promise . . .
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Seeking the face of God has far greater ramifications that most people realize. It can bring healing for a nation bogged in travesty through forgiveness of its people. This promise is true personally as well. When my life is messed up with sin, forgiveness brings peace and healing, but I must first stop running and seek the face of God.
Actually, when my life is messed up, I don’t pray much at all. But seeking God, turning to obedience, and experiencing peace of heart changes my confidence in prayer . . .
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:21–24)
Such seeking prayer is rewarded. I can abide in Him and know He listens, but most of all, my sense of His presence deepens, I know that He abides in me, and my music is much easier on everyone's ears.