III. MUST BE ONE WHO WAITS CONSTANTLY BEFORE GOD
A man of prayer is also one who abides in God, waiting wholeheartedly before Him. Everyone who has learned well the lessons of prayer always first waits before God and then slowly gets into prayer. This matter is spoken of in the Psalms where it often says, “Wait thou for God.” When you come to pray, you should not hastily open your mouth to express your ideas and to utter your feelings. Rather, you need to stop and put aside your thinking and feeling, so that your whole being will be waiting before God.
There are a number of such examples in the Old Testament. For example, Genesis 18 records the fact that God appeared especially to Abraham and was entertained by Abraham in his tent. On that occasion Abraham served continually before God and asked nothing of Him. God finished the cakes and the calf and spoke the thing concerning Sarah. When He was about to leave, Abraham, having gone with Him for a distance, God stopped and said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (Gen. 18:17). At that time, God made it clear that He had come to earth in order to judge Sodom. When Abraham heard this, he immediately understood God’s desire and knew that He was concerned for Lot, who was in Sodom but who belonged to God. Then Abraham immediately prayed according to God’s concern. This shows that he was truly one who waited before God.
This does not mean that we need to shut ourselves in a room all day waiting for God; rather, it means that in our daily living there should be a considerable portion of waiting before God. We do not lightly open our mouth to God, neither do we heedlessly ask God for something. Rather, we always maintain a spirit, an intention, an attitude, and a condition which afford God an opportunity to make us sense His feelings and allow Him to express His own desire in our spirit. We should wait until we touch God’s desire and sense His feelings and then pray—this prayer is then initiated by God within us.
I would like to tell you, brothers and sisters, that the first good example of prayer in the Bible is the prayer of Abraham in Genesis 18. Some very important principles are contained in that prayer. When the whole world rejected God, there was a man who wanted God. That man was Abraham. Although apparently he did not live in God, in reality he was one who had fellowship with God and who waited before Him. When he saw God, he did not immediately say, “Jehovah is here, the angels of heaven are here, so I want this, and I want that.” No, he did not ask for anything; rather, he waited before God. He waited outside the tent, and after he went with the heavenly visitors for a distance, he still stood and waited before God. It was in this waiting that God had the opportunity to say, “How can I hide from Abraham what I am going to do on earth?” And then He went on to reveal His intention to Abraham.
On that particular occasion God spoke to Abraham in a riddle, not in plain words. Therefore, Abraham’s prayer before God was also in a riddle, not in explicit terms. In mentioning Sodom, God’s intention was centered on Lot. God wanted someone to pray for Lot so that He might have an opportunity to save him. Abraham knew God’s heart, and when he heard God mentioning Sodom, immediately he remembered Lot, who had fallen into Sodom, and began to pray for him before God. The strange thing is this: neither God nor Abraham mentioned the name of Lot. How then do we know that Abraham was praying for Lot? We know because later verses in chapter nineteen tell us that when God razed all the plain and the city of Sodom, He remembered Abraham and saved Lot out of that city. By this we know that both the prayer of Abraham before God and the intercession with which God burdened Abraham were centered upon Lot. Neither God nor Abraham mentioned Lot’s name, yet both God’s heart and Abraham’s heart were set on Lot.
Abraham was able to have such a prayer that touched God’s heart because he was one who waited before God. He did not have many opinions, supplications, requests, and suggestions; he was one who ceased the activity of his own being before God. He waited before God, affording Him the opportunity to speak, then prayed according to what God said. A man of prayer, therefore, is definitely one who can wait before God. This is a very deep lesson which we need to learn thoroughly. A man going before God to pray must cease his being. That is, his emotion, mind, and will must be halted to a considerable extent. Only such a one who halts the activity of his own being can wait before God.
(Lessons on Prayer, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)