Monday, 5 March 2012

ASKING AND RECEIVING FROM GOD



ASKING AND RECEIVING FROM GOD

The subject of this lesson is one of the most vital to human existence, both in this life and in the life to come. Without a true and unwavering knowledge of this subject one misses so much in this life that is due him. If one will truly master the following truths and simply refuse ever to fail in practicing them to the letter, he will never experience the many unanswered prayers that the average person does. One can get what he WANTS from God if he will literally do what God says for him to do. The absolute assurance of receiving from God in abundance is just as certain as anything can possibly be if one will follow the instructions given in this lesson. God cannot fail. His promises cannot fail. The believer cannot fail if he will be as dogged about refusing to accept any failure as most men seem determined to fail in the business of asking and receiving. The following great lessons on prayer and how to get answers to prayer should be fervently practiced until asking is second nature and receiving is a normal experience:

I. What Prayer Is
Prayer is the offering up of our desires for lawful and needful things and things we want that are promised by God, with humble confidence that we will obtain them through Jesus Christ for God's glory and for our good. It is the pleading of our cause in God's court. Prayer is seeking help from God in matters that are beyond our power. It is the personal appeal to a personal and present God based upon His will and Word and our lawful desires. It is cooperation with God's willingness to manifest His goodness to all those who have faith in Him and depend upon Him for help. Prayer is simply asking and receiving from God, and that is the theme of this lesson.

II. General Facts About Asking and Receiving
1.   COMMANDS TO PRAY (1 Chron. 16:11; 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 105:4; Isa. 55:6; Matt. 7:7-11; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 4:16).
2.  TIME TO PRAY: daily, in the morning (Ps. 5:3; 88:13; 143:8); twice daily (Ps. 88:1); thrice daily (Ps. 55:17; Dan. 6:10); without ceasing ( 1 Thess. 5:17); at night (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12); night and day (Luke 2:37).
3.  ATTITUDES IN PRAYER: standing (Luke 18:13); sitting (Acts 1:14; 2:2; Luke 10:13); lying (2 Sam. 12:16-20); kneeling (Ps. 95:6; Dan. 6:10; Luke 22:41, Acts 9:40; 20:36; 21:5); weeping (Ezra 10:1; 1 Sam. 1:10); talking (Gen. 18:23-33); meditating (Ps. 5:1); agonizing (Luke 22:44); groaning (Rom. 8:26-27); and in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20).
4.  WHERE TO PRAY: in closets (Matt. 6:6); on mountains (Matt. 14:23); in homes and in temples and everywhere (Acts 1:13-14; 2:46; 3:1; 12:12; 1 Tim. 2:8).
5.  HOW NOT TO PRAY: Jesus taught that men should not pray like the hypocrites to be seen of men and not like the heathen who think that God hears for much speaking (Matt. 6:5-8)
6.  THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER. The chief end of all prayer should be to glorify God and to make full our joy (John 14:13-15: 16:24).
7.  GROUND FOR ASKING AND RECEIVING. The true ground for prayer and its answer is to be born again and have the right relationship to God. Only true, saved men have the right to ask and receive anything that they want from God. Sinners who rebel and refuse to surrender their lives to God and become reconciled to Him have no true ground of approach to God. They have no foundation for their faith. God, many times in His mercy, helps sinners and hears their cry of despair, but He is not obligated to do for them what He has promised until they obey Him. It is merely because He wants to prove to the sinner His love and mercy even though he is a rebel. Paul said, "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" and "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 2:4; 5:8).

The first promise that a sinner can legally claim through the death of Christ is that of forgiveness and cleansing from all sin (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 1 John 1:9). If a sinner will truly repent and turn from sin to righteousness and get born again, he is immediately on praying grounds for anything else that God has promised to men. So a right relationship with God is the true ground of asking and receiving (Matt. 7:7-11; Luke 11:1-13; John 14:12-15; 15:7, 16; 16:23-26; 1 John 3:20-24; 5:13-15).
With the proper relationship with God it becomes our family right, legal right, redemptive right, gospel right, needful right, and creative right to ask and receive anything and everything that the Father has promised His own children. There should be no question as to personal rights or the outcome of prayer according to those rights, for all things belong to God and His children, and His sons will inherit all things in the end when rebellion is finally put down (Rom. 8:17-18; 1 Pet. 1:2-5; Rev. 21:7). If all things belong to us and we will finally inherit them, why not get what we want of them here and now? At least, why should it not be our right to get what God has promised and provided for us of these things here and now ?

III. The Certainty of Answered Prayer
Asking is receiving according to Jesus: "Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh RECEIVETH; and he that seeketh FINDETH; and to him that knocketh IT SHALL BE OPENED" (Matt. 7:7-8). The first letters of these three words—ask, seek, and knock, spell ASK. This is not a mere coincidence. It is a divine fact that all one has to do is to ask. Asking, however, presupposes a God who hears and answers prayers. If one asks in mockery or from mere form without faith he does not truly ask. One must ask in faith nothing wavering, and then he will receive (James 1:5-9; Heb. 11:6). There can be no failure, or God is not true; so let there not be a doubt about the fact of it, for God is true.
Jesus continued by showing the infinite fatherhood of God and stated that God loves His children more than any human parent could possibly love his own flesh and blood. This means that it is not and cannot be the will of God for one child of His to be sinful, rebellious, defeated, unhappy, sick, poor, wanting, worrying, complaining, and discouraged concerning any one thing in life. It could not be the will of earthly parents for their children to suffer these things, and no parent would tolerate these conditions in the lives of his children if he could prevent it. Earthly parents would speedily deliver their children from all such enemies. Earthly parents long to help and they will do everything possible to help their children to get the best things in life, to be healthy, to be prosperous, and to be happy. Does God love His children any less than do earthly parents? Certainly not!
Jesus proved that God loves His children more than earthly parents when He said, "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, HOW MUCH MORE shall your heavenly Father which is in Heaven give good things to them that ASK him?" (Matt. 7:9-11). What more could a child of God want than such a broad and all-inclusive promise of the infinite fatherhood of God. What more would or could one desire for proof that it is the will of God for him to ask anything—wealth, health, cleansing from sin, keeping from sin, or anything that is desired in life?
In the same sermon on the mount Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy will be done in Earth, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN" (Matt. 6:10). Is it God's will for men to be sick and sinful when they get to heaven? Is it God's will for men to be defeated and poverty-stricken and unhappy in heaven? Is it God's will for men to be tormented by demons and to carry about forever in Heaven the works of the devil in their bodies, souls, and spirits? Is it God's will in Heaven for men to be abandoned by God and forsaken by Him after He once gets them there? You know full well the answer to these questions. If these things are not God's will m Heaven, they are not God's will on Earth. One can have freedom from these things on Earth just as much as he will be free from them in Heaven if he will but ASK AND RECEIVE, according to the will of God, here and now. Now is the time we need to ask and receive and not in the next life. Here and now we need the will of God done and not in Heaven, for we are not yet there.
May God Himself wake us up to see our privileges in the gospel here and now when we need so many things. Prayer will never fail when it is done right. Heaven and Earth will pass away more easily than prayer will become powerless and fruitless if men will pray right. Prayer never fails when man never fails to believe God when he asks for something. Prayer is absolute and unfailing when faith is the same. At the grave of Lazarus Jesus said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always" (John 11:41-42). This is a normal and a truthful attitude for every child of God to take and maintain.
One can say just as easily, "I can, I will, I do believe that God hears me and answers my prayer," as to say, "It is hard to believe, I don't know whether I can or not, I hope God hears me and answers prayer." One can form right words and cause them to come out of his mouth just as he can tell a lie, and if he is that kind of person, it is infinitely easier to tell the truth than a lie. All statements of unbelief and all doubts and unbelief as to whether God answers prayer or not are of the devil, and anyone who gives in to any of these ideas is cooperating with the devil. He is making God a liar and is hindering God from answering prayer for him. God will not on any one occasion or in any one case transgress His law of faith and work contrary to faith. If you believe that God will answer prayer, He will. If you believe that he will not, then he will not. This is truth and nothing but the truth (Heb. 11:6; James 1:5-9).
In Detroit, Michigan, about three years ago a deacon of a certain church took me to see and to pray with a man that was paralyzed on one side and who had not walked for about eight months. I spoke to him about his faith; and his very first words, as I recall, were, "I believe in healing all right, but I cannot seem to have faith for my healing." I got up and walked over to his bed and said, "Don't you say that again. That is a lie. You can have faith and you must have faith if you expect to get healed." I then quoted Mark 11:22-24 and emphasized the truth of this passage this way, "Believe you have got it and you shall have it." This was my way of expressing verse 24. I said that over several times and got him to promise to believe God would heal him and then prayed. While I was praying, the paralyzed man said, "If I have got it, what am I lying here for?" With that he jumped out of bed and shouted all over the place. I said, "Now you stay up until bedtime and then go to bed and get up in the morning perfectly well. Forget that you ever had paralysis."
It is true, God will meet faith to the full extent of faith. Jesus sometimes would say, "According to your faith so be it done unto you" or "as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee" (Matt. 8:13; 9:29). It is the same today. An aggressive faith will produce aggressive works. A living faith will produce life. A dead passive faith will produce death and failure.
In John 14:12 Jesus promised power for praying and working. He promised that each believer would be able to do what He did and even greater works upon one condition: "He that believeth on me." We can argue that this is not for us today or that there must be some mistake about such a broad promise, but the fact that He said it still faces us, and we dare not make Him a liar and expect to see Him in peace. This passage is plain. It means just what it says. There can be no misunderstanding. It will pay us to believe it mentally whether we want the experience of it or not. Men excuse themselves in a thousand ways, but such excuses will last only in this life, and they serve a poor cause here. They will not stand in the judgment.
In many other passages Jesus gave believers the full power of attorney to use His name to get anything in life that they want (John 14:12-15; 15:7, 16; 16:23-26; Mark 16:16-20). This we shall see more fully in Lesson Twenty-two. All we want you to see in this lesson is the absolute certainty of answered prayer for anything and everything that you want in life.
There are no impossibilities with God or with the believer who will believe God (Mark 9:23; 11:22-24; Matt. 17:20; 21:21-22; John 14:12-15; 15:7, 16). Possibilities in prayer are great and many, and we should awake to attain the blessings of the gospel. The world is dying for just such a program. God is going to hold modern believers accountable. He will judge every preacher and teacher and the least person who claims to believe the gospel for not boldly laying aside unbelief and for not striving to attain to the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
Certainty of answered prayer is also expressed in the Old Testament: "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of ALL their troubles" (Ps. 34: 15-17); "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (Ps. 37:4-5); "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him" (Ps. 91:15); "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Ps. 84:11).

IV. Scientific Proof of Answered Prayer
Prayer and its answer can be scientifically tested as any other thing can be. We do not mean to say that God condescends to every whim of unbelieving man or that He meets every test imposed by mere curiosity or scepticism. Jesus went about answering prayer and doing all kinds of miracles in the moral, spiritual, material, and physical realms, but when the unbelieving Jews sought a sign from Heaven He did not satisfy unbelief (Matt. 12:39). Some men of unbelief lay down certain laws as a prayer gauge, and anything other than these requirements are not considered by them as an answer to prayer. Men have dared God to strike them dead or some other foolish thing, thinking that the Almighty would not dare to do so; and if He did not, they have gone off boasting that there was no God.
God has answered tests in the material realm that men have put to Him. In the case of Elijah God answered when a contest was taking place between Him and the prophets of false gods (1 Kings 18:36-38). In Egypt God manifested His power so that all the Egyptians should know that He was the true and living God (Ex. 7:5; 8:10, 22-23; 9:16, 29; 11:7). God answered the sign Gideon asked for (Judges 6:37-40). He answered Hezekiah by a sign, and the sun was turned ten degrees backward (Isa. 38:5-8). He rebuked Ahaz for not asking a sign "either in the depth, or in the height above" (Isa. 7:10-13). Jesus Christ promised that men could remove literal mountains as He cursed the fig tree and did other signs before men (Matt. 21:21-22). This, however, was never done to satisfy mere unbelief and curiosity. It can be done only in sincerity and faith.

When we have multiplied thousands of definite and concrete answers to prayer on record, both in the Bible and in all history, we do not have to obligate God to a mere sign to satisfy unbelieving man. Proof of answered prayer fills many pages of history, and this proof is sufficient to convince an honest inquirer. The Lord heard Abraham and healed a whole nation (Gen. 20:7, 17); He heard Eliezer and gave Isaac a wife (Gen. 24); He heard Isaac, and children were born (Gen. 25:21-26); He heard Moses, and Israel was spared from death, and many signs were given on many an occasion (Ex. 5:22-6:18; Ex. 32); and He heard judges, prophets, priests and leaders in Israel, and early Christians times without number (Num. 12:13-15; Ps. 3:4; 6:8; 18:6; 21:2-4; 22:24; 28:6; 30:2-3; 31:22; 34:4-6; 40:1; 66:19-20; 77:1; 81:7; 99:6-8; 106:44; 107:6-7, 13-20; 116:1-2; 118:5, 21; 138:3; Hosea 12:4; Jonah 2:1; Luke 23:42-43; John 1:42; Acts 4:31; Jas. 5:17; etc.). These and scores of other testimonies in the Bible prove that God has heard prayer for people of all past ages.
The history of the church and of the lives of men throughout this age abound in testimonies of answered prayer. We have more testimony of this kind to prove the fact of answered prayer than we have concerning any scientific fact that has been proved. If there is any fact that can be proved, it is that God answers prayer. If there is any scientific statement that is capable of proof, this one is. Hundreds of thousands of people today testify to answered prayer in every phase of life. Let the skeptic go to any church, and he can find numbers of people who will affirm in court that God has answered prayer. Space will not permit testimonies we personally have had and know that others have had. If one is doubtful, he can get such proof from his next-door neighbor. He can ask any true Christian, and he can collect all the proof that is needed. We must now proceed to the practical help in prayer that men need today.




V. The Secrets of Asking and Receiving
1. LEARN TO PRAY RIGHT. This is one of the greatest lessons to learn about prayer. One cannot get an answer unless he prays right. In Luke 11:1 we have a record of the disciples observing how Jesus prayed. They knew that God always heard Him. There was such absolute simplicity and assurance when He prayed, and there came a hunger to them to know how to pray as He could. They asked Him "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." This should be the daily longing of every true child of God. The need of knowing how to pray right is the need of the hour.
Christ is the greatest teacher of prayer. He practiced it Himself. We must learn to pray like Jesus, and God will always hear us, for He always heard Him and God is no respecter of persons. The following points will enable anyone to learn the art of prayer as far as knowing what to do is concerned. They never will give a practical experience of prayer. That remains for much practice in following doggedly the lessons learned by us concerning what to do to get answers to prayer. Knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. There must be not only a knowledge, but there must be obedience to the light we have concerning prayer if we are to get an answer to prayer. Since we know our need of knowing how to pray, and since we have the greatest teacher to help us to pray, let us apply ourselves until prayer becomes second nature to us as it was with Him.
2. THE MODEL PRAYER. (Luke 11:2-4). The so-called Lord's Prayer is really a prayer for disciples or learners of how to pray. It was given on the occasion when the disciples asked, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples" (Luke 11:1-4). All believers can consider themselves mere learners and model after this
prayer until they have graduated from the school of prayer. At least, until the time comes when they get every prayer answered that they pray. With this as the goal
e can all consider ourselves in the same school learning the same lessons on prayer There are several lessons we need to learn about this prayer:
(1) OUR FATHER. This teaches a new and right relationship to God by the new birth (John 3:1-8; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 5:24; John 15:7; 1 John 2:29; 3:7-10; 5:1-4, 13-18). It is generally taught that men in the Old Testament days never dared address God as "Father," because they were not born again, but a search for scriptures to prove this point only proves the contrary. Men of all ages past were born again by faith in the coming Redeemer and His blood that was to be shed, just as men today are born again by faith in the blood that has been shed. This is clear from Deut. 14:1; 32:18; 2 Sam. 7:14; 2 Chron. 28:6; Isa. 1:2; 63:16; Hosea 1:10; Ps. 82:6; Gal. 4:28-30; Rom. 4:1-25; Heb. 11. Men in past ages before the cross asked and received on the same grounds that we do today, as is clear from the scriptures under Point IV above. The right relationship to God means much and is one of the greatest secrets of answered prayer. Why should anyone be so presumptuous as to approach God stained with sin against Him and in open rebellion to Him and His Word and then expect Him to do for them what He has promised only to His children?
Not only should we have the new and right relationship to God, but we must learn to whom prayer should be addressed. God the Father—our Father, is the one that should be addressed in prayer. Jesus taught us that in John 16:23-26, "In that day [when I go back to the Father] ye shall ASK ME NOTHING.... Whatsoever ye shall ASK THE FATHER in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ASK, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE, that your joy may be full.... At that day ye shall ASK IN MY NAME." God the Father is the head of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and therefore He should be the one directly addressed in prayer (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 3:14-16).
The habit of praying either to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit personally should be broken, for we have no authority for any such praying. It is true that God overlooks ignorance of this fact as well as of other facts but if we want to learn to pray, we should learn right and always practice what we learn. God's Word should not be ignored on this point any more than on other points. Children of God sometimes, because of the freedom that they have found in Christ, willfully ignore certain technical facts of truth and never seem concerned to obey to the letter. This may be the cause of so much unanswered prayer, for we are told that "to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). Men sometimes take the attitude that they are not going to pay any attention to little details like this, but we warn that it would be best to keep the letter of the Word at least, since an attitude which disregards things written is certainly not the spirit of the Word. God commands obedience to the Word, not to what we think is right. It will not be a sin to obey the letter. When we transgress the letter of the Word, we do not obey the spirit or the letter of the Word. To do the will of God will not make us formal. If it does, to maintain a form is much better than to disobey God and His Word. Saul learned that, and his lesson was recorded for our profit (1 Sam. 15:22-30).
We are not trying to teach that one should not recognize Christ or the Holy Spirit in prayer and communion. Give them their proper scriptural place and worship all three persons in the Godhead and commune with all three in the proper way, but address all petitions to the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Praying in the name of Jesus to Jesus is foolish, and praying to God and not in the name of Jesus has no promise of reward. All prayer that ignores Jesus or the Holy Spirit in their proper place is not a true biblical prayer and has no assurance of being heard by God.
(2) "WHICH ART IN HEAVEN." This teaches that men are associated with God in Heaven itself, and states the place where God dwells, as we have seen in Lesson Four, Point 9. Paul said, "our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence we look for the Saviour" (Phil. 3:20-21). The child of God should constantly recognize the source of his blessings and the place of his citizenship, which guarantees to him certain rights just as much as any citizen of any other country.
(3) "HALLOWED BE THY NAME." This teaches the new manner of approach to God. Worship, adoration, and praise should precede petitions and go along with them (Phil. 4:6; Heb. 13:15-16). This procedure abounds in all the psalms. If our praise of God balanced our asking, we would receive more. Praise demonstrates faith, and faith brings the answer to prayer. If one does not seem to have faith, let him praise God much for what he has received and what he is going to receive, and faith will grow that will dare believe God for anything.
(4) "THY KINGDOM COME." This puts the interests of God and the kingdom first—the needs of others before our own desires. This is loving our neighbors as ourselves. The kingdom of God and its interests are the chief subjects for prayer.
(5) "THY WILL BE DONE, AS IN HEAVEN, SO IN EARTH." This accepts and agrees with the Father's will in all things. It is submission in prayer to the will of God, yet refuses to be denied concerning all that is promised as God's will. If we would be just as dogged in refusing failure in prayer as we are in accepting failure, there would be very little failure. (See Point III above concerning God's will.)
(6) "GIVE US DAY BY DAY OUR DAILY BREAD." After we have followed the above instructions, we have the proper relationship to God; we have directed our prayer to the right source; we have worshipped God, not to get from Him, but because we love Him; we have put the interests of the kingdom first; we have the definite promises before us that definitely cover our needs; and we accept what we are to pray for as the will of God; then we are ready to make our petition known to God. It is sad to say that the majority of people who pray have their own interests first and always. All they know about prayer is "Give me, give me, give me," and that is about all God hears. This is all right in its proper place, but we must show God we have His interests at heart as well as those of others and that we love Him and long to bless others regardless of personal needs. When Solomon took this attitude he was heard of God (1 Kings 4:4-15).
When Charles Page, a multi-millionaire of Tulsa, Oklahoma, prayed for the healing of his wife and bargained with God to help the poor if He would do it, he did not get an answer. He went back to God and confessed trying to bargain with God to get something personal; he promised to help the poor because it was right, not because he wanted his wife healed. She was instantly healed, and he gave millions to the poor through many years.
(7) "AND FORGIVE US OUR SINS; FOR WE ALSO FORGIVE EVERY ONE THAT IS INDEBTED TO US." Confession of sins and personal wrongs to others goes far in getting answers to prayers. One cannot expect to keep sinning or have the wrong attitude toward others and still be heard of God. If men would quit the sin business and live in peace, and love all men as the gospel teaches, answers from God could be expected without going through a long process of building up faith again. In Matt. 6:14, Jesus based answer to prayer upon mercy shown to others. When we forgive we can expect God to forgive. When we are kind and good and merciful we can expect the same consideration from God.
(8) "LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL." Guidance and deliverance from God should be part of our prayer life, and it can be expected when we have faithfully met all the conditions mentioned above of asking and receiving.
3. THE BOLDNESS OF GOD'S FRIENDS (Luke 11:5-8; Heb. 4:14-16; 10:19-23.) One of the greatest secrets of asking and receiving is that of being bold to come to the throne of grace. This shows immediate need as well as friendship with God. When men are afraid to come boldly to God this fear indicates lack of faith and trust, and this in turn, indicates that either the heart is not right or that the child of God is under direct attack from demons. When one lives clean and holy before God, there is a natural confidence in God which is a result of a close walk with God. If one is living a true Christian life and he still feels fear of God and is timid about coming to God, he may be under attack by demons. In that case he should resist the devil and ignore such feelings and approach God in all confidence. One can always tell whether he has sinned and is under condemnation or not. If there has been no known sin, then without doubt evil spirits are trying to counterfeit convictions of sin where no sin has been committed.
Jesus gives an illustration of this boldness in friendship in Luke 11:5-8. One friend went to another for bread at midnight because he had to have it at that time and not on the morrow. He got it, not because of friendship, but because of boldness in importunity. Friendship creates boldness to make demands on a friend. The greater the friendship the greater the boldness in times of need.
In Heb. 4:14-16 men are commanded to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy to help in time of need. This boldness is based upon the fact that we have a great high priest who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and who has been tempted in all points as we are. With such a mediator between God and man and with such a friend representing us before the Father we cannot fail to get answers to our prayers (Rom. 8:34; 1 Tim. 2:4-6).
The basis of coming to God in Heb. 10:19-23 is the blood of Jesus Christ, which gives one a new way of approach to God so that all can "draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.... Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised."
4. FAITH IN THE CERTAINTY OF ANSWERED PRAYER AND THE INFINITE FATHERHOOD OF GOD (Luke 11:9-13). This has already been considered in Point III above, which see.
5. The ALL-COMPREHENSIVE GIFT (Luke 11:9-13). Jesus promised that children of God had a greater gift that was due them than what they had received in the new birth. The gift of the Holy Spirit is here promised to every child of God. His help is one of the secrets of successful praying. The fact that this gift is promised only to children of God proves that it is not the reception of the Holy Spirit in a measure at the new birth, which experience comes to every child of God when born again (Rom. 8:9,14-16).
This all-inclusive gift refers to the fullness of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer after the new birth. One must be a child of God before he can receive the fullness of the Spirit. This was the case with Jesus (Matt. 3:16-17; Luke 4:18-21; John 3:34); the disciples (Acts 2); the Samaritans (Acts 9:5-25); Paul (Acts 9:1-17); and the Ephesians (Acts 19:1-7). In the case of Cornelius, God saved and gave them the Spirit baptism all at once (Acts 10:43-48; 11:14-18; 15:7-11); so one can receive the Spirit baptism at the time he receives the new birth if he believes. If he does not, which is true of many, then he should ask God for it, as Jesus taught in Luke 11:13, "HOW MUCH MORE shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" This whole passage (Luke 11:9-13) proves that gifts for people who are already children is the subject. God gave this gift to Cornelius and his house when they were saved to prove that there is not necessarily a time element between the various blessings of God. If there is a time between any blessings of God it is because of the individual knowledge and faith limiting God to work in a certain way.
The Holy Spirit is one of our great helpers in prayer: "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." With both Christ and the Holy Spirit as our helpers how could there be a failure in prayer? (Rom. 8:26-27, 34). When we receive the all-comprehensive gift we receive the all-comprehensive Helper in prayer; so let us have faith and boldness in prayer for all that we want in this life and in the life to come.
6. THE POWER OF PERSEVERING PRAYER (Luke 18:1-8). One chief secret of answered prayer is that of perseverance. "Men ought always to pray and not to lose heart." Jesus illustrated this truth by showing how a widow was avenged of her adversary by pestering a judge until he said in himself, "Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth [pestereth] me, I will avenge her lest by her continual coming she weary [pester] me." Jesus added, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry DAY AND NIGHT unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you he will avenge them speedily." If Elijah had become discouraged in praying for rain every time his servant reported no rain, he never would have got rain. He prayed seven times with his face between his knees and the seventh time rain came (1 Kings 18:42-46).
7. HUMILITY IN PRAYER (Luke 18:9-14). Jesus here gives us a parable of the publican and the Pharisee who prayed together in the temple. By this He showed very clearly that humility was one of the secrets of successful praying. One humbled himself and smote upon his breast and would not so much as look up to Heaven, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Jesus said that man went down to his house justified rather than the Pharisee who was so proud of himself and his good life that he took all his prayer period to brag about himself to God. He was self-righteous and despised others, and this kind of people who pray are never heard of God. He ended this story by saying, "For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." If one wants to be heard of God he must take an humble attitude, not depending upon his own merits in the least.
One of the greatest faults of the old Christians is to depend more upon how long they have beet saved, how good they have lived, how much better Christians they are than others, and how much more experienced and advanced in grace they are than others. They seem to think prayer and its answer are based upon these things. They think that God ought to jump at the chance to hear their prayers. They seem to think that they are special pets of God because of long service and faithful lives in holiness. They often complain because God will not heal them or otherwise answer their prayers, and because He does answer prayers and heal and bless some old sinner that knows that he has no merits to base a single prayer upon. This is the reason some are heard and some are not. God does not care for one good thing a man has done or how long one has been saved when it comes to the answer to prayer. He does not judge or answer on these grounds. He answers solely according to the attitude of humility and faith on the part of the one praying. It is to the discredit of old believers that they have not learned more about God and His Word than to expect God to answer on any other basis.
8. GET ALONE WITH GOD (Matt. 6:5-8). This secret of answered prayer must be learned well by the believer. Jesus taught that answers to prayer would be given when men learn to get alone with God and pray to be heard of God and not men. Private prayer in secret has the greatest chance of an answer because of the fact that there is no temptation to pray to be heard of men. One does not search for flowery words to use in prayer when alone. He simply gets down in earnest and pours out his soul to God and voices his needs in the most simple terms. One secret of asking and receiving then is to "pray to thy Father in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." No believer ever learns to pray right unless he spends much time alone with God in sweet personal communion. This does not forbid public prayer, but it does forbid all public praying to be seen of men. One can pray in secret, yet in public, if he will shut out all thoughts of men and pray to be heard of God alone. One would be guilty of praying a public prayer in private, if he tries to pray loud enough to attract attention of people to his praying.
9. THE WORD OF GOD AND PRAYER (Matt. 8:8; John 15:7). If one wants to get answers to prayer let him first get the promises of God that cover his need and accept the answers as already being God's will by His Word. Let him have faith in the Word as the basis of God's will and the assurance of the answer. The centurion said, "speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." He told the Lord that he believed that His word was all-sufficient to cast out the demons in His servant, just as his own word was sufficient to get action on the part of the hundred soldiers under his authority. Jesus marveled at this faith. So if this is what faith is, we can all have faith if we want to have it. Faith is simply taking God at His Word.
So much praying is done without any regard to whether God has promised the thing that is asked for, or without any thought of believing the promise or accepting the answer as a fact if the promise is known. There is no real, tangible connection between prayer and the Word of God, and hence prayer goes unanswered. If one cannot believe what God has said, he makes God a liar; and He then is not under obligation to answer at all. If one wants to obligate God to an answer he must take God at His word and count it a settled fact that he has the thing prayed for according to the Word. All praying should be done on the basis of the Word of God, and the promises should be quoted and used in prayer. God knows what He has promised, but He wants man also to know it and ask accordingly in faith, nothing wavering (James 1:5-9). "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).
10. THE FAITH THAT TAKES. This secret of answered prayer is very clear in Scripture. Note how simple the Bible is on this point: "Have faith in God For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast into the sea; and SHALL NOT DOUBT IN HIS HEART, BUT SHALL BELIEVE THAT THOSE THINGS WHICH HE SAITH SHALL COME TO PASS, HE SHALL HAVE WHATSOEVER HE SAITH. Therefore I say unto you, WHAT THINGS SOEVER YE DESIRE, WHEN YE PRAY, BELIEVE THAT YE RECEIVE THEM [Believe that you have got them], AND YE SHALL HAVE THEM" (Mark 11:22-24); "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS, AND THAT HE IS A REWARDER OF THEM THAT DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM" (Heb. 11:6); "If any of you lack wisdom [or any thing else], let him ask of God, THAT GIVETH TO ALL MEN LIBERALLY, AND UPBRAIDETH NOT; AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN HIM. BUT LET HIM ASK IN FAITH NOTHING WAVERING. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. FOR LET NOT THAT MAN THINK THAT HE SHALL RECEIVE ANY THING OF THE LORD" (James l:5-9).
The central thought in all these passages is: "BELIEVE THAT YOU HAVE GOT IT AND YOU SHALL HAVE IT." Believe that it is already yours. See yourself with it. Believe that you have got it already whether you literally see it or not. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). Faith laughs at impossibilities and counts all things possible. It "calleth those things that be not as though they were" (Rom. 4:17-22). One cannot have faith for something that he already has, for "hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it" (Romans 8:24-25).
Whoever uses faith can master all; have all he desires; and there are no bounds to what he can get. Faith will break through all barriers of reasonings, questionings, doubts, and thoughts of unbelief. It will take hold of what is wanted by an unshakable determination and will refuse to be denied. Faith will do all the Bible says it will do. Work what faith you have and refuse to be discouraged. Every impossible thing has finally yielded to pounding and increased pressure. What we do not Use we lose is a divine law that never fails. Likewise it is a divine law that whatever we Use increases (Luke 8:18; Rom. 10:17; Gal. 6:7-8).
The Scriptures cited above also prove the unlimited possibilities of prayer if one will use the faith that takes. Jesus said, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23) and "All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Matt. 17:20; 21:21-22). This is how men got answers in Bible days (Matt. 9:2, 27-29; Heb. 11). This is the only way men will get answers today; so we might as well stop deceiving ourselves that God might answer apart from firm, unwavering faith. He will not, for He said He will not, and He cannot lie (Heb. 11:6; James l:5-9). Faith and prayer will move mountains, but faithless prayer will not move an ant hill.
11. FASTING AND PRAYER—THE CURE FOR UNBELIEF. The disciples asked the Lord why they could not heal the lunatic boy. Jesus said, "Because of your unbelief.... Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt; 17:14-21). Faith needs prayer for its development and full growth, and prayer needs fasting for its development and full growth. Fasting is a biblical doctrine and has done wonders when used in combination with prayer and faith. To fast means to abstain from food, which was the cause of the fall of man. It is humbling the soul before God (Ps. 35:13); chastening of the soul (Ps. 69:10); and crucifying the appetites and denying them so as to give entire time to prayer (2 Sam. 12:16-23; Matt. 4:1-11). It manifests earnestness before God to the exclusion of all else (1 Cor. 7:5). It manifests obedience and gives the digestive system a rest (Matt. 6:16-18; 9:15, Luke 5:33). It demonstrates the mastery of man over appetites; aids in temptation; helps give power over demons; develops faith; crucifies unbelief; and aids in prayer (Matt. 4:1-11; 17:14-21).
All believers are supposed to fast but no regulations or set rules are ever given as to how long or how often. That part is left up to the individual desire and needs (Matt. 9:14-15; 1 Cor. 7:5; Acts 13:1-5). Men should fast when under chastening (2 Sam. 12:16-23); when under judgment (1 Kings 21:27); when in need (Ezra 8:21); when in danger (Esther 4); when worried (Dan. 6:18); when in trouble (Acts 27:9, 33; when in spiritual conflict (Matt. 4:1-11); and when desperate in prayer (Acts 9). We have thirty-five examples of fasting in the Bible:

Who Fasted

Length

Result





1. Ahab

?

spared from judgment (1 Kings 21:27-29).
2. Judah

?

delivered from enemies (2 Chron. 20:1-25).
3. Judah

?

delivered from enemies (Ezra 8:21-23).
4. Ezra

?

sin put down in Israel (Ezra 10:6-17).
5. Nineveh

?

spared from judgment (Jonah 3).
6. Nehemiah

?

had success in his desire (Neh. 1:4-2:10).
7. Jews

?

delivered from enemies (Esther 4:1-3, 9:1-3).
8. David

(until weak)

 delivered from enemies (Ps. 35:13; 69:10; 109:24).
9. John's disciples

?

no result recorded (Matt. 9:14-15).
10. Anna

?

no result recorded (Luke 2:37).
11. Church at Antioch

?

Spirit worked (Acts 13:1-5).
12. Paul

?

received a revelation (Acts 27:9-11).
13. Cornelius

?

received a revelation (Acts 10).
14. Many churches

?

no result recorded (Acts 14:23).
15. Paul

?
  
no result recorded (2 Cor. 6:5; 11:27).
16. David

(1 day)

no result recorded ( 2 Sam. 3:35).
17. Judah

(1 day)

blessed (Neh. 9: 1-4).
18. Judah

(1 day)

no result recorded (Jer. 36:6).
19. Daniel

(1 day)

received a revelation (Dan. 9:3,20-27).
20. Pharisee

(1 day)

not heard because of sin (Luke 18:9-14).
21. Israel

(1 day)

gained the victory (Judges 20:26-35).
22. Israel

(1 day) 

gained the victory (1 Sam. 7:6-14).
23. David

(1 day) 

no result recorded (2 Sam. 1:12).
24. King Darius

(1 night)

Daniel delivered (Dan. 6:18-24).
25.Esther, Mordecai

(3 days)

prayer answered (Esther 4:13-16; 5:1-9:3).
26. Many people

(3 days)

fed miraculously (Matt. 15:32-39).
27. Paul

(3 days)

healed and baptized in the Spirit (Acts 9:9, 17).
28. David

(7 days)

not heard because of sin (2 Sam. 12:16-23).
29. Israel

(7 days)

no result recorded (1 Sam. 31:13).
30. Paul and 276 men

(7 days)

delivered from death (Acts 27:33-34).
31. Daniel

(21 days)

received a revelation ( Dan. 10:3-13).
32. Moses

(40 days)

three times, always heard (Deut. 9:9, 18, 25-29; 10:10).
33. Joshua

(40 days)

no result recorded (Ex. 24:13-18; 32:15-17).
34. Elijah

(40 days)

received a revelation (1 Kings 19:7-18).
35. Jesus

(40 days)

received power (Matt. 4:1-11).

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