Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 3 — God Wants to Answer Your prayers!
Luke 11:13, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"
Just as an earthly father wants to give his child the desires of his heart and especially the needs of his life, even so does our heavenly father want to answer our prayers. The Bible is filled with evidences of this. For example, notice Isaiah 45:11, " Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."
Notice the definite command, "Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons." God wants us to ask because God wants to supply our needs, and He wants to answer our prayers. It is the delight of His heart to care for His own.
Now notice in the same verse the words, "concerning the work of My hands command ye Me." The Lord is saying, "Tell Me what you want. Let Me know your needs. Let Me know your wants." The word "command" here means "charge." The Lord is saying, "Charge ye Me. Tell Me what to do." Now the Christian has no right to be presumptuous in ordering God to do things as a general would order a private in the army, but there is a blessed teaching here that a kind and merciful and loving Heavenly father is waiting with open arms, full coffers and packed cupboards for His children to ask!
Then there is a wonderful promise in Romans 8:32, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" This may be the most amazing prayer promise in the Bible! God is telling us that if He would give His own Son for us, that certainly should be evidence that He would supply our needs and answer our prayers.
Suppose someone had come to me years ago and said, "Brother Hyles, give me your boy David."
I would say, "But I love him. He is my only son, and he's just a little fellow, and I want to rear him. I have so many dreams for him."
Suppose the person prevailed until finally I said, "Okay, you can have my son. What do you plan to do with him?"
He says, "We plan to kill him." Now through the fondest imagination I would never have done such a thing, but suppose I did give my son and then the person said, "May I have his shoes?"
I would have said, "Good night, fellow. If I will give you my son, I dead sure will let you have his shoes."
Now the person asks, "May I have his clothes?"
"Of course, you may have his clothes. If I'll give you my son, I'll give you anything."
God looks down and says, "I want to give you things. I want to answer your prayers, and proof of it is Calvary." John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." God is saying that if He was willing to give His only begotten Son for us, isn't that proof that He wants to give us our needs and, yes, within the boundaries of right, our wants?
The word "freely" in Romans 8:32 is the word "charisma" from which we get our words, "grace" and "gracious." God is saying that He will graciously give us all things. Oh, how he wants to answer our prayers!
The fact that God loves for us to pray is so beautifully given to us in Revelation 5:8, "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints." The word "odours" in this verse means "perfume." Our prayers are like sweet-smelling perfume to our God. Sometimes we say, "Those words are music to my ears." God says, "Your prayers are perfume to my nostrils." He is saying that He loves to hear us pray. This is why in the great type of prayer of the alter of incense, God was burning sweet smelling spices, and the smoke of them went heaven-ward. This is a symbol of our prayers which are sweet aroma to our Heavenly father.
God's delight is beautifully given to us in Micah 7:18, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy." That last line is one of the most beautiful orchids in God's garden of flowers. Notice the words, "He delighteth in mercy." Oh, how God loves to hear us pray the prayer of repentance and of seeking forgiveness! The Lord in Heaven looks down and says, "Oh, I'm so glad about that. He asked for mercy. He asked forgiveness, and I delight to do that. I am so pleased he asked." That is why He reminds us early in the verse that "He retaineth not His anger forever." No wonder Micah said, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage?" It is no wonder that in Micah 7:19 he said, "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Why does God do this? He does it because He loves to do it! Now God cannot pardon us apart from the blood of Jesus because His justice demands that type of settlement, but how please is our God when we come according to the terms of His justice and ask forgiveness! How happy He is! How delighted it makes Him to extend mercy to us!
How sweet and precious are those verses in II Chronicles 7:14,15, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place." All of us are familiar with verse 14. It is the great revival verse in the Bible, but after God tells us that if we will humble ourselves and pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways, that He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land, then a beautiful statement is made by our Heavenly father when He says, "Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place." God says, "I gave you a promise; I'll be watching for you to come, and I'll be listening for you to pray." The implication here is like a person who is waiting for an important message, perhaps one who is waiting for a wanted phone call. God is saying, "I made you a deal. I gave you a good offer. I think you will like it, and I'll be watching and I'll be listening for you to take me up on it." How tender! How beautiful! How blessed!
Then, of course, there is that amazing kingdom promise that opens the door to the nature of God which is found in Isaiah 65:24, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." God so wants to answer our prayers that sometimes when He knows what we are going to pray for, He answers before we pray. He looks over our shoulder and sees what is on our prayer list! He even reads our minds and knows for what we are going to ask! He loves to answer our prayers so much that it is not uncommon for Him to go ahead and give us what we are going to ask for even before we ask.
Oh, if we could just realize the limitless power and resources we have in prayer! If we could just realize how our Lord wants us to draw nigh unto Him and how He longs to give us things that He would give us if we would ever present our claim! The Psalmist burst forth in praise in Psalm 65:2, " O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come." Ah, what a beautiful statement! David just looks up to Heaven and calls God by a different name. He calls Him, "Thou that hearest prayer." This could even be one of the names of God. Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Bless His holy name! He answers prayer. HE ANSWERS PRAYER! HE ANSWERS PRAYER! HE ANSWERS PRAYER! Hear it, hungry one. Hear it, needy one. Hear it, lonely one. Hear it, suffering one. Hear it, saddened one. Hear it, melancholy one. HE ANSWERS PRAYER! HE ANSWERS PRAYER! HE ANSWERS PRAYER! Hear it! hear it! hear it! Oh pastor, tell your parishioners that He answers prayer! Preacher, tell your congregation that He answers prayer! Teacher, tell your students that He answers prayer! Parents, tell your children that He answers prayer!
Did you know God is so desirous to hear and answer prayer that He will even sometimes hear the prayers of the unsaved? Genesis 21:14-17, "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is."
There is another example in Acts 10:1-4, "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God."
Notice also Jonah 1:5,14, "Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee."
There are three beautiful examples. God heard Hagar as she left Abraham and Sarah, carrying her illegitimate son. The merciful, compassionate, loving Heavenly Father heard the cry of the child and felt the heartbeat of the mother. God was so pleased with the sincerity of Cornelius that He heard him because God knew Cornelius was on his way to Jesus. Likewise, the cry of the sailors was heard in the book of Jonah. Though, theologically, one who does not know Jesus as Saviour cannot enter into the presence of God, sometimes God DOES hear the cry of the unsaved and from His heart of compassion helps him.
Beloved, are we not made in the image of God? Hence, whatever is good about us is a reflection of the personality of God. Then if we love to answer the requests of our children, would not God want to answer us? There are so many places in the Bible that show us God wants to be loved as we want to be loved. He likes attention as we like attention. He loves praise as we love praise. He loves adoration as we love adoration, and yes, he loves to answer His children as we love to answer ours.
One of the sweetest examples of this is in Luke 24:28,29, "And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them." This is so sweet and beautiful. I love those words, "And he made as though he would have gone further." Our Lord has been walking with the disciples on the Emmaus road. (Bear in mind, He was in His resurrection body, for this was after the resurrection.) They got to their destination and the Bible says, "He made as though he would have gone further." I like that. Have you ever been at someone's house and it was about time for you to go and they asked you to stay for dinner? You wanted to stay, but you wanted to know for sure that they wanted you to stay, so very shyly you said, "Oh, no, I must go! You are about to eat, and I have to go," and you hoped they would say, "Please stay." When they asked again, "Won't you stay, please? We really want you to," you said, "Oh, I guess I will." This is exactly what was happening to the Lord Jesus. He just acted like He was going farther. He wanted to stay. The Bible says, "But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us," and then it says, "He went in to tarry with them." What a Saviour!
Our Lord was a great deal like us also in II Kings 19:14,15, "And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth." Hezekiah took a letter and spread it before the Lord and said, "Lord, You can read it for Yourself." How beautiful! Now the Lord had already read the letter, but He was such a friend and so personal to Hezekiah that Hezekiah said, "Here, Lord, You can read it for Yourself." Then in verse 15 Hezekiah sort of "buttered up" the Lord a little bit when he said, "O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth." Then after Hezekiah bragged on God, he said in verse 16, "LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see."
Not long ago I decided to take our three married daughters, Becky, Linda, and Cindy shopping. Our daughter-in-law, Paula, was also visiting in our home at the time, and since Paula and Becky live a good distance away, I took this opportunity to take all four of them to a ladies' shop to buy them each a new dress. We were in the van driving over to the ladies' apparel store. Becky said to me, "Dad, isn't your hair getting thicker?" Now she has used that little trick on me for years, but do you know, she took my by surprise and I didn't even realize what she had in mind!
I said, "Well, thank you, Puddin', but I don't really think it is."
"Oh," said Becky, "Dad, your hair is getting thicker. You're not losing your hair like you used to. I think it's growing back in."
I gullibly fell hook, line and sinker, and though I did not know it, I was being led as a lamb to the slaughter, dumb before his shearers! "Well," said I, "maybe I just learned how to 'rat it' a little bit."
Linda chimed in and said, "Dad, I have been thinking about that too. Your hair is getting thicker."
Cindy said, "Linda and I have been talking about it, and we both agree."
Paula said, "That's right. You've got more hair than you used to have!"
With a blush on my face and as modest a look as I could generate, I said, "Well, thank you."
A couple of hours later we came out of the ladies' store, and each of them had gotten three dresses! It was the next day when I suddenly realized that I had been taken. They knew how to get things from Dad!
Hezekiah knew how to get things from God, too. He reminded God of His greatness, and God didn't mind a bit.
This same method is used in II Samuel 7:21,22, "For Thy word's sake, and according to Thine own heart, hast Thou done all these great things, to make Thy servant know them. Wherefore Thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like Thee, neither is there any God beside Thee." Is it that God is like us or that we are like God? Be that as it may, there is a similarity. The great heart of God enjoys being loved, being praised, being adored, being worshipped.
Now notice II Samuel 7:25, "And now, O LORD God, the word that Thou hast spoken concerning Thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as Thou hast said." Notice those last five words, "do as Thou hast said." Ah, this is beautiful! How close is the relationship that the servant of God had with his God! Then in verse 27 David reminds God of His promise, "For Thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to Thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath Thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto Thee." Notice those words, "for Thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to Thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house." David said, "Lord, You told me You would do it. Now You are such a wonderful God! I know You will do this because You always keep Your promise!" Look at verse 28, "And now, O Lord GOD, Thou art that God, and Thy words be true, and Thou hast promised this goodness unto Thy servant." Here David reminds God that He is That God and that His words are true. How intimate was the relationship between David and His God! No wonder David was a man after God's own heart! No wonder he held such a special place in the heart of God!
There is a closeness that the Christian can have with his God. This is when the Christian and his God become more than just the Creator-creature, or just the God-people, and even more than just the Father-child. This is when the Christian obeys the commandments of his Lord and becomes a soul winner and a servant and henceforth becomes His friend. John 15:14, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." As a friend there is a certain intimacy that the Christian can enjoy with his God that is so sacred, so beautiful and so intimate!
On one occasion when God was tempted to destroy His people, Moses spake as a friend to God and told the Lord that he was afraid the Egyptians were sure going to be critical of Him because He had promised that His people would be taken to the promised land, Moses said, "Lord, when the Egyptians hear this, they are not going to like it, and they're not going to have much faith in You."
How clear it is, God loves to answer the prayers of His people! God wants to answer prayers!
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