Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 11 — If We Do Not Pray
God incarnate, the virgin-born Son of God Himself felt a need to pray. In Matthew 14:23 we read, "He went up into a mountain apart to pray." In Matthew 26:36 He said, "Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder." In Mark 6:46 it says, "He departed into a mountain to pray." In Luke 6:12 we read, "He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."
In Luke 11:1 it says that, "He was praying in a certain place." The word "certain" here means "special," "solid," "firm," "safe." He had a special place where He prayed that was a solid place, a firm place and a safe place. No doubt it was the same place on the Mount of Olives where He loved to meet the Father.
The Bible in Luke 11:1 says, "When He ceased." In other words, they could not interrupt Him. He prayed until He felt it was time to stop. Then the disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." To paraphrase that, we could say, "Lord, teach us to ask as John also taught his disciples to ask." If the Son of God Himself, Who was the sinless, perfect, blameless, second Person of the Godhead, needed to pray, how much more do frail creatures of dust need to pray!
In spite of this, most Christians do not pray at all. There are several things that happen when God's people do not pray.
1. We sin. I Samuel 12:23, "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way." What could be plainer? If we do not pray, we sin. If we do not pray for others, we sin. Prayerlessness is no doubt behind every other sin. I talked to a preacher who had gone so far into sin he had left the ministry and was living a wasted, barren life. I asked him where it all started. He said, "That's easy. It started the day I did not go to the prayer closet."
2. We do not receive what we need. James 4:2, "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not." Dr. Rice used to fantasize that he went to Heaven and that he saw building after building filled with beautiful things. There were so many beautiful packages and wonderful things that God had. In his fantasy Dr. Rice would ask, "Dear Father, what are these?" and the Father would say with a sad voice, "These are things I had for my children, but they never asked for them." We have no because we ask not!
3. We go without wisdom. James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Three things are on the top of my prayer list: power, wisdom and love. This means that at least to this preacher, wisdom is one of the three most important things that he can possess. What a pity for parents to go without wisdom in rearing their children because they do not pray! What a pity for pastors to go without wisdom in leading their churches because they do not pray! What a pity for teachers to go without wisdom in teaching their classes because they do not pray! Oh, to tap the source of the great mind of God for wisdom! It is available. If we do not have it, it is because we do not ask for it.
4. We are often sick. James 5:13-15, "Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Many are sick and afflicted because they do not pray. This does not mean all Christians should be well all the time. It does mean that many are sick because they do not pray.
5. Many die prematurely. II Chronicles 16:12,13, "And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign." I Chronicles 10:13,14, "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse." Isaiah 38:1, "In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live."
6. Others die. Exodus 32:9-14, "And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."
We are prone to categorize sin. We have a few sins that we categorize as giants ones. We list murder, adultery, homosexuality, stealing, killing, cursing, etc. Let me suggest that you put one sin at the top of the list: the sin of prayerlessness. It is the greatest of all the sins, for it includes in it a degree of atheism. If we really believed that there is a God in Heaven Who hears our prayers and Who can answer them and give us our needs and yes, even our wants, we should pray! We do not pray because we do not believe in our hearts that He will answer. What a wicked sin! It is comparable to that of being an infidel!
Not only should prayerlessness be at the top of the list because of the immensity of its evil, but also because it is the father of all other sins. When we pray, we abide in Christ and build resistance against temptation.
For those who do not pray, a good prayer with which to start would be, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."
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