Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 12 — The Right to Pray
John 17:24, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
Notice the words, "I will." Now note Mark 14:36, "And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." Note the words, "Not what I will, but what Thou wilt." What is the difference? Why did Jesus say, "I will," at one place and "not what I will, but what Thou wilt" in another?
To understand this, one must understand the tabernacle in the wilderness. There were two alters in the tabernacle—the brazen alter and the alter of incense. The brazen alter was located just inside the gate in the courtyard. The alter of incense was located just outside the Holy of Holies in the Holy Place itself. Both of these alters had smoke rising to Heaven continually. This smoke rising to Heaven symbolizes prayer. Both of these alters, likewise, symbolize the Lord Jesus. The brazen alter on which the lamb was offered symbolized the cross on which the Lamb of God was offered as the only sacrifice acceptable to God for the sins of man. When John the Baptist introduced the Lord Jesus Christ he introduced Him as the Lamb of God, John 1:29, "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Over and over again in the Revelation Jesus is called the Lamb. For example, Revelation 14:4b, "These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." He is also called our Passover. I Corinthians 5:7, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." The brazen alter where the sacrifices were made was a type of the cross where Jesus, our Sacrifice, was offered. From this alter smoke, symbolizing prayer, rose heavenward.
The alter of incense also had smoke rising heavenward, and it pictured Jesus as our High Priest. Hebrews 7:25, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Now this alter was right outside the Holy of Holies, and when the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, this alter was at the right hand of the Shekinah, symbolizing the presence of God as it hovered over the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. This pictures our Saviour interceding for us at the right hand of the father.
Now notice that the coals on the alter of incense came from the brazen alter. There could be no sweet-smelling incense rising heavenward until there had been the smoke of sacrifice rising heavenward. This means that Jesus could not be our Priest until He had been our Sacrifice. Hence, He had to say, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt," before He could say, "I will." As our Sacrifice He said, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." As our risen High Priest He could say, "I will."
It is the desire of every child of God who prays to be able to say, "I will have my request" and "I will receive my answer." However, the "I will" of prayer cannot come until the "Not what I will, but as Thou wilt" has come. This means the Christian's alter of incense cannot come until he has been laid on the brazen alter. Romans 12:1,2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." There is no need for us to become a dead sacrifice as did the Lamb of God. God wants a living sacrifice. A person cannot pray until he has been to the brazen alter and trusted the Lamb of God, even Jesus, God's only acceptable Sacrifice. Once he has been to the brazen alter, that is, the cross, he then can go to the alter of incense, that is, prayer.
In a sense, the child of God must place himself on that alter as a living sacrifice before he can know the fulness of his prayer life. The alter of sacrifice comes first. Romans 12:1a, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice." Then we go to the alter of prayer. 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."
Would you be mighty in prayer? Then you must be mighty in sacrifice. Would you have the fragrance of your prayers always rising heavenward? Then you must have the odor of your sacrifice rising heavenward.
There is a certain kind of Christianity abroad in the land that is a "white glove" kind of Christianity. It is for the dress parade and not for the battle. The writer said, "To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, its SHAME and REPROACH gladly bear." Crowning time cannot come until cross-bearing time has come. Victory cannot come until the battle has come. Resurrection cannot come until death has come. The glories of the alter of incense will never be known until the suffering of the brazen alter is known. It is at this brazen alter where we trust the Lamb of God and have our sins placed on Him and where we lay ourselves as a sacrifice to God that we have the right to pray as is typified at the alter of incense.
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