Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 13 — Feeling at Home with God
Perhaps this little chapter could be titled, "On Being Intimate with God." One of the things I have noticed about great men is that as they grow older, they crave tenderness. I remember how tender and gentle Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. was. Through years of observation I noticed the gentleness and tenderness of Dr. John R. Rice. I remember hearing Dr. R.G. Lee, just before his death, finish a masterpiece of a sermon and then walk off the platform and say to me, "Dr. Hyles, did I do alright?" There was a hunger for tenderness. As I grow older, I find gentle little expressions meaning more and more. The pinch of the elbow by a loving friend, the squeeze of the hand by one who cares, the note under the door, the encouraging word, the Reese peanut butter cup (my favorite candy) placed under the office door, the little child getting on his hands and knees outside my office door and shouting, "I wuv you, Peecher!"
Occasionally someone will come in my office and voice the fact that he is nervous and afraid of me. This always saddens me, for the older I get the closer I feel to my people, and the closer I want them to feel to me.
Why does this happen to the child of God as he grows older and as he grows in grace? This is not hard to know. It is the fact that he is becoming more like Jesus. With our limited ability to love, we crave affection, and if we do, how much more does the great heart of God crave tenderness and affection! Oh, to offer it to Him and to give Him the love that He wants and needs from His own! You can see this trait in Romans 8:15, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Notice the word, "Abba." This was the Jewish term comparable with our term, "Papa" or "Daddy." God yearns for us to use this term of familiarity and tenderness concerning Himself. This is one reason I am opposed to what is commonly called the formal worship service, the high church ritual, and why I am for the sweet personal type of worship that God's child can give to his Saviour.
If you were God, which would you like best? The formal stately ritualistic adoration or the sweet, "I love you," "You're a wonderful Saviour," and "I love you, Abba, father."
When the Lord Jesus was talking to Simon Peter, He asked him the question, "Lovest thou me?"
Peter responded, "Thou knowest that I love Thee."
The two words used for love are different. Jesus was using the stronger word for love, "agape." He was asking Peter if he dearly loved Him and deeply loved Him. Peter was using the milder word for love which could even be translated, "a fondness."
Jesus was saying, "Peter, do you deeply love me?"
Peter was replying, "Lord, I am fond of Thee."
Again Jesus asked, "Peter, do you deeply love Me?"
Again Peter replied, "I am fond of You."
What was Jesus doing? He was longing for Peter to say, "I deeply love You, Lord."
No doubt He longs to hear you and me say, "I deeply love You, Lord."
On one occasion Jesus asked the disciples, "Whom say men that I am?"
The disciples began to answer that some said He was Elijah; and some, John the Baptist, and some, Jeremiah. Jesus then asked, "Whom say YE that I am?"
Jesus knew that they believed that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God, but He wanted to hear it.
I love that little poster where a little boy says to a girl, "Tell me if you love me or not. You told me once, but I forgot." That is sort of what Jesus was saying. "Tell Me if I am the Christ or not. You told Me once, but I forgot."
"Call Me, Abba, Papa" says the Father. "You called Me that once, but I forgot."
In the model prayer our Lord admonishes us to pray, "OUR Father." He could have just said, "Pray, Father," but no, He wanted that possessive pronoun, "Our Father." He wants us to call Him our own. You remember, don't you, the words of Thomas, "MY Lord and MY God." Notice again the possessive pronoun. Our Lord likes that.
It is also noteworthy that in the model prayer where we are admonished to pray, "OUR Father which art in Heaven," this is the first time that the title of Father is attributed to God. It is here that He interjects His desire to have a relationship with us as a father would have with his son. Oh, how the great heart of God wants us to be intimate with Him!
Notice John 4:23, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him." Look at those sweet words, "the Father seeketh such to worship Him." Remember, God called Abraham His friend.
I often use the term, "practice His presence." I love that!
I remember when Dr. John Rice would pray before a service, he would say something like this: "Lord, I'm an old man now, but Caleb was going strong at 80. Lord, was Caleb Your pet? Couldn't You keep me strong and well in my old age?"
I remember Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., as he would pray, "Jesus, if I heard You were at Jerusalem today, I would get on the next plane and fly there, and I would wait in line if I had to for days just to get to shake Your hand and look upon Your face, or for that matter, Lord, if I heard You were anywhere in the world, I would rush quickly where You were so I could see You, and I would wait as long as I had to just to touch You one time." (Dr. Bob has seen Jesus now for many years!)
I was very pleased recently. Several months ago a person who is very nervous, very tense and very fearful came to my office. I tried to set him at ease, but it seemed that I failed. It was really an ordeal for him to come and see the Preacher, but counsel was needed. Another counseling session was scheduled and another and another. A few days ago he left, he paused at the door and with quivering lips said, "Pastor, I want you to know I feel more at ease now than I once did." I was pleased!
There is a way that the Christian can get to know God better until he feels more at ease in the presence of his Father. God likes that.
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