Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 16 — The Kinds of Prayer
In seminary I was taught that prayer is praise, confession, adoration, meditation, thanksgiving and petition. Now all of these forms of communicating with God are Scriptural, but the truth is, prayer is asking! The terminology, "We pray the court," is used in the courtroom. This simply means, "We ask the court." The word "prayer" itself means "asking." This means that praise is not prayer, thanksgiving is not prayer, adoration is not prayer, meditation is not prayer. These are necessary forms of communication with God, but unless something is asked and a petition is made, it is not prayer. Sometimes in the Bible when prayer is mentioned, it is mentioned WITH one of the other things. For example, prayer AND confession or prayer AND thanksgiving. Daniel 9:4, "And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments." Colossians 4:2, "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." This chapter could be entitled then, "Kinds of Asking."
1. Asking for needs. This is the first petition of the model prayer. "Give us this day our daily bread," and it is the most basic form of prayer. Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." This is the prayer for food, for clothing, for shelter and for our daily normal needs.
2. Continual praying or praying without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." The words "without ceasing" are used other places in the Bible concerning preaching, working, patience, teaching, etc. For example, Acts 5:42, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Note Ephesians 6:18,19, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel." This means that the child of God should be praying all the time. His entire life should be one heartbeat of petition to God . "Oh, what peace we often forfeit; oh, what needless pain we bear! All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer." God wants us to pray all the time. God never wants us to quit praying. As we drive down the road, as we do our daily work , as we eat, as we have our interaction with friends and family, we are supposed to be praying. As is often mentioned on these pages, I have the words, "Pray for Power" written on the mirror where I shave at home, on the mirror where I shave in my office, inside my briefcase, inside each of my Bibles, on my desk, on the office door. When I shave, I pray for power. When I study, I pray for power. When I drive down the road, I pray for power. Constantly I am saying, "God, give me power, O God, give me power! Lord, help me to have power while I preach. God, give me the power of the Holy Spirit." This is as natural as breathing. It is praying without ceasing!
3. Supplication. Acts 1:14, "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." Philippians 4:6, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Ephesians 6:18, Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." This is continual asking. There are times when the request is of such a nature that God must know our sincerity. In such times we must continue to ask and continue to ask and continue to ask until the answer comes. Sometimes this supplication is for ten days; such was the case of the church in the upper room before Pentecost. Sometimes this continual asking is for weeks, sometimes for months, sometimes even for years. I prayed for 17 years for the salvation of my father-in-law. Finally on his 70th birthday I won him to Christ and baptized him that night. As he entered the baptistry he said to me, "Son, I have two birthdays today, don't I?" Yes, he did, because of the supplication.
There are many Scriptures that seem so simple on the surface. For example, James 4:2,3, "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. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." Just to look at the passage, one might feel that if a person wants something, he just comes to God and says, "I want it; please give it to me," and God gives it to him. For example, James says, "Ye have not because ye ask not." Now the word "ask" here is durative or linear, and the word "have" is likewise in the same tense. It means, "You have not and have not and have not because you ask not and ask not and ask not and ask not." Often, some well-meaning but misguided preacher will make light of tarrying before the Lord. He doesn't know God as some do. Supplication is a very important part of the prayer life of the child of God.
4. Importunity. Luke 11:8, "I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth." Importunity means simply begging. The story is told in the early verses of Luke 11 about a man who at midnight went to his friend pleading for bread because a friend had dropped in to visit with him and he had no bread to serve him. Now this was certainly an embarrassing thing for the Easterner, for every good host immediately offered a guest some refreshment. However, this guest came at midnight. To us, midnight is not considered so late, but they had no radios, televisions or electric lights, and people would go to bed soon after dark.
In the Eastern homes, especially in Bible days, the entire family slept on one big bed. It was usually built across the end of the room. Can you picture the mom and the dad and all the children in bed? It is the middle of the night and there is a cry from without. The father wakes up, the mother wakes up, and all the children wake up. If there were other members of the family, such as grandparents, they were in the same bed that was built across the end of the room. So the friend cries from without, and Dad wakes up, Mother wakes up, Grandpa wakes up, Grandma wakes up, Johnny wakes up, and Susie wakes up. The awakened man goes to the window and sees a friend. His friend says, "Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine in his journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him."
The man replies, "My children are in bed with me. Come back in the morning and I will give you bread."
The man turns to go home to his embarrassment because he has no bread to set before his friend. He finds himself unable to face his friend. He simply must have bread. So he turns again and shouts to his other friend who has the bread. That friend wakes up, his wife wakes up, Grandma wakes up, Grandpa wakes up, Johnny wakes up, Susie wakes up. Again he goes to the window. Outside is the same man.
"Friend, I've got to have three loaves! A friend of mine in his journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him, and I can't face him without bread!"
Again the answer is, "No," Dad goes back to sleep, Mama goes back to sleep, Grandpa goes back to sleep, Grandma goes back to sleep, Johnny goes back to sleep, Susie goes back to sleep, and and the friend returns to his other friend who is waiting for bread. As he makes his journey homeward, his heart is broken. "How can I face my friend without bread? I must go back and plead some more!"
He turns to the house of the friend who has some bread and shouts from without. His friend wakes up, his wife wakes up, Grandpa wakes up, Grandma wakes up, Johnny wakes up, Susie wakes up. He goes to the window and raises it only to hear again, "Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine in his journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him! Maybe he said something like this, "I can't go back! I'm going to stay out here and keep begging! I've got to have the bread! Please give me the bread! I beg you, give me the bread! I plead with you for some bread!"
Finally, the friend with his bread goes to the cupboard, gets the bread and gives it to the friend who had no bread. Our text say that he did not give him this bread because he was his friend, but he gave him the bread because of his importunity; that is, his much begging.
Oh, the liberals have a hay day here! "God is not a Santa Claus," they say, "to Whom we come and plead." Little do they know of the marvelous blessings that God has for those whom plead for His power.
This type of prayer, yes, begging, is usually associated with praying for the power of God or praying for the fulness of the Holy Spirit. This is what out Lord means when He says, "I will pour water on him who is thirsty." He is saying, "I will pour water on him whose mouth is dry, who is about to starve for lack of water, who feels that death is coming soon, who longs for just some water to cool his parched tongue and to satisfy his thirsting throat." On this kind of condition, a person begs for water. In the Bible, water often symbolizes the Holy Spirit. How we need to beg with God to give us His power! Oh, for the refreshing showers of His Holy Spirit power and blessing! May God give us some men who plead with Him fot the fulness of the Holy Spirit! May God give us some men whose closets of prayer are bathed with their tears of thirsting!
5. Prayer and fasting. Mark 9:29,"And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Into the life of the child of God come all types of needs. Some are relatively small, and some are of giant proportions. Some are things that can can provide with the use of human instruments. There are some, however, that only God can give that transcend all of the natural and move into the supernatural. This is what is meant in this passage by the term, "this kind." This special kind that only God can give, this supernatural kind, "this kind" involves a miracle. There are answers to prayer that can come by simply asking. There are other answers that can be gotten only by praying without ceasing. There are still others that require supplication. Others require importunity, or begging, but "this kind" cometh forth by nothing but by praying and fasting. The Christian sets aside certain seasons when he deprives himself of satisfying his physical appetites because of a broken heart, a burden and a need for a miracle. Sometimes this prayer and fasting should be for an entire day, sometimes for several days, sometimes for a week, sometimes for several weeks. Of course, this should not be the regular routine of the Christian's life, but each of us comes to the time when he faces a wall. He sees no way out. Human help fails. There is no possible, visible way. God must do it! A miracle must come! A "this kind" of prayer answer must be known. Then it is time for prayer and fasting.
6. All night praying. In the story about the friend who came asking bread for another friend, notice he came at midnight and he kept begging. Obviously he prayed well into the night. The Bible often speaks about all-night praying. Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Mark 13:33, "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." Luke 21:36, "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." Mark 14:38, "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." Luke 22:40,46, "And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." Really, this is a form of fasting, for a person is going without sleep to pray, and it is an amazing way of showing our sincerity.
Again, observe the man who came begging for bread at midnight. This parable is but an extension of the model prayer. In the early verses of Luke 11 the model prayer (which is often erroneously called the Lord's Prayer) is given. This is in response to the disciples' request, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." When the model prayer is ended, our Lord continues His lesson on prayer which includes the story of the friend who came to another friend at midnight begging bread. Now there is an earlier mention of bread. The first petition of the model prayer is, "Give us this day our daily bread." You will notice the words, "this day." Notice, the bread for ourselves is sought through the daytime hours and is received quickly, because God does not want us to spend a lot of the daylight hours asking for our own needs. So we quickly ask and He quickly gives us our daily bread. Then in the nighttime we seek bread for others. The person who is going to be used mightily of God must work while others are awake and plead for power while others are asleep. Oftentimes he will be pleading with God while others are doing what they call fellowshipping. While others are together at midnight at a restaurant, he will be walking with God and pleading for God's power and blessings.
I have pastored five churches. Three of those churches were great churches. All three of these churches were born in seasons of all-night prayer. I 1952 I became pastor of the Miller Road Baptist church of Garland, Texas. Forty-four people showed up the first Sunday. The church miraculously began to grow. In a matter of about three years we were running well over a thousands in Sunday school, and to be quite frank, the church was too big for me. I was yet in my twenties, and I felt that the church had grown beyond my ability to be its pastor. I felt totally inadequate and decided that God would have me to resign the church and go to a smaller work and try to build it up. On New Year's Eve, 1954, I went to my study completely baptized in a feeling of inadequacy. The next day was Sunday. I sat behind the desk and wrote my resignation, which I was to read the next morning. I laid the resignation on the floor and fell to my knees about eleven o'clock. Through tears I prayed, "Lord, unless You can give me something that I do not have now, I will have to read this resignation tomorrow morning." I prayed from 11:00 until 12:00 and from 12:00 to 1:00. About one o'clock in the morning I heard a knock on the door. I went to the door, and it was one of my deacons. He obviously had already been to bed. His pajamas extended a couple of inches below his trousers, his eyes were red, his hair was messed, and there he stood saying, "Preacher, what's wrong?" The Lord told me something was wrong with my Preacher. I called your home to find what might be the trouble, and they said you were not there."
I invited him in, told him the story and showed him the letter of resignation. He began to weep and pleaded, "Preacher, you can't leave us. You have won most of us to Christ. We are your children in the Lord." We fell to our faces and began to pray. He prayed and I prayed, and he prayed and I prayed, and he prayed and I prayed. We prayed from 1:00 until 2:00, from 2:00 until 3:00, from 3:00 until 4:00, from 4:00 until 5:00, and sometime between five and six o'clock in the morning on that New Year's Day, I knew that God had given me a fresh anointing for my ministry. I looked up at my deacon and told him. We embraced and danced with joy around the room. A new day dawned in the church. When I preached that morning, people came by and said, "Preacher, something has happened to you." Yes, bless God, something had happened in response to praying all night.
In the summer of 1960 I decided to resign the First Baptist Church of Hammond. The battles had been many, the burdens heavy, the questions seemed unanswerable, the problems seemed unsolvable, and the burdens seemed unbearable. I was preaching for a week at the Bill Rice Ranch. I was going to come back and resign the next Sunday. Shortly after ten o'clock on Friday night I went to bed, but the Lord would not let me sleep. I tossed and tumbled for almost two hours and then got out of bed, fell to my knees beside the bed and prayed all night. It was in that night of prayer that the First Baptist Church of Hammond as it is known today was born.
Into the life of every Christian there comes a time when he must pray until the sun rises. There is a certain response that God had to the Christian who will pray through the night watches.
Hyles-Anderson College was born in the wee hours of the morning as I prayed with God all night in southern California. The campus which now houses the college was miraculously given to us by God after this simple preacher prayed all night one night each month for a year.
Oh, to know the mighty power of God! Oh, to have the dew of Heaven to settle on the child of God! Oh, to have His answers to prayer! Oh, to walk with Him, to talk with Him, to know His mighty power and His miraculous blessing wrought through prayer!
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