Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 24 ó Hope or Hopelessness in Prayer
We are admonished in the Word of God to keep on praying. Luke 18:1, "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." Matthew 7:7-11, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
Now this will lead to one of three things:
1. An answer.
2. A hope.
3. A hopelessness.
Of course, the first is the most desirable to us, for we want an answer quickly, and sometimes the answer comes for which we can praise God. Let's suppose, for example, that we are praying for John Doe to get right with God. The first thing that could happen is the answeróJohn Doe could get right with God. If, however, John Doe does not get right with God, we are to keep on praying. The next possibility would be hope. Hope says to faith, "Hold on till I get there." Hope is when you know it is coming. It is faith in its purity. It is undiluted faith. Note Mark 9:24, "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." Belief is always tainted with unbelief. When belief is not so tainted, it is hope. God tells us that the answer is going to come.
Let's go back to our prayer for John Doe. If we do not get the answer, then we can keep on praying and keep on praying until we are sure the answer is coming. This is undiluted faith, which in reality is hope. Notice Titus 2:13, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Here it speaks of the blessed hope. That means we know Jesus is coming. We don't hope He is coming; we have a hope that He is coming. This is undiluted faith. There is no unbelief in this belief. There is no doubt in this faith. It is pure faith, which is hope. The Apostle Paul said, "Christ in me, the hope of glory." This is pure faith. We know that we are going to glory. I know that I am going to Heaven. It is not just faith; it is pure faith, which is hope. The writer put it this way, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness."
Someone asked Raphael one time, "What is your best painting?"
He replied, "The next one."
That is hope.
Henry Francis Lyte had but a few months to live. He prayed and the Bible fell open to Luke 24:29. He read the words, "Abide with us, for it is toward the evening and the day is far spent." Faith changed to hope, and he wrote:
"Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide:
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me."
Some of the old timers call this "praying through." They meant that when we pray for something and the answer does not come, we keep on praying and keep on praying and keep on praying until suddenly God gives us the assurance the answer is going to come! This means He gives us hope!
As a young preacher I used to preach revivals a great deal. I recall preaching a revival in a little wide place in the road called Hall, Louisiana, which was not many miles from the city of Vivian, Louisiana. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would give revival. Nothing was happening, but one day I prayed through, and God gave me a sweet peace that revival was going to come. No longer was my faith mingled with doubt or my belief mingled with unbelief. I knew revival was coming! Faith had become a hope. Sure enough, one night the quarterback on the Vivian state championship football team came to hear me preach. He came with his girlfriend and got saved. The next night he brought the entire football squad with him, and to a man, every player got saved! That night after the service, they went out to eat at their usual gathering place. Just before they ate, the captain of the team said, "Hey, men, we're saved now. We're supposed to say grace." They all bowed their heads. He began to pray and then stopped and looked up and said, "Hey, men, this is no way to prayer. We are supposed to kneel to pray." The entire squad got on their knees and prayed. Revival broke out in that little country church! God had given me a hope!
Often when I have prayed for the sick I have not received the answer, but I have received the hope. They were not yet well, but I knew they were going to get well.
Let's go back to John Doe. We pray that he will get right with God. The answer would be that he gets right with God. If this does not take place, we continue praying and continue praying. Then God may give us the hope that he will get right. We know he will, through he hasn't yet. We have been given the peace and assurance.
Then there is a third halt to our prayers. This is hopelessness. Romans 1:24,26,28, "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient." Hosea 4:17, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." I John 5:14-17, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." These passages teach us that when we keep on praying sometimes our prayers will be ended by hopelessness; that is, God will say, "Don't pray anymore. There is no need. This person will never get right with God. He has crossed the deadline. I have given him up." Such was the case of the homosexuals in Romans 1:24,26,28.
So many times I have prayed and prayed for someone. I have gone to them and witnessed. They continue to say, "No," and to say, "No," until one day God said to me, "Don't pray any more." The burden was lifted, and there was no need to pray.
Now back to John Doe. We pray that he will get right with God. The answer is that he gets right with God. If the answer doesn't come, we continue to pray, and that will lead us either to hope or hopelessness. The time will come when God will give us the assurance that the victory is going to come and faith becomes undiluted, which is hope. There are times, however, when we continue to pray and we do not have this assurance, and then God says, "All is hopeless. I have withdrawn. Do not pray for him anymore." Oh, what a sad thing this is, but how real it is!
Let us then continue to pray until we get the answer or until we have the hope or until God says it is hopeless!
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