Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 47 — Prayer Is Work
Colossians 4:12,13, "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis."
The word "laboring" in this passage means "pain." The word "fervently" comes from from a Greek word which means "to agonize." Sometimes it is translated "wrestling." At other times it is translated "struggling." Few Christians ever mature enough to discover that prayer is hard, physical work. Jesus prayed in Gethsemane until His perspiration became as great drops of blood. Jacob prayed at Jabbok until he was wrestling and his leg became out of socket. Many times I have gotten up from a session of prayer soaked with perspiration, and at other times after a season of prayer I have been physically sore.
Paul mentions this labouring in prayer in Galatians 4:19, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." Notice the word "travail." His prayer was of such a nature that he labored as a woman giving birth to a baby.
Also notice the word "again." Paul is saying that he is praying so hard for them now that he is laboring again. This means that he had prayed so hard for their salvation that it was like travail or labor in birth. Now he labors again after they were saved. Notice how long he labors—"until Christ be formed in you." Ask any mother if the labor stops after birth. Ask a mother whose son is living in sin which travail hurts the most—the travail of giving birth or the travail of pleading with God for his life. Ask a mother whose daughter is pregnant before she marries. Ask a mother whose son is living in a communal. Ask a mother whose child is bound by the chains of narcotics. The labor never stops if a successful child is reared!
Prayer has not always been labor. In the garden of Eden, man and God fellowshipped. Ah, 'twas beautiful as man fulfilled the purpose of his existence in offering fellowship, adoration and praise to his Creator. However, this fellowship was broken by sin.
It is usually thought that Eve sinned first and then brought the forbidden fruit to Adam, and then he sinned; however, we are reminded in the Bible that it was man that brought sin into the world and not the woman (Eve). Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." I Corinthians 15:21,22, "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
It seems to be the teaching of the Bible that Satan came to Adam first. Perhaps he was alone, or perhaps Adam and Eve were together when Satan came. To say the least, Adam was tempted first, but he was not deceived. I Timothy 2:13,14, "For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." Then Satan came to Eve and offered her the same temptation. Genesis 3:6, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." II Corinthians 11:3, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." The word "beguiled" here means "really beguiled." Eve really fell for the Devil's temptation! She yielded and then brought the temptation to Adam. Adam was not deceived. No doubt he took the fruit to please Eve. He entered into it with his eyes open. Eve was beguiled; Adam was not. Eve was deceived; Adam was not. This is why we have Romans 5:12. Notice, "By one MAN sin entered into the world."
Why did Adam resist the first time and not the second? It was because of the influence of a woman. This shows the tremendous power that a woman has over a man. She can get him to do things that the Devil, without her help, can not get him to do. A man who would not normally go into debt will do so for a woman. A man who would not normally compromise will do so for a woman.
There is another teaching here. A woman should be very careful what she entices a man to do, especially if he is her man!
So the story goes this way. Satan came to Adam. He was not deceived. He came to Eve; she was deceived. What Satan could not seduce Adam to do, Eve could. Adam with with his eyes open in order, no doubt, to please Eve. Because of this, the entire human race fell, the trees dropped their leaves, the serpent was filled with poisonous venom, the roses sprang thorns, the winter winds howl, the chilly blast of winter comes, woman gives birth in pain, man makes his living by the sweat of his brow, and man by nature is alienated from his God.
Through Christ that alienation can be cured and man can be restored to fellowship. Once he is restored to fellowship through the blood of Christ and the full payment and pardon for sin by our Saviour, man has access to the throne of God. He may plead with God for his needs, he may travail and travail and travail again and travail again. That travail is labor and work, but ah, the sweet results. When a woman holds her infant in her arms and feels the warmth of motherhood, and the travail fades into the background and makes it all worthwhile. When the child of God sees sinners converted to Christ, sees babes in Christ mature to spiritual adulthood and sees miraculous. definite answers to his prayers, suddenly it is all worthwhile!
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