Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 2 — The Atheism of Prayerlessness
James 4:8, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded."
2nd Corinthians 1:20, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."
It is really an amazing thing how little God's people pray. The truth of the matter, however, is that if we believed that we could come to God and get what we want and need, we would do it! There certainly must be a degree of atheism and unbelief that causes our prayerlessness.
God made the sun, the moon and the stars. He then made the lakes, rivers and oceans. He made the mountains, hills and deserts. He made the trees, flowers and grass. He made the fish, the beasts of the earth and the fowls of the air. Then He made man. Man was the only one to whom He said, "I would like to talk with you and have you visit Me. I would like for us to have fellowship together."
Let us imagine what God may have said to man, "I made all of these things for you. In case you want one of these Hereford cattle, let Me know. If you want one of these birds, just ask Me. If you would like to have some fish, fruit or vegetables, please ask Me for it. Perhaps you need some water. Let Me know. If you are tired of rain, let Me know. If you get cold, tell Me and I'll kill an animal for you and use his skin for a coat. If you want some of these strawberries, just tell Me. I also have some metals you might like. I have gold, silver, and other metals. Just ask Me and I'll let you have what you want. Also let Me know if you don't feel well or if anything breaks, and I'll be more than happy to make you well and to fix it for you. I also have some pretty stones. I have diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and many other beautiful stones. In case you would like to have one or more of these, just ask Me. By the way, if you're not comfortable, I'll give you a thermostat called prayer. For all of this, all that I ask is that you be close to Me and I be close to you. When I see you coming, I'll run to meet you. We will have good fellowship. As long as we can be close to each other and abide with each other, you just let Me know what you want."
Of course, this is all fantasy, but it may be nearer the truth than we could realize. We have made prayer so complicated, and the simple truth is that there is a God Who loves us and wants to supply our needs and our wants in exchange for our total dedication and surrender to Him and out abiding in Him. This is what David meant in Psalm 8:4-8, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." Hence, God made man for Himself, and everything else He made for man. When He made the strawberries, He may have said, "Ah, I hope My people enjoy these." When He made the Daffodil, perhaps He said, "I hope My children enjoy looking at these." When He made the birds of the heavens to form feathered choirs for our enjoyment, maybe He said, "I hope My people enjoy listening to these."
How sad it is that we trade all that God has for us for the cheap fellowship of the world and forfeit the riches of Hid presence and provisions for a few fleeting thrills!
Now the shocking thing is that we don't take Him up on this offer. The question arises, "Why don't we?" The answer is very simple. We simply DON'T BELIEVE IT! Somehow we don't believe that a feeble mortal cry could enter into the ears of the Lord God of the heaven and earth. We find it impossible to believe that mortal man could stand on the gleaning pavement of Heaven, that the infinite God could be moved be the pleas of sinful man. We find it hard to believe that before Him the angels veil their faces, but that by prayer the armies of Heaven could be called to arms and that divine majesty could obey the orders of a worm like man. We find it difficult to believe that our prayers could restrain the powers of evil and that the wheels of providence could alter their course at the request of man, and all of this happens because some feeble sinner saved by grace kneels before the throne of grace and brings his petition to God!
Oh, if we could just BELIEVE IT! BELIEVE IT!, oh born-again atheist on your way to Heaven but not believing that God can care for your needs. BELIEVE IT, oh saved infidel, whose sins are forgiven and whose faith is in Christ for salvation but not for provisions. BELIEVE IT, oh forgiven skeptic, whose sins are under the blood, and yet you doubt that God's bounty is available to you. BELIEVE IT, oh converted agnostic, whose life has been transformed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit but whose faith is too weak to trust the love and generosity of the God Who saved you. BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT! Oh, the limitless power at your knee-tips! BELIEVE IT when the Bible says, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." (James 4:8a) BELIEVE IT when God says, "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." (Jeremiah 33:3) BELIEVE IT when God says, "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer Him." (Psalm 91:15a) BELIEVE IT when God says, "For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth." (Psalm 72:12a) BELIEVE IT when God says, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." (John 15:7) BELIEVE IT when the Bible says, "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart." (Psalm 37:4) BELIEVE IT when God says, "Ask, and it shall be given you." (Matthew 7:7a).
BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT! BELIEVE IT, little widow struggling to make ends meet and praying that the cruise of oil will hold until the children are grown. BELIEVE IT, weary bread winner with the responsibility of livelihood upon your shoulders. BELIEVE IT, needy college student, as you seek to make your days of training specimen days for your days of service. BELIEVE IT, lonely orphan. BELIEVE IT, thou with the empty cupboard. BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT! Believe that there is a God. Believe that He is majesty and glory. Believe that He is all-powerful. Believe that He knows you. Believe that He loves you. Believe that He is rich. Believe that He wants to give to you. Believe He wants to care for you. Believe that He will care for you if you will ask.
A little girl was adopted into a new family. She was accustomed to the orphanage where she had lived before. She came to her new home and to her new parents. Her new mother gave her a big tall glass of milk to drink. The little girl held the glass of milk in her hands and looked up in her mother's face and said, "Please tell me how deep may I drink."
The mother spoke through tears and said, "Honey, drink it all. You are not in the orphanage any more. You are my child. It's all yours. Drink it all! There is more for you where that came from."
Oh, how often we look up at the face of God and say, "God, how deep may I drink?"
The Lord looks down with compassion and says, Oh, beloved children, I'm your heavenly Father. Drink it all! Drink it all! Drink it all! There is more where that came from."
Years ago an aged lady lived in poverty. The people of the church found out about her condition and came to visit her to see if they could help. The pastor inquired concerning her family. He asked her if she had any children. She said, "Yes, I have a son in South America."
He said, "Does your son ever write?"
She said, "No, he never writes."
The pastor said, "You mean you never receive a thing from him?"
"Oh yes," she said. Once a month I receive a little green cardboard, but he never writes anything."
The pastor excitedly asked, "Where are those cardboards?"
She said, "Well, I needed to paper the back room, so I used them to paper the walls."
The pastor said to her, "Take me to the back room quickly." She did so. The pastor looked at her and said, "Lady, those are money orders. You are rich and don't realize it."
Beloved Christian, you too are rich and don't realize it. BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT! Believe that God answers prayer. Prayer has divided seas. Prayer has rolled up flowing rivers. Prayer has brought streams of water from flinty rock. Prayer has opened barren wombs. Prayer has given life to sterile seed. Prayer has quenched flames of fire. Prayer has restrained the fury of lions. Prayer has nullified the poison serpent. Prayer has marshalled the stars of heaven to battle. Prayer has arrested the flight of the sun. Prayer has burst open gates of iron. Prayer has summoned the dead from their tombs. Prayer has beckoned angels from their starry homes. Prayer has called back the dead to life. Prayer has delivered God's people from the raging sea.
BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT! Believe what God has for you in answer to prayer. Believe it, fretful soul. Believe it, doubting Thomas. Moses prayed and a sea was divided. Joshua prayed and Achan was discovered. Hannah prayed and Samuel was born. Elijah prayed and the windows of heaven were shut and opened. Daniel prayer and lions were restrained. Elisha prayed and the Jordan was divided. Paul prayed and prison doors swang open. The church prayed and Peter was delivered from prison. Jacob prayed and became a prince of God. Isaiah prayed and 185,000 Assyrians were destroyed. George Mueller prayed and 1700 orphans were fed. Asa prayed and victory came to the cause of God. The thief on the cross prayed and accompanied Jesus to paradise.
BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT, BELIEVE IT! Believe it, thou with a sick body. BELIEVE IT, though with a faint heart. BELIEVE IT, thou with a fearful soul. BELIEVE IT, thou with a perplexed mine. BELIEVE IT! Cannot the God Who parts the Red Sea send manna from Heaven? Cannot the God Who sends manna from Heaven send water from the rock in Horeb? Cannot the God Who caused the waters to gush forth from the smitten rock lead with a pillar of cloud by day? Cannot the God Who leads with the pillar of cloud by day lead with a pillar of fire by night? Cannot that God lead us across a wilderness of life and into the promised land of victory? Oh, yes, He can! I know He can! Ten thousand times ten thousand, I know He can!
BELIEVE IT! BELIEVE IT! BELIEVE IT! BELIEVE IT, weary pastor with the burdens of leadership upon your shoulder. BELIEVE IT, tired bread winner. BELIEVE IT, lonely widow. BELIEVE IT, orphan child. BELIEVE IT, sacrificing college student. BELIEVE IT! BELIEVE IT! BELIEVE IT! Believe that there is a God in Heaven. Believe that He is rich. Believe that He loves you. Believe that He offers you your needs and your wants in exchange for your enjoying the blessedness of abiding in Him and having Him and His Word abiding in you!
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