Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 9 — God Is Trying to Get It to You!
I heard a sincere, but misguided, preacher preach who listed every condition for answered prayer one after the other, as though these conditions formed an obstacle course. He said that if we wanted to have our prayers answered, first we would have to have faith! Matthew 9:29b, "According to your faith be it unto you." Matthew 21:22, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Mark 9:23, "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Matthew 21:21, "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done." Mark 11:22-24, "And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
That preacher then said that after we have faith, we must find somebody with whom we can pray and with whom we can agree concerning the petition! Matthew 18:19, "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."
Now that he was over two obstacles of the course, the preacher came to fasting. Mark 9:29, "And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting."
Now that we have faith, and we have found someone to share the prayer with us, and we have fasted, according to that preacher's message, we still would not be able to receive our answer because we are also supposed to ask in Jesus' name! John 14:13,14, "And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it."
He then added to this obstacle course, abiding in Christ and His Word abiding in us. John 15:7, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
He concluded by adding the requirement of keeping on asking! Luke 18:7, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?"
So, he added these six things together—faith plus praying with someone who is in agreement plus fasting plus asking in Jesus' name plus abiding in Christ and His Word abiding in us plus perseverance in prayer. "Now," he said, "God will answer our prayer."
This dear brother misunderstands God! God is not making it difficult for us to get our prayers answered! God wants us to have our prayers answered! These are not six steps to answered prayer—these are six different ways that we can have our prayers answered. It is not all of these, but rather, any of these! It is not faith plus an agreeing prayer partner plus fasting plus asking in Jesus' name plus abiding plus perseverance. It is faith or praying with someone in agreement or fasting or asking in Jesus' name or abiding or perseverance.
Let us imagine a Christian coming to God to pray. He claims a promise on faith such as Matthew 9:29, "Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you." However, the truth is, we sometimes cannot believe! Many times our prayers are answered and we are surprised. In fact, in big answers to prayer we are almost always surprised. So the Christian comes to God and says, "Dear God, I'm afraid I can't get my prayer answered because I just don't have enough faith."
The Lord says, "Wait a minute! I have another way. Don't leave. Try this: Find somebody who can agree with you on this matter, and come and ask Me again. Claim Matthew 18:19, "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven."
However, it is harder than one thinks to find someone to agree with him and share his burden in prayer. Each has his own needs, burdens and ministry, so it is sometimes hard to find someone with whom we can truly unite in prayer.
I remember a number of years ago when Hyles-Anderson College was purchasing our present campus. We had to raise two and one-half million dollars in 18 months, and we came close to the deadline without the money! Having faith in the prayers of Dr. John R. Rice, I asked him one day if he would join me in a prayer meeting for the money. He agreed to do so. So we knelt to pray. I prayed something like this: "Oh, Lord, please supply our needs. You know that our college is dedicated to You, and You know it is Your college. Lord, please give us the two and one-half million dollars." I continued to pray in that manner, and then it came Dr. Rice's time to pray.
He prayed something like this: "Dear Lord, bless the Sword of the Lord and supply the needs, and dear Lord, don't forget the Voice of Revival broadcast. Please help us to meet the needs there. Lord, bless the Sword Conferences." He continued to pray for every ministry that was his and then said, "Amen." He hadn't said a word about the two and one-half million dollars that our college needed. His burden was not my burden; and my burden was not his!
Once he asked me to pray with him the same way. He prayed for his needs and then asked me to pray. I intended to pray for his needs, but I got so busy praying for my own ministry that I was a long time arriving at the place where I could pray for him. I finally looked up, and he was gone. He had given up on my sharing his burden!
So the Christian must come to God claiming the promises by faith, but he finds he cannot have the necessary faith. God says, "Okay, get someone to pray with you who can share the burden." Again he returns to the Father and says, "Father, I'm sorry, I have failed; I can't find anyone to share the burden," whereupon God says, "Don't leave! I have another way. You may ask for what you want in Jesus' name." John 14:13,14, "And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in My name, I will do it."
So the Christian tries to ask in Jesus' name, and however hard he tries, he finds himself asking for something he wants, and the truth is, he cannot ask in Jesus' name because it is something that he wants for himself. Once again it seems futile. Then he hears the voice of God saying, "Wait a minute! Wait a minute! I have another way! You can fast and pray." Mark 9:29, "And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." So the believer attempts to fast and pray and after a few hours he gets mighty hungry and finds he is failing at this attempt also. In futility he turns to leave, when our compassionate Heavenly Father says, "Wait a minute! Don't leave yet! Try this: Keep on praying. Persevere in prayer." Luke 18:7, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?"
Ah, we have a wonderful God—a God Who loves us devotedly and longs to give us what we ask, but so far we have failed! Our faith is weak, our prayer partner does not share our burden, we cannot honestly and sincerely ask in Jesus' name, we have failed in fasting, and somehow or another perseverance is difficult for us. Once again our Heavenly Father advances another prayer promise to us. John 15:7, "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Thank God for His mercy, His patience, His longsuffering and His love for His children!
When I have a special need, I often choose one prayer promise for the entire season of supplication and begging God. For four years in college, I kept claiming Jeremiah 33:3, "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." It was the verse that literally took me through college! At other times I have claimed other verses such as John 15:7, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Jeremiah 32:17, "Ah Lord GOD! behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee."
One of the great enemies of prayer is the temptation to take a prayer promise and apply it to some other age or dispensation, invalidating most of the Bible and its promises to us in this age. To be sure, there is a dispensational teaching in the Bible (though I think much too much emphasis is placed on it). It is true that many of the promises in the Bible are given for a particular people at a particular time. In most cases, however, God's attitude toward one era and toward one people is the same as His attitude toward another era and another people. In the promises of God we learn something about the principles of God, the character of God and the nature of God.
For example, II Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." This is a great promise. True, it was given to another people at another time and pertains to God's people under King Solomon; however, though God was speaking to a particular people at a particular time, it is still the nature of God in our day and it has always been the nature of God to react the same way to the same stimulus. If God's people of any age will humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, God will hear from Heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land! This not only was true in Bible times, but it is true today in America or Poland or England or Sweden or Germany or Russia or in any other country of the world!
Most of God's promises reveal to us His nature and His response to a certain stimulus. It is wise for us to realize that God always responds the same way to the same stimulus. He never changes. Therefore, it may be that a particular Bible promise may not be primarily given to us, yet it shows to us the nature, compassion, love, forgiveness and mercy of God. You see, what God wants for some of His people, He wants for all of His people. People often want to defend certain dress styles by taking such a message as Deuteronomy 22:5, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God," and saying that was not for the Gentiles; that was for the Jews. However, Gentile people are shaped basically like Jewish people, and I am sure that what God would want for His own nation, He would want for other nations, and what He would want for the Jew, He would want for the Gentile.
Much harm has been done to the cause of Christ by non-soulwinning theologians who take far too much Bible from us and leave far too little Bible for us. We are so busy relegating the promises of God to another era that we are nearly bereft of His promises for today. I am not disputing dispensational truth; I am disputing that kind of ultra-dispensationalism that almost makes it necessary for God to give us an audible promise for today since all the others have been used up in other dispensations! This is especially dangerous when we leave the impression, for example, that the dispensation of grace started at Pentecost. The dispensation of grace started the minute Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Adam was saved by grace, Abraham was saved by grace, David was saved by grace, and though I am sure the theologian does not intend to teach that salvation was ever any other way but by grace, he nevertheless leaves the impression to the immature mind by the very nature of the term, "dispensation of grace." The fact that THE dispensation of grace is mentioned implies that there was a time when we were not under the dispensation of grace. Every soul that has been saved since Adam and that will be saved until the last one comes to Christ in the millennium will be saved by grace through faith in God's provision for our salvation through the finished work of His Son, Jesus, on Calvary!
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