Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 26 — Preparation for Petition
It has often been mentioned in this book that prayer is only one form of talking to God. Prayer is asking, or making a petition to God. Praise may be talking to God, but it is not prayer. Confession is talking to God, but it is not prayer. Thanksgiving is talking to God, but it is not prayer. Prayer is requesting, asking, or the presentation of a petition to God.
Because of this, it is unwise to rush to the throne of grace without thought or preparation. God wants us to have what we want. Now this can pose a problem. We must be careful what we want. Many parents have ruined children because they grant a request of the child. One parent said to me after his child had been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, "I knew I shouldn't have gotten him one." With such promises as John 15:7; Jeremiah 33:3; etc. in the Bible, a Christian must take every care to be sure that his petitions are carefully though out before he prays. We must be sure that what we want is right for us.
II Corinthians 7:6,7, "Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more." Before we pray, we should pray for the right desires. Psalm 37:4, "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Philippians 2:13, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." We are simply asking God to give us the desires we should have before we come to the throne of grace to present them.
It is also a good idea for the praying Christian to ask God to reveal to him the sins about which the Christian does not know. Psalm 19:12, "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults." The words, "secret faults," here mean "sins that I do not even know about." The Christian may confess and forsake his open sins. He may even go on to confess and forsake those sins that only he and God know about. As one grows in grace, he finds that there are sins being revealed to him from time to time, and there are things that he is doing that are sinful of which he was not aware. This is what the Psalmist is asking. He is asking God to reveal to him the sins and faults about which he knows nothing so that he with confession and repentance can take these sins to God for forgiveness.
Before the Christian presents his petition, he may want God to reveal His commandments to him. Psalm 119:12,26,33,66,108, "Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me Thy statutes. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. Accept, I beseech Thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me Thy judgments."
All of us have seen little boxes containing cards on which are written Scripture verses. Almost always these verses are promises that God has given to His people. However, few, if any, of us have ever seen a box of Scripture verses on which are written commandments. There are many commandments without promises. Malachi 3:9,10, "Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." 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." Jeremiah 33:3, "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." 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." Notice in each passage there are promises, but before these promises are the commandments. Before the promise of answered prayer, there's the commandment to abide in Christ and have His Word abide in you. Before the promise of God giving us great and mighty things of which we know not, there is the commandment to call on Him. Before the promise of forgiving sin and healing our land, are the commandments to humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, turn from our wicked ways. Before presenting his petition to God, the Christian should be well aware of God's commandments, in order that he may obey them before claiming the promises.
The Christian should also pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him for what he should pray when he presents his petition to God. Romans 8:26,27, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Since I have needs of which I know not, and since I know not what tomorrow holds, I do not know what tomorrow's needs may be, but He who knows all knows my needs today and tomorrow can reveal them to me before I pray. Likewise, the Christian should pray for other Christians to know their needs and know what petitions they should bring to God. Colossians 1:9, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Ephesians 1:16-18, "Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." Then there are times when Christians should counsel with each other concerning things for which they should pray. Romans 15:14, "And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another."
Once we have used all the avenues possible for the finding of our sins so we can confess them and the finding of our needs so we can petition for them, we then may prepare our prayers. Ephesians 3:11,12, "According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him." Once this has been done, we can come boldly to the throne of grace. Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Coming boldly means to come with a warm simple confidence that we are His child and He is our Father, that we love Him and that He loves us, and that we are coming in a spiritual attitude to claim those things which are best for us.
Coming boldly also means that we can come to God and present our case which in one place in the Bible is called "argument." This is the type argument that an attorney would present in court. Job 23:4, "I would order my cause before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments." Then there is an amazing Scripture in the Bible concerning our boldness before God in Isaiah 45:11, "Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask Me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of My hands command ye me."
We are even reminded in the Bible that we can pray for boldness. Acts 4:28,29, "For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak Thy word."
We are also told that that prayer can be answered, and boldness can be ours. Acts 4:31, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."
We are likewise reminded that we can pray for boldness for each other. Ephesians 6:18-20, "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, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
As an attorney, with respect, propriety, dignity and perhaps even a degree of reverence, comes before the judge with a well-prepared case, believing that he has a right to present it and that the judge will hear him with justice, so the Christian may do likewise at the throne of grace. Isaiah 43:25,26, "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put Me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified."
We are His children. We have a right to come before Him, but let us not do so glibly! Let us prepare our hearts and prepare our case before we come to His throne presenting our petitions.
PREVIOUS | NEXT | TABLE OF CONTENTS