Keith Hunt - Prayer: Part 2 of 3   Restitution of All Things

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All About Prayer

Part Two

                 OTHER THINGS TO PRAY ABOUT

Pray that God will send forth labourers - ministers - into the
work of God:
  "But when He saw the multitude, He was moved with compassion on 
  them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep
  having no shepherd. Then said He unto His disciples, the        
  harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray you
  therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth       
  labourers into his harvest" (Matt. 9:36-38).

Pray for those ministers already in God s work:
  "Brethren, pray for us" (1 Thes.5:25).

Pray for deliverance from affliction (James 5:13).

Pray for the sick: 
  "..... And pray one for another, that you may be healed ....."  
  (James 5:16).

Pray for your enemies and persecutors (Matt. 5:44).

The rulers of our nation are put there by God (Romans 13:1-7). We
should pray for them.
 
We can pray for our physical parents - brothers and sisters in
the flesh and in the church.

We can pray for our own children and their needs.

God does not limit us in things to pray about, as long as it is
according to His will. And His will is revealed in His word.
Study it, and you will come to know His will. You will then
find lots to pray about.

                           BOLDNESS IN PRAYER

God was going to utterly destroy every soul in Sodom and Gomorrah
because their sin was great. Abraham stood yet before God and was
humbly BOLD in pleading for any righteous in those cities
(Gen.18:20-23).

Israel, with their rebelliousness and disbelief, pushed God to
the limit. He was about to destroy them all, and build a nation
from the man Moses, when Moses interceded for them. God heard,
and changed His mind (Num. 14:1-20).

Paul was inspired to write:
  "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we 
 may obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need" (Heb.        
 4:16).

Notice the verses before. Even when we have sinned, because
Christ was human and tempted as we are, because He knows what we
have to overcome, He is a great High Priest. We can come boldly
to God and obtain mercy.

                      GOD PROMISES TO ANSWER!

To those who are seeking and serving God with all their heart and
mind, God has promised to hear and answer their requests,
petitions and prayers. David wrote:
  "As for me, I will call upon God .....evening, and morning, and
  at noon, will I pray and cry aloud. And He SHALL HEAR my voice"
  (Ps.55:16).
Psalm 65:2 tells us that God does hear prayers. 
Isaiah was inspired to write:
  "Then you shall call, and the Lord SHALL ANSWER; you shall cry,
  and He shall say, Here I am" (Isa. 58:9).
Again, in Isaiah 65:24 we read:
  "It shall come to pass that before they call I WILL ANSWER; and
  while they are yet speaking, I will hear."

God, through Jeremiah, says to us:
  "Then shall you call upon me, and you shall go and pray unto    
  me, and I WILL HARKEN unto you ....." (Jer. 29:12).
Then, in Jeremiah 33:3 we have this wonderful promise:
  "Call unto me, and I will answer you, and show you great and    
  mighty things, which you know not."
Who is this "YOU" that God says He will answer? Let Him tell us:
  "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: but
  the prayer of the upright is His delight. The Lord is far from
  the wicked: but He heareth the PRAYER OF THE RIGHTEOUS"         
  (Prov.15:8,29).

  "The eyes of the Lord are UPON THE RIGHTEOUS, and His ears are
  open unto their cry" (Ps. 34:15).
                                     
  "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 ....." 
  (2 Chron. 7:14).

  "And thou, Solomon [and all true followers of God] my son, know
  you the God of your father [John wrote, 'We know that we know   
  Him if we keep His commandments' 1 John 2:3] and serve Him with 
  a perfect heart and with a willing mind ...... If you seek
  Him, He will be found of thee ...." (I Chron. 28:9).

To those who are serving God in righteousness [and all of God's
commandments are righteousness - Ps. 119:172], to those who want
to obey Him, who have the spirit of humility, who love His ways,
laws, statutes and judgements, to those who look to Him in faith
through Christ Jesus - to them is His delight - to them His face
shines upon. To those individuals He PROMISES to hear and answer
their prayers..

But HOW does He answer? In what WAYS does He answer?

                  ANSWER EXCEEDS PETITION!

Christ said we must ask and we will receive:
  "And whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do If you
  ask anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14).
  "Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give   
  it you. Ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full"
  (John 16:23-24).

All of our asking must be qualified by this verse in 1 John
5:14,15.
  "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask    
  anything according to His will, He hears us: and if we know     
  that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the    
  petitions that we desire of Him."

God has given us examples in His word, that at times His answer
far exceeded what was asked for. In I Kings 3:7-9 we read this
about Solomon:
  "And now, 0 Lord my God, you have made your servant king        
  instead of David my father, and I am but a little child: I know
  not how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst
  of your people ..... a great people ..... Give therefore your   
  servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may
  discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge your so
  great a people."

God was so pleased with Solomon because he asked for the right
things. He asked according to God's will, that God said he would
not only have great WISDOM but he would also be given great
wealth. He would be given that which he did not ask for (verses
10-13).

When Peter was imprisoned, the church prayed for him (Act.12:5).
The answer God gave them included Peter's deliverance (verses
11-17).

          ANSWER TO, DIFFERENT FROM THE REQUEST

Sometimes God chooses to answer us in a way we were not expecting
or maybe desiring.
Moses asked to be permitted to cross Jordan. The answer was
permission to view the land of promise (Deut. 3:23-27).

Martha and Mary asked Jesus to come and heal their brother
Lazarus. Jesus delayed, but raised Lazarus from the dead (John
11).

Paul asked that the thorn in the flesh be removed. The answer was
a promise of grace to endure it (2 Cor. 12: 8,9).

                  ANSWER TO PRAYER DELAYED

God will not always answer our prayers immediately!
  "Also [Jesus] told them a parable, to the effect that they      
  ought always to pray and not to turn coward - faint, lose heart
  and give up" (Luke 18:1, Amplified Bible). 
The parable is contained in verses 2-5. Christ said we should
hear what the Judge says (verses 4-5).  The widow did not give
up. She persisted in her request until the judge answered her
petition.

God in His great wisdom may hold back His answer to us, or delay
our request; but He will have a very good reason for so doing. We
are not to lose heart and give up our prayer to Him. We are to be
persistent. He will answer us. We must do as David did:
  "I WAITED PATIENTLY for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and
  heard my cry" (Ps.40:1).

This brings us to the next point.

                   PRAYER AND FAITH

When we pray we must have faith that God is, and is a rewarder of
those who diligently seek Him:
  "Without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that      
  cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a         
  rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).

An example is given to us by James:
  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to
  all men liberally ..... and it shall be given him. But let him
  ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth [doubts]   
  is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For
  let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the    
  Lord" (James 1:5-6).

And Christ told us:
  "All things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you
  shall receive" (Matt.11:24).

We must have trust - confidence that God hears us, and will
answer us and grant us our petitions and requests. We are His
children, we do obey Him, we do pray according to His will. He
has promised to hear us and give to us. We must claim that
promise. God cannot lie.

  "Therefore I say unto you, what things soever you desire, when  
  you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have     
  them" (Mark 11:24).

        TOKENS ASKED FOR, AS ASSURANCE OF AN ANSWER

When we have a very difficult decision to make or need special
guidance in something, we can go to God and specifically ask for
a token from Him to tell us how we should go or what He wants us
to do. Abraham sent his eldest servant out to find a wife for
Isaac his son (Gen. 24:1-4). He came into Mesopotamia unto the
city Nahor (verse 10). He waited by a well, knowing that many
women would come by. He spoke to God and said:
  "Behold, I stand here by the well of water, and the daughters   
  of the city come out to draw water. And let it come to pass,    
  that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down your pitcher, I   
  pray you, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I     
  will give your camels drink also. Let the same be she that you
  have appointed for your servant Isaac. And thereby shall I know
  that you have shewed kindness unto my master" (verses 13-14).

God did indeed answer that petition as requested. Read verses 15
through 27.
    
Gideon wanted to know if God would deliver Israel out of the
hands of their enemies if he went up to fight them. Gideon asked
God for a token   a sign that He would be with Israel in this
battle. God answered him by performing his request - by working a
miracle (Judges 6:29-40).

                      FAMILY PRAYER?

Should husband and wife and children pray together at times? What
does God's word say about this? What is the principle? Would it
constitute "praying to be seen of men" which Christ spoke against
doing?
The examples sometimes given to show we should have family prayer
(Gen. 12:5,8; 35:3; Act 10:2) are, I believe, vague in this
matter. But we do have the clear teaching that in marriage man
and woman become one flesh (Gen 2:23-24). So to pray together
(and with their children who are the same flesh) would NOT be
praying to be seen of men.
Family prayer would have God's fullest approval and blessing.
                                     
                      PUBLIC PRAYER?

We should note very carefully the examples of social or public
prayer recorded in the Bible.
Such examples are found in Josh. 7:6-9; I Chron. 29:10-19; 2
Chron. 6:1-42; Matt. 14:23; Lk. 3:21; John 11:41,42; 12:27,28;
17:1-26).

Note that they were done by one individual - not many people
taking turns. Most were done in front of the church [Israel was
the church in the wilderness - Act 7:38], not in front of the
heathen.

Most of these public prayers were very short. You can say or read
many of them in a matter of seconds.

Those prayers that were longer were given at very special times  
on special occasions, such as ordinations, dedications, national
calamities, and in Jesus' case (John 17) just before His death.
Otherwise, public prayers were SHORT, to the POINT and done
MAINLY in front of the church or other followers of God.

                     PRAYER MEETINGS?

There is no verse that commands or shows us an example of any
regular weekly "church prayer meeting" as held by many modern
churches of today. Our prayer life is mainly to be on a private
individual basis, done in secret, behind closed doors as Jesus
taught us. As the husband and wife and their children are looked
upon as a unit of ONE by the heavenly Father, it is certainly not
wrong to have FAMILY prayer as I have already stated.

But the question may be asked: Did the NT Church ever come
together at any time to have what could be called a prayer
meeting, are there any examples of such in the New Testament?
Yes, indeed there is!

Notice Acts 1:12-14. After Jesus had ascended into heaven the
disciples were in the upper room where they "continued with one
accord in PRAYER and SUPPLICATION, with the women, and Mary the
mother of Jesus, and with His brethren."
This had to be some kind of unified "church prayer meeting." 
Those who would try to reason around it so being must resort to
some pretty fancy foot work and deceptive mind bending.
Now turn to Acts 12 and read verses one to twelve. In the house
of Mary the mother of John there were MANY gathered together
PRAYING over the imprisonment of Peter. This obviously had to be
what is today called "a prayer meeting."
These above examples were unique situation that the church was
encountering but nevertheless the honest reader of the Bible
cannot fail to see that the apostolic Church of God did from time
to time, when needed, have a PRAYER MEETING.
Some would argue they just got together as a group and sat there
quietly as a group while everyone prayed silently within
themselves. Well.....possible I guess, but not very likely, the
Jewish people are not that reserved or straight-laced.

I must finish this section by answering the question about
"church" prayer and KNEELING.
Some think that it is just too sanctimonious or externally
religious for a church group to KNEEL while praying. Did any of
the NT churches ever do it? Yes, indeed they did! Turn to
Acts 20 and 21, read those chapters and you will find TWO
examples of Paul and church members praying and kneeling
together. Once more you will notice these were special times
when Paul and the local church kneeled to pray, but what I want
you to note is that it was done!!  For a local church and/or one
that belongs to a larger organized body of local churches, to go
through its entire existence, with trials, tests, problems,
special events and concerns, and NEVER get down on their knees to
pray as a congregation, is just not following the Bible in its
full revelation and examples given to us to live by.
The example given to us of Paul and the congregation was of a man
who had worked among them, was beloved by the church very much,
and who was now leaving them, perhaps never to be seen by them
again as a congregation, and they kneeled and prayed on his
departure.

                  PRAYERS GOD WILL NOT ANSWER

It is recorded that God will not hear the prayers of sinners.
But, on the other hand, he that does the Father's will; him He
will hear (John 9:31).

Also, it is written in Prov. 15:8,29, "The sacrifice of the
wicked is an abomination to the Lord ..... The Lord is far from
the wicked....."
But someone will say: Are we not all sinners? Does not John say
that if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves? (1 John 1:8). 
So what does it mean - God will not hear sinners?
Let's go back to Proverbs 15:29 and read the rest of it:

  "The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of
the righteous."

Now, righteousness is the keeping of God's commandments (Ps.
119:172).  So, on the one hand we have people who will obey God,  
will do His will, keep His laws; and they are called the
righteous. On the other hand, we have the wicked - those who will
not obey God - who will not be ruled by Him - who will not keep
His commandments. James says, that to him who knows to do good
and does not do it, to him it is sin (Jam. 4:17).  Paul says in
Romans that by or through the law is the knowledge of sin, and
when he came to the law (read it, studied it) he was shown what
sin was.

The whole Bible is an amplification of what sin is and what
righteousness is! When righteousness - God's commandments - are
revealed to us, if we refused to do them (to do good), then to us
that is sin. And as long as we rebel against God, we are living
in an attitude and life of sin. We are one of the wicked whose
prayers God will not hear. There is a vast difference between
sinning in ignorance, and through the weakness of the flesh, and
sinning with an attitude of knowing better but choosing to
wilfully to sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth
(see Heb.10:26).

When we have truly repented of breaking God's holy, just and good
law (as Paul called it), when we have accepted Christ's sacrifice
of His death in our stead (for the law has claimed out lives.
Compare Rom. 3:23; I John 3:4; Rom. 6:23), when we realize that
to accept Christ's sacrifice - to come under God's grace - does
NOT MEAN we can just go on breaking His law (Rom. 6:1-2), but
that we must serve, live, obey, yield to righteousness
[obeying that law that at first slew us], then sin [breaking
God's law, I John 3:4] must not any longer have dominion over us
(Rom. 6:12-14).  As we are now under the grace of God, we must
not go back to serving sin [just breaking with impunity God's
law]; for if we do, the grace of God will no longer be applied.
Christ's blood will not cover the sins of those who willingly
break God's spiritual law. Those people will again be under the
sentence [death penalty] of the law (Rom. 6:15-23).

When we know all this, and desire with all our heart and mind to
love and serve God, then we are living in righteousness; our
attitude is correct. We ARE righteous [through Christ's
sacrifice and He living His life in us, Gal. 2:20] and GOD HEARS
OUR PRAYER!!
                                     
Those who DO NOT have that submissive yielded attitude of
obedience to God. Those who DO NOT say with Christ, "not MY will
be done, but THINE."  Those who are rebellious in attitude and
life, who have been called to know right from wrong, who are not
ignorant, who are not deceived, but will not follow the will of
the Lord - they are the ones who God calls as " the wicked" that
He is against. Their prayers will not go any further than the
ceiling.

Anyone who is serving to the best of their knowledge what God has
so far revealed to them, He will HEAR. It is only when God
reveals more and that person refuses to live and walk in it that
He then stops hearing that person's prayers.

Truly, God hears not sinners but heareth the prayer of the
righteous!

Prayers are unanswered when:

It is substituted for necessary action (Joshua 7:7-15).
It seeks to change God's declared decrees. God can not act
contrary to Himself (Deut.3:23-27).
It seeks to avert deserved and necessary chastisement (2 Sam.12:
16-18).
It is offered in arrogance and foolish pride (Prov.8:13). 
It totally disregards the known revealed will of God 
(1 Sam.8:9,10). 
It is prompted by selfish ulterior motives (Mat.6:5; James
4:2,3). 
It arises out of a heart full of ill will and hatred towards
others (Mat.5:24).



                      HELP IN PRAYING

Do you know that God gives us help in praying:

  "The Spirit also helps our infirmities, For we know not what we 
  should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself makes        
  intercession for us with groanings which cannot be
  uttered" (Rom. 8:26).

That Spirit that helps us is Christ (2 Cor. 3:17).

God is indeed great, and greatly to be PRAISED. He even helps us
through the work of Christ, to pray to Him as we ought.

Let us avail ourselves of this great privilege

LET US PRAY TO GOD.

                   ..............................

Written in 1984 and revised in 1994

To be continued with Appendix        

All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr.Hunt trusts
nothing will be changed without his consent.

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