IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: WHEN THERE IS A MAN TO PRAY, THERE IS A GOD TO ANSWER
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asks receives and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.” Luke 11:9-10.
Prayer nourishes the soul, encourages the depressed, motivates the lazy, and ushers the humble before the throne of God.
WHEN we seek any good thing from God, we ought also to consider how we may use it for his glory. It is meet that desires for good things should flow from good motives.
To seek aid in time of distress from a supernatural being is an instinct of human nature. We say not that human nature unrenewed ever offers truly spiritual prayer, or ever exercises saving faith in the living God. But still, like a child crying in the dark with painful longing for help from somewhere or other, it scarcely knows where, the soul in deep sorrow almost invariably cries to some supernatural being for succor.
Therefore, no matter where you find a man, you meet one who, in his distress, will ask for supernatural help.
I believe in the truthfulness of this instinct and that man prays because there is something in prayer. And when the Creator gives His creature the power of thirst, it is because water exists to meet its thirst—and as when He creates hunger there is food to correspond to the appetite. So when He inclines men to pray it is because prayer has a corresponding blessing connected with it. We find a powerful reason for expecting prayer to be effectual in the fact that it is an institution of God. In God’s Word we are over and over again commanded to pray.
Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” —
then, men may pray. If men ought to pray, they may pray. Whatever a man ought to do, it is clear that he has the right and the privilege to do; and though this may seem a very common-place truth to those of us whose hearts are at ease through faith in Jesus, and who enjoy daily communion with God in prayer, yet there is an exquisite sweetness about this fact to a man who fears that he may not pray. He has come into such a miserable state of heart that he fools as if he could not pray, and he fears that he may not pray because
Satan tells him that the door of mercy is shut against him, that his day of grace is over, and that the time of hope for him is now past and gone. But our text says, “Men ought always to pray.” Then, men may always pray. Your knee may be bent before the altar of God, though it be stained through many a fall into sin.
yet you may pray. Though, perhaps, you have even denied that there is a God, still you may pray; though you have ridiculed the very notion of prayer, you may pray; God does not refuse to you the permission to come to his mercy-seat. Though you have committed every crime in the catalogue of sin, you may pray; and though you have gone on in those crimes, and involved yourself yet more and more deeply in iniquity, you may pray. Though you be within a few days of death and of damnation unless the grace of God shall visit you, yet you may pray. It is clear that you may pray because men ought always to pray, and what they ought to do they may do. Grasp that truth, O despairing one, and grip it fast, and say thou to despair, “Get thee far from me; it is not possible that I am denied the right of praying unto the Lord while such a text as this still stands in Holy Writ, ‘Men ought always to pray.
Now, just look at the text again, and’ lay stress upon the first word of it: “Men ought always to pray.” I feel so grateful to the Holy Spirit that this text does not say, “Saints ought always to pray,” because then I might ask myself, “Am I a saint?” and perhaps I might have to answer, “No, I am far from it.” But the text does not say, “saints,” and it does not even say, “Tender-hearted, penitent persons, who are in a very gracious state, ought always to pray.” No, there is no description of character given in the text, for which I am deeply grateful. Those exhortations that leave the character as wide as possible are all the more full of grace and condescending love.
Who ought always to pray, then? “Men.” And the word “men” is generic, and includes the race. “Men.” That is, men and women and children; old men and fathers, young men and maidens, all who belong to the race of mankind ought always to pray. Perhaps you say, “So-and-so is not a good man.” No, but he is a man; and men ought always to pray. He is a long way from being a commendable man, a man of mark, a man of note, a nobleman in the truest sense of that term. Ah, but he is a man; and men ought always to pray!
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
—1 John 5:14-15.
The apostle desires to lead the disciples up a second ascent. Observe it. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.” From the assurance of our interest in Christ, the next step is to a firm belief in the power of prayer, in the fact that God does regard your prayer; and this you can hardly get unless you have attained to an assurance of your own interest in him; for my belief in the prevalence of my prayer to a great extent must depend upon my conviction of my interest in Christ.
For instance, here is Paul’s argument: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” I must therefore be sure that God has given me Christ; and if he has given Christ to me, then I know that he will give me all things; but if I have any doubt about Christ’s being mine, and about my being the receiver of God’s unspeakable gift in Christ, I cannot reason as the apostle did, and I cannot therefore have that confidence that my prayer is heard. Again, God’s fatherhood is another ground of our confidence in prayer. “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” But if I am not clear that God is my Father, if I have not the spirit of adoption, then I cannot come to God with this confidence that he will give me my desire. My sonship being assured, I am confident that my Father knows what I have need of and will hear me; but my sonship being in dispute, my power in prayer vanishes: I cannot hope to prevail. Besides, the man who has faith in Christ, and knows himself to be saved, has already received answers to prayer; and answers to prayer are some of the best supports to our faith as to the future success of our petitions. “Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” But if I have no reason to conclude that God has heard my prayer for forgiveness, if I am in doubt as to whether my first cries have ever reached his ear and obtained an answer, how can I come with confidence? No, brothers and sisters, seek in the first place, since you have believed in Jesus, to get the witness within you that you are born of God, and then go from this gracious ascent to the next, knowing and being assured that he heareth us always because we do the things which are pleasing in his sight, and plead the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who is all in all to us.
“Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive and ye shall have them.”—Mark 11:24
The advice which Christ gave to the twelve and to his immediate followers, is repeated to us in God’s Word this morning. May we have grace constantly to obey it. “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
I think you will perceive the essential qualities which are necessary to any great success and prevalence in prayer. According to our Saviour’s description of prayer, there should always be some definite objects for which we should plead. He speaks of things—”what things soever ye desire.” It seems then that he did not put it that God’s children would go to him to pray when they have nothing to pray for. Another essential qualification of pray is earnest desire; for the Master supposes here that when we pray we have desires. Indeed it is not prayer, it may be something like prayer, the outward form or the bare skeleton, but it is not the living thing, the all-prevailing, almighty thing, called prayer, unless there be a fulness and overflowing of desires. Observe, too, that faith is an essential quality of successful prayer—”believe that ye receive them.” Ye cannot pray so as to be heard in heaven and answered to your soul’s satisfaction, unless you believe that God really hears and will answer you. One other qualification appears here upon the very surface, namely, that a realizing expectation should always go with a firm faith—”believe that ye receive them.” Not merely believe that “ye shall” but “ye do” receive them—count them as if they were received, reckon them as if you had them already, and act as if you had them—act as if you were sure you should have them—believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”
Call on thy God, I say, and when thou callest upon him, Oh, come unto him, say unto him, “Take away all iniquity, receive us graciously, love us freely,” and he will hear you, and you shall yet pray as prevailing princes, and one day shall stand as more than conquerors before the starry throne of him who ever reigns God over all, blessed for evermore.
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