Pray on the facts, not on your surmise or imagination of the facts.
And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? Yes this is your friend, Dr. Cook, and I’m speaking with you as usual from the little room at the end of the hall on the second floor of the big white house. Boy time goes fast doesn’t it? When you’re in your teens and twenties you think “Oh boy, look at that man. He’s 40. How old he is!” And you get to be 30 and you look at someone else saying, “Look at that person. He’s 50. Oh man. Old.” And then you get to be 50 and you look at somebody else and you think “Oh man, how old!” And then all of a sudden you look back and say “Hey where did the time go?”
Walter Kallenbach, an evangelist who was greatly used of God years ago, a blind evangelist – any of you remember him, was asking his little daughter one day that question, a rhetorical question really. He didn’t expect the answer he got but he’d been very busy and the day had slipped away and he said absentmindedly “Where did all the time go?” And his little daughter remarked “Why it went into the things you did Daddy.” That’s a pretty good answer isn’t it? Well you don’t spend time; you invest it if you’re a Christian. Have you noted that? We’re not just spending time here. We’re investing it in eternity and my purpose then is to put a handle on the Word of God so that you can get hold of it for yourself.
May that be true again today as we look at Romans 15:30 where Paul says “Now I beseech you brethren for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake and for the love of the Spirit that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” The rationale for praying for anybody else is not because you feel like it or not because the other person needs it primarily. According to this verse you pray for other people because you love Jesus. Interesting isn’t it? The more you love the Lord Jesus the more concerned you’re going to be about people around you who need His help.
And secondarily you pray for other people because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us, “the love of the Spirit” Paul says. Also when you think in terms of praying for others you realized that it’s an effort. The Greek verb there sunagonizomai, you agonize together, literally taking the meaning across from Greek to English. You agonize together in prayer. Agonize together with me in your prayers to God for me. Intercessory prayer is battle, it’s effort, it’s getting under the load and lifting it. It’s assuming the responsibility yourself for somebody else’s need. Take for example what happened in the case of Moses when God’s people had sinned, they’d made golden idols and they had sinned and now the judgment of God was threatened to wipe them all out. God says “Let me alone. I’ll just destroy them all and I’ll make of you a great nation.”
Do you remember that? Well what happened? Moses went into the presence of God and he said “Oh,” he said. “This people have sinned a great sin.” “Now,” he said “if thou wilt forgive their sins,” and then there’s a dash in the text as though Moses just broke down and wept for a while. “And now,” he said “if Thou wilt forgive their sin but if not,” said he “blot me I pray thee out of Thy book which Thou hast written. Oh these people have sinned a great sin and have made them gods of gold yet now if thou wilt forgive their sin,” and then the dash in the text where Moses just broke down.
Finally he gets control of himself and he says and if not, if you’re not going to forgive them then don’t forgive me either. “Blot me I pray thee out of Thy book which thou hast written.” He said “I’m willing to take the responsibility,” Moses said “for this whole people.” Well the Lord said to Moses “Whosoever hast sinned against me him will I blot out of my book. Therefore go now and lead the people unto the place which I have spoken unto thee. Behold my angel shall go before thee.” God heard his prayer; Moses striving in prayer with his great heart breaking for the weight of the woe of a whole nation’s sin.
Over in Romans you find Paul saying “Brethren,” this is Romans 10:1 “Brethren my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved for I bear them record that they have a zeal of God but not according to knowledge. He said previously in chapter 9 “I say the truth in Christ. I lay not my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” Now listen to this. “I could wish that myself were a curse from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsman according to the flesh who are Israelites. My prayer to God is that they might be saved.”
This is what we’re talking about. Not just a simple little God bless the missionaries’ prayer or Lord bless the pastor or Lord bless Joe Doakes. That’s a good enough prayer and God understands I suppose what we mean by the word blessed even though we haven’t defined it but it’s something else again to pray in terms of getting under the responsibility. Intercessory prayer gets under the load and helps to bear it yourself. Do you see the difference? “Strive together with me,” he said “in your prayers to God for me.” Now how do you do this?
Number one; develop a healthy prayer life yourself. You’ll never do much interceding for others until you have learned to be comfortable let us say in the presence of God yourself. That means no unfinished business. It’s pretty hard to pray for somebody else effectively if you’ve got guilt on your conscience or worry or unfinished obedience of some sort on your mind and so the first thing that I need to do if I’m going to become an intercessor is to be sure that my own relationship with God is untrammeled by anything that is out of His will.
The second thing is to learn to base your praying on the promises of God not on your feelings. My good friend Eric Hutchings who is a great evangelist and Bible teacher used principally in the British Isles although he ministers in Australia, South Africa and over here in the states and on the continent as well. But he had gone to Korea for a series of meetings and for some very large rallies that were held there. One of the experiences that he had he told me was to be completely shaken by the power and tenacity of the praying of these people there in Korea.
He said that normally at 5 in the morning the churches and other places of worship are filled with people at an early prayer meeting. They pray at 5 in the morning and the churches are filled with people praying, praying for unsaved loved ones, praying for their country, praying for their own needs, whatever. He said that one day he got up especially early and he arrived at the place of prayer at 4 in the morning, it was still dark and yet he saw as he entered the place that it was full of people. He approached one person and said through an interpreter “Why are you here so early?” He noticed then that people all around this one to whom he was speaking had their Bibles open and the person to whom he addressed the question looked up smiling and he said in Korean “Oh. I’m here early so that I can get Bible promises to fling up to the throne of grace and so that we can pray on the basis of God’s blessed promises.”
Ah the secret of their prevailing prayer was not how they felt, not their needs, not the guns of the enemy just a few miles away, not these things but the basis of their praying and the secret of the power and tenacity and effectiveness of it was the Word of God; “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. Find a promise in God’s Word and stand upon it and plead the merits of God’s Word when you pray. You’ll find that your faith reaches out with much more effectiveness and you’re able then to follow the ABCs of prayer. Ask, believe and claim.
Our Lord Jesus said “Whatsoever things you desire when you pray believe that you receive them and you shall have them.” Ask, believe and claim and the believe part is not just some kind of self hypnosis that kids yourself into thinking that something will happen. The believe part of that triad is believing God’s promise. God is the one who speaks and things come into existence; who treats nothing as though it were something. God’s Word brings into existence facts and reality. Have you noticed that? He speaketh and it was so. God’s Word brings facts into reality and so you take the promises of God and you pray on that basis and your praying then becomes effectual.
We’re talking about intercessory prayer. First a clear conscience, a right relationship, a happy heart with God, you feel comfortable with God yourself. Second the base of your praying, the promises of God; “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. Now what else? Well you need some information, it seems to me, about the person or work or group or situation about which you are praying. Pray on the facts not on your surmise or imagination of the facts. Pray about the facts.
I listened to a missionary who was evacuated from a war area during the early days of World War II. He had been down in the South Pacific somewhere and was now being evacuated from the area along with other nationals aboard a slow lumbering freighter. The boat was following a zigzag course out there in the back side of nowhere trying to be unobserved so that its location could not always be pinpointed and at that point, one day, they saw the thin spume of spray that betokened the periscope of a submarine observing them.
“Now,” said my friend, “I thought I had learned to pray before but as we saw that periscope going along, following us silently, knowing that underneath the surface there was a submarine capable of sending our boat and us to the bottom of the ocean”; he said “I learned to pray pretty specifically.” He said “We prayed all around that submarine. We prayed Lord jam his rudders. Lord stop his engines. Lord stop up his torpedo tubes. Lord change his mind. Lord work on the crew and changed their attitude.” He said “We prayed all over that submarine.” Well there’s the difference, a sense of praying on the basis of the facts is very important.
Dear Father today, make us real prayers. Help us to learn the secret of intercessory prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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