How Effective Is Prayer?
Talk to Him today — get things right so that your praying will remain unhindered.
Alright, thank you very much and hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright today? Well, I trust so. Bless your heart. I’m glad to be back with you. I look forward to these times when I can share from the Word of God. It just does so much for me as well, I trust as for you.
We’re hitting the high spots in recapping some of the precious truths that God gave us in our study of 1 Timothy. A couple of days ago, I was talking with you about 1 Timothy 2:1-4 as a matter of your prayer life. And then it strikes me that I ought to stop and comment on verse 5, “There is one God and One Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself for all a ransom, a ransom for all to be testified in due time. I will therefore that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.”
A couple of thoughts there: one is, don’t become a victim of the accusation that Christianity is so biased that it insists on having its own way. The way Paul looks at it I think makes a lot of sense- there’s one God and there’s only one way to get to Him, One Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. This now is the essence, beloved, of New Testament truth. This is the very heart of the Christian approach. You can’t get through to a holy God yourself, the reason being that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. You can’t get in there. It’s like trying to get into an occasion where you don’t have the right qualifications or the right ticket.
I was marooned in a Filipino city many years ago because the aircraft that had brought us to that place had broken down and repairs were going to take two or three days. But in the meantime, I was upset because I was in the process of missing a couple of other meetings in another Philippine island, some miles away, only a few minutes by air, but some miles away across the water. And I thought, “Oh, I gotta do something.”
So I knew that there was a big banquet on in which some high officials were and I knew that they had come there in a chartered airplane. So I tried the front door, it didn’t work, tried the side door, it didn’t work. Finally, I got in through a side fire exit that nobody seemed to be guarding. And I made my way up to the speaker’s table and I said to the high official something about my predicament and he looked at me with scorn and he said, “Oh, get on out of here. There’s too many of you freeloaders around already.” And that was the end of that.
If you don’t have the qualifications, you can’t get in. You can’t be accepted if you don’t have the qualifications. That’s true in life here and it’s very true, beloved, in dealing with a holy God. You can argue the point all you please, it’s easy enough to argue. But the fact is, that if you wanna get through to Almighty God, you come by way of the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for you, He rose again to be your living Savior. When you pray, you pray in His Name.
And today, if you’ve never trusted Him as your Lord and your Savior, that’s the one thing that you must do before you go any farther. You can’t get anywhere with God until you open your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ. How do you do that? You talk to him. “For whosoever,” the Bible says, “shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Talk to him.
Walt Kallenbach, the blind evangelist woke up after his hunting accident that blinded him. There in the hospital bed, he knew he was in bad, bad shape and the pain flooding his being, bandages covering his entire head, he knew he was in bad shape and he remembered the words of the faithful old pastor that had so often talked with him about Jesus. The old pastor had said, “Walter, someday you’re gonna know you need Jesus. And when you do, just call on him and say, ‘Jesus, save me.'” And there in that hospital in Pennsylvania years ago, Walter Kallenbach, who later became world famous as a blind evangelist, there in that hospital bed, he just called out, “Jesus, save me.” He told me later as he’s told me the story, “You know brother Bob, he did.”
All you have to do to get in touch with God is to call. Talk to the Lord Jesus, ask Him to come into your heart. “As many as received Him,” the Bible says, “to them give He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Invite Him into your heart today by faith, will you beloved? Invite Him in today.
There’s one God and One Mediator between God and men. Yes, we’re unworthy. Yes, we’re sinful. Yes, we deserve nothing but judgement in Hell, but Jesus died for us. “God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us,” Paul says there in Romans 5. And so you can come in His name and be received. Do it today. Do it today.
Well he says, “I will let men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.” Couple of thoughts there, I have to… At the risk of particularizing here, I’m supposed to be summarizing. But at the risk of particularizing, this is too good to miss.
Is there any place in all the world where you may not pray? No, the answer is, yes you can pray everywhere. You can pray everywhere. “I will,” he said, “that men pray everywhere.” I have prayed in some unlikely places I know. If I were to write a story on the best places where I’ve prayed, maybe I’ll do that sometime, who knows. I would think back to to a rainy, cold, rainy day in Shanghai. I was cold because I made the mistake when I was in Canton, China, thinking that it would be just as warm in Shanghai as it was in Canton. Well, you people who know the terrain, you know there’s a difference. I sent all that heavy clothing and directly on around the world so that I wouldn’t need to lug it around.
And there I was in Shanghai with nothing but a jacket and maybe a sweater to put under it and that was it, and a pair of slacks, cold. Well, it was a rainy day and I’d gone downtown from the China Inland Mission compound to a meeting or something and I was in a peddy cab coming back. A peddy cab is an elongated three-wheel bicycle and the person who operates it is out in front pedaling and you sit behind in a little cab-like structure which is really a seat with just a curtain over it and so then you are taken where you wanna go. And there I sat and it was raining and so I pulled the the front curtain. There was a curtain in front that you could unroll and I unsnapped the fastenings and rolled that thing down so that I was protected from the rain. And in the process, I was also completely alone. And I began to pray and I have to tell you, the delightful experience that I had still lingers with me. This was 1948, that’s 40 years ago.
Well I may be old, but I’m not dead, I can remember, I’ll tell you. The delight of talking with God and having Him talk with me in a peddy cab in Shanghai on a cold rainy day. Pray everywhere, yes I’ve prayed in coal cellars, and I’ve prayed in attics, and I’ve prayed in airplanes. Oh yes, how I’ve prayed sometimes when it got turbulent and things were dropping and the cup of coffee first went up to the ceiling and then down on somebody’s trousers. Oh yeah, I’ve prayed, prayed in many different places so that Bob Cook can tell you the truth today, there isn’t any place in all the world where you may not pray. You can pray anywhere and God will hear you. He said, “I will let men pray everywhere.”
Then he says, there are three things, three things that you have to pay attention to if your prayer’s gonna be effective. One is holiness of life, lifting up holy hands. The Bible says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” An outraged guilty conscience is a deterrent to faith. You can’t really believe God if you are in enmity with Him because you are out of fellowship, because you’ve stepped out of His will. Holy hands, that is to say get things right between you and the Lord. Get things right, get your sin cleansed and forgiven. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just. Faithful means He’ll never drop you, just means He’ll always do right by you. Faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. First comes forgiveness. He puts His arm around you, you might say and gives you the kiss of forgiveness and then He cleanses your heart so you don’t do that again. Talk to Him today, get things right so that your praying will be unhindered.
What else? He says without wrath. If you’re angry with somebody else and harboring a grudge or a deep feeling of resentment or hurt, this is gonna get in your way when you try to pray. It’s not a matter about which to argue, it just is that way, it’s so, and you have to let the Lord handle that. The psychiatrist and psychologist says you have to work through that feeling. Well sometimes it takes time, but I have found that when I level with God about my feelings, He operates on them pretty promptly without wrath. Ask God to operate on the resentment and the bad feelings you have toward others.
Then it says without doubting. This is the other hindrance to prayer, the what if syndrome, the what if factor. “I’m praying about the weather, what if it rains? I’m praying about the rent, what if I haven’t got enough to pay it? I’m praying about health, what if I stay sick? I’m praying about my job, what if I get fired? I’m praying about being directed in decisions, what if I make the wrong decision?” The what if factor, that’s doubt.
Oh listen, faith risks the situation on God. Take the attitude that was manifested by the three Hebrew young men, when they were called before a furious king because of their refusal to bow down to the idolatrous image he had set up. And they said, “We’re not worried to answer you in this matter. Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us. But if not, be it known unto thee O King, we will not bow down.” Faith says, “Hallelujah anyway.” Faith risks the situation on God and prayer is answered as a result. That’s good stuff, isn’t it? I just had to share it with you. Bless your heart.
Father God today, oh may we pray effectively, may we live for Jesus out and out. I pray in His Name, Amen.
Until I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the king today and be a blessing!
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