Every time you pray, there will always be one step of obedience that you can take.
Alright, thank you very much and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Everything going all right? I trust so. Bless your heart. Nice to be back with you. Turn with me if you will again to this passage in Romans 15 where we’re talking about intercessory prayer. Paul says, “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 last time we got together, we were just walking around in this concept of what it means to learn intercessory prayer.
One is to have your own heart free and clean and comfortable with God. I use that word “comfortable” by design. Many people are ever so slightly uneasy in the presence of God when you start to pray. They love the Lord, they want to go to Heaven, they’re doing their best to be Christians but they’re not really comfortable when you pray. If you’re going to pray for other people, you’ll have to spend enough time with God so that you and He are friends and you’re comfortable in His presence. You’re not in the front room anymore; you’re in the living room or you’re in the kitchen and you’re sitting over a cup of coffee together, so to speak, and you’re comfortable with Him.
And then beyond that learn to pray on the basis of God’s promises, not your feelings. God answers prayer not primarily because I ask Him to but because He wants to. It’s God’s will that our prayers should be answered when we pray according to His perfect purpose. And so learn to pray on the basis of the promises of God. Then what? Get the facts in mind. Learn to pray on the basis of the facts because it’s one thing to say, “Lord, bless John” it’s another thing to be able to describe to God what your friend needs.
And so, here you have, I gave you the illustration of Moses praying for his people who had sinned and then I gave you the other illustration of the apostle Paul praying for his kinsmen, his fellow Israelites, that they might be saved. Job, you’ll recall, had to learn this. Job exhibited not a little impatience with those so-called comforters that came to talk with him during the days of his affliction. Finally, God spoke to Job. The Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and He says, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; I’ll demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world?”
Job said, “I’ve said too much already.” He said, “I’ve said too much already. I’m going to lay my hand upon my mouth.” So after God got through dealing with Job, then Job said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” And after that, the Lord said to Eliphaz, “You better make a sacrifice and confess your sins and I’ll ask Job, my servant Job shall pray for you, for him will I accept.” So says Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the Lord commanded them and the Lord also accepted Job’s prayer. And the Lord turned the captivity of Job,” that means that his circumstances begun to change, that’s what that means, Job’s circumstances begun to change when he prayed for his friends.
So you have intercessory prayer that gets under the burden of somebody else’s need and takes the responsibility upon yourself for the purpose of bringing it to God. Intercessory prayer. Have you learned anything about that, dear friends? I think much of our praying is pretty shallow and sporadic when we come to consider it at this level. I have to say that of myself. I think of how I pray at family prayers at night after the dinner is over and we get the Bible or the Daily light which has scripture passages or whatever we’re using at the time, and I’ll thank God for His care and I’ll ask Him to bless the folk who are present, I generally name them, whoever members of the family or friends are present.
And then I reach out across the miles and I’ll say, “Lord, bless this one and that one and the other one. And then we wind up with the Lord’s prayer and that’s that. And I often think as I just meditate on these things, I would be real smart if I would improve my praying by being a little more factual and if I would have something specific about which to pray for these people. As a matter of fact, I’ve tried to work on that from time to time. I don’t know if the family has noticed it but I have in any case and I guess the Lord has, too. Have something specific about which to pray so that your prayers aren’t just routine.
We are creatures of habit. When I was a little boy, I could tell you exactly what my father was going to say next in his evening prayer ‘cause it was a set form. He was sincere but, that’s just how it’s going to be, you know. Well, intercessory prayer—get comfortable with God, pray on the basis of His promises, and then, get some facts about which you can pray and then get under the load, under the burden, under the responsibility of the person. If it’s a burden of sorrow, help to bear it. If it’s a burden of guilt, help to share it. If it’s a burden of need, help to fill the need, get under it and do something about it.
Talking about meeting the need, years ago, I was called to a city out in the west somewhere. I don’t know where it was anymore. To tell you the truth, I think it was up in Wyoming or some one of those, the western states. I was president of Youth for Christ and this particular local group were in great trouble because they’d run up some debts and they didn’t have money to pay their debts and the whole operation was in danger of collapsing and so they sent a hurry up call to Cook and I went on out and I gathered the committee together and talked with them and we had some fellowship together and we gathered some friends of the work for a little luncheon occasion.
And I gave them a challenge from the Word of God and then the chairman of the group decided to inform me as to how serious the situation was and he got up and he said, “Well, now, Brother Cook, we’re here and I just want to let everybody including you know that we’re in real trouble. We owe this many dollars to this person and this many dollars to that and this much rent and that much advertising and so on,” he added, “and we’re behind in the salary of our young leader here, and,” he said, “we’re in trouble. We don’t know what to do.”
Well, I gave them a challenge from the Word of God and then I said, “Fellows, let’s pray. Let’s seek God about this. Let’s really get down and pray.” And so the urgency of the occasion settled in upon them and we had a very good time in prayer as a matter of fact, right in the middle of it, I gave an invitation, asked if there’s anybody there out of fellowship with God and two or three were and we sort of helped them along so that they could get right with the Lord. Now, as the prayer meeting went on, I did a little mental arithmetic. You’re not supposed to look around when you’re praying but then I did and I just mentally totted up in my mind the net worth of people about whom I knew.
I didn’t know all of the folk in the room but I knew some of them. And so I just added up the net worth of people whom I knew in that room and it came to quite a tidy sum, I assure you. And as I did that, a thought flashed into my mind that really was exceedingly bold but it proved that the Lord was leading later on. So when the prayer meeting ended and we get up off our knees, I once again addressed the meeting and I told them what I had done. I said, “Fellows, while you were praying, I just sort of added up the net worth of some of the people whom I know in this room and it came to quite an impressive figure”.
And I said, “The Lord whispered to my heart that there’s enough money in the room right here to meet this need, why don’t you get busy and do something about it?” Well, there was a stunned silence as you can understand and then one man got up. He said, “Well,” he said, “I think I can give $100”. And somebody else got up. He said. “I think I could give 500”. And somebody else got up. He said, “I think I could give 300”. And before a few moments had passed, that entire obligation have been wiped out because people prayed and then did something about it.
The secret of intercessory prayer, it seems to me, is let me tick this off for you once again. First, get comfortable with God, that is to say let your heart be cleansed, your motives be purified, and your relationship with God, one that is cordial where you feel at ease in His presence. Second, get the Word of God as the basis of your praying, promises, not feelings. Third, get the facts so you’ll know what you’re talking about to God. Fourth, get under the responsibility of it. Make it your own burden, whatever it is. And so fifth, what I’ve been telling you, do what is the logical thing to do when you get up off your knees.
Every time you pray, there will always be one step of obedience that you can take. Have you learned that yet? Whenever you pray about any situation, there will always be an answer to prayer, one step of positive obedience that you can take. Do it and God will lead you on. Well do we sing Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. First, commit the matter to Him. Second, obey the promptings of the Blessed spirit of God. How many times I’ve had to be grateful for God’s promptings when I prayed whether it would be standing on a sidewalk outside of a Los Angeles hotel saying, “Oh, God, I’ve got to raise money for this organization but I don’t know where to go.” This would have been back in 1948 or 49, the beginning of 49 it was.
And I would say, “Oh, God, I don’t know where to go. Lead me somewhere.” And the next step I took was toward to coffee shop inside the hotel. I thought to myself, “Well, a man can always drink coffee if he can’t do anything else”. And I found in the coffee shop people who spent the rest of the day taking me around and introducing me to folk who could help. I prayed earnestly one night that God would use me as I went to minister to my little congregation in an Illinois town. And just as I came out of the house, I had the impulse, just as I got through praying, I had the impulse go see so and so I had a little argument with God as I stood there on the sidewalk in front of the parsonage.
“Well, God, you know I have to go to a prayer meeting. I have to get ready. I have to get the meeting ready. I have to be sure that everything is all set,” and still there was this impulse, “Go see so and so,” and so I turned on my heel and went up the street three blocks and turned right and went up a block and a half and turned right again into an apartment complex. And when I greeted these people, I found them in the midst of packing boxes. The whole place was filled with packing boxes and I said, “What in the world is happening?”
There was a half eaten can of pork and beans standing on one of the packing boxes and a half a quart milk that had been there supper, cold canned beans and a glass of milk and they were busy packing. And I said, “What’s happened?” and they said, “Oh, he’s being transferred down to Missouri. He’s going to be the manager of a store down there. We’re transferred. We’re moving in the morning.” I said, “Have you thought anything about giving your heart to Jesus like we talked the last time?” And they said, “Oh, yes, we’ve thought about that.”
I said, “Would you like to do it now?” They said, “Oh, yes we would.” And so we knelt there among the packing boxes and they gave their heart to Jesus. I’ve never seen them from that day to this but I know I’ll meet them in Heaven. When you pray, there’s always something next that you can do. It’s a great lesson to learn.
Dear Father, we pray thy blessing upon us today. Make us good intercessors and good obeyers, I pray 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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