Our One Job
When you pray, just remember God reserves the right to determine how the prayer will be answered.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes that little greeting establishes the fact that this is your friend, Bob Cook, and we’re back together again, you and I, by means of radio, to look at the inherent, infallible, eternal Word of God, the Bible.
We came to that little verse in 1 Thessalonians 5, which said, “Brethren pray for us.” And I began to think of what is involved in praying for someone else.
Saul, King Saul, disobedient King Saul said to Samuel, “Pray for me.” Well, what he wanted was to save face. Simon the Sorcerer said, “Pray for me.” What he wanted to was to escape the consequences of his greed. And those are a couple of examples of wrong praying. Jonah prayed, “Lord take away my life.” Thatâ€Ÿs because he was in a snit, because God was merciful to the city of Nineveh. And then after that, because the gourd that had grown up to shade him from the blast from the sun’s heat had withered and died, and he was out of sorts and mad, he prayed, “Lord, I may as well die.”
Elijah prayed, “Lord take away my life.” He prayed because he was exhausted and fearful. Jezebel was out to get him. And after that tremendous victory on Mount Carmel and the marathon run ahead of the King’s chariot down the mountainside to get the news that she had given orders that he be killed, he ran for his life. He says he sat down under a juniper tree and prayed, prayed, “Lord, it’s enough now. Take away my life for I’m not better than anybody else.” He felt sorry for himself, he was exhausted.
Well, there are a few example of praying that really weren’t in order, but were due to human frailties. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t answer all your prayers? I look back over my own life and realize that if God had given me everything I prayed for, He would have ruined me, I would have ruined myself, better spoken.
Well now, we came then to Romans 15:30. That was what we were talking about last time we got together. Paul says “I beseech you that you strive together.” And he was asking for the Lord’s sake. I wanted to stop on this just for a moment. The motivation for my praying has to be the honor and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. He said, “I beseech you brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit.”
Intercessory prayer needs to be based upon the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus, and the love of the Holy Spirit placed in your heart. When you trust Christ the savior, the love of God is shared abroad in our hearts. Paul says in Romans 5:5, “By the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Make sure that the motivation for your praying is right, and the substance of your prayer then will also be right.
Now he said, “I ask you that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” Now what does he want? First, he wants to be delivered from them that do not believe, who live in Judea. “Second, that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted by the saints. Third, that I may come to you by the will of God. And fourth, that I may with you be refreshed.”
This is what he wanted them to pray. Now look at these things just for a moment, will you? He said, “I want to be delivered from people who do not believe, who live in Judea.” Why? Because unbelief cannot rest until it’s organized in opposition to God. And wherever you find unbelieving hearts, you will also find an automatic opposition to the message of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of the grace of God. And that oftentimes takes the form of personal harassment, persecution, and opposition. He said, “I want to be delivered from that.”
Is that wrong to want to avoid the confrontation that comes from unbelieving hearts? Well there’s no indication in the Bible that it’s wrong to pray for that. Lead us not, Jesus thought his disciples to pray into temptation. And that word “temptationâ€Ÿ covers the whole gamut of the testings of life, as you know.
I think it’s right that you and I pray that God will spare us from the attacks of unbelieving hearts, until and unless it serves His glory. Now go back to the motivation. It’s for the sake of the Lord Jesus, and for the love of the Spirit. If, if itâ€Ÿs going to honor the Lord Jesus, let it come. If it’s going to honor the Lord Jesus and show the love of God through my life, let it come.
But it’s not wrong to pray that you be spared confrontation by unbelieving hearts, you follow that? Then he said that my service may be accepted. Bible says, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh his enemies to be at peace with himâ€Ÿ. God can open the way for you, to people. God can give you favor with people.
God had planned that a man named Billy Graham should be used greatly in worldwide evangelism. Back in the 1940s he was known by a good many people because of his successful crusades, then under the sponsorship of Youth for Christ. Our brother Graham was our first full-time field representative, leaving his church in Downer’s Grove, or — Western Springs it was, Western Springs, Illinois — and coming to work with Youth for Christ.
And then in 1949, suddenly a newspaper magnate took an interest in Billy Graham. And there came word from the headquarters of that newspaper chain that our brother Graham’s meetings were to be, were to be reported in depth. And so all across the country, people were hearing about what God was doing in Los Angeles campaign, which began I believe in January of 1949. Do you recall that, any of you old timers? Thatâ€Ÿs a long time ago isn’t it? Forty years ago.
But that’s what God did. God gave a special favor in the eyes of a newspaper executive, who then gave an order that the meetings that were being held under the tent in downtown Los Angeles were to be publicized. And so the whole world became aware of this young evangelist. And he was overnight catapulted into fame, and his name became a household word.
Yes there was careful planning and godly living, and much praying on behalf of our brother Graham and his team. God gave great wisdom, and great blessing, and great power to these people. I’ve followed their career through the years because we’re close friends, were in the early 40s, and have been ever since.
Yes, God gave great wisdom, and great power, and great blessing to this evangelist. But he also gave favor in the eyes of other people. And so Paul is praying, “I want you to pray for me that I’ll be, my service will be accepted by the saints in Jerusalem.” Is it wrong to pray that God will open the way for you? No of course.
I pray about every contact that I make. If I’m going to make a call somewhere, I pray for God to open the way for me. And oh how graciously He has done this, time after time. I must admit that sometimes I’ve prayed that God would open the way, and the door was slammed in my face, and I had to accept that as well, as from my loving heavenly Father.
I remember the time I was trying to get a flight out of, of, out of Zamboanga in the Philippines. The airplane line that had brought us into that place had suffered an engine failure, and there was no spare parts, and we were stuck. And I was then having to miss large meetings on another island, whatever it was, Kabankalan, or one of those places — I’ve forgotten the exact location. But I knew that I was expected to be there.
Well, I heard that there was a big dinner. This was the day that the plane we were suppose to take would have been supposed to take off, but it was sitting on the airfield broken down, waiting for spare parts as it was an old XGI DC3. And they were waiting for parts. Well I heard there was this big dinner, and there was some General from America that was being honored. And he had flown in with his own chartered aircraft, one of the big DC4’s I guess, was what he had. And there was this dinner. And I thought maybe I could, maybe I could get a ride with him out of here. When the dinner is over, he’s going to take off after the dinner, I know.
So I went in the side door and wiggled my way past the guards up to the speaker’s table, and whispered in his ear my predicament that I was in, in Youth for Christ meetings, and my plane had broken down, and could I please have a ride. Now hey I had prayed before I tried this. I said, “Lord get me out of here.” (Laughs) And so praying, I found my way up to that head table and whispered in the General’s ear. He said, “Get on out of here. There is too many of you freeloaders around anyway.” And so, crestfallen and embarrassed, I went on back to the place where I was staying with the pastor Jerry Dulaka, who is now with the Lord, a dear Christian and Missionary Alliance Philippino pastor —I was staying in his home
And I went on back and, and the meetings in the other big city had to go on without me. Merrill Dunlop was there, and there had done very well. He said they never missed me — which of course was good for the humbling of whatever pride I had left. And so the weekend went by. Do you know what happened? Because I was stalled there and I couldn’t get out, and I had just to spend the time using it to pray and seek God and, and, and frankly to ask God why he did this to me.
But in those hours God gave me a refreshment of Spirit that I could sense. I knew that God had touched me and refreshed me in the hours when I was stalled and couldn’t get out. So you see, sometimes when you pray to God, doesn’t give you what you want. But he gives you what you need.
All right, it’s not a mistake to pray that God will open the way for you with people, He has a way of doing that. He also has a way of using closed doors for His glory, Hallelujah for that.
Paul says, “I wish you’d pray that I can come to you with joy by the will of God. Now we talked about this when we were studying in Romans a good while ago. God listens to our prayers concerning what we’d like to do in the schedules of our lives. He also reserves the right to determine how that is to be done. Paul got to Rome all right. But he got there as a prisoner. And he evangelized from a prison situation.
So when you pray, just remember God reserves the right to determine how the prayer will be answered. And then he says, “I want you to be refreshed. There’s something wonderful about being with other Christians. With one single solitary Christian, one-on-one as you share your life and your faith in Christ, or with the whole group of people who love Jesus, there’s a refreshing something about it. Well, Paul said, “Pray for me for these things.” Something to think about in our own intercessory prayer life.
Dear Father today, oh may we be wise in our praying and yielded in our obedience in Jesus name I ask, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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