Pray Specifically

The point at which prayer becomes real is the point of absolute commitment when there isn't any other resource but God in the matter.

Scripture: John 4:46-54, Mark 11


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? You doing alright today? Well, yes, I wait for you to answer, I know many of you do, even though we don’t have two-way communication as yet. I suppose if we live long enough, the time will come when you’ll have a television screen and you can talk with people and see them while you talk. And that’d be something, wouldn’t it? People come up to me and say, “Oh, you don’t look at all like I thought you would.” [laughter] I generally say, “Well, I hope it’s not too great a shock.” Well, in any case, we can communicate with each other as we speak the Word of God, and that’s the best kind of communication, isn’t it?

You and I are studying in John 4 and we’ve launched now into this story of the nobleman whose son was ill. He says, “There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.” Now, remember, Capernaum was a place where the Lord Jesus said the things that had been done in Capernaum, had they happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, those wicked cities would have repented long ago. Capernaum was a place where… Well, there were not too many people that really received the Lord Jesus. But here was this man, he’d heard that the Lord Jesus Christ could make a difference and so he said, when he heard that Jesus had come into Galilee, he went unto Him and besought Him that he would come down and heal his son, because he, that is the son, was at the point of death.

Scripture’s so plain about things. The process of getting help from Jesus, what is it? He heard that Jesus was come. Now, you know that. You know that our Lord Jesus is alive, He was crucified and dead and buried and rose again bodily from the grave, He ascended into heaven, He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father on high, and He intercedes for the believer. He is real. Jesus is alive. Jesus is real. You know that. He heard, He went. He went unto him.

As a matter of fact, beloved, some of you have yet to go to Jesus in terms of the things that are breaking your heart or ruining your life or both. You talk about it. You talk to other people about it. You perhaps seek some kind of help or counsel about it, but you’ve never yet come to the Lord Jesus and say, “Lord, I’ve got to have some help from you. You’re the only one.” “He went,” it says, “Unto Him.” And then it says, “He besought Him.” Earnest praying, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” says James. The ancient prophet, speaking for God, said, “Ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Moses, in his writing said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” This word ‘besought’ means earnest, not to say impassioned pleading. Oh, the pouring out of his need before Jesus.

Now, the decibel level of your praying doesn’t matter. God heard Hannah when she whispered her prayer for a child there in the temple. The decibel level, the loudness of your prayer doesn’t matter. What does matter is the temperature of your soul. Are you real with God? Praying demands sincerity. How many of us make speeches to God? I’ve found myself doing that. I was saved as a little boy of not quite six years old, and yesterday was my birthday and it’s been a great many years since I was saved and I ought to know better, but I find myself making a little speech to God oftentimes and I have to stop and back up and say, “Excuse me, Lord, this really is what’s on my heart.” God waits for you to be real with Him. Praying always with all prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Prayer is worship, supplication is telling Him what you need, thanksgiving is receiving it by faith. The process of making a difference in your life concerning those things that are burdening you and threatening to break your heart or break up your home or whatever your problem may be is, you know about Jesus, now go to Him and tell Him about it. He besought Him. Does that make sense so far? Then it was specific, “Come down and heal his son.” Specific praying.

I was the commencement speaker the other day at Toccoa Falls College, a great school that has turned out so many Christian leaders through the past years, and President Paul Alford was my host and we had some great times together. I don’t know if my speech did any good, but I certainly was blessed in that occasion. And afterward, we were greeting different friends and a gentleman walked up to me, he said, “You don’t remember me.” He said, “I’m the man that prayed about the submarine.” I said, “Oh… [laughter] Brother Post.” Harry, I think that’s his first name. Harry Post. A missionary who, during World War II days, was evacuated from his post somewhere in the South Pacific and was coming on home to the United States aboard a tramp freighter, wallowing its way through the Pacific Ocean swells, trying somehow to avoid being sunk by enemy submarines.

And so it was that on a given day as our Brother Post and some of the others were standing by the rail of this ancient freighter, they saw the dreaded spume of spray out aways from them that betokened the periscope of a submarine. And as the freighter went on its way that spume of ocean spray kept following, and they knew that they were being watched by a submarine. Well, our brother said, “I thought I knew how to pray before.” But he said, “I learned to pray specifically.” We prayed, “Oh, God, don’t let him hit us. And if he does, misdirect his torpedoes, jam the torpedo tubes and stop his motors.” He said, “We prayed all over that submarine.” [laughter] Well, I can imagine so. And God answered prayer, incidentally. And after a while the periscope was lowered, the waters were calm, and there was no more danger.

He said, “Come down and heal my son.” There is no substitute for definite, specific praying. What do you want? Our Lord Jesus approached some blind men one day as He went out of the town of Jericho, and He said, “What do you want me?” They were crying, “Have mercy on us. Have mercy on us.” You remember the story? And He said, “What do you want me to do?” Now, He knew they were blind and He knew that that’s probably what they wanted, He knew everything so He didn’t have to be told. He said, “What do you want?” They said, “Lord, that we might receive our sight.” God waits for you to tell Him. He waits for you to tell Him what you want so He can do it. Why? Because in the telling, beloved, in the saying of your need to God, the door of faith is opened up, ever so slightly maybe, but opened. And God is enabled to do. God will not be allowed to do anything in the unbelieving heart.

It says of our Lord Jesus, “He could there do no many mighty works among them because of their unbelief.” Save that He laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them, He couldn’t do any mighty work because of their unbelief. They said, “We know this man. We don’t believe in Him.” And so the almighty hand of God was stayed by human unbelief. It was ever thus and it will be so in your heart and in mine. It’s the telling, the earnest presentation of your need to God opens the door of faith, be it ever so slightly, and God is enabled to work on your behalf. Jesus said it, didn’t He? In the passage in Mark 11, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Where’s the process? Desire, pray, believe, receive and have. Oh, what is it with you today, beloved? Have you come to Jesus? Have you told Him? Have you poured out your heart to Him? Have you been specific in your praying?

See, to pray, “Lord bless me, and Lord bless the family, and Lord help me,” these are all good prayers, and God knows what you mean, obviously. But if you want some real result, you wanna pray specifically. That’s why I advise people to have a prayer book. Get yourself a blank notebook and on one facing page put your requests and the date when you started to pray about them. And on the blank facing page, you put down the answer with the date when it arrived. That’s been such a blessing to me to look at some of those books through the years and see how God has answered prayers specifically. And I may say, on time. God’s never late. Learn to pray specifically. Get yourself that little prayer book and put your request down there with the date when you started to pray about it, and then when God answers, put the answer on the facing page with the date when it arrived, and it’ll be a strengthener to your own faith.

“He besought Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.” Now, our Lord Jesus said something that really tested the resolve and the faith of this man. You can just see Him sighing and say, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” He said, “Are you one of those people that says, ‘I’m from Missouri, show me?’ Are you another one of them?” He was testing the man. He knew him, of course. Well, the man passed the test. He said, “Sir, what’s involved here is not the signs and wonders. My boy is dying. Come on down before he dies.” What is important is the change that is needed in that precious boy’s life. “Come down, before he dies.”

Now, let me just stop here long enough to think with you about this. What is the point at which prayer becomes really real? The point at which prayer becomes truly real is the point at which you realize that there is no other way than God’s touch upon the situation. He said, “He’s gonna die if you don’t come down, Jesus.” The point at which prayer becomes truly real is the point at which you say, “There’s no other way, and it has to be God.”

Now, obviously, not all of life is a crisis. Life’s circumstances and our moods with them vary, sometimes even with the weather. So not all of life is in a crisis, I know that. You can’t be shouting all the time or crying all the time. But when you are praying, the point at which prayer becomes real is the point of absolute commitment when there isn’t any other resource but God in the matter. He said, “If you don’t come down, the boy will be dead.” That is the point at which the difference was made. Have you gotten there yourself? When you pray have you learned to commit it absolutely to your Lord without any side exit? Without any plan B? If nothing happens so as to save face. Absolutely committing to the Lord Jesus. That’s real praying.

Father God, today, oh, may our praying be definite, may our hearts be right, and may the answer be miracle. 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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