Prayer And Knowledge
Routine praying never moved any mountains. Routine, ordinary, habitual, shallow, thoughtless praying never produced any miracles, never healed any broken hearts, never moved anybody closer to God, including the pray-er.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again dear radio friend. How in the world are you? Well, I’ve just been praying that God might put His love and His tenderness, and His blessing, and His truth, and His power, and all that God can mean to a hungry heart. Put it into my voice and the words that I say as you, and I trust together for some word from His eternal truth, the Bible.
So we’re looking at Ephesians chapter 1, and Paul said, “I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.” We took that up with intercession. Intercession is not only mentioning somebody in your prayer, but actually identifying with their need. And the great example that we gave you was from Exodus 32:32 where Moses said, “These people have sinned a great sin yet now if thou wilt forgive their sin, but if not, blot me I pray thee out of thy book which thou has written.”
Now the same concept is found in Paul’s approach to praying. He said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” He said — I could wish he said. This is Romans chapter 9, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. I say the truth in Christ I lay not my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.” And then he says in chapter 10, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.”
That’s intercession. And you stop to think of the treatment that Paul got at the hands of his countrymen and you wonder how he had the grace to keep on praying. It’s a lesson for you and for me when sometimes we pray for people and they treat us poorly. It does seem that when God starts to answer you prayer for folk they treat you worse, isn’t that true? Things have to get worse before they get better, it seems.
Well, be that as it may, we’re in God’s hands and when you start praying for someone, you can be sure that you’re plugged in to heaven and then what’s happening is not just happenstance, but it’s part of the answer to prayer and part of the plan of God. Don’t quit, don’t give up. Cease not said he. I cease not making mention of you in my prayers — intercession.
Now, our Lord Jesus, of course, is a prime example of what it means to intercede, because — and He’s still at it as a matter of fact. He maketh intercession for us. He’s able to save to the uttermost all that cometh to God by Him seeing He ever liveth, Hebrew 7:25, “ever liveth to make intercession for them.” See? Over in John chapter 17, the high priestly prayer of the Lord Jesus, he said, “I pray for them” — talking about his disciples, those that you’ve given me, verse 9, “I pray for them.” And he says, “Keep them from the evil one, sanctify them through thy truth, and I pray not only for them alone, but for all of them also who shall believe in me through their word.”
Praying for his dear ones, not only his disciples then, but for you and for me who come tripping along down the road of time, centuries later, He had you and me in mind as well — intercession. Get under another person’s needs so that you identify with it. Psychologists call that being made vulnerable. If you’re really going to counsel anybody, you have to become vulnerable, they say, in the books. What does that mean? It means you have to identify with their need to the place where their hurt hurts you. That’s what Paul said, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that weep.” Why? Because until you identify with another person’s need, you can’t really do much effective praying about it. Right?
I often think of the difference between the prayer offered by a man — the first time I met him, I was a guest in his home and he was saying grace and he prayed a little perfunctory prayer that was good enough. I’m sure the Lord heard it, but it was perfunctory. It was routine, asked the Lord to bless the food. He didn’t use the prayer that we pray over the hash. Do you know what to pray over hash when it’s served? I guess you know that, don’t you? He said, “Lord, again, we thank you for this food. Bless the hands that have repaired it.” But he prayed a perfunctory little prayer.
Some years later, however, he was in deep trouble and his family and he came knocking at my door one day and I brought him inside and we sat down together on the big blue sofa in the front room and he told me what was on his heart. And I said, “Well, we better pray, hadn’t we?” So we got down on our knees and I prayed for him first and then I said now you better pray. Oh now he prayed differently from what he had with that first day I met him. Now the agony of his soul came out and his tears began to flow. And he began really to pray because it had touched his own life.
See, now, that’s the difference. Routine praying never moved any mountains. Routine, ordinary, habitual, shallow, thoughtless praying never produced any miracles, never healed any broken hearts, never moved anybody closer to God, including the pray-er. You have to get under the burden and identify with it. As the psychologist says, you got to be vulnerable so that it gets to you. And then when that happens and you begin to carry the other person’s burden you can carry it, thank God, to the throne of grace.
Yes and then God begins to work in other people’s lives because of you. Mark chapter 2, four men brought a sick man to Jesus, couldn’t get in the front door so they uncovered the roof of this flat topped dwelling, picked up the tiles that were there and let the sick man down through the hole that they had made. And when Jesus saw their faith he said to the sick man, paralyzed, sick of the palsy, it is called the paralyzed man, he said to him, son, thy sins are forgiven, and then second command, rise, take up the pallet in which you’re lying and walk. He saw their faith, intercessory prayer. Oh may God teach us about that. We know far too little it seems to me.
The world can be moved by prayer. People who did research into some of the great revivals, the Welsh revival, for example, and some of the other great revival movements in a century passed have found out that there were people praying specifically about that. And they prayed for quite sometime. Edwin Orr, who’s now with our Lord, told me the story of having visited a town where revival broke out suddenly and people gathered at the little local church without any announcement of evangelistic meetings or anything else and they were crying out to God about their sins. What had happened was that there were two people, two ladies who had covenanted to God to pray for revival in that village, a wicked place and godless for the most part. And as they prayed over a period of time God then sovereignly answered their prayers.
Our brother, Billy Graham, as perhaps you know, never goes to an area for a city-wide or area-wide crusade unless between 18 months and two years has been spent in preparation in prayer. The first thing that has to be done is to organize prayer meetings all over the area. Oh God has given to him great wisdom in this because that’s what makes the difference, isn’t it?
Cease not to pray for you he said. Are you under anybody’s burden today? Are you identifying with anybody else’s burden today? I think I’m awfully selfish when it comes to that, if I look at myself. I have to ask God to do something in my heart while I’m ministering to you, precious ones. Ask God to help us get under the burden of others, not just our own. We’ve got enough troubles, Heaven knows I’ve got enough, haven’t you? But ask God to help us get under other people’s burdens — in intercession. Yeah, it’s a good idea, I think, and you and I better work on it, hadn’t we? Alright.
Now what is Paul asking about these people? What does God want — what does Paul want God to do? What does Paul want God to do? He said, “I’m praying for you,” verse 17 Ephesians 1, here’s where we are now, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation and the knowledge of him.” Now, how do you begin to understand eternal things? I’m going to oversimplify this. That’s what my faculty at the college always accused me of being over simplistic. You get a PhD, you’ve got to use longer words. You know that.
Let me simplify this. How do you begin to understand what God is up to — that’s the word wisdom? And how are you enable to tell somebody else what He’s up to — that’s the word revelation? He says in the knowledge of him, the knowledge of him.
Our Lord Jesus in his high priestly prayer said, “This is life eternal that they may know thee.” Greek for genosco, which means personally know, personally to know, not just mentally to know. Like we know two and two is four but personally to know. As if to say I know John Smith, he is my friend, I know him. That’s the word that they may know thee, the only true God in Jesus Christ whom not had sinned.
Now it’s the same thing here in the knowledge him. See? How do you begin to understand what God is doing? That’s the word wisdom. You wait with him and stay in His presence until you begin to understand what He’s doing. I know it seems like an old theme that we pound on far too often maybe, but maybe not. It’s awfully important to spend sometime in the presence of your Lord. And it has to be a process that takes precedence over other things.
Now time will run out in the next 30 seconds and I’ve got to make this quick, but listen to it, will you? The verb that’s used has a little prefix to it, epi, which means up over or upon. The knowledge that’s up over other kinds of knowledges, epi genosco. The knowledge that takes precedence over other things, that is the point at which you begin to understand what God is doing. When you spend time with Him that takes precedence over other interests and make Him first. This is Matthew 6:33 all over again, isn’t it, about “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” We’ll come back to this the next time we get together.
Dear Father, today, help us to get under the burden of others and carry it to Thee by faith 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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