Prayer Conditioning

What we are saying is that effective praying has to involve the whole being. It has to involve all of you. And it is a battle, and you have to work at it.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:25, Romans 15:30, Romans 5:5, Galatians 5:22


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends, how in the world are you? You doing alright today? Oh, I trust everything’s going well at your house. And if, as I sometimes say, if you’ve struck a rough day, and we all do now and then, if you’ve struck a rough day, look up and say, “Lord Jesus, see me through this one. I’m trusting you,” and you know He will. “Commit thy way unto the Lord. Trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” You can trust your Lord, even if you’ve struck a rough day.

Well, your good friend, Bob Cook, is back with you, and we’re talking about this matter of prayer, especially in the light of the Apostle Paul’s request in First Thessalonians Five, “Brethren,” said he, “Pray for us.” Now, I talked for a little while about the prayer request of Simon the Sorcerer. He wanted prayer, so that he could get out of the mess he was in. The answer to that is, “Do some repenting, and do your own praying, and you’ll get out.” “Repent and pray,” said Peter. He said, “You pray for me.” Well, that isn’t gonna help, if you don’t repent. You have to get right before your praying will do much good.

Then we came over to Romans 15:30, and we had just started to dip into that Verse. 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, that I may deliver from them that do not believe, that my service may be accepted by the saints of Jerusalem, that I may come unto you with joy, by the will of God, and may, with you, be refreshed.” The basis of his praying was love for Christ and the answering love of the Holy Spirit, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Romans 5:5 said, “The Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, who is given unto us.” The love of the Spirit is the love that the Holy Spirit puts in your heart. “The fruit,” Paul says in Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness.” The Love of the Spirit is the Love of God put in your heart by the Holy Ghost, and for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Lord, He is Jesus, your human Savior. He is Christ, God’s anointed, and all of that wrapped up in your praying, is implemented by the Holy Spirit of God, who puts God’s love in your heart.

Now, that’s the basis of praying, not the request itself. The basis of your praying has to be love for your Savior and the Love of God shed abroad in your heart, then you get at this matter of praying. Now, he uses an interesting word, “Strive together, with me, in your prayers to God for me.” Praying, oftentimes, involves a great deal of actual work. You work at this matter of successful praying. “Laboring,” Paul says in another place, “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers.” See? “That you strive together, with me.”

Now, what kind of a word is that? Well, it’s a compound word. It starts with a little prefix ‘syn,’ which means ‘with,’ and then it uses the Greek verb ‘agónizomai,’ which is the idea of the agony of a competition, the putting forth of your utmost. Some person on television started that phrase, “The joy of winning and the agony of defeat,” and then they showed this poor skier coming down the mountain, and losing it, and flipping over, and going through a fence, and landing on top of a building, or whatever it is. You’ve seen that clip on television: The agony of defeat. Well, it’s not only being defeated, that isn’t the whole business there. This is, to agonize in prayer, means that you’re working at it, you’re giving it your best effort, every bit of your mind, as well as your emotions, and your body, as well, is involved in this matter of praying.

“Strive together, with me, in your prayers.” Why does he use that word ‘strive?’ Well, first, human nature is against effective praying. Tell me, has it not often been the case with you, when you got down on your knees, you were going to pray, that a dozen different things you ought to do popped into your mind and your body became restless? You maybe got a cramp in one leg, or whatever, and it was hard to stay on your knees to pray. Human nature, routinely, is against effective praying, because we’re fallen sons and daughters of Adam. You gotta work at it. You gotta go beyond that little voice, that says inside of you, “Come on, say, ‘Amen.’ Let’s get outta here.” Strive. Work at it.

A second reason is that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. You’re fighting a spiritual battle. When you kneel down to pray, you are entering into a spiritual battle. Satan and his demons oppose you. Your own human nature pulls back and holds you back, but the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, dwells within you, as a believer. “He will pray through you,” it says, “With groanings, which cannot be uttered.” Read Romans Eight. I think it’s Verse 26, “We know not what we should pray for us, we ought, but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us, with groanings, which cannot be uttered.” The Holy Ghost will pray through you.

The first thing is, human nature shrinks from effective praying, and second, the powers of hell oppose it, but you can pray with power, because of the Holy Spirit of God impelling you and praying through you. Never be satisfied with your praying, until you know that you have prayed, as we say, in the Spirit, that is to say, what your lips are saying, has been impelled by the Holy Spirit of God, who dwells within you. This is not a deep, fanatical mysticism, this is just good sense. You will know, just as all the rest of us who love Jesus will know, when you’re praying in the Spirit, according to the will of God. It will G-up with the Word of God. It’ll agree with God’s Word. The Spirit of God will witness with your own spirit, that you’re praying right, and there will be that vast, ineffable sense of joy, as you approach the throne of grace, and find grace to help in time of need. Never be satisfied with routine, dumb, dull praying. Always continue in prayer, until your heart is warm and tender, and the Spirit of God has prayed through you with effectiveness and power. “Strive together, with me,” said He, “In your prayers to God for me.”

Jim Mercer, whom I haven’t seen in many years, an evangelist, was with us in the early days of Youth for Christ, during the days when I served as President of Youth for Christ. And in that connection, we would have different series of youth rallies in different areas of the country. One such was put on by my dear friend, Evon Hedley, who superintended the planning and the promoting of a series of youth rallies in Toronto, and they were held in an exhibition hall, I think, in the National Canadian exhibition grounds there, as I recall, and we had some good crowds, good meetings. But with it, we had certain problems that I had to face, having to do with people, and funds, and all the rest.

And so I was burdened about it, and I recall saying to Jim Mercer, who was present with us in one of the meetings, I said, “Boy, I’ve gotta seek God. I’ve gotta pray, because I got burdens here.” And he looked at me, he said, “Listen, I don’t have any meeting on Monday night. I’m in a series of meetings over at Owen Sound, Ontario.” And he said, “We don’t have meetings on Monday night. I’ll come over on Monday, and when you get through in the exhibition hall, we’ll have a prayer meeting.” “Oh,” I said, “That’s great.” And so, after the meeting, there he was. We went over to this little hotel, where we were staying, and the room where I was wasn’t very big, it just had a single bed in it, and there’s room for a chair, and a dresser, and that was about it. But there was room on either side of that single bed for a person to kneel, and so Jim Mercer knelt on one side, and I on the other, and we prayed.

Well, I prayed first and I told God my troubles. I told Him what I was up against and I asked Him, “Please, to help us and guide us,” which, incidentally, He did. The thing worked out fine. But then it was Jim’s turn to pray, and he began to pray, and as he prayed, I was aware that the whole bedstead was vibrating with a… Well, all I can say is vibrating. The man was praying so hard that he was trembling. He was really getting hold of God for his friend, Bob Cook. And as he prayed, I sensed the presence of God in that room, and I sensed the touch of God upon us both. He was striving for me in his prayer. I’ll always be grateful for that. I think that was one of the turning points in my own life in ministry. And God worked out the problems that were before us, and everything turned out to His glory, and we knew that the Lord had worked, in answer to prayer. The man was striving in his prayer for me.

Now, I’m not teaching you, that when you pray effectively, you have to shake or tremble. That isn’t the point, is it? What we are saying is, that effective praying has to involve the whole being. It has to involve all of you, and it is a battle, and you have to work at it. And the Holy Spirit of God will enable you to do so, as He prays through you. That’s really what we’ve said here.

Now, what did Paul want? He said, “That I may be delivered from them, that do not believe, who live in Judea.” Always, there were his critics, criticizing because he was preaching the Gospel of the grace of God, and extending the offer of salvation to people who were not of the Jewish nation. “To the Jew first,” said he, “And also to the Greek.” And so he was criticized for this. They hated him for it. He said, “I want to be delivered from them.”

Is it alright to pray that God may deliver you from your enemies and your critics? Of course, it is. The Bible says, “When a man’s ways please the lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Yes, it’s alright to pray that you may be delivered from your critics, just be sure that you’re doing the right thing yourself. Dr Ironside said to me, many years ago, when I was complaining to him about people criticizing me, he said, “Well, if your critics are right, mend your ways.” He said, “If they’re wrong, forget it, and go on, and serve the Lord.” Good advice. You can pray that God will deliver you from your critics, but you keep on, meanwhile, doing the will of God. Don’t stop, just because somebody’s criticizing you, and sit around, and feel sorry for yourself. You keep on doing God’s will, but, yes, you can pray that God will handle your critics, and indeed, He will. Well, we’ll get at the rest of this the next time we get together.

Father God, today, oh, we love Thee, and we worship Thee, and we pray that Thou wouldst make us obedient servants and effective prayer warriors, through Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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