Prayer Primer

Unforgiveness on my part sets up a wall that keeps God from answering my petitions.

Scripture: Mark 11:25-26, Hebrews 11


Alright thank you very much. Hello again radio friends, how in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend, Dr. Cook, and I’m so grateful for the privilege of coming to you day by day and once a week in some cases with a half hour program but just so grateful for the privilege of sharing God’s Word. Christian radio is wonderful, isn’t it? And commercial radio that makes room for God’s gospel is wonderful. What an opportunity we have in these days to speak to people all over the world concerning our blessed Lord. Make sure, beloved, that you are taking full advantage of every opportunity you have of sharing the gospel.

Well you and I are looking at Mark 11 and the Lord Jesus had said to his disciples “have faith in God” fellow’s, you’re dealing with God, not with some little religious game that people play. And it’s a matter of believing God and his Word. The key in verse 23 is that phrase “shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that those things which he sayeth shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he sayeth”. God given faith in your heart when you pray is the assurance of God’s perfect answer to your prayer. God given faith in your heart when you pray is the assurance of God’s perfect answer to your prayer.

Now, our Lord Jesus points out that the answer may not be in the form you asked for. If any of you is a Father, has a child that asks for bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a viper? Or if he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? What is the homespun illustration that our Savior was using there? Why, a small child might very well mistake a round flat stone for the little round flat loaves that they had in those days. He might very well mistake a poisonous snake for the eel that you buy in the fish market. He might well mistake a scorpion with its legs curled up under his little gray body, well might very well take it for a bird’s egg and reach out mistakenly for it. In each case, the Father says no, you don’t want that, you want this. And God often times does that for us. That’s the logic of answered prayer. Not doubt in your heart, a complete commitment to God’s perfect will is the best basis for praying right? So, he says “whatsoever things you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them”.

The last time we got together, we dwelt for a little while on some of those words; desire and pray. Believe: it is a word that means to accept and rely upon. It’s a very very good word, a very strong word and a very personal word I may add. Believe is not just a mental exercise, believe, as used in the Bible, has to do with commitment. You follow me? Commitment to your blessed Lord and to His will.

When I say to you all things that you desire when you pray, see it’s the Greek verb pisteuo, which means to place your faith in terms of commitment. Now that’s hard for me to do. I don’t know about you, but often times I find myself praying Lord, have thine own way. Lord I want your will but down in my heart, I know that I really want my own will and I have to level with God, I have finally to confess my own self-willed desires and I have to bring them to Him and confess them and ask the Lord Jesus to start to control me. Do you have that tendency? I think many of you do.

So this word believe, has to do with commitment and absolute trust in your blessed Lord. Then He says “believe that ye receive them”. “Believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them”. How do you do this? Do have to kid yourself? No. He says “believe that you receive”. That has to do with complete commitment to God in visualizing His, His underscored, perfect answer to your prayer.

Someone took me to task in a letter some time ago when I mentioned that faith visualizes the answer. “Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and trusts in God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, And cries, it shall be done”. Now I’m not teaching any kind of high fluting religious psychology, you know that. What I am saying is that faith in absolute commitment to the will of God as revealed in His Word and through his indwelling Holy Spirit, what you know to be God’s will, through His Word and through His Holy Spirit, commitment to God’s will visualizes a perfect answer to your prayer and receives it in advance.

Faith, Hebrews 11, is the substance of things hoped for. Paul points out in his logical way that if you got something, you don’t have to hope for it. If a man possesses it, what does he then hope for? So if faith is the essence, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. If you trust in your blessed Lord, you can visualize the answer as His perfect reply. Don’t tell God how to do it, just trust Him. Just trust Him and let your faith reach out and receive thankfully His answer. Then He says ye shall have. Your dependence on the Word of God and the promises of God give you confidence in the answer from God. I think the best illustration I know from my own life comes from that day when having told our two older girls, Lois hadn’t come along yet, but the two older ones were just little girls. Now we told them one day that we thought, we thought that if we budged the budget just right then we could get them a bicycle they could share, they would have to share it but they would have a bicycle. Oh, they were overjoyed and they dashed out the front door and said to the first child that happened to be a neighbor child that they met, “we got a bicycle, we got a bicycle” and so this skeptical city slicker, this little child said “where is it?” and the answer came back “Papa said we’re going to get it”. Now, those of you that are parents and grandparents, you know that when that little child is depending on you to keep a promise, you’re going to keep it at all cost. You’re not going to break confidence with that precious child. And back again to that verse I quoted a moment ago “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more your Heavenly Father?” See?

And so faith takes God’s promise. He never broke His word. The promises of God are yea and amen. Yea means yes and amen means so be it. All the promises of God in Him are yea and amen. So faith takes the promises of God and says that God is going to keep His word, Hallelujah. And I’ve got it. He shall have. Now that’s the logic of that 24th verse.

No, I’m not teaching some fancy religious psychology. Don’t get on my back about that, beloved. You know me better than that. What I am telling you is you stick to the Word of God, you follow the leading of the indwelling Spirit of God and you depend upon God’s promise and you are safe. You can thank him for giving you His best because He promised it even though it has not yet arrived. Amen?

Now we come to verse 25. He says, now did you underline those verbs in 24? Desire, pray, believe, receive, have, very important sequence of thought. Learn it and live it.
Now verse 25” and when you stand praying, forgive if you have ought against any, that your Father also which is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven forgive your trespasses”. Now the Lord Jesus annunciated this truth in other areas as well in what we call the Lord’s Prayer. He taught his disciples to say forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And he said in other references that you might find in the gospels that forgiveness is essential to answered prayer. Now why? Because unforgiveness sets up a wall that keeps God out of your life. I don’t know how it happens, I can’t tell you. I only know unforgiveness on my part sets up a wall that keeps God from answering my petitions. And unforgiveness on my part makes sure that the needs and the shortcomings and the sins that are in my own heart will continue to be there because as long as I, now watch this, as long as I refuse to forgive another person just so long will I be unwilling to confess my own needs. We call such people self-righteous, don’t we?

Haven’t you met folk who were bitterly criticizing someone else whom they refuse to forgive when in reality, the perceptive person could see a whole basket full of faults and sins and shortcomings that needed to be dealt with by the critic himself or herself. Isn’t it true? What we do is, we short circuit the spiritual electricity that makes it possible for God to work in our lives. As long as I refuse to forgive another, just so long will I also be unwilling to confess my own sins so God can forgive me. That’s what Jesus is saying. How important it is to do that. Well Brother Cook, you don’t know how deeply I’ve been hurt. Well that may be so because I don’t live inside your skin and you do and you know how deeply the hurt is felt. I understand that.

There are some things that are humanly impossible and this is one of them or you have been deeply hurt and there is scar tissue and the memories are raw and painful and somebody comes and says you ought to forgive him or her. You feel like screaming at them “You don’t understand”. Isn’t it true? But I learned years ago from reading a book by one of God’s choice servants that where you can’t forgive humanly, Jesus, who dwells within you by His Spirit, can. He hung on the cross in the consuming agony of not only physical pain but bearing all our sins, all the sins of all the world heaped upon His innocent and perfect character. Jesus, God’s lamb, being slain.

And in that moment when physical and spiritual agony were concentrated into the essence of a tragedy, the darkened, the sun, and broke the Father’s heart. Jesus said “Father, forgive them”. He is the great forgiver. He can forgive. And if you today are a child of God, Jesus our blessed Lord dwells in your heart by His Holy Spirit, ask Him to handle it. He’ll do the forgiving and you can yield to Him.

Dear Father today, Oh, may we depend upon our blessed Savior to handle the things in our nature that we couldn’t otherwise handle. Thou are the Almighty God. We trust thee. 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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