Praying And Living In The Spirit
Get into the Word. Wait on God. Tell him the brutal truth about the situation. Don’t trim it. Don’t try to dress it up. Just tell Him how it is and then wait until the Spirit of God prays through you and you will have your answer.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You doin’ Alright. Well, I’m fine, thank you. And happy in the Lord and glad to be back with you. These are sort of little family reunions we have everyday. Don’t you feel that way? I certainly feel as though I belong to you. I give myself away to you in so many ways. And when you write back to me, you share who you are and what you are and how you feel with me in your letters. And so, we’re family and I like that. Don’t you? Thank God for it. It’s one of his precious gifts to us that we can belong to each other in Jesus. Hallelujah for that.
Well, you and are looking at Romans 8 as a contrast to 2 Peter 2. What I wanted to do was not simply to dwell on the gloomy and brutally terrible truth of religious fakery as it shows up in Christian circles now and again. Peter was talking about false teachers, but also to show you the contrast of what you have in the real thing, so to speak. You don’t specialize in counterfeits, you specialize in knowing the real thing.
Somebody handed the cashier a $50 bill as I was waiting in line at the grocery store not long ago. And I saw the clerk look at it, look at it carefully and then took the bill and rubbed it against something on the cash register. And after having looked at the result of rubbing it on the cash register, she then proceeded to make change for the $50 bill and the customer moved on and away. And so, then, it was my turn. And I said to her, “Why did you do that? Why did you rub the bill against that place there on the cash register?” “Oh,” she said. “That’s how you tell whether it’s real or not. See, the real bill reacts differently from a counterfeit.”
Ah, you specialize in knowing what is real. Not necessarily in the counterfeit. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Even the world knows that you pay attention to the real thing. Alright. We’re Christians. Let’s specialize in real relationships with our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why I’m referring as then in these days to Romans 8 as a contrast to 2 Peter 2. We’ll get back again to that blessed little book in a very short time.
Now, new power and prayer. That’s what we’ve been talking about the last time we got together. And one of the great secrets of effective praying is just to be honest with God.
It has to do, for example, in dealing with our mistakes and shortcomings and sins. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins,” the Greek word, ‘confess’ means ‘say the same thing’. ‘Homo’ means ‘the same’, ‘loga’ always the verb ‘to say, to agree’ in other words, with God about what’s going on. Tell God the truth about it. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all and righteousness. And so, it’s a matter of telling God the truth and then accepting His blessed will for your life as the Holy Spirit of God continuous to live through you and pray through you.
Paul says in Galatians, “We live in the Spirit.” And here in Romans 8, he says, “We pray in the Spirit. The Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” And he prays, says Paul, “According to the will of God.” Any prayer that’s offered in the will of God gets its answer from the God who’s will you submit to. We know, he said, that if we ask anything — this is 1 John 5. Remember I quoted it for you yesterday? “If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petitions we desired of Him.” Mark 11 says, “Don’t pray unbelieving.” But he says, “What things so ever you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them.”
Pray toward the answer. Little pocket booklet that I received so many years ago, the pages are now yellowed and old, but it still has precious truth in it. This writer said, “Don’t pray toward the problem. Pray toward the answer.” Said, “You can tell God in 17 words or less what the problem is. Pray toward the answer. Visualize the answer.” Don’t tell God what to do because you get into trouble when you try to dictate to God. That’s presumption. But pray toward the answer. The God who answers, pray toward the answer and believe God. No, beloved. Don’t get upset.
I’m not advocating the kind of flippant and shallow procedure that some are advocating where you name it and then claim it and God is obligated to do something for you. No, God is sovereign and you and I are creatures. He’s the creator and we’re the clay. And you have to approach God reverently with the knowledge that He does things according to His own will. And even our Savior said, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me and nevertheless, not as I will but as Thou wilt.”
We may well take the example of our Blessed Savior and submit to the will of God as we pray. All of that is true. Don’t be presumptuous and don’t be flippant and don’t resort to the shallow kind of praying that just rushes into the presence of God with the laundry list and then rushes out again. You know all of that. I don’t need to tell you, do I? But what we are saying is let your faith reach out to the answer. Pray believing God for the answer. Pray expecting God to work. When you ask God for something, then go through the day expecting Him to work.
I’ve often had the privilege of counseling with folk who found it difficult to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. And I’ve advised them at the beginning of the day to pray that God would put them into situations where they could share their faith in Christ. And then, I’ve told them, now live through the day expecting God to open the doors. Well, they’ve come back with radiant testimonies as to how God opened the door. You can believe God for the answer. That’s the point I’m making. The Holy Spirit of God prays through you according to God’s will.
And when that happens, you can believe God for the answer because the Bible says so. When we pray according to God’s will, we have the petition. And so, it would seem to me that the turning point in praying would be that we take time enough to wait before God in His word and in worship and in submission to God’s will until we know that we’re praying according to God’s will. Then, we’ll have the answer. Does that make sense to you? The variable factor is not whether God is willing. The variable factor again is not whether or not we have a need.
The variable factor is, are we praying in the Spirit? How do you do that? You get into the Word. You wait before God. You tell God the truth about the situation and about yourself in it. And you wait until the Holy Spirit of God prays through you according to the will of God.
Now, anything I tell you, I’ve been there. I’ve had the experience of starting up praying about a problem and finding that I had no witness of the Spirit at all in my heart as I prayed. Nothing to indicate that I was praying effectively, even though, I was quite earnest about the matter because it was a serious problem.
I remember so clearly that time when I was very earnest and I’d set aside time. A whole morning, I was going to wait in prayer concerning this problem that I was praying about. But I was getting nowhere. And then, I backed off and just quietly waited before God and I was led to begin to pray along a different line about that problem. And you know, the heavens opened and I was blessed. And within weeks, the thing resolved and I had the joy of praising the Lord for an answer. Just wait on God. Get into the Word. Wait on God.
Tell him the brutal truth about the situation. Don’t trim it. Don’t try to dress it up. Just tell him how it is and then wait until the Spirit of God prays through you and you will have your answer. Amen? Oh, Amen. Praise the Lord for answered prayer.
Well, let’s go on. This — we’ve got a — we’ve got a contrast here between 2 Peter, the second chapter, false teachers, false motives, false values, covetousness, addicted to sin, cannot seize from sin, making merchandise of other people, using other people for your own gain, cursed children, Peter calls them. Never really were saved but they’re religious enough to get in to the company of other believers. Oh, he says, “For whom is reserved the mist of darkness forever.” These are people who are unsaved but who are religious, they’re phonies. That’s what Peter was talking about in 2 Peter 2.
For a contrast then, we’ve been over here in Romans 8 to show the real, the real benefits of being a Spirit-filled believer. Well, there’s not only a power in prayer but there’s a new rationale for life, a new rationale for life. What do these false teachers have as their rationale?
It said, “They walk after the lust of their flesh and they make merchandise of people and they have covetous practices.” That is, to say, everything they do is based upon what do I get out of it? That’s their rationale. What is the rationale for the believer? Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” I have three — all things here. “All this work together for good,” verse 28, “Shall he not, with the Lord Jesus, also freely give us all things,” verse 32.
And then, in verse 37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors.” When we get to the end of the chapter, I’m going to wrap it up with some comment about those three passages. But for now, in the two or three minutes that remain for us on this broadcast, it says, we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. Now, there’s a statement about the circumstances. There’s a statement about the action that is involved.
And then, there’s a statement about the type of people who are involved in it. Let’s start with the people first, shall we? “To them that love God.” It doesn’t say anything about your track record. Our Lord Jesus said to Simon Peter. “Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired thee that he may sift thee as wheat, but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. And when thou are turned against strength and thy brethren.” Jesus, talking to Simon Peter who was about to deny that he even knew his blessed Lord, “sift you as wheat but I prayed for you that your faith fail not.”
Peter’s track record wasn’t very good. His conduct faltered and failed. But he says that thy faith fail not. Over to James, and he says, “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into different kinds of temptations, knowing that the trial of your faith worketh patience.” What’s the idea here? God is interested in my heart relationship. To Him, He knows I’m a faltering and oftentimes, failing human being because I’m a son or a daughter of Adam. But he says, I want your love, “to them that love God.” He wants my heart.
My friend, Jack Richard, who used to cut my hair when I was in college, used to twirl, whirl me around in his barber chair, and say, “Brother Cook, I can — know I love God just as much as I know I love my wife? Yes, you can. You can love God with all your heart.” And that, my friend, is the beginning of a rationale that makes all of life makes sense. “Them that love God.” Do you love Him? Do really love God or you just sort of associated with religious things? Well, that comes through the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:5 says, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given unto us.” And all I can tell you is if you want to love God, get alone with Him in prayer and in the Word, and the Spirit of God will take care of whether or not you love Him. Let me get back to this the next time we get together. Time has gone now and I’m going to have to say goodbye.
Dear Father, today, oh, may we live in the Spirit and pray in the Spirit. And may we see the beautiful good sense that there is in God’s plan for our lives. 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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