The Ask

The earnest ask, thanks, worship and intercession are four keys in prayer. Be sure to give God His proper place and have the right attitude of heart.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 2:1, Romans 1, Matthew 14


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Doing alright today?

Thank God we can be in the world, but not of it. That’s the background of that little greeting that has become part of our trademark. I guess you know that. You don’t have to be tarred with the world’s brush. You don’t have to be smeared with the world’s dirt. You can be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

May that be your blessed privilege today: In the world, but not of it.

You and I’ve been looking at 1 Timothy, and finished the first chapter. We’re now looking at the beginning of chapter 2 of 1 Timothy. Paul said, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honest. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Well, that’s quite a mouthful of truth there isn’t it? We’ve just got to take it word for word, I believe, and see what God will say to us.

Now, this word “exhort” is a very loving word, but an urgent word. Whenever Paul “exhorts,” it’s, it’s, it’s more than a comment. It’s not a strident command – “you got to do it” – but it’s a plea. He says, “Lovingly I want to urge you to do this.”

What does he want? First of all, he said, “Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” Now, supplication has to do with what I need. I come as a supplicant if I have a need. Prayer has to do with worship. I worship in prayer. Intercession has to do with pleading for another person’s need. And giving thanks, I guess you understand that that’s, that’s thanking God for all of His blessings and for answers to prayer. This, it would seem, wraps up the activity that ought to be normal in the life of every believer – yours, that is, and mine.

Where does he start? “Supplication.” Well, I think Paul was a realist. He knew that when we pray, we have on our mind the things that appear to us to be so important, the things that we need, and the, the failures that we face, and the weaknesses that we admit and confess. Supplications.

Just this thought: Don’t come to God on the basis of, of a laundry list that you’re bringing, and say, “God, do this.” A supplicant is one who comes asking for something on the basis of the mercy of the giver. A supplicant is one who hopes for mercy, “Let us come therefore boldly unto the throne of grace,” says the writer to the Hebrews, “that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.”

If you have a need, then you’re a supplicant, but how do you approach with your supplication? You approach the throne of grace and ask for mercy. You follow me there? You understand what I’m saying? So many of us, when we praise, say, “Now, Lord do this and do that and do the other, please. Amen.” We presented our little laundry list to the Almighty, and God being as patient as He is, He puts up with this, but if we did it properly we would come by way of Calvary and the bowed heart and the, the tear-filled eyes, and the contrite spirit. We’d come to the throne of grace to obtain mercy.

Supplications. Do you want to think about that in connection with your own prayer life? Now, it must be admitted that sometimes there isn’t time even to get yourself into the mood to pray. You have to pray in a hurry because you’re in the middle of an emergency, and God certainly hears those prayers.

Matthew 14 tells the story of Simon Peter, who at the invitation of the Lord Jesus stepped out of the little ship and began to walk on the water, but seeing the wind and the waves boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried, “Lord save me!” That was one of the shortest prayers on record, but I’ll tell you, it was sincere and urgent, wasn’t it? For he was about to swallow some gallons of the Sea of Galilee water on the way down.

Well, it said, “Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.” Said, “Oh, faith, why did you doubt?” “Lord save me.”

Now, there, there wasn’t any time for a committee meeting at that point. There wasn’t any time to get yourself into a mood of worship. There wasn’t any time to review your theological approach. He simply had to pray on the basis of the immediate crisis, and so indeed, may you and I.

“Call unto Me in the day of trouble and I will answer thee and, and deliver thee and thou shall glorify Me,” says the, the Word of God.

Yes, you’re allowed to pray when you’re under pressure. Do it. Pray, I said to you the last time we got together. Pray your way through the day. You’re allowed and encouraged to pray when you’re under pressure. The point being, however, that if you want to engage in a ministry of prayer, you need to come by way of the Cross and, and ask for mercy, not for your just desserts, or not bring a laundry list to God and, and give a bunch of orders in at the order desk of glory. You see the difference? I hope you do.

Then he says, “prayers,” and that’s worship. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” Worship. Now, how do you really worship? Some people contrive it.

I recall some years ago, there was someone that was going to lead the whole, the, the whole student body and faculty in what they called worship, and they had a whole litany worked out of things to read, and things to do.

Well, it, I gave them “A” for effort, but I just wondered how many people are really worshiping because, you see, worship has to do with the attitude of the heart. Worship has to do not with whether you’re kneeling or standing or sitting or lying down or reading or talking or, or whatever you may be doing. Worship has to do with the attitude of your heart. Has to do with whether God is really God. It has to do with whether God is on the throne of your life. Worship puts God in His place as Almighty God.

What is our Lord’s quarrel with the heathen, that they are heathen? No. That they do wrong things? Not primarily. What is it? Read Romans 1 and hear Paul say, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful. They became vain in their own imaginations, and changed the Glory of God into creatures, make light into sinful man,” and so on. Oh, “they glorified Him not as God.”

They didn’t give Him His place as God. That is what God wants. God is a Spirit in they that worship Him, must worship Him in Spirit and in truth – and Spirit means your inmost being, not what you’re saying or doing outside – and in truth – that means your attitude toward God has to be right. So this matter, “worship” – worship has to do with getting my heart right with God.

I have had the experience – and I don’t know whether this applies to you, but I suspect that it does – I’ve had the experience of praying one thing and feeling another. Praying something about wanting God’s Will, but really down in my heart wanting my own way. Have you had that experience?

Now, that is what is involved in getting ready to worship. You have to deal with that; with real brutal honesty, you have to own up to God and say, “God, I don’t really feel the way I’m talking. What I really feel is this, and this, and this, and I want your Will to be superimposed on mine. Not my will, but Thine be done. I want You to make me feel differently toward You and toward the situation.” And if you’ll confess to God that way, He will indeed answer you, my dear friend. “Call unto Me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not” is His promise. “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

You pray about your job, and your attitude toward the boss will change. That’s what that means. You pray about your job, and your attitude toward the work you’re doing will change. You pray about your job, and your attitude toward your fellow workers will change. That’s what that promise means. “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

God will make a difference in your inner attitude if you let Him, and all of this is involved in that matter, “worship.” “Prayer” means “worship.” “Worship” means “get my heart right. Get it in tune with God.”

Now, sometimes it takes some time. It does for me, at least. The beginning of your prayer, oftentimes, is a formality. “I have to spend some time in prayer,” I say to myself, and I get down and talk with God, and I know the language to use, for I’ve used it all my life, and suddenly the faithful Holy Spirit convinced me of the fact that some of the things I’m saying do not really represent the attitude of my inmost spirit. And I have to say, “Oh God, I can’t fool you. You know me, you know Bob Cook. You know how I feel about this. God, deal with my heart. Deal with my attitude. Make them right.” And when I begin to pray on that basis, believe me, I get somewhere.

Would you want to remember that as well the next time you’re praying? It’s not the words, not the formality, not the well-remembered cliches; it’s whether or not your heart is really right with God, and crying out to God for His Touch upon you.

Then he says “intercessions.” Now, time will run out before we get through thinking about this, but we’ll start anyway, shall we? “Intercession.” What does it mean to “intercede” for somebody? The first thing it means is to identify with, with the need of the other person.

To pray and say, “Lord, bless the missionaries,” you’re not interceding. To pray, as we often do, say, “Lord, bless the pastor and the, that the deacons and the church,” and so on. You’re not interceding, not at that point. You’re mentioning them in prayer, but that isn’t intercession as I understand it.

Intercession means getting under the burden that they bear, identifying with the problems they face, feeling the hurt that they feel, sharing the pain that wracks their being, weeping with tears that are, that are tears of, of the empathy. Paul says, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Intercession means “identify with the other person’s situation.” How much it means to us if somebody really understands us.

Dr. Clyde Naramore tells the story of visiting in another country, and he happened to be visiting a person who was immensely rich, but who was also very wary of outsiders. He didn’t trust anybody because he had learned through painful experience that most people who approached him were after some money because he was so rich. And Dr. Naramore said that he just spent a little time trying to understand the man and identify with him, and suddenly the man said, “You’re the first person that has ever really understood me. What do you think I should do with my wealth?”

Well, I suppose I could’ve given him some ideas at that point, don’t you? Out of that came the little motto that Dr. Naramore distributes now and again to some of his friends – I have one hanging on the walls of our home – “Every person is worth understanding.”

Ah yes, beloved, you need to get into where the other person lives, so you can feel where he’s hurting, and then pray for him. We’ll talk about that again the next time we get together.

Dear Father today, may we get under the burdens of others so we can pray for them effectively, I ask, 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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