Monday, February 20, 2017


Before you begin your Bible study, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you have named your sins privately to God the Father.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(Known, Unknown and Forgotten sins) (1Jn 1:9)

You will then be in fellowship with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn Truth from the Word of God.

"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth," (Joh 4:24)


                        GOD’S COMMUNICATION SYSTEM

          While God communicates with man through His Word, He has given believers a grace means of communication with Himself; prayer. Prayer is an extension of the faith-rest technique (Mixing the Word of God with faith; and then Thinking with the Word; in EVERY circumstance; Rom 4:20-21) which we have already studied. Just as we learned a basic Thought of faith-rest, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1Pe 5:7) we need to know and use Promises related to prayer. Some of these are Promises involving faith and are important because in faith there is no merit; therefore, faith is compatible with the concept of grace.

          "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." (Mat 21:22)

          "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. (Mar 11:24)

          In eternity past God the Father devised a Plan for mankind. This was divided into three parts, which we call Phase One; (Salvation) Phase Two; (The believer is to reach Spiritual maturity; in time) Phase Three, (Eternity). In Phase One, the Lord Jesus Christ paid for man’s sins with His substitutionary death on the Cross. (2Co 5:21) Phase Two includes provision for regenerate man’s every need. The Holy Spirit, who sustained the humanity of Jesus Christ, also sustains the believer on earth. Phase Three is the provision of God the Father for eternity.
          In earlier studies we have seen various aspects of a believer’s life: Spirituality, faith-rest, Divine mental attitude, and carnality. Prayer is another vehicle of God’s grace provision for all believers, and God expects us to use it. However, people can’t use what they don’t Spiritually UNDERSTAND!
          When we speak to God it’s just as though He were in the room with us; (Omnipresence) because He hears us immediately. (Isa 65:24) But, let’s consider the distance to the throne room of God. The sun is about 93,000,000 miles from the earth. (Eight thousand times as far away as the United States is from China) The next closest star is much farther away than that. Light travels 186,000 miles a second, or six trillion miles a year. Light from the sun reaches us in eight minutes, but it takes light from the nearest star, (Proxima Centauri) more than four years to reach us! If Sirius (The Dog Star) should explode tonight, it would be nearly nine years before we saw the explosion!
          I have often speculated on how far prayer travels in a second. We know that the closest cluster of stars visible to the naked eye is Andromeda Nebula. Remember, one light year equals six trillion miles. The light we see from Andromeda Nebula left there one million, six hundred thousand light years ago. Not miles — light years! Now we can only speculate as to how far the throne room of God is beyond Andromeda Nebula — billions, perhaps trillions of light years away! This, then, is the distance your prayer travels. We talk about the speed of the age in which we live, the rapid thrust of rockets and various other types of power systems; but their speed is nothing compared to the speed of prayer. I want you to know that we are dealing with a Divinely designed system which is faster than anything known to science.
          Now, let’s look at a few verses dealing with prayer.

          I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live! (Psa 116:1-2)

          Notice, there are two kinds of prayer in these verses: “hears my voice,” and a more intense type of prayer, “supplications.” Sometimes we can pray in a normal, natural, easy way. At other times we are in such a serious situation that the prayer is intensified. It may be nothing more than “Oh, God” or “Oh, Lord, help me!” “I will call upon him” implies a vocal request; however, it is not necessary to pray by speaking out loud. You can “Think” a prayer as well as “speak” one. Both are definitely acceptable.
          Two other very excellent Old Testament Promises connected with prayer are:

          "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. (Isa 65:24)

          'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.' (Jer 33:3)

          It is very safe to conclude from Jeremiah 33:3 that we have yet to exploit the depths and riches of prayer. There are also many wonderful New Testament prayer Promises. In, (Mat 7:7) we are commanded to pray:

          "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you

          Here we see three facets of prayer: (1) “asking” is normal prayer; (2) “seeking” is prayer with the concept of guidance; (3) “knocking” is intense prayer, or supplications.

          "Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. (Joh 14:13-14)

          "If you abide in Me, (Stay in fellowship) and My Words abide in you, (Think with His Thoughts) ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (Joh 15:7)

       Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, (Human thinking) will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Php 4:6-7)

          Pray without ceasing. (1Th 5:17)

       Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16)

          Remember, when you pray, you are utilizing a Divinely designed system. When you say, “Father,” you reach the throne room of grace immediately, even though you are a tremendous number of light years away. This provision is something we do not earn or deserve; it is graciously provided by God.


          There are a few points on prayer which should be understood, for they are God’s ground rules, and they must be observed.

          (1) Prayer is for believers only.

          For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:26)

          But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (Joh 1:12)

          Only because we are members of the family of God do we have the right to open our mouths and say, “Father.” A relationship must exist before prayer becomes a bona fide function.

          (2) All prayer is directed to the Father (Mat 6:9) in the name of the Son, (Joh 14:13-14) in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Eph 6:18) Also (Heb 7:25) tells us that Christ is praying for us at the right hand of the Father. (Rom 8:26-27) informs us that the Holy Spirit is praying for us. Since They both make intercession for us, we never address our prayers to the Son or to the Spirit.

          (3) Long prayers should be reserved for private prayers. Make your public prayers short and to the point. Generally, a public prayer is for something specific. Pray for that specific item and move on. So (Mat 6:5-8) emphasizes these points:

          When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

          (4) There is a fourfold breakdown for private prayer:

          CONFESSION. This is First and the most important: (1Jn 1:9) — confession of all known sins. (Rebound) Because of the principle of, (Psa 66:18) to be effective, all prayer must begin with confession: “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to confess any known sins for prayer to be heard. If you keep current by means of, (1Jn 1:9) you can fulfill the concept of, (1Th 5:17): “Pray without ceasing.” Therefore, whenever you step out of line through carnality, you should rebound immediately so that you are always on praying ground. That’s the best way to avoid any necessity for prolonged soul-searching. Keep current. Keep the books up to date!

          THANKSGIVING. “In every thing give thanks: for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Th 5:18) “Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” (Eph 5:20) Notice, “ALL THINGS” — this includes the bad things as well as the good things that come your way. It is also very important to be thankful for Spiritual as well as materialistic things. So, when you pray, your private prayers should first be characterized by soul-searching and confession of known sins; secondly, by thanksgiving.

          INTERCESSION. Intercessory prayer is praying for others. “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Eph 6:18) To accomplish this, every believer should have a prayer list. I would like to make a personal point here: I always appreciate others remembering me before the throne of grace.

          Prayer for others falls into two categories: believers and unbelievers. A very legitimate factor of prayer is for those who are without Christ. When you pray for unbelievers, it is primarily for their salvation. You usually ask God to bring something regarding the Gospel to their attention, or to cause them to come into contact with someone, (If necessary, yourself). You may pray for an opening to give the Gospel to someone with whom you have contact. Remember that God uses people to reach others for Christ; that they might find Christ as Savior; and the place to find Truth; so they can reach Spiritual maturity.
          When you pray for believers, you also have several categories. You pray for those who have special jobs in the Lord’s service missionaries, ministers, evangelists. You pray for friends. A very interesting category in the Word of God is prayer for those who despitefully use you, for those who seek your harm and hurt in other words, pray even for your enemies! (Mat 5:44; Luk 6:28) This is in keeping with the concept of grace. Instead of retaliation, put the matter in the hands of the Lord through prayer.

          PETITION. Petition is praying for your own needs. This is listed last, though it is not necessarily the least important! We all have personal needs of one kind or another. Some solutions are specified in the Word. So, if provision for your own needs is made in another way, don’t pray for that. For example, we all can and should be filled with the Spirit; but this occurs automatically when we rebound. So don’t insult God by saying, “Fill me with the Spirit,” because He has provided for Spirituality by the use of, (1Jn 1:9)! Petitions deal with those particular needs and situations in our own circumstances which do not have a direct solution from Scripture. In such cases, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace...” (Heb 4:16)

          (5) There are a number of reasons why prayer is not heard. All of these deal with some phase of carnality. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psa 66:18) That’s why confession must precede prayer.

          Lack of Faith: Generally, failure in the area of faith will hinder the answer to prayer. We have already seen the faith Promises of, (Mat 21:22; and (Mar 11:24).

          Selfishness: You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, (Human thinking) so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (Jas 4:2-3)

          Lack of Compassion: He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered. (Pro 21:13)

          Lack of Domestic Tranquility: You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. (1Pe 3:7)

          Pride or Self-righteousness: "There they cry out, but He does not answer Because of the pride of evil men. "Surely God will not listen to an empty cry, Nor will the Almighty regard it. (Job 35:12-13)

          Failure to Comply with Divine Will: This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1Jn 5:14-15)

          Lack of Obedience: And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. (1Jn 3:22)

          Lack of the Filling of the Spirit: With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (Eph 6:18)

          Of course, when you are not filled with the Spirit, you are in status quo carnality. I repeat, these are all facets of carnality.

          (6) Don’t “put out the fleece.” Many of you don’t know what this means, so we need to take a look at Judges, Chapter 6, where we find the story of Gideon. Because the children of Israel had not heeded the Lord’s voice, the Lord used the Midianites to discipline the nation.

          For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites... So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth... and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey... they came into the land to devastate it. And Israel was greatly impoverished... (Jdg 6:3-6)

          As a result, we read in, (Jdg 6:11).

          Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites.

          The “angel of the LORD” is Jesus Christ; cf. (Jdg 6:14-16). as the revealed Member of the God-head. (Joh 1:18) This verse presents quite a picture. The winepress is a hole in the ground where Gideon is hiding. He is threshing wheat tossing it up in the air, trying to separate the wheat from the chaff. While this does not present the picture of a hero, it’s very interesting to note that when Jesus Christ speaks to Gideon in, (Jdg 6:12) He says, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” At this point Gideon is just as much a coward as anyone could be. He is hiding in a winepress, trying to thresh enough wheat to have something to eat. But now he has a Promise: “The Lord is with you.” Later, after enough Truth is believed and Thought with; THIS will make him a man of courage! He isn’t a man of courage at the moment; as a matter of fact, he ignores the Promise.

           Then Gideon said to him, "O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian." (Jdg 6:13)

          Gideon missed the point entirely, you see. He came up with a cliché we hear today: “It’s all God’s fault. Why doesn’t God help us?”

          The LORD looked at him and said, "Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?" (Jdg 6:14)

          Then to further substantiate the fact that he had not understood this Promise, Gideon said:

          He said to Him, "O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house." (Jdg 6:15)

          Gideon didn’t have to downgrade himself. The Lord knew Manasseh was one of the worst tribes, and Gideon was the least in a poor family. This didn’t mean that the Lord couldn’t use him. Man doesn’t put his money on this type of person; but the Lord uses the helpless, the hopeless and the useless! (Mar 2:17)

          But the LORD said to him, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man." (Jdg 6:16)

          Twice now, Gideon has received a Promise. Now, here is what I mean by “putting out the fleece”:

          So Gideon said to Him, "If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me. (Jdg 6:17)

          Of course, Gideon HAD found grace in God’s sight! There is no question about it. How many times does God have to Promise something? Once! And already He has Promised twice! When Gideon starts asking for “signs,” he is “putting out the fleece.” A fleece, by the way, is a sheepskin.

          Behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will deliver Israel through me, as You have spoken." (Jdg 6:37)

          Then Gideon said to God, "Do not let Your anger burn against me that I may speak once more; please let me make a test once more with the fleece, let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground." (Jdg 6:39)

          People are always “putting out the fleece” to God: “If You want me to do this, then You do that. If You want me to do that, then You do this. Lord, if You really mean it, cause forty angels to dance across the room!” This is not the correct approach to prayer. Because God is gracious, He tolerated Gideon’s unbelief. But we should learn from this lesson that signs are not necessary.


          One illustration of the power of prayer deals with Elijah in,(1Ki 17:1). Elijah prophesied a great drought. After three years, the Lord Promised rain in, (1Ki 18:1) Elijah’s faith in God’s Promise was so great that in, (1Ki 18:41) Elijah told Ahab, “for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower.” although at this point there was no physical sign of rain.
          Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel in, (1Ki 18:42). While Elijah prayed, he had his servant look toward the sea, (Mediterranean). “There is nothing. And he, [Elijah] said, Go again seven times.” (1Ki 18:43)

          Elijah kept his servant running up and down the hill with reports until finally,

           It came about at the seventh time, that he said, "Behold, a cloud as small as a man's hand... (1Ki 18:44)

          At this point Elijah sent his servant to tell Ahab to quickly leave the mountain before the rain prevented travel.

          In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower... (1Ki 18:45)

          When compared with the doubt of Gideon, Elijah’s faith, (Time in fellowship and Truth in his soul) is a tremendous contrast. The Lord gave Gideon a Promise twice, and in his unbelief he still asked for signs. On the other hand, Elijah was told once that the drought was to be ended. He received his instructions and his obedience was immediate! (Mat 4:19-20)


          The dictionary defines “prevailing” as being effective or effectual; obtaining or predominating. Prevailing prayer then is continuous, constant, daily intercessory prayer by which believers can enter into the ministry of other believers. Any person who has a true, Spiritual ministry in the Lord Jesus Christ; needs prevailing prayer, and we can have a share in their future right now by praying for them. I do not mean once in a while! I do not mean right in the middle of “Now I lay me down to sleep — God bless so-and-so, God bless the pastor,” or something like that. I mean to get right down to specifics and essentials, to know their problems and needs, and to lay them before the Lord. God in His grace has ordained this tremendous vehicle called prayer, and prayer will change things that you did not dream could be changed.
          In, (Act 12:1-17) we have an example of prevailing prayer by an assembly of believers praying for something specific. No one has ever been successful in a tactical battle situation without a barrage of artillery fire covering his advance. Many times in American history we have had unnecessary losses of life, and even lost battles, simply because that barrage was not out in front to keep the enemy from firing on the advancing troops. One of the greatest weaknesses of the Christian church in any part of the world today is the lack of a prayer barrage prevailing prayer. I stand as a recruiting officer looking for faithful prayer warriors to enlist in the Lord’s Artillery.

          Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. (Act 12:1)

          The King James version is too weak, as “vex” means “to kill” or “to destroy.” The king was Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great. Because of his friendship with the Roman Emperor, Caligula, Herod assumed Roman culture, although he was actually very fond of Judaism and would do anything to please the Jews. Therefore, when he was given full power over them, one of his favorite strategies was to “vex” Christians. Since this course of action seemed to gratify the Jews, Herod pursued it with much vigor.

          And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. (Act 12:2)

          When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread. (Act 12:3)

          Always remember that GOD KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING, even if we do not; (Joh 13:7) This is a great lesson in the ministry of the sovereignty of God: He permitted James to die; yet when Peter was imprisoned and condemned, God implemented his escape. Often we do not understand tragedies, but in this case, we can see some obvious results. Not only did the church become aware of its responsibilities, as well as its privilege in the matter of prayer through the death of James, but during his imprisonment James was provided unusual opportunities to witness. The ecclesiastical history of Eusebius records that the very Jews who brought accusations against James not only visited him in prison but received Christ as Savior as the result of his witness. James died in a tremendous blaze of glory, which must have jolted many people out of their apathy — not only to the significance of prevailing prayer, but to the importance of knowing Christ as Savior.

           When he [Herod] had seized him, [Peter] he put him in prison, delivering him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people. (Act 12:4)

          So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God. (Act 12:5)

          Because it was contrary to Jewish modus operandi to kill prisoners during the feast days, the execution of Peter was delayed until after the Holy Days. For security reasons. Peter was guarded by sixteen men, four each watch; a hopeless situation. Since the death of James had awakened the church to the necessity for prayer, they were now prevailing in prayer for Peter while he was awaiting execution.

          On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. (Act 12:6).

          Peter was an unusual man:  there was no pacing the floor or hysteria — he simply slept! Here is the operation of the faith-rest technique in Peter’s life; it is an example for every believer. There is a time for everything: Peter slept; the church prayed. When James was in prison, the church slept, but now they were sending forth the kind of prayer barrage every servant of the Lord needs!

          And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter's side and woke him up, saying, "Get up quickly." And his chains fell off his hands. (Act 12:7)

          And the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me." (Act 12:8)

          Here is a very important point: God takes care of the things beyond our power, and He does this "naturally" as much, as is possible! God broke the chains; He took care of the guards; He opened doors but Peter was told to put on his own clothes! Some people think of the Lord as a valet of some kind and wait around for Him to do things they should be up and doing. This is a misapplication of the faith-rest technique and of the Mind of Christ.

          And he [Peter] went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. (Act 12:9)

          When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. (Act 12:10)

          Peter did as he was told; but because he was half asleep, he thought that his experience was a dream. He was outside the prison before he realized he was free — delivered by a miracle because “prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him.” (Act 12:5)

          When Peter came to himself, he said, "Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting." And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. When she recognized Peter's voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. They said to her, "You are out of your mind!" But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, "It is his angel." (Act 12:11-15)

          These people had prayed most of the night for the deliverance of Peter; yet when he knocked at the gate, they refused to believe!

          But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed. (Act 12:16)

          I want to emphasize the point that prayer is GRACE. Although many people think differently, God does not answer because one deserves or earns it. Prayer is answered because of WHO AND WHAT GOD IS, never because of who or what we are. Often, as in this case, prayer is answered in SPITE of unbelief! The deliverance of Peter was not the end of that prayer meeting. The repercussions were so tremendous that the world was evangelized in that generation!

       If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in ALL creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. (Col 1:23) cf. (Rom 1:8; Rom 10:18; Rom 15:19; Gal 3:8; 2Ti 4:17).

       Prayer is dynamite; it is the powerhouse of Christianity — a fantastic grace provision from God. How tragic that believers do not utilize it to His glory!

          WHY WE PRAY

          Behind every petition there is a desire. The desire is not always obvious from the petition, but it does exist. The Fifth chapter of Mark, which deals with the, subject of demon possession, also reveals various categories of prayer.

          They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes. When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, (Mar 5:1-2)

          Gadara was the mountainous, rugged, central coastline of the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Here we see Jesus met by “a man with an unclean spirit” — a demon-possessed individual. Next, we have listed some of the characteristics that can be manifested by demon possession.

          And he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. (Mar 5:3-4)

          This man constantly, habitually lived among the tombs. These were caves used as burial grounds. Obviously, a person must be non compos mentis to live among corpses. (Mat 8:28-34) records that there were actually two demon-possessed men, but our passage in Mark describes only one of them. He was violent and unrestrainable, apparently with abnormal strength. Today, we would say that not even a psychiatrist could “tame” him.

          Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; and shouting with a loud voice, he said, "What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!" For He had been saying to him, "Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!" And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Legion; for we are many." (Mar 5:5-9)

          The loud voice is actually the voice of the demons who controlled the vocal cords of the man. So actually, we have a dialogue between our Lord and the demons. Finally, the demons identify themselves as “Legion” in verse 9.
          Next, we note there is a great herd of swine on the mountainside. This is very interesting in itself because the swine belonged to “pork bootleggers.” Some of the Jews on the other side had become Hellenistic Jews and had developed a taste for pork which was “verboten” to the Jews. (Lev 11:7-8) So at night those “bootleggers” would cross the Sea of Galilee with the swine.
          The demons besought Him (Jesus) saying, “Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them,” (Mar 5:12) The demons made a petition, but obviously there was a desire behind the petition. Since demons do not have bodies, they desire to permanently indwell some living thing. The Lord answered their petition by permitting them to enter the swine. However, the swine all ran down into the sea — where they died! Consequently, the demons had to seek other shelter. The petition was answered but the ultimate desire was not.
          Several thousand swine represents quite a capital investment, and in, (Mar 5:17) the owners entreated Jesus to leave the country. As we move on in the passage, let’s see what happened to the man who had been demon-possessed.

          As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. And He did not let him, but He said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you." And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed. (Mar 5:18-20)

          Jesus refused his petition but answered his desire. While the man wanted to be with Jesus, obviously his desire was to serve. The Lord said, “No, you can’t go with me,” but the desire behind the petition was answered. He wanted to serve the Lord and he did — in Decapolis.
          We should note two principles in this passage: first of all, the petition of the demons received a positive answer; their desire for a permanent shelter was negative. Secondly, the petition of the demon-possessed man was denied; however, his desire to serve the Lord was affirmed. He published the Gospel throughout the Decapolis. a district in the northeastern part of Galilee containing ten cities.


          I now want to show you how the various categories apply to us in sorting out Divine answers. Many Christians receive answers to prayer without even realizing it. You see, the petition wasn’t answered, but the desire was. Or sometimes the desire was not answered but the petition was; sometimes both, sometimes neither. So, let’s look at a few illustrations:

          CATEGORY 1: Petition Positive — Desire Negative.

          So He gave them their request, But sent a wasting disease among them. (Psa 106:15)

          Numbers, Chapter 11, records the petition of the children of Israel. The Lord had supplied a perfect food, manna, but they grew tired of it. Their request was for meat: “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their souls.” The Lord sent quail — more quail than anyone had ever seen:

          Now there went forth a wind from the LORD and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep [36 inches] on the surface of the ground. The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail, (He who gathered least gathered ten homers) [About 860 gallons] and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.
 (Num 11:31-32)

          There is no question about it, the request was answered! But, as a result of eating-the quail, many were sick, some died, and apparently all were unhappy. The petition was answered, but the desire for a pleasant eating experience was denied.
          Many times we ask for things because we think they will bring us happiness. The petition is for something specific, but the desire behind it is for happiness. Sometimes the Lord may answer the petition but not the desire. This is often done to teach us a lesson.
          The next prayer we will examine concerns the request of the children of Israel for a king.

          Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, "Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations." (1Sa 8:4-5)

          Up to this time, God personally ruled Israel. Other nations had kings sitting on thrones, and like so many people, the children of Israel did not want to be different.

          But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD. The LORD said to Samuel, Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day--in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods--so they are doing to you also.(1Sa 8:6-7)

          They got a king: the Lord answered their petition and Saul became their king. Their desire was to be like other nations; but when they had a human king, they fell apart. Instead of being like other nations, they had strife and civil war; they were beset with problems as long as Saul was king. So the point is that the petition for a king was answered; the desire to be like other nations was refused.

          CATEGORY II: Petition Negative — Desire Positive.

          And Abraham said to God, Oh that Ishmael might live before You! (Gen 17:18)

          In this prayer, Abraham is asking that Ishmael might be his established heir. This is Abraham’s petition, but the desire behind his petition is that he might have a son from his own loins who would be the heir.

           But God said, "No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (Gen 17:19)

          The petition was not answered. Ishmael was not to be in the line of Israel, even though he was a son from Abraham’s loins. The desire behind the petition for an heir was to be answered by the birth of Isaac.
          In our next example, we find Abraham having a conversation with the Lord. The Lord has just advised him that He is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom is the home of Abraham’s nephew. Lot, and Abraham is very concerned for Lot and his family. Therefore, he begins to petition the Lord.

          Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? (Gen 18:23-24)

          The word “righteous” indicates a believer. This is not necessarily a person who is “good,” but one who has the very righteousness of God credited to his account by faith in Jesus Christ; (Imputed righteousness — Rom 4:3). The Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty believers, I will spare the city.” (Gen 18:26)
          In, (Gen 18:28) and following, Abraham begins to work on God. “Would you save Sodom, Lord, for forty-five?” And the Lord said: “Yes, I will do it for forty-five.”
          “Lord, will you do it for forty? Suppose there are only thirty believers. Will you save Sodom for thirty believers?” The Lord answered again: “Yes, for thirty.” Now, Abraham really gets down to the point in, (Gen 18:32).

          Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten."

          Now this is the number at which Abraham stopped, and for this reason: he knew that the family of Lot consisted of Lot, Lot’s wife, (Never mentioned by name) and three married daughters. With their husbands, that makes eight people. Then Lot had two unmarried daughters. So Abraham stopped at ten people; but he would have gone all the way to one if he had thought it was necessary. Why? You see, his desire was for the safety of his nephew. Lot, and the believers of his family. It just so happened that Abraham had not calculated properly because there were only three believers in Sodom. Four people walked out; only three survived. Lot’s wife was a carnal believer! The petition was not answered: Sodom was destroyed. The desire behind the petition was for the preservation of Lot. This was answered — Lot and two of his daughters were delivered!
          In Luke, we find another prayer request involving Abraham. A rich man in Hades is making a request to Abraham in Paradise. The rich man is dead and his soul is in Torments. He is concerned for his five brothers left behind on the earth. He asks Abraham that Lazarus, (The beggar) be allowed to return to earth to give his brothers the Gospel so that they will not have to suffer with him in Hades.

          "And he said, 'Then I beg you, father,[Abraham] that you send him, [Lazarus] to my father’s house -- for I have five brothers -- in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' (Change their mind) "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, (The WORD OF GOD) they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead." (Jesus Christ our Lord) (Luk 16:27-31)

          The petition to send Lazarus back to earth was given a negative answer. It was not necessary for Lazarus to return from the dead to witness to the five brothers; they had the Bible. “Moses and the prophets” refers to the Old Testament Scriptures. In other words, “Let them read God’s Word!” You see, it’s the Word of God that is “alive and powerful.” (Heb 4:12) So the answer to the petition was negative. However, the desire behind the petition was that his brothers might receive information on which to be saved. The desire was answered: they had the Scriptures available to them.
          Now, let’s look at a very familiar New Testament prayer.

          Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. (2Co 12:7-8)

          Whatever this “thorn in the flesh” was, it made Paul miserable. In order to have peace, he prayed for its removal. Notice, not just once did he pray, but three times he asked the Lord to remove it. Each time he received a negative answer to his petition. The Lord told him he was going to have to keep the “thorn in the flesh.”

          And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness..." (2Co 12:9)

          It is always God’s grace that makes the difference, whether we are in extreme adversity or at the height of prosperity. It is the grace of God, (God the Holy Spirit and the power of the Spiritual life) that gives us our inner happiness, stability and peace, no matter what happens around us! Regardless of what our circumstances may be, or how desperate the situation, grace always makes the difference! Therefore, God’s grace was sufficient for Paul. God’s power reaches us in our weakest moments! As Paul was being hammered by the “thorn in the flesh demon” and was therefore very weak, he prayed, “Lord, take it away.” The Lord did not take away the “thorn in the flesh”; He just explained it was nessary for humility and growth. (Joh 15:2) And, what was Paul’s response to this?

           …Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, (Sin nature testing) with insults, (People testing) with distresses, (Thought testing) with persecutions, (System testing; job, family, group, etc.) with difficulties, (Disaster testing) for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong! (Testing plus Truth equals Spiritual growth) (2Co 12:9-10)

          Each time Paul prayed that the “thorn in the flesh” be removed, the answer was “no.” To answer the desire behind the petition, God often imposes His good judgment over our not-so-good judgment. The result is that He often gives us a negative answer to the petition and in this case also the desire. (This is a negitive; negitive. God must do this for paul's, and our ultimate Spiritual growth and eternal blessing)

        ...Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me!

          CATEGORY III: Petition Positive — Desire Positive.

          We have already had one marvelous example of Elijah’s faith in prayer. Now we will look at another in 1 Kings 18, where we find Elijah proving the futility of idol worship and at the same time displaying the power of the living God. Once again, Elijah is on Mount Carmel, but this time he is issuing an ultimatum to the people:

          Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal," follow him. But the people did not answer him a word. (1Ki 18:21)

          Since Baal was the “fire god,” Elijah suggested that the prophets of Baal build an altar, cut a bullock in pieces, lay it on the wood but put no Fire under it. Elijah made the same preparations on a separate altar, and then issued his challenge:

          Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God. And all the people said, That is a good idea. (1Ki 18:24)

          All morning the prophets called on Baal, saying, “O Baal, hear us,” but there was no answer. At noontime Elijah started mocking them and even used a little sarcasm: “Say, your god must be taking a trip. Maybe he is asleep; perhaps he is ‘pursuing.’ [All heathen gods were ‘women chasers.’] Shout a little louder.” (1Ki 18:27) So they shouted a little louder, but still nothing happened. This fiasco continued until the time of the evening sacrifice.
          At this point, Elijah dug a trench round about the Lord’s altar. Three times he had four barrels of water poured over the sacrifice, and finally he completely Filled the trench with water. Then Elijah offered his petition: “Father, send fire.” The desire behind his petition was that God might be glorified. (To show: that the God of Israel; IS-REAL!)

          Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God. = (This is also the meaning of Elijah's name) (1Ki 18:37-39)

          The LORD was proven to be God; that day! Both the petition and the desire were answered.
          Another example of this category involves Samson. Following his betrayal by Delilah, (Jdg 16:15-21) he was imprisoned and blinded by the Philistines. During one of the pagan ceremonies of the Philistines:

          ...Call for Samson, that he may amuse us." So they called for Samson from the prison, and he entertained them. And they made him stand between the pillars. (Jdg 16:25)

          In Samson’s prayer we find both petition and desire recorded in the same verse:

          Then Samson called to the LORD and said, "O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes." (Jdg 16:28)

          He asked for strength that he might avenge the Philistines for his blindness. Both the petition and the desire were answered:

           And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life. (Jdg 16:30)

          The prayer of the thief who was crucified with Jesus is another illustration of both petition and desire being answered. A dying thief hung on one of the crosses beside the Lord. He was a gangster with no hope, who had been justly condemned. When he said, “Lord,” (The Greek word KURIOS) he recognized the deity of Christ. Then he made his petition:

          And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" (Luk 23:42)

          This man recognized that Jesus is God. He recognized that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and that He had a kingdom; he asked to be a part of that kingdom. His petition: “remember me”; his desire behind the petition: Salvation.

          And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luk 23:43)

          The man was born again into the eternal kingdom. Petition and desire were both answered affirmatively.
          The next petition concerns another Lazarus who had died. Jesus went to the grave, (A cave) with Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus.

          Jesus said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. "I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me." When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. (Joh 11:39-45)

          The unrecorded petition was for the resuscitation of Lazarus. The desire behind the petition was that those who witnessed this event might believe that Jesus was indeed sent by the Father.
        Jesus’ prayer of thanksgiving preceded the visible answer to the petition.

           This sequence of events is a perfect example of, (Mat 21:22) “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
          No doubt, the greatest of all prayers in the Word of God is the Lord’s prayer for believers, which is recorded in, (Joh 17:1-26). Throughout this chapter there are a number of examples of both petition and desire being answered. This is the ideal and perfect prayer. By the way, this is the true Lord’s prayer for the Church Age.

          CATEGORY IV: Petition Negative — Desire Negative. We have already established the fact that carnality limits God’s response to our petitions or desires. The reasons why prayer is not answered amplifies the principle of this category.
          An incident in the life of one of the great prayer warriors of all time provides a fitting close to our study of prayer. In the last century, Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission. On one of his trips to China, as he sailed through an area heavily infested with pirates, the ship was becalmed. This was a four-master with a lot of canvas, but there was no wind. The ship just sat there, drifting with the tide; there was no way to move her.
          Sighted in the distance was a pirate ship. They were moving because they had a bank of oars; the absence of wind did not affect them. They were quite a distance away when the captain, a very profane man who had been “razzing” Dr. Taylor during the entire trip, called him to the bridge. He knew they were in a bad situation. The pirates were advancing, and with no way to defend themselves, the ship was at the mercy of these cutthroats. The captain was desperate!
          “All right, preacher-man, let’s see you pray us out of this one.” Hudson Taylor replied, “I’ll be glad to do it. Just hoist every bit of canvas you have aboard. Hoist it all up. Right now!”
          The captain was furious, and in his own unsanctified vernacular said, “In the middle of this calm you want me to hoist the canvas? The crew will think I’m nuts! I won’t do it!”
          “All right, then I won’t pray. You see, I believe God answers my prayers, and I’m going to pray for wind. I’m not going to pray for that wind until you hoist every stitch of canvas aboard.”
          By this time the pirates were getting close; so in desperation the captain sent hands aloft and the sails were raised. When all the canvas was out, Hudson Taylor knelt down and prayed, asking God to send a wind. By the time the “Amen” was out of his mouth, there was a puff, then a breeze, and the ship moved out!
          Remember, through prayer, the very power of God is available to all believers.

          Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.(Jer 33:3)



1. The approach to prayer.
a. Addressed to the Father. (Mat 6:9; Eph 3:14; Eph 5:20)
b. In the name of the Son. (Joh 14:13-14; Joh 16:23-24)
c.  In the power of the Spirit. (Eph 6:18)

2. Three categories of prayer directed to God the Father.
a. From the source of the Son. (Heb 7:25)
b. From the source of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 8:26-27)
c.  From the source of the believer-priest. (Heb 4:16)

3. The agenda for private prayer.
a.  Confession. (1Jn 1:9)
b. Thanksgiving and Praise. (Act 16:25; Eph 5:20; 1Th 5:18; Rev 19:5)
c.  Intercession. (Eph 6:18)
d. Petition. (Heb 4:16)

4. Prayer, an exhale or faith-rest Principle. (Mat 21:22; Mar 11:24; Joh 15:7) Prayer is both an exhale toward God and a function from the edification complex of the soul; (Completed Spiritual life --- New nature --- New heart ---Temple in the soul).

5. Eight principles of prayer.
a. Prayer is most effective when Operation Z is functioning. (Joh 15:7)
b. Prayer is an extension of the faith-rest exhale toward God. (Mat 21:22; Mar 11:24)
c.  Prayer demands cognizance of the will of God; therefore, the maximum function of Operation Z. (1Jn 5:14)
d. Prayer must be offered in status of the Filling of the Spirit. (Eph 6:18)
e. Prayer is ineffective when the believer is carnal. (Psa 66:18)
f.  Prayer must comply with the principle of grace; therefore, the importance of, Grace Orientation. (Heb 4:16)
g. Prayer is part of the Divine Decrees. (Jer 33:3)
h. Prayer is related to Category One love. (Toward God Psa 116:1-2)

6. Nine reasons why prayer is not answered. (Note that all are connected with either carnality or accumulation of scar tissue.)
a. Not filled with the Spirit. (Eph 6:18)
b. No faith-rest function. (Mat 21:22) c. Mental attitude carnality. (Psa 66:18)
d. Lust-type selfishness. (Jas 4:2-4)
e. Lack of obedience. (1Jn 3:22)
f. Noncompliance with specific and known will of God. (1Jn 5:14)
g. Pride as a basic mental attitude sin and resultant self- righteousness. (Job 35:12-13)
h. Lack of compassion or grace orientation. (Pro 21:13)
 i.   Lack of domestic tranquillity. (1Pe 3:7)

7. Principle of grace in prayer. (Heb 4:16)
a. Prayer is the privilege and extension of grace function: hence, it is impossible to approach God in prayer on the basis of human sin nature good and or human merit. (Heb 9:14)
b. The believer-priest approaches God in prayer on the basis of our High Priest, Jesus Christ, and His merits. (Heb 9:11-12)
c. The Father is propitiated with the work of Christ, but is not a respecter of persons in the case of believers offering prayer. (Deut 10:17)
d. God does not hear prayers because a person is fervent, moral, sincere, religious or self-effacing.
e. God hears prayer because of the function of Operation Z, the ministry of the Son, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

8. The Categories of petition in prayer.
a. POSITIVE-NEGATIVE: Petition answered; desire not answered (1Sa 8:5-9; 1Sa 8:19-20)
b. NEGATIVE-POSITIVE: Petition not answered; desire answered. (Gen 17:18; Gen 18:23-33; 2Co 12:7-10)
c. POSITIVE-POSITIVE:   Petition   answered; desire answered (Jdg 16:28; 1Ki 18:36-37; Luk 23:42-43; Joh 11:41-45)
d. NEGATIVE-NEGATIVE: Neither petition nor desire answered. (2Co 12:7-8)
             And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me! (2Co 12:9)


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