God Knows What We Really Need

Be Ready for What You Pray For
By Brian Lawrence

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)

The word "pray" or "prayer" appears in the NIV version of the Bible 347 times. Prayer first appears in Genesis 20 and last appears in Revelation 8, spanning nearly the entire Bible. Throughout God's Holy Word, we are shown how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13), where to pray (Matthew 6:5-6), when to pray (1Thessalonians 5:17), why to pray (2Chronicles 7:14), and whom to pray for (Matthew 5:44). We are shown model prayers by our patriarchs (Genesis 32:10-12, Deuteronomy 9:26-29, 1Kings 8:22-53), requests for prayer by unbelievers to believers (Exodus 8:28), and the results of prayers answered (Genesis 20:17, Genesis 25:21, 1Samuel 1:19). We can read about prayers of anguish (1Kings 19:4), prayers of repentance (Ezra 9:5-7), prayers of praise (Psalm 66:20), and prayers of intercession (1Kings 13:6). Prayer is one of the cornerstones of the Christian's life.

During my short time as a disciple of Jesus Christ, I've seen many prayers answered and many not answered. Recently, though, God taught me a valuable lesson about being ready to respond when He answers a prayer. And through this lesson God drove home several important points about prayer and the Christian life. First, what we pray for should be for God's glory and not our own. Second, when we pray, we must expect God to answer the prayer. Finally, when God opens the door we've prayed for, we must act.

Even our failures, or should I say especially our failures, God uses for our growth and for others' benefit. From my own failures, God taught me three lessons about prayer.

First, what we pray for should be for God's glory and kingdom. Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

There is an unfortunate movement among supposedly Christian organizations, especially those on television, called the "name it and claim it" movement. What this movement falsely teaches is that God put us here for our benefit, not for His, and therefore, if we believe we should have it, God will give it to us. If we believe we should be rich, we will be. If we believe we should have power, we'll have it. A spin-off of this movement are those television evangelists who say if we give to them, God will give back twice, three times, maybe even ten times as much. To put it bluntly, this is wrong. This is seeking our glory and not God's.

When we pray, we must examine our motives. Why are we praying for what we're praying for? Is it for God's glory or our own selfish wants? Even when we pray for the healing of others who may be gravely ill, we need to examine why we want that healing. If it's not for God's glory, why should He honor that prayer? If we have a relative dying of cancer and the only reason we want them healed is because of our own grief, is that for God's glory?

Notice what John 14:13 says. "And I will do whatever you ask in my name,..." Jesus had just finished telling his apostles that they would do greater things even than He. And then He tells us, He'll do anything we ask him. But what does that mean? Asking in Jesus' name does not mean simply repeating, "I ask all this in Jesus' name" at the end of our prayer, and then, no matter what the prayer was, Jesus will answer it. The rest of the verse says, "...so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." Therefore, whatever we ask Jesus to do, He'll only do if He can bring glory to God. Even Jesus must bring glory to God in all He does. So too, must we. We need to align our prayer life with God's kingdom, not the other way around.

The second point I learned from my experiences is that after we've prayed, we must be watchful and ready for God to answer that prayer and to use us for His kingdom.

We've overcome the first hurdle and adjusted our prayer life so that our prayers are for the glory of God. Now what? Now, be ready. God will start answering those prayers. When He does, we need to respond. For example, if we ask God to put those in our path whom we should witness to, then we need to watch and pay attention to whom God puts in our path. And when someone is put in our path that is lost, we need to respond and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even if we don't feel like it at the moment.

To put it in the world's terms, say you ask your boss for a chance to be project lead. At first he says no, but you persist and week after week you ask him to give you a chance. Finally, after months of pleading the boss promotes you to project lead. Only, instead of responding by working harder and validating his trust, you slack off. You just don't feel like leading at the moment, so you don't. You let the project deadline slip. Nothing is done to specification. Quality is down. Do you think your boss will let you do that again? Not for some time, anyway.

It's the same way with God. If we ask Him for something and He delivers, but we don't respond, what makes you think He'll be quick to answer our prayers again anytime soon?

If what we've prayed for is for the glory of God, and if we're watching and ready for God to answer the prayer, when He does, we must be willing to yield to the Spirit and act. Oftentimes, the way God answers a prayer is by opening a door. We still have to step out in faith and go through that door (see Hebrews 11:8). We can't sit back and passively wait for God and expect Him to give us everything we ask for without some kind of effort of our own.

Usually, our failure to act is selfishness. Sometimes, fear works it's way into the equation as well, but even fear is based on selfishness. In some of my own failures, I realized that some of them were a mixture of fear of what to say, and selfishness; I was preoccupied with matters pertaining to my own interest and didn't want to take the time. Both reasons quenched the Spirit. I failed to take up my cross those day and crucify myself so that I could live in the Spirit (see Matthew 10:38 and Romans 6).

Fortunately, our God is a God of second chances, and He uses our mistakes and our failures to help us grow and to teach us. Examine your prayer life and be sure what you're praying for is for the glory of God. After you pray, be watchful and expect God to respond. And when God responds, yield to the Spirit and walk through the door He has opened.

Sometimes the answer to what we prayed for is surprising to us because it is not according to what we expected. This happens because the Lord knows what we really need. We may ask for material prosperity, but He knows what we really need is genuine peace and joy. Or we may pray for strength and security, but deep within we are really longing for eternity.

And thus, according to His infinite wisdom, and as the Master of all things that He is, the Lord knows how to answer the real and true desires of our hearts -- for after all, it is He himself who placed those noble and genuine desires in our hearts to initiate us and stir us up into accomplishing His divine purpose in each of our individual lives for His glory.

Some people may not get what they are praying for and trying so hard to achieve at the present moment or at some point in their lives, yet it doesn't mean that the God-given noble desires of their hearts are not being answered or will not be answered by the Lord.

We may be praying for some earthly authority over other people, but deep within our being what the Lord really has planted in our hearts is the divine desire to serve Him through our fellowmen.

When prayed for, no God-given desire is left unanswered -- for it is a seed from heaven planted in the God-fertilized soil of our hearts. No rain that falls from heaven shall accomplish nothing. Just as no word of the Lord that proceeds out of His mouth shall return to Him void.

"So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:11)

People may be desiring and praying for one and the same thing to have when only one of them can have it at a point in time. But the Lord knows how and when to answer every one of them; for He knows what the real desire of their hearts truly is -- for it is the Lord who called them and initiated them to that desire.

In time, some of them will be in one place, others will be in other places. Some will be doing one task, others will be assigned other tasks. But ultimately, no one of them will be doing the task not according to the true desires which the Lord has planted in their hearts. When their individual seasons come in their own times, they will be like the season of bloom.


So that no flesh should boast before God


Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is nonsense in the world to make the wise feel ashamed. God chose what is weak in the world to make the strong feel ashamed. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important; so that no flesh should boast before God. -- (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

If He was a man of the world, Jesus would have chosen the elite of His day to accomplish His mission — however He used simple fishermen. These men were considered uneducated, lacking “social status”, wealth or worldly distinction of any kind — yet these “simple” men were the ones the Lord selected to continue the work of building the lordship of God on earth.

When the chosen people were slaves in Egypt, God didn’t send an army to deliver them, He sent a single man. But the anointing power of God through one man was shown to be greater than the most powerful kingdom on Earth.

Throughout the Bible, we read of the Lord choosing and using the weak things of the world to confound and shame the wise and powerful. God seems to love revealing His awesome power through humble vessels, so that no flesh can glory in His presence.

Don’t allow the enemy to convince you that God cannot use you because you are “flawed”, weak, or seemingly inconsequential. No, instead, remember that He uses the base, despised, nonentities of this world, ordinary, often broken, people…to do extraordinary things. Our God is not looking at your wealth, your social status or your education — He’s looking at your heart! If your heart is willing and your life is available, then He is more than able to perform miraculous work through you for His Kingdom’s sake. With so much work to be done, don’t allow the enemy to stifle or steal the Lord’s vision for your life –- He has a plan to use you to confound the wise of this world, and to bring to naught the things that are!

[...] "It is not by your own strength and abilities that you will be able to fulfill the tasks that will be given to you, but by the strength of the Lord's right hand." [...] Read full text of message.


The Day Is At Hand

By George H. Warnock

"The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose." We are discovering that as in the old creation, so in the new creation, there are circles, orbits, of Divine truth and revelation. People are always saying, "History is but repeating itself... ." And the Church cries out with every fresh moving of the Spirit, "We had that forty years ago. .. or some such statement as that. What most Christians fail to realize is this: that with every setting of the sun and rising of the same, there is a NEW THING accomplished in the earth. There is a new measure of growth transmitted to the trees and shrubs and plants of the earth. Day after day, and year after year, there is a continual participation in the life of the sun, and a growing unto maturity. Some years ago, we stood before those great Sequoia trees in Sequoia National Park. Here we saw the General Sherman tree, the biggest living thing in the earth, weighing something like 625 tons, and about 102 feet in circumference at the base. There it stood when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, perhaps a little sapling, But it witnessed the truth of the passage we have just read, literally thousands and thousands of times. The sun rising, and setting, and rising again. But to this little tree it meant more than that. It meant a growing unto maturity. It meant a struggling against the elements. It witnessed winter and summer, over and over again, But it survived, and grew, and there it stands today in all its grandeur and greatness.

So with the Church of Jesus Christ and with the individual lives of God’s people. There is a continual increase of the Christ within, and of His government and peace in their lives. There is a new unfolding of the Divine purpose. "His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lam. 3:22,23). Men who lack vision are forever bemoaning the setting of the sun, as if that were the close of the day. But the setting of the sun is not the close of the day, it is the beginning. According to the book of Genesis (and we have discovered that we must continually go back to the Genesis to discover God’s order) "the evening and the morning" constitute God’s full day, and not "the morning and the evening." "The night is far spent, and the day is at hand. .. ." Even now before the full rising of the "Sun of righteousness" into the new day of His glory, there is the shining forth of the first rays of dawn. The daystar is arising in hearts. Even in this world of darkness there is glorious hope and promise, so that we may say with the Psalmist: "Even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee" (Ps. 139:11,12). Faith is bright in the midst of darkness, because of the promise. But faith is budding forth into Hope, which is even brighter, because it is anticipating the dawn. Then do we enter into LOVE—which is the full expression of Faith, and Hope, the very life of God Himself radiating from the lives of His chosen ones.

The New Commandment

When Jesus was here, He was the Light of the world. But the light shone in the darkness, "And the darkness comprehended it not" (Jn. 1:5). Now there is a difference. The darkness is beginning to pass away. True, it will get darker, and darker, as far as the present order of mankind is concerned. But there shall be light in the homes of the people of God. John said, "I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning" (I Jn. 2:7). It was the old commandment of the Word. It had particular application to his day and hour. It is the same Word that we have today; but now it takes on new meaning. Therefore he continues: "Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past (Lit. ‘is passing away’), and the true light now shineth" (I Jn. 2:8). When Jesus was born the darkness did not apprehend the Light. But now it is not so. The darkness "is passing . . . ." The Word which we had from the beginning now takes on new meaning. It is a "new Commandment." The same Word, but it comes forth in the dawning of a new day, and therefore it is NEW. It is the new day of LOVE. Anything less than that is darkness. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the LIGHT.. . ." Surely none is so blind as to claim that the Church has entered into this heritage of LOVE!

Perfection Of Love

The lack of love is only too evident and blaring everywhere we look, in ourselves or in others. The apostle John makes it abundantly clear that walking in the light is WALKING IN LOVE. We would like to convince ourselves that walking in the light consists of adhering to proper creeds and doctrines. But regardless of creed and doctrine, the solemn fact remains: "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now" (I Jn. 1:9). Such a man does not even know where he is going, "because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." There is no neutral ground here. We may admit on the one hand there is not much love, and on the other claim that we do not hate. Love is Light, and the absence of the light means darkness. If there is no genuine Love, God calls it HATE. We need to read the Love chapter often, I Corinthians 13. We are inclined to think we know what Love is, and therefore its great potential scarcely stirs us. It is nothing less than the very realm of God, abiding in Him, and participating in His own heart of longsuffering, kindness, humility, meekness, unselfishness, and truth. All else that pertains to the realm of spiritual manifestation must give way to the fulness of LOVE, as the first rays of dawn give way to the rising of the sun. "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." "Won’t heaven be wonderful?" says one. But God wants this perfection of Love here on earth where it is needed. "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven... ." Pray, tell me, what kind of a heaven are you going to that is going to require the exercise of "longsuffering," "kindness," "meekness," "humility," and "unselfishness." Read I Corinthians 13:4-8 once more, and imagine, if you will, what circumstances in Heaven might arise that would require the exercise of PERFECT LOVE. "Suffereth long. .. ." Will Michael the Archangel impose grievous burdens on you that are just too heavy for you to bear? "And is kind...." Here is a man in heaven that has wandered about on the golden streets, oppressed, weary, and foot-sore... and you pause for a moment to give him a word of cheer, or a helping hand. "Charity envieth not You will have to be careful when the rewards are given out, lest you find yourself envying the Christian that has been given the largest or most beautiful mansion. But then you will have perfect love, so you can resist the temptation. "Vaunteth not itself Another minister is sent forth to do some great work in the Kingdom of Christ, and returns with a glowing report. The angels rejoice, and the saints rejoice with them... he is not "puffed up’ or proud of his achievements; he has arrived at the place of perfect love! Selfish? Why no! If he has more than he needs for his mansion, he’ll distribute his abundance among the saints that have a smaller mansion and cheaper furniture ... he is not seeking his own, he is entirely unselfish. A scandal is raised against Gabriel, but the man who has arrived at Perfect Love has overcome... he "thinketh no evil," and the rumor is squelched. No matter how laborious the task that the Lord gives him to do, he "beareth all things" cheerfully. Won’t it be wonderful when we get to heaven, "when that which is perfect is come"?

But God wants perfect LOVE here in the earth, where it is so desperately needed. Heaven is full of love now but God wants it here. Jesus therefore taught us to pray, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." Now we believe that Jesus taught us to pray that prayer because it is God’s intention to answer that prayer. We have discovered that the prayers that are ordained of the Lord, and that are inspired in the hearts of God’s people by the Spirit, are nothing less than the travail of the Spirit of God within the spirit of man to bring forth unto birth and full manifestation THE EXPRESS WILL OF GOD. It is not a case of you and I getting under some burden of human contrivance, and trying to persuade God to do something that He is reluctant to do. It is a case of so moving in God, knowing His will, functioning out from His very own heart.. . that we share His yoke; and the express will and purpose of God becomes our chief concern. Nor can we rest, or give Him rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem "a praise in the earth." The reason we cannot rest is because He cannot rest. And as we partake of His desire and yearning for the perfection of His Son in His other sons, there is that heaven-born groaning within, to accomplish the PERFECT WILL of God in the earth, even as it is done in heaven. God is not in the least concerned about PERFECT LOVE reigning in Heaven. Nothing less could even exist in that realm of PURE LIGHT. He does want, and He will yet have, PERFECT LOVE reigning in the hearts of His people, and to this end we pray. "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and HIS LOVE IS PERFECTED IN US" (1 Jn. 4:12).