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Good News Magazine
January-February 1972
Volume: Vol XXI, No. 1
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Brian Knowles

God's great Work is accelerating as we enter the "home stretch." Yet paradoxically, some have been letting down in prayer at this crucial time! Never has EARNEST, HEARTFELT PRAYER on the part of God's people been more needed. And never has there been more to stimulate us to WAKE UP and PRAY FERVENTLY!

   ZEALOUS for the cause of God, the prophet Isaiah was inspired to pray, "...there is NONE that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee..." (Isa. 64:7).
   Does this scripture describe you and your current prayer life? Have you let regular daily prayer to the great God in heaven slip? Do you have trouble stirring yourself up to pray? We know some of you do.
   Perhaps you haven't realized it till now, but praying is the very most important thing you can do for the Work of God! NOTHING is more valuable and effective!

A SIN Not to Pray!

   Believe it or not, it is a sin for a Christian not to pray! When the ancient Israelites realized their error in wrongfully desiring a human king to rule over them in the place of God Almighty, they asked the prophet Samuel to pray for them (I Sam. 12:19). Notice Samuel's reply: "God forbid that I should SIN against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you" (verse 23).
   It was Samuel's responsibility to pray which it would have been sin for him to neglect. Brethren, God likewise holds us responsible to pray today!
   While instructing His disciples, Christ did not say, "If you pray." He said " WHEN..."! (Matt. 6:5.) There was no question but that true Christians must and would pray!

What Is Prayer?

   Prayer is the way we communicate with our Creator. Prayer is conversation with God. It is our contact with Him. When we get down on our knees and address God, He hears us as any father would listen to the requests of his own children.
   God wishes all people would come to Him and make their requests known. That's why the Apostle Paul wrote, "... let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6).
   Prayer is like sweet incense coming up before God's throne (Rev. 8:3-4). He really enjoys listening to earnest, believing prayers. And He is as interested in hearing your prayers as anyone's! Psalm 10:17 assures us, "Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble... thou wilt cause thine ear to hear." David sang, "O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come" (Ps. 65:2).

But Why Pray?

   Yes, but... why do we need to pray anyway? Doesn't God already know what we need before we ask? Yes, He does! (Matt. 6:8) But He will not necessarily give or perform it until we are willing to demonstrate by the works of prayer that we really do acknowledge HIM as the SOURCE of every good and needed blessing! We demonstrate our faith and trust in God to supply our needs by our willingness to perform the work of getting down on our knees and praying!
   John the Baptist said, "A man can receive NOTHING, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). And James said, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights..." (James 1:17). In God's Work we must realize that every bit of progress, every success, ALL ADVANCEMENT in preaching the gospel must come from God.
   Notice how John 15:1-7 makes this very plain! "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: FOR WITHOUT ME YE CAN DO NOTHING. If a man abide not: in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me [rely on God as the SOURCE of all spiritual power] and my words abide in you, YE SHALL ASK WHAT YE WILL, AND IT SHALL BE DONE UNTO YOU."
   This beautiful analogy shows that since Christ is the true vine, He and God the Father are THE SOURCE of ALL good fruit brought forth by this Work or by each member individually. Remember, even Christ said that of Himself as a mere human being He could do nothing! (John 5:19.)
   Realize that when you pray to God you are going before the very throne of the most powerful Spirit Being in the entire universe! Through the spiritual office of Jesus Christ, who is our high priest, we are able to enter into the holiest place in the cosmos! (Heb. 10:19.) Yet, we are instructed to come BOLDLY with confidence before that throne of grace. Notice it in Hebrews 4:16: "Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace [favor and blessing} to help in time of need."

Antidote for Temptation

   Jesus instructed his disciples: "Watch and PRAY, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit [your intention} indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26:41). He showed that the only way you can strengthen the weak will of your flesh is by prayer!
   Jesus also said regarding our day: "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matt. 24:12-13). Today, lawlessness (iniquity) does abound. Never have Christians been bombarded with so many temptations to "give it all up" and "flake out." Never since the flood has the world been more in the grip of the devil!
   You need as never before to pray and ask God DAILY, "Deliver me from evil in any form"! (Matt. 6:13.) It only takes a short time of being out of contact with God before you find your resistance to sin and temptations is dangerously low or nonexistent! Therefore, NO CONVERTED PERSON SHOULD EVER GET OUT OF THE HABIT OF PRAYER! To do so is to play with fire the LAKE of fire!

You Must Pray Regularly!

   Unless we habitually go to God the Father we cannot expect to be blessed in a powerful way as a Work or individually! It is critically important that we as a body send our prayers up before the throne of grace on a regular, consistent basis.
   Thus I Thessalonians 5:17 commands us to "pray without ceasing"! This, of course, does not mean to be constantly mouthing a "prayer," but rather to pray regularly never giving it up (Goodspeed) in order to be close to God. Then when a sudden need arises it will not take hours of agonizing to contact God. Rather, we can be "INSTANT in prayer" (Rom. 12:12) or instantly able to get through to Him! Jesus Christ knew that God heard him "always." When God raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus' prayer lasted only about 12 seconds. But He was heard INSTANTLY! (John 11:41-44.) Why? Because He took time to pray
   Daniel also prayed regularly. Even in the face of 3 possible death penalty for doing so, Daniel customarily got down on his knees for fervent prayer before God three times a day (Dan. 6:10).
   David also followed the same custom. He said: "Evening [God's day begins at sundown} and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice" (Ps. 55:17). REGULARLY!

Fasting Important too!

   Truly effective prayer is often accompanied by fasting. When Christ was instructing His disciples with regard to certain types of demons He said, "...this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17:21 ).
   When Daniel accompanied his prayers with fasting he got results! Notice Daniel 9:3: "And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth and ashes."
   Now notice the momentous result of such an appeal to God! "Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed mc, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding" (verses 21-22).
   God actually sent one of his top representatives, the great archangel Gabriel, to bring vital information to Daniel in answer to his prayer!


   Apply some of the principles of the seven laws of success to your prayer life. Have a definite goal in mind when you begin. Then stir& to your prayer and don't give up until you know you have actually prayed TO GOD not just to the ceiling, the floor, or to yourself and your prayers HAVE BEEN HEARD! Force yourself to get down on your knees and stay on them until you have accomplished what you set out to do!
   One striking example of Christ's PERSISTENCE in prayer is found in Matthew 26:36-45: "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.... Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and PRAYED, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me ONE HOUR!" The indication here is that Christ prayed for a span of one hour.
   Continuing with verse 42: "He went away again the second time, and PRAYED.... And he came and found them asleep again.... And he left them, and went away again, and PRAYED the third time."
   What an example of staying with it until the task is accomplished! These three prayer sessions, just prior to His being apprehended by an armed mob (see verses 45-47), insured Christ the spiritual strength to ENDURE the beatings, the questionings, and finally being nailed to the stake.
   The Bible shows us that the Kingdom of God will be turned over only to those who are forceful and driving in fulfilling God's will! Wishy-washy, irresolute quitters won't make it! Turn your natural carnal stubbornness in the right direction and prevail in prayer!

Praying Is Work!

   Prayer is not always easy! It can be hard work. It takes mental and physical effort to stick with it and to be consistent. In short, it takes CHARACTER!
   We cannot afford to become "weary in well doing." Many of us ought to labor in prayer more than we do. Christ, on His last night, prayed with such intensity that His perspiration became like great drops of blood dripping to the ground as a result of the enormous effort He put into His prayers! (Luke 22:44.)
   We all ought to follow Paul's instruction to the Church at Ephesus. Notice how the Moffatt translation renders Ephesians 6:18: "... praying at all times in the Spirit, with all manner of prayer and entreaty be alive to that, attend to it UNCEASINGLY, interceding on behalf of all the saints and on my behalf also, that I may be allowed to speak with open lips in order to expound fully and freely... the gospel...."
   Widows in God's Church can render very effective and important prayers. God preserved in the Bible an example of one widow who must have been over 100 years old who labored in prayer and fasting regularly in the temple! Notice it in Luke 2:36-37: "There was also a prophetess, Hannah the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the tribe of Asher; she was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her girlhood and having been a widow for eighty-four years. She was never away from the temple; night and day she worshipped, fasting and praying..." (Moffatt).
   God hears and honors these prayers! They can be a very powerful force in furthering the Work of God!
   Remember, praying is work, but prayer DOES WORK!

When and How Long?

   Some would like the Church to set an arbitrary length of time for each member to pray every day. This of course is not feasible. We should each pray according to the needs of the Work and our individual needs. It depends a lot on your personal circumstances and other factors. But certainly anything less than half an hour a day is NOT ENOUGH! All should strive for substantial amounts of prayer, especially in the mornings.
   David made it a point to pray in the morning (Ps. 5:3). On occasion Jesus rose up even before sunrise to pray (Mark 1:35). In most cases your whole day will be successful in direct proportion to your morning's prayer! To begin the day without praying is spiritually like facing the day physically unclothed!
   Additional spiritual impetus and inspiration can be yours if you can pray again at mid-day. Of course you must pray discreetly and in a private place, as Christ instructed us (Matt. 6:6).

What to Pray About

   God's names tell us what He is and what He does. Since He answers prayers according to their consonance to His own plan and will, His names can also tell us much about what we should pray for. Notice some of those names and what they mean:
   YHVH-Jireh "The Eternal will provide" (Gen. 22:14). He will provide us with everything to sustain and maintain our very lives, as well as the tools to do the Work and to overcome.
   YHVH-Ropheka "The Eternal that heals you" (Ex. 15 :26). We must look to God for healing and physical well-being. James said, "... pray one for another, that ye may be healed" (James 5:16).
   YHVH-Zidkenu "The Eternal our Righteousness" (Jer. 23:6; 33:16). Our own human righteousness is as filthy rags to God (Isa. 64:6). We should ask God to forgive our sins, to clean up our hearts (Ps. 51:10) and give us His righteousness through His Holy Spirit.
   YHVH-Nissi "The Eternal my banner" (Ex. 17:15). Pray that God will continue to guide and lead the Work of God and the decisions that are made. Christ is called "the captain of our salvation" (Heb. 2:10). He is the one who goes before and behind us as He did with the children of Israel (I Cor. 10:4).
   YHVH-Roi "The Eternal my shepherd" (Ps. 23:1). God watches over and protects His Work as a shepherd does his flock from the wolves. We should pray daily that God will protect us from all our enemies.
   There are many other names of God in the Bible, but space does not permit a comprehensive listing of them here. You can make a profitable study of them yourself.

Examples of Answered Prayer

   "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth MUCH" (James 5:16). Your prayers can bring about GREAT RESULTS!
   The great prophet Elijah was merely a human being as we all are. But notice his example in prayer: "Elias [Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit" (James 5:17-18).
   God heard Elijah's prayers. Why shouldn't He hear yours?
   One prayer of Moses prevented the destruction of the whole nation of ancient Israel (Deut. 9:13-19).
   Esther and Mordecai fasted and prayed, and all the Jews in the Persian Empire were spared from extermination.
   The barren Hannah's silent prayer was responsible for the very existence of the prophet Samuel (I Sam. 1:5-20).
   God heard the prayers of these very human men and women of old. You can depend upon God to hear your prayers too. This is never truer than when you are in deep trouble.
   Notice David's plight in Psalm 18, beginning with verse 4: "The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell [the grave) compassed me about: the snares of death prevented [came before] me." So what did David do? "In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears."
   What was God's reaction to David's prayer? "Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth... He bowed the heavens also, and came down... and he rode upon a cherub.... Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.... He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters {armies). He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me" (verses 7-17).
   Notice that God was moved to quick action by David's prayer.
   But why? Verses 19 and 20 explain: "He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me."
   God delights in the prayers of those who keep His commandments. And God is no respecter of persons. If you are righteous through His Spirit in you, He will hear and answer your prayers. So don't sell yourself short insofar as the value and effectiveness of your prayers are concerned!

Pray in FAITH!

   Brethren, it should be obvious that the end of man's age is drawing to a tumultuous close. The time when Christ will return to set up His government and bind the god of this world is rapidly drawing closer. And as that day draws nearer, the "adversary" Satan the devil becomes more and more intent on the destruction of this great Work and the people of God!
   You need to be praying with greater frequency, fervency and intensity than ever before that God will "deliver us from the evil one."
   Do not pray merely as a necessary ritual. Do not just "go through the motions" because you know you should pray. Don't just "log time" and pray by the clock.
   When you pray, PRAY IN REAL BELIEVING FAITH AND EXPECT MIRACLES! Be confident that the great all-powerful God in heaven really does hear and respond to your prayers!
   If you are praying according to God's will, in Christ's name and in believing, expectant FAITH, your prayers will bring ASTOUNDING RESULTS! Put work into your prayers, and your prayers will work MIRACLES for God's Work!

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Good News MagazineJanuary-February 1972Vol XXI, No. 1
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