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Query for the Month

of March 2000


Next up-date: April 1st (God willing).


Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!




Prayers are conversations with God.

They are based on certain principles and we need to know the ones that operate in answered prayer if we would be successful in them.

The first requirement is that each prayer be mixed with the righteousness of Jesus, for without that it cannot reach God. The following verses use an Old Testament ceremony to illustrate this. As the priest dropped the incense into the portable censer the billowing clouds of smoke symbolised the intermixed prayers and righteousness ascending and moving over the curtain which separated the presence of God from common eyes.

Revelation 8:3-4

And another Angel came and stood at the altar [of incense], having a golden censer [as a high priest]; and there was given to Him much incense, that He should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the Angel's hand.

Some more mundane thoughts are recorded in the next three quotes.

John 9:31

Now we know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and does His will, him He hears.

Proverbs 5:29

The LORD is far from the wicked: but He hears the prayer of the righteous [the forgiven and cleansed Christian].

Psalm 16:7

I will bless [thank] the LORD, who has given me counsel:
my reins [innermost thoughts] also instruct me in the night seasons [through the guidance of the Spirit].


There are really only three types of conversation we can have with God. They are (in principle):-

1. What shall I do? Addressed to the Holy Spirit

2. I need forgiveness and cleansing - to Jesus

3. Thank You - to God the Father


The basic prayer always includes the thought:

"Can I do anything to help You in Your care for others?"


We must also ask in harmony with the character of God, for He cannot answer a prayer which is against His will.

John 14:12-15

Verily, verily, I say to you, He [or she] that believes on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [longer] works than these shall he do; because I go to My Father. And whatever you shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

If you shall ask any thing in My name [in accordance with My character], I will do it.

If you love Me, keep My commandments.


The character of God is clearly set out in the following words:-

John 1:35-36

Again the next day after John [the Baptist] stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!"

None among the hearers, and not even the speaker himself, discerned the true import of the words, "the Lamb of God."

Upon Mount Moriah, Abraham had heard the question of his son, "My father... where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" The father answered, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." Genesis 22:7-8. And in the ram divinely provided in the place of Isaac, Abraham saw a symbol of Him who was to die for the sins of men.

The Holy Spirit through Isaiah, taking up the illustration, prophesied of the Saviour, "He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter," and, "the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all". Isaiah 53:6-7. But the people of Israel had not understood the lesson. Many of them regarded the sacrificial offerings much as the heathen looked upon their sacrifices - as gifts by which they themselves might pacify the Deity. Unfortunately, today many professed Christians see prayer the same way.

God desired to teach them (and us) that from His own love comes the gift which reconciles them to Himself.

See this link for more about this attribute of God.

The word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan after His baptismal prayer, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," embraces all of us, for God spoke to Jesus as our representative. Matthew 3:17. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. "He has made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6. The glory that rested upon Christ at that time is a pledge of the love of God for us. It tells us of the power of prayer - how the human voice may reach the ear of God, and our petitions find acceptance in the courts of heaven.

By sin, earth's inhabitants were cut off from heaven, and we became foreigners in their sight; but Jesus has connected us again with the sphere of glory. His love has encircled us, and also reached the highest heaven. The light which fell from the clouds upon the head of our Saviour will fall upon us as we pray for help to resist temptation. The voice which spoke to Jesus says to every believing soul, "This is My beloved child, in whom I am well pleased."

1 John 3:2

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."

Our Redeemer has opened the way so that the most sinful, the most needy, the most oppressed and despised, may find access to the Father. All may have a home in the mansions which Jesus has gone to prepare. John 14:1-3.

Revelation 3:7-8

"These things says He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens; ... behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it."

But it requires persistence to pass through it.

Luke 18:1-8

And He spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint [give up]; saying,

There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, "Avenge me of my adversary [give me justice]." And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, "Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubles [annoys] me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me."

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust [worldly] judge says. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night to Him, though He [seems to] bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. [Any delay is not on His side].

Nevertheless when the Son of man comes [back from heaven], shall He find [such] faith on the earth?


Here is how it works:

Genesis 32:24-30

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a [likeness of a] Man with him until the breaking of the day [from midnight to dawn]. And when He saw that He prevailed not against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with Him.

And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks". And he said, "I will not let You go, except You bless me."

And He said to him, "What is your name?" And he said [honestly] , "Jacob [supplanter, or thief]".

And He said, "Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel [prince of God]: for as a prince have you power with God and with men, and have prevailed."

And Jacob asked Him, and said, "Tell me, I pray You, Your name [character]." And He said, "Wherefore [why, for what reason] is it that you do ask after My name?"

And He blessed him there [when He heard Jacob's answer]. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."


Later, this experience was written about as a picture for all Christians.

Hosea 12:2-6

The LORD has also a controversy with Judah [the invisible church of God today], and will punish Jacob [the individual in that church] according to his ways; according to his doings will He recompense him.

He took his brother by the heel in the womb [using physical force],

and by his strength he had power with God [using his helplessness]:

Yes, he had power over the Angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication to Him: he found Him in Bethel [the house of God], and there He spoke with us; even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is His memorial.

Therefore turn you to your God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on your God continually.

These two Scriptures tell us of a man who wrestled with the Son of God in prayer and prevailed

1. because he would not give up

2. because he had a need and could not fulfill it of himself.

He might have overcome his brother [any fellow human] the moment he emerged from the womb (Genesis 25:24-26), but as a grown man he was helpless in God's sight. When the Angel of the LORD touched his thigh and weakened his leg so that from that moment on he was lame and limped, He was showing him where his problem lay. By not walking correctly with his Saviour he had ended up in that situation, and the only way out was by throwing himself on the mercy of God. Without any excuses, or attempts to downplay his situation, he just asked and believed. [We must trust and obey.]

Why was his prayer accepted? Firstly, because he was asking on behalf of his dependents and he was so desperate that he cried. They had gone over the river into comparative safety, but his concern was that they be granted total safety, and he knew that this depended in a great measure on his righteousness. 1 Corinthians 7:14. He also knew that he was not righteous by nature, so he had to depend ENTIRELY on Christ's righteousness. That's why he asked what the name of the LORD was. In his answer he reminded Jesus of His own words in Exodus 34:5-7, for that is the heart of any prayer.

Jacob did not presume to believe that God was not willing to protect His people unless He was pushed into it. Nor did he charge Him with the blasphemy that He needed Jacob's prayers before He would act. He also knew that many repetitions of prayers mean nothing for God hears us the first time. Jesus told us about that:-

John 11:41-42

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead [Lazarus] was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I knew that You hear Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that You have sent Me.

Jacob also knew that the request of righteous man means much to God.

James 5:16-18

Confess your faults one to another [not our sins against God, these must be confessed only to Jesus], and pray one for another [how can I help my friend, LORD?], that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain [after being told to do so]: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again [when he was told to], and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.


Jesus warned us about certain attitudes:-

Matthew 6:5-8

And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say to you, They have their reward.

But you, when you pray, enter into your closet [private room], and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret [invisible]; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.

But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not you therefore like to them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him.

So why do we need to pray? For that very reason!


WE also need to hear ourselves ask so that we can judge whether we are asking correctly in harmony with God’s will. It's also nice if our attending angels can hear what we want, so that they can co-operate more fully.

The other thing that Jacob did was claim a particular promise that God had made to him. God's character is such that He cannot refuse once He has made a promise. He keeps His word.

Matthew 21:22

[Jesus said] And all things, whatever you shall ask in prayer [in accordance with God’s promise], believing, you shall receive.


What made Jacob pray the way he did?

Genesis 32:7-12

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed [because he thought his brother was trying to kill him and his family]: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; and said, "If Esau [my twin brother] comes to the one company, and smites it, then the other company which is left shall escape."

[He did what he could to minimize the risk by taking sensible precautions. He did not presume that God would do for him that which he could do for himself.]

And Jacob [prayed and] said, "O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which said to me, ‘Return to your country, and to your kindred, and I will deal well with you’: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which You have showed to your servant; for with [only] my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands [of people]. Deliver me, I pray You, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children."

"And You said [promised], ‘I will surely do you good, and make your seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude’."

So, by two things he prevailed. His helplessness and his claim to a personal promise, the word of God. Note that his request was specific to those for whom he was responsible. All the others in the world he left to God's care.


Another illustration:

Joshua 7:2-13

And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, "Go up and view [spy out] the country [before we attack them]."

And the men went up [the hills] and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said to him, "Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour there; for they are but few." [We can do this easily and by our own way].

So there went up there of the people about three thousand men: and they [soon] fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty-six men: for they chased them from before the gate even to Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water.

And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads [in mourning].

And Joshua [wrestled with God and] said, "Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore have You at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? [He blamed his God and fought with Him!] Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turns their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall circle round us, and cut off our name from the earth: and what will You do to Your great name?"

And the LORD said to Joshua, "Get you up; why lie you thus upon your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore [for this reason] the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed."

"Neither will I be with you any more, except you destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow: for thus says the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of you, O Israel: you can not stand before your enemies, until you take away the accursed thing from among you."

Jesus made it plain that presumption and arrogance were their faults. They presumed to know the battle plan and set out on their own. Because of their willing sin (they knew they should have asked what to do) Jesus could not protect them, and they suffered the results of their sin. On the surface it was Achan who was at fault but they were all tainted with the same sin - disobedience. Those who died did so as the wages of their own sin, not Achan's.

Ezekiel 18:20

The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

So another requirement of answered prayer is conscious innocence. This does not mean sinlessness for we all have unknown sins in our lives, but that the asker is not aware of any known sin which would hinder God from hearing the request. This we are shown by the experience of Daniel in the lions' den.

Daniel 6:19-22

Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste to the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice to Daniel: and the king spoke and said to Daniel, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is your God, whom you serve continually, able to deliver you from the lions?"

Then said Daniel to the king, "O king, live for ever. My God has sent His angel, and has shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before you, O king, have I done no hurt."


We can move God's arm:-

1. when we pray on behalf of others;

2. when we can claim one of His promises;

3. when we stand in conscious innocence before Him.


We will NOT get answers when we:-

1. Accuse God of not caring as much as we do.

2. When we ask for ourselves alone.

3. Think we will be heard for our quantity of prayers.


Spiritual Dictionary:

Can we move God by prayer?:

We can move God's arm:-

1. when we pray on behalf of others;

2. when we can claim one of His promises;

3. when we stand in conscious innocence before Him.


We will NOT get answers when we:-

1. Accuse God of not caring as much as we do.

2. When we ask for ourselves alone.

3. Think we will be heard for our quantity of prayers.


Next thought. To be discussed from April 1st 2000.

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