Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 4 — Why Does God Want Us to pray?
Luke 18:1, "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint."
I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."
Philippians 4:6, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Why in the economy of God did He ask us to pray in order to receive our needs? Could He not simply give us our needs? He knows them before we pray; in fact, He knows them better than we do. Why would God have us beg for some of our needs? Since He loves us so much, why doesn't He simply give us what He knows we need, or at least require us to make only one requisition? The answer to this is in the very purpose for our being. God made man for the praise of His glory that He might enjoy fellowship with him. There are several reasons why God uses prayer as a means to His supplying our needs and, yes, our wants.
1. Prayer is a way of starting a conversation. Continual prayer is a way that God uses in perpetuating that conversation. Suppose one of our daughters came to me when she was a child and said, "Daddy, can I have some ice cream?"
I would say, "Now Linda, why would you want ice cream?"
Linda would say, " 'Cause I like it."
I would say, "You just had some last week."
She would reply, "But I want some today."
I would ask her, "Give me some good reasons why you should have some ice cream."
She would reply, " 'Cause you're the best daddy in the whole world!"
"Give me another good reason."
" 'Cause you're the handsomest daddy in the whole world!"
"Do you have any other reasons?"
" 'Cause you're the strongest and smartest daddy in the whole world."
I would say, "Linda, do you really want some ice cream?"
She would say, "Daddy, please give me some ice cream!"
Then I might say, "Give me a big hug and a kiss." She would hug me and kiss me, and then I would give her the ice cream.
Now the truth is I was going to give her the ice cream all along. There was never any doubt in my mind but that Linda could have the ice cream. Why then did I make her beg? Why did I make her hug and kiss me? That was a sure way I could get some loving. This is why sometimes God waits to answer. He wants some lovin'. If He is going to spend some time with us, He often has to prolong His response in order that we may fellowship with Him. Since most of our talking with God is asking, God uses this tool, no doubt, in order that many may desire to spend time with Him.
2. Prayer enables the mind of God to flow through our minds. Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." When two people talk, their minds merge. No person is exactly the same after talking to another. Communication between individuals causes a merging of the minds that is impossible to prevent.
Years ago I set out to know older pastors. I was pastoring at the age of 21. I realized that there were some things that a 21-year-old mind could not possess. I set out to have older men preach in my pulpit. I invited men who were in their sixties and seventies and even eighties to preach for me. Perhaps I could have had younger men who would have been more dynamic and maybe even could have preached greater revival meetings, but I wanted to get to know older men. I realized that there was something they could give my people that I could not give them. I also realized that there was something they could do for me that nothing else could do. Though I did not presume on their time, I did take advantage of every opportunity to eat with them, to drive them places and to be around them. I was letting their minds empty into mine, and as our minds merged, I believe I matured more quickly than I could have had I not allowed their minds to flow into mine. Through prayer my mind merges with the great mind of God. This enables His mind to flow into mine. This is just another reason why God did not choose to supply our needs apart from our asking. He knew that His influence on us could be immeasurable if our minds could merge with His in prayer.
3. Prayer makes the journey more enjoyable oftentimes than the destination. The fellowship with God can be more wonderful than the receiving of the answer to prayer.
Suppose a boy said to his girlfriend, "Walk down to the store with me while I get some milk and bread." On the trip to and from the store they laugh and have fun and may even snicker a little, "I like you," or an "I love you." Now which was the most fun—getting the milk and the bread, or going to the store together?
The Lord said, "You can have the milk and bread, but I'm not going to have it delivered to your house. I want us to go to the store together that we may enjoy fellowship one with the other." Perhaps the richest thing about prayer is not the receiving of our request but the means of receiving it; that is, fellowship with the very God of God's and the Creator of the universe.
Years ago I was in the country of Jamaica. I decided to buy one of the straw purses for which they are so famous. I went to the straw market, picked out one merchant and found the purse that I liked best and asked, "How much is that purse?"
He said, "Fifteen dollars."
I said, "I'll give you five."
He said, "Oh, no, no. It cost me more than that, but you can have it for $12."
I said, "I'll give you eight dollars, and that's it! You can take it or leave it!"
He said, "Mister, I wouldn't sell you the purse for $15 now because you have taken my bargaining power away. You've taken all the joy out of selling you the purse. There is no amount of money that you could give me for the purse now."
I did not buy the purse, because he would not sell it to me, but I did extend my hand and tell him that I admired him. It was his trade that gave him joy and not the receipt of money. He just liked to bargain, and if he couldn't bargain, he wasn't interested in selling.
Yes, God could have sent to us our needs having already known them, but God knew that there was a much more enjoyable way for us to get our needs and wants from Him.
4. Prayer always makes God's provisions a delightful surprise. If He simply delivered our needs and wants to our doorsteps, we would not be surprised. It would become just a normal thing. Yet even the possessor of the strongest faith always has an element of delightful surprise when he receives from God the answers to his prayers. I have been walking with God for many years. I have been asking Him for things and pleading with Him to supply the needs of my ministry for over a third of a century, but to be quite frank, I am still often surprised when I get the answer. I still light up like a child and want to share with others the marvellous answers to prayer that God gives to me. It seems as if after all these years, I would not be surprised, but God likes it that way! He likes to see the brightness of our eyes! He likes to see our hands clap together and our feet leap for joy when He provides our needs!
5. The use of prayer is a means whereby God supplies our needs and prevents us from taking God for granted. While the Israelites were in the wilderness, God could have sent them enough manna at one time to last them for a month, but He chose to require them to gather the manna every day. This kept them constantly praying and believing and, yes, even needing. This brought a certain amount of growing love as each day they enjoyed the blessing of gathering the manna rather than just having that blessing monthly.
When I arrive at church in the morning, the security guards meet me at the car and walk me to my office. They escort me to my car at night and watch over me. When I arrive at church in the morning I am glad to see them. They are glad to see me. We joke a little bit together and "howdy" for a little while. This is only for a few minutes, but it is very enjoyable to all of us. Now those guards do not have to meet me at my car. They could protect me just as easily if they were on the roof of the building, watching down, as I walk from the car to the office. Why then do they meet me at the car? Why don't they just post themselves on the roof of the building for surveillance purposes? I'll tell you why. We love to fellowship! I like it and they like it. If they just protected me, we would miss a great deal. God in Heaven looks down on us. He could from a distance simply supply our needs, but God wants to come down where we are and He wants us to be where He is so that through prayer that which He knows to do for us can be done just as well and much more enjoyably. He wants to be with us. He wants to make His providing for us a delight to Him and to us. He loves our fellowship. Through prayer His great mind can flow into our finite minds making it possible for us to serve others better and to let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus. Not only does God want to provide for us, but God wants to use the tool of prayer as a means of this provision in order that He may fellowship with us as He supplies our needs and our wants. What a blessed bonus this is to the child of God! Not only does he have the great security of God's provision and protection, but the child of God has the great intimacy of God's fellowship as He protects and as He secures His children.
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