What's The Use In
Asking? Why Pray?
No believer I have met has ever suggested we ought not to pray, but the fact is: we often do not pray or do not pray as we ought. Christians might ask, "What's the use in asking? What difference does it make? It does make a difference. Let's look at some treasured truths that may urge us to pray even more and, of course, more effectively.
1. That You Faint Not
"Men always ought to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1).The word "lose heart" is translated "faint" in the King James Version and "give up" in the New International Version. The danger is that we pray and, when the answer does not come "on time", on our schedule, we "faint" and give up. We become discouraged. This loss of heart, this fainting, can lead to disaster in the Christian life. This is why Jesus gave the parable of the widow who did not "lose heart" and "give up" but "continually", kept on coming with her request.
Prayer--consistent and continual prayer--is the antidote for spiritual fainting spells, for losing heart, for becoming discouraged and giving up. Just look around, and you will notice many churches filled with empty pews left vacant by fainting Christians. These fainting Christians need to remember that life is like a taxi meter, it keeps running whether we are getting anywhere or not.
Here is a startling statistic. The average length of time a Christian is faithful in church attendance is seven years. One thousand pastors of a major denomination leave the ministry each year. Some leave for retirement, but the vast majority move on because of a fainting spell. Thousands of students drop out of Christian colleges and seminaries each year. In an excellent Christian school, a counselor reported that every "dropout" he had counseled had quit having personal devotions before quitting school. They did not pray and they, too, had a fainting spell. When the going gets tough the tough get going.
"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint"
(Isaiah 40:31). They will not have a fainting spell! Every believer, whether in the pulpit or in the pew, needs spiritual strength that comes only through prayer. The admonition is, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). Like bears who store up fat for the hard winter days, the believers need a storehouse of grace for those times of need so they will not faint, will not lose heart, will not be discouraged, will not give up.
Because of the Fears of Life
Today we see "Men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26). Sadly enough this is not only true concerning the sinners of the world but also of the saints of the church. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You"
(Isaiah 26:3). The way to keep your mind stayed on the Lord is to "Pray without ceasing" (1
Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is powerful. It is the answer to a host of the problems of life.
God's answer for the fears of life is "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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7). Every phrase in these verses is packed and stacked with fruitful help in prayer. God tells us not to be "anxious" about anything. So many of God's people are needlessly filled with anxieties!
What is the remedy? "In everything," in feast or famine, in sickness or health, in tribulation or triumph, pray! God pleads, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me" (Ps. 50:15). How do you pray when you are about to go under, when your ship is swamped, when you fall into all kinds of testings, when the bottom falls out, and the roof caves in?
First, you question God during the time of trouble. You can ask why, if you ask inquisitively but not accusatively. You can ask why is this happening to me to learn and profit from it but not ask why to accuse God of being unjust or unkind to you. The old saying, "ours is not to question why, ours is but to do or die" is only partially true. It is imperative to ask why inquisitively so you do not miss what God has for you through this time of trouble.
Secondly, you simply "let your requests be made known to God." Just tell Him all about it. The results! Why, "the peace of God will guard your heart." This is the peace of God, not peace with God. Everyone must have peace with God before he can even pray and be heard for "we know that God does not hear sinners" (John 9:31). "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You"
(Isaiah 26:3). The way to keep your mind stayed on the Lord is to "Pray without ceasing" (1
Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is powerful. It is the answer to a host of the problems of life. "The peace of God passes all understanding." and all "misunderstanding" as well. Thirdly, you pray for deliverance for He said, "I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." Israel finally "prayed" while in trouble and God sent a deliverer, Moses. It is a mystery why it took so long for them to really pray for deliverance. There is no answer that I know of. It is incredible why so many Christians don't really pray or don't get the answer in their times of trouble. Maybe it is because they have not learned what God is trying to teach them or have not judged themselves yet.
Because of the Fun or Joy it Brings
Jesus propounded a formula for joy when He advised His disciples, "Until now you have asked nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). Is your joy full? Is your cup running over? If not it may be because you are not "asking" and receiving. He offers fullness of joy. It does not come through the accumulation of possessions in this world. Howard Hughes proved that. It does not accrue through beauty and bounty. Marilyn Monroe proved that. It is not produced by popularity. Elvis Presley proved that. Jesus said it comes though "asking and receiving".
It is summed up in 1 John 1:3-4 when John penned these words, "That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." How are we to have fullness of joy? Through fellowship with the Father and His dear Son, Jesus. Make time and take time to pray.
How important is this joy? Nehemiah 8:10 tells us "the joy of the Lord is your strength." Absenteeism from church is at an all time high. The dropout rate is staggering. The no-shows on any given Sunday are appalling. Those who are shipwrecked on life's sea are disasters. There are too many Christians who are too weak to make the trip successfully through life. What is the cure? Get your cup full by "asking and receiving" from God. Yes, "these things we write to you that your joy may be full."
4. Pray for Food
"Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11). As pointed out in a previous chapter, "bread" as it is used here, in the Hebrew culture included daily needs. It is there for the asking. To recapitulate, "You do not have because you do not ask" (4:2). We are to obtain our daily needs by "asking." Nothing complicated about that, is there?
My wife and I took a cruise on a ship. The meals were included in the ticket. All we had to do was show up for the meals each day. Many slept in; others were at the gambling tables; some were too busy having fun; several just did not show up and missed some meals. But how tragic it is that many believers miss the succulent meals and gracious accommodations that are included in the ticket of salvation--and they are ours only through asking. "God offers no loaves for the loafers" in prayer.
Sometimes there are events where the tickets are free, but you must secure your tickets when and where you are directed before the event. God has already provided for our needs, but we must show up at the throne of grace "daily" and "ask".
Because of the Fight
Satan is alive and active. Realizing he has already been defeated by the cross and the open tomb, he is "raising cane" in these last days, as clearly prophesied by God's written Word. He is a busybody, up and at em, every day. He takes no "time off" He never seems to sleep. He is unstinting in his horrendous holocausts around the world. The Bible cautions, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith" (1 Peter 5:8,9). He is after you, He never gives up. He wants to devour you. You can count on it. As instructed, we must pray daily, "Deliver us from the evil one."
The Vietnam and Korean wars were colossal catastrophes, because war was never officially declared in either case. We never set out to win it. The same is true of the Christian's conflict today. A mass of Christians have never declared war with the devil, Tricky, cunning Satan is the craftiest guerrilla warrior in history, adept at sneaking up on our blind side, hitting us, and then running. In the flesh, Christians are no match for him whatsoever. Follow our Commander, the Captain of our salvation, and withstand the devil with our daily battle plan of prayer: "Deliver us from the evil one" (Matt. 6:13). The Lord Jesus spent considerable time in prayer as He prepared for His encounter with the devil. Shouldn't we?
5. For Favor with the Father
"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" was the response of the Father to His Son's obedience when He was baptized. Oh that God were well pleased with everyone of His children. "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and He ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Peter 3:12). Those who please Him will get His favors. Those who don't, won't, His face is against them. Oh, the tragedy of what they miss. "I always do those things that please Him" said the Lord Jesus in John 8:29. Now, here is an awesome assertion, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (Luke 2:52). He "pleased" the Father and increased in "favor" with God and man. We must also by praying as He told us. An added dividend is that "When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" God tells us in
Proverbs 16:7. God has no favorites but He does have some intimates. Do you want His favors? Then obey and pray! "No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly", who obey and pray! (Psalms 84:11). This is an incontestable fact!
You probably recall the father who had two sons, as recorded in Matthew 21:28-31. He instructed them to go work in his field. The first one answered, "I will not," but afterward repented (changed his mind) and went. The second one replied, "I'll go," but never did. Now which one did the will of his father? The one who obeyed, of course. It is as simple as that. Walk by faith. Walk in obedience to the Father in heaven and get in on His favors. Santa Claus has absolutely zilch in his bag but "every good gift comes from the Father of lights".
You have looked at many a non-Christian who is mixed up and has messed up his life miserably and thought to yourself, if only he would come to Christ! If he only knew what he's missing! Jesus said to that woman at the well, "If you knew the gift of God... you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:10). There are countless Christians who are filled with problems and poverty, with virtually no power and purpose in their lives, and we think, if they only knew what they're missing! If they would only pray. If prayer were a priority. If they pleased the Father by praying as He taught.
"Come now, and let us reason together," says the Lord (Isaiah 1:18). Isn't all of this reasonable? Doesn't it make sense to obey and pray? Don't be complacent. YOU must respond and obey and pray. Don't worry about what others do. When Peter asked about John, Jesus said in essence, That is none of your business, "what is that to you, You follow me" (John 21:22). I am excited about each of you who is reading this right now. Follow the Lord, please the Father, you be different, lead the way, gain His favor, get good things and show the world and all of His family how wonderful He really is. You will make an impact in your family, in your church and in the world that will actually be more important than all the president does this whole year! I believe that with all of my heart.
KEY: The road is rough, there is reason enough to pray. The fainting, fearful and fleshly Christians have every reason to pray. Those who want the favor, food and fun the Father wants to give would be foolish not to pray. Read the menu and then put in your order!
"LET US REASON TOGETHER": Don't these reasons to pray make sense to you? They are right where you live. With these reasons given it is an absolute enigma whey we do not all pray more.
DECISION TIME: What are you going to do about it? Peter had fished all night and caught nothing but he said, "At Your word I will let down the net" (Luke 5:5) and he caught a multitude of fishes. "At His word" will you pray for the reasons He said? Make that decision to pray what He taught us to pray every day.