PRAYER WARS Page III
Prayer Manual For
The International Prayer Network
The Prayer Arm of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
A Major Question
Just before Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer, He made a comment, seemingly in passing, to the effect that "...your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8). Awareness of this passage, combined with understanding of the concept of the omniscient (all-knowing) and all-loving attributes of God, has caused some Christians to wonder why we have to pray. After all, if God already knows what we need, and He really loves us, why doesn't He just give us what we need without our having to ask? There is a simple but very important Biblical answer to this, and in this page we will examine it.
God Said So
The first reason, and the best possible reason for praying or doing anything else, is that God effectively told us to do it, by Biblical example and statements that show He expects us to do it. God loves us, and anything that He tells us to do, or not to do, is for our good. If He wants us to pray, then it is for our good that we do it. See Psalm 19:7-11.
Sowing and Reaping
There are a number of pervasive spiritual principles set forth in the Scriptures; the consequences of which a person cannot escape regardless of his religious beliefs. One of the most significant of these is sowing and reaping. It is so significant that even people in other religions have noticed it, and included references to it in their doctrines, such as the Hindu belief in karma.
As St. Paul told us in Galatians 6;7-9;
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (NKJV)
It should have occurred to most of the readers that when a person is praying, especially when praying for others in accordance with the Scriptures, that he or she is sowing to the Spirit.
Relevant to this, consider the context of the Golden Rule, in Matthew 7:12. The verse ends one of Jesus' best known teachings on prayer, in verses 7-11 (Note: This is an affirmation of the "petition" definition of prayer.):
7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
9 "Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 "Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (NKJV)
Why do you think Jesus dropped the Golden Rule into this context? It was because of something He wanted us to know about why we should pray, and again, especially about praying for others. When we pray for others, we are sowing blessings for ourselves. (Note: Self-centeredness is sin, but there is such a thing a Godly self-concern. See Hebrews 12:2. Even Jesus saw something in it for Himself when He went to the Cross.) When we pray for others, the blessings we pray for them will come back to us.
When we pray for others, we are obeying the Commandment to "Love One Another". Therefore, God will answer our prayers for others more quickly and surely than prayers for ourselves, and, more than that, what we ask in prayer for others will come back to us.
An excellent Biblical example is found at the end of the Book of Job. If you read chapter 42:10, you will find this:
"And the Lord turned the captivity of Job,
when he prayed for his friends:
also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before."
As you can see, it was when Job prayed for his friends that he got blessed, and if you are familiar with the Book of Job, you will understand that it was forgiveness for his friends that he had to pray for. In the same way, God will often only act in our behalf when we take the initiative to pray for the needs, material and spiritual, of others.
And here we find an example of another Scriptural principle: God never asks us to do something for nothing! As stated above, anything He wants us to do is for our own good.
It has been noted by many Christians that nothing is accomplished in ministry without prayer. The question is, why is this so? There is a Biblical reason why. In Luke 12:32, Jesus says something to His disciples that has far more significance than a casual reading would even suggest:
"Do not fear, little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Now, you are probably wondering, "What does this have to do with why we should pray?"
The answer is found in the meaning of the Greek word translated "kingdom". It is basileian, transliterated "basileian". It can mean either or both of two things:
The realm over which a king rules.
The authority with which a king rules.
In all probability, Jesus meant both definitions. Remember, in Revelation 1:6, John said,
"...And made us kings and priests unto God..".
In Christ, we are kings. And we don't have to wait until the Second Coming to start reigning with Him. Although, like our glorified nature, we will have to wait until then for the full manifestation of our kingship, we can have a foretaste of it now through prayer. God the Father has passed responsibility for what happens in this world to Jesus (Matthew 28:18), and through Him has to a large degree passed it on to us.
This writer is not the only Christian who has noticed this. There is even a Christian song, called "Majesty" that you may have heard that mentions it:
"...Majesty, Kingdom Authority,
Flow from His Throne,
Unto His Own..."
We exercise our authority, as it is now, in a number of ways. An overt example is when Christians cast our demons. But in most cases, the exercise of our authority is done through prayer. It is almost - but not quite (be careful!) - as if we give God orders. What we actually do is make petitions that are based on knowledge of His will, and He acts on them. We reign as kings in Christ by invoking God's power through prayer.
Therefore, in many situations, unless the circumstances threaten His plan of salvation, God will not act unless we do, in prayer.
Reporting The Fire
Years ago, in his "early Christian" years, this writer had an experience that illustrates this principle. (Note: This writer tells this story often. It is a beautiful real-life parable.) In those days, he lived on Staten Island, a large island about five miles south of Manhattan, which is one of the Five Boroughs of New York City. On weekends, he would often hang out in the huge Staten Island Ferry Terminal. One afternoon, while doing so, he noticed a small fire burning in one of the "racks"; huge, fence-like wooden structures that guide the ferry boats into the docks. He knew that years before, a fire had started in one of the "racks" that wasn't noticed in time, and the entire ferry terminal had burned down. So he knew something had to be done about this fire.
However, he didn't have the authority to use the fire fighting equipment in the Terminal, nor to go out onto the racks himself. In fact, he could have gotten in trouble if he had tried. But there was one thing he could do. He could go into the Terminal office and report the fire. And that he did.
The U.S.S.. Fire Fighter (middle ground)
at the place where this happened.
Now it just so happened that only about twenty feet from where the fire was burning, there was docked the U.S.S. Firefighter. At the time, it was the most powerful fireboat in the world. It could pump 20,000 gallons of water per minute through the water cannons on its decks, with enough force to knock down a brick wall. But at that moment, the crew was ashore having lunch, and was totally unaware of the fire until the author reported it. Then, having been alerted, they went aboard the fireboat, started the pumps, and put out the fire in less than a minute. A fire that was a situation impossible for the author to deal with in his own authority and strength was a very small thing to the fireboat.
Note: A few years later that very fireboat dramatically demonstrated its power when it put out the huge fire that resulted from the collision of a freighter loaded with explosive chemicals with a gasoline-laden tanker in New York Harbor, and also rescued most of the crew of the freighter.
Similarly, what may be an impossible situation to us may be a very small matter to God. But, because He has given the Kingdom to us, He may do nothing about it until we "report the fire" in prayer.
While preparing the original booklet version of the "Strangers and Pilgrims" section of the Main Message, this writer had another, similar "reporting the fire" experience. In that case, in mid day, he saw a brush fire burning unnoticed in a vacant lot on a busy Brooklyn street, and threatening an occupied apartment building. It was right across the street from a fire house! Nothing was being done about it until this writer pulled the handle of a fire alarm box. He believes that God was affirming the importance of this principle.
Asking for "Crumbs"
A Biblical example of this principle is found in the story of the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter from demon possession in Matthew 15:22-28. The woman had been told by Jesus that it was not right to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs. Her response was saying that the dogs ate the crumbs from the master's table. Jesus reacted to that remark by complimenting her for great faith and giving her the miracle she wanted.
Do you understand why she had great faith? Of course, she persisted, and she accepted His first refusal with humility, but the real answer is in that word "crumbs". She was recognizing that what was impossible for her was a very small thing to Jesus. Of course, she had to "report the fire" to get the action, but in "reporting the fire", she was recognizing Jesus' ability to do what she asked. That is what we must do. We must understand that from God's point of view, we are mostly asking for "crumbs".
It is part of the doctrine and expectation of this Ministry that during the Tribulation, Christians will unite in "reporting the fire" as they have never done in the whole history of the Church.
But for now, we can help ourselves and many other Christians to be ready if we get serious about "reporting the fire" of the lack of preparedness among contemporary Laodicean-type Christians. And we should also be using our kingdom authority to support our fellow Christians who are involved in the work of Bread Upon The Waters Ministry.
Neglect of Prayer
For all that Christians do a lot of talking about prayer, it is evident that in practice they actually do very little of it. As stated in the "Strangers and Pilgrims" page, a survey taken some years ago showed that Christians in the United States spend, on the average, only about 3 minutes a day in prayer, and the average pastor prays for only about seven minutes.
Compare that to the prayer life of Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. He was in the habit of going without sleep to spend quality time in prayer. This is the Christian discipline known as "watching", which is equivalent to fasting. There is nothing in the Gospels to suggest that Jesus fasted after His 40 days in the wilderness, but He practiced watching regularly. In Mark 1:35, after a busy day of ministry that lasted until after sunset, Jesus got up before sunrise to go out into the hills to pray alone. Again, the day before He chose the 12 Apostles - one of the most important decisions of His earthly life - He spent the entire night before in prayer (Luke 6:12-16). And on another occassion, after a long, hard day of ministry, Jesus sent His disciple away in a boat and went up in the mountains by Himself to pray. Later that night, He took a walk on the Sea of Galilee. See Matthew 14:22-33.
Jesus drew power and wisdom from the time He spent alone in prayer with the Father. If He, the only begotten Son of God, thought it so important to spend time in prayer that He went without sleep to have the time to do it, how much more do we need to do it? We must stop just talking about prayer, and get busy doing it. It must be a major aspect of our Christian lives. If we don't, we won't be effective in our Christian lives, and we won't be ready for the Second Coming. So start making prayer the number one priority of your Christian life.
Having understood some simple but profound reasons why we should pray, we must ask a question that requires a much more detailed answer. It will be the subject of the next page of this section of the site:
How Should We Pray?
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm