John J. Blanchard
I have come to the point where I feel my John Deere Model A 1946 is going to need to be replaced. I am in the market for a tractor. I was at the farm supply recently, and I noticed an advertisement on the bulletin board there for a tractor. It said, “John Deere tractor for sale. Has no seat and no steering wheel. For the farmer who lost his rear end and does not know which way to turn!” That is sadly the case for many farmers today.
Anyway, the reason I mention that little story right now is sometimes in our lives we feel that way. We are somewhat confused and unsure of what to do and which way to turn.
Often we are told we can always go to God, put everything in God’s hands and turn to Him. Sometimes when we are very low or we are having a rough time, it does not seem to us that (A) we are worth it to God or (B) we are good enough or (C) does God want to hear me anyway, or whatever kind of thought that runs through our mind to discourage us from going to God in prayer.
We feel like those farmers that are going under and do not know which way to turn. We do have a way to turn and a place to go. Of course, that is to God. We do that through our prayers. Today I want to talk about prayer. I want to give you some observations on prayer, and hopefully all of us can learn how to pray more effectively. I think it is going to become more and more important as time goes on.
The first thing to note about prayer is that it is our communication to God. Prayer is talking to God. That is pretty basic. Usually we want to hear something in return. Now when we are talking with a friend or a relative and they are sitting across from us or they are at the other end of the telephone, we are going to get responses. But, we are praying to a Being that we cannot see. We are going to Him with our deepest needs and requests, and sometimes we just want to praise Him and give Him glory, but we cannot see Him. Sometimes it is pretty hard to believe we are going to be heard and we will get an answer.
Let us try to look into what might interfere with that, what may make that so, and what Satan does to discourage us from going to God and make us feel insecure in our dealings and conversation with God.
The first thing is we are not just born knowing how to pray. The disciples who lived, walked and talked with Jesus Christ, asked Him, “Teach us how to pray.” They saw Christ often going out on the hilltops or forest or desert to pray. I am sure there were times they watched Him pray right in front of them. They wanted to know how do you do it? How do you pray?
CHRIST TEACHES US HOW TO PRAY
Let us turn to Luke 11 where they asked Him this question directly. Luke 11:1 “Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.’” So here we have the disciples in a certain place (it does not say where), but they saw Christ praying in a certain place. I am sure they had seen Him do this many, many times. I am sure they saw His prayers were answered over and over again. So finally they work up the nerve to say, Lord, teach us to pray. John taught his disciples how to pray, teach us how to pray.
Verse 2: “So He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
So He immediately, basically, said a model prayer to them showing them that they honor God. They can ask their requests. Make sure that you are forgiving others so that you can be forgiven. Ask to be delivered from evil. He gave them a basic model prayer. But then Christ goes on here to give us some very key principles. Not only did He show them a prayer, He then talked about it and explained some things to them.
I want to spend some time here looking at what Christ had to say and help us to apply it to our own lives. Let’s read His words, continuing in verse 5 of Luke 11. “And He said to them, ‘Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him;” and he will answer from within and say, “Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you?” I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.’”
Now is Christ saying that if we go to Him and ask for some bread because we do not have enough to feed our family or we have guests counting on us and we are in dire straits and we go and ask God for bread, are we going to have to ask Him persistently? Is He not going to want to give us bread? That is not what He is saying here. He is saying if you have human beings that are your friends and you have a dire need and you go to them, they will give to you if you are persistent. Sometimes they will not necessarily give to you when it is inconvenient. Because, if it is an inconvenient time for them, such as, in the middle of the night and you need it right then, they are not as likely to give it to you as if it was in the middle of the afternoon and you are both at work and you ask to borrow five bucks. It is easy then. But if you are persistent, no matter what the time, day or night your friend will give to you what you need if you are persistent. The principle here that God is telling us is that we need to be persistent in our prayers.
Persistence is stick-to-it-iveness, do not give up, keep at it. Let’s continue on in Luke 11:9 “’And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Of if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!’”
Now He was talking about, of course, receiving the Spirit, but He was referring to all of our prayers. If we ask, we have the relationship that goes beyond just being a friend. We are going to our Father. Now, we all have had imperfect human fathers, but by and large they probably all kept us warm and fed and took care of our bodily needs. Good fathers go far beyond that and give emotional support and help in every way. We can, at least, identify with the fact that fathers provide. He is saying here if you (humanity) being evil and sinful know how to do these things, well, of course, your Father in heaven will do it perfectly! He wants to give to us, but we have to ask and it will be given. We must seek, and we will find. We must knock, and it will be opened to us. So we are getting some more principles here, where Christ is talking to His disciples and telling them you ask Me how to pray, well I am telling you how to pray.
First He said here is a prayer. It has all the basics in it. That is not the prayer we are to say over and over again, obviously, but this is a model prayer that has all of the basics in it. You can add whatever it is you need or desire. Your Father in heaven wants to give. He wants to give! But He said here are some more principles of praying. You want to know how to pray, well first ask! Secondly, seek! Thirdly, knock! Do these things!
Let’s look this up. Let’s see what Christ was getting at. These are the principles Christ gave when the disciples said teach us how to do this. If we could be there listening to this whole thing, we, of course, would be hearing the words of what is written and recorded for us. We would be hearing the native tongue of Jesus Christ talking, so we would get a better understanding of what He was getting at. So I looked up what Christ was saying and the definition of these words.
“Ask” is #154 in your Strong’s. This is what He meant when He said, “Ask”: beg, call for, crave, desire and require. You see, in the English translation, “ask” loses something, does it not? That is different from begging. It is different from calling upon Him for something. It is different from craving. It is different from desiring and requiring. These are the terms we need to feel inside and think about when we want to ask.
So then I looked up, “Seek.” It says something similar. Seek: going about seeking, going about begging, desiring, endeavoring (working at it) and requiring. So “seek” is going about begging and desiring and working toward and endeavoring, requiring. So if we could be watching this discussion, we would see Christ telling His disciples that if you want to pray, here is a sample prayer. But, what you need to do is BEG and CRAVE and DESIRE and REQUIRE an answer! Endeavor and work at your prayers. Work at it! When you do these things, your Father freely gives. He wants to answer your prayers.
So then I looked up “knock” and it means exactly “knock,” to rap on the door. It is a verb, it is action. So God wants us to ACTIVELY RAP on His door. Actively pray, constantly going before Him, craving and desiring and requiring an answer, even begging for an answer. When we think in these terms, we have an idea of what Christ meant when He said, ask. Here is how to pray.
The disciples had watched Him pray in some certain place. We do not know where it was, but they had watched Him. When they had said, teach us how to do this, He basically said to them what you have been seeing Me do is craving an answer from My Father. I have been requiring an answer, begging Him. This is how you do it. You do it persistently. That was His example. You do not give up, and you are not halfhearted. You put forth effort. This is an endeavor. You work on your prayers. We must do this.
We must actually actively learn how to pray. Just like the disciples. They were very wise in that. They knew they did not know how – not very well anyway. They wanted help. They saw the results that Christ got. They saw the conversations because they saw Him talking to His Father out loud. There are many examples. “Father, in heaven, show them these things!” They heard Him talk to His Dad fervently! They recorded for us, of course, His prayers just before He was crucified. Here He prayed with such effort and such emotion that He sweat, as it were, like drops of blood!
This is not a perfunctory halfhearted approach to prayer. So if we want to learn how to do it, we analyze the question and the answer that Christ gave. We can learn from Him. We can learn the same things the disciples learned, and then our prayers will be answered like theirs were even after Christ died. There were phenomenal things that happened when the disciples prayed because obviously they learned how very well. We need to learn how.
So we are knocking on God’s door when we pray just like it is mentioned here. We must be seeking by going about desiring, endeavoring, inquiring and requiring, begging and craving. This needs to be our prayer. When we read the model prayer, we start by praising the Almighty God. Praise Him for who and what He is and all the amazing things that He has done for us. It keeps us in perspective and reminds us of just how little we are and how much we need Him.
EXAMINING OUR PRAYER LIFE
You and I need to just take a few minutes here and examine our prayer life, for lack of a better term. I will think about myself, and you can think about yourself. Could we describe our prayers as a persistent endeavor? Could we say that we are going about begging to be heard, craving to be listened to, craving an answer, desiring an answer, requiring an answer? We need to be able to characterize our prayer life in those terms. We need to make it personal to ourselves. Bring it right down to that level. We need to be able to say, yes, with my prayer I am craving this. I crave prayer time! I want to pray! This is an endeavor, and I want to learn how to do it well. I want to do this right. Teach me how. I desire to be heard, and I desire an answer! Indeed, I require an answer because You have promised to give it!
When we can apply these terms to our prayer, we will be praying like Christ and like He taught His disciples! This is essential to learn this at this time, because we want results like the apostles got. They learned directly from Jesus Christ. We know the signs, the wonders and the miracles that followed the apostles. Their prayers were heard. They learned this lesson very well.
By the same token, can we ask ourselves these questions? Am I mechanical when I pray? Do I carefully compose my prayers? Do they tend to be repetitive and unemotional? Picture yourself as God said, friend to friend or child to father, and that helps. The relationship between us and Christ is as friends. Of course, in the case of God the Father, He is our Father.
Think of those terms, in the Biblical example that Christ gave. If I needed bread, and I came to one of you and I said I need bread. I have to have bread! I am out of bread! My family is hungry! Or, I have guests in my home and I cannot even feed them! I have nothing! Would I come to you and say quietly and without emotion, “We are starving at my house, things are bad there. Do you think you have a loaf of bread?” Or would I be even more mechanical than that? “We are starving at our house, we could use some bread.” Or, would I say “PLEASE, MY CHILDREN ARE HUNGRY! My friends who are counting on me to feed them, they are staying with me, THEY ARE HUNGRY! Share with me what you have, please! I NEED IT NOW! I know it is 2:00 in the morning but I need it now!” We would have that sort of feel for it. It is the same when we are talking to our Father.
Our children are raised, but all of you can identify with little children. When they want something, aren’t they persistent? I want that bike! One of these days I will get it for you. I want that bike! Every day you hear, I need a new bike! I need a ball! Repeat, repeat until eventually they usually get it. Don’t they? They know they can ask Mom and Dad for virtually anything. I am hungry. Mommy, I am hungry. Fix a sandwich. It does not matter if it is 2:00 in the afternoon or 9:00 at night. If our child is hungry, we are going to take care of them. Get them milk or cookies or whatever they need.
That is how we need to picture ourselves talking to God when we want something, persistently and with feeling. Just because we cannot see God does not mean He is not listening to us. We are His children in every sense of the word. He wants to take care of us.
By the same token, we want to make sure there is nothing between us and God. We want to make sure there are no walls between us and God, so that our prayers have no obstacles to go through. We need to have open, honest, sincere communications.
Please turn with me to Luke 18 starting in verse 1: “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: ‘There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, “Get justice for me from my adversary.” And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”’”
Verse 6: “Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’”
Let’s examine these verses for just a moment here. God is drawing a comparison of a widow who needs justice before an earthly judge and eventually receives it because of persistence. For wrong reasons, of course, the guy is getting annoyed! But, she does receive justice.
Christ is saying, look, if she can get justice from an unrighteous judge just from being persistent, what do you think you are going to get from God when you are persistent and cry out to Him? What do we think we are going to get from the Great God when we cry out to Him and are persistent with Him? Well, of course, we are going to get far more than we could ever get from a human judge. So, He says, “Cry out day and night to Him though He bears long.” But He says, “I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” So God does not want to delay. He is not going to make us persist for the wrong reasons just because He does not regard whatever. He wants to help us. But here is what He says, “’Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’” We are getting close to when the Son of Man is coming, and He is saying will He find it here?
I want to give you an example concerning when we have to unlearn something. Because God is trying to teach us how to pray, that means He wants to replace some faulty knowledge. Another thing that can get in the way of our prayers is dry repetition. Dry repetition or memorized prayers bears no resemblance to persistence. Many of us have been taught to just repeat over and over. None of us would want to repeat the same conversation over and over, sometimes literally for years, would we? Neither does God. Prayer is lively, interesting, often full of emotion. Often repeated prayers become very mechanical. They actually become an impediment to a good relationship with God.
God is saying I want you to come to Me and cry out to Me with persistence. I will speedily hear your prayer. I want to help you, as a Father wants to help His child.
A lot of times what is coming between us and God is the past! Our mechanical, very perfunctory, unemotional prayers actually get in the way. That is why we need to unlearn some bad habits and learn good habits. Learn the proper way of prayer. That is why Christ is very careful how He laid this out. We can learn from them because of what they went through and how they watched Christ.
CHRIST ASKED “WILL HE FIND FAITH?”
I want to look at that question: “Will He find real faith?” because prayers and faith are very, very interconnected. Christ did not ask that question just to throw it out there. Obviously, the reference that He is giving here is that very few people will properly know how to cry out to Him, very few people will properly know how to pray and very few people on the face of the earth will have faith. But there will be some. We know from scripture that some will do great exploits in the last days and they will do “apostolic” type of exploits. Therefore, there will be some on this planet who will have learned how to properly pray and get their prayers answered by a God who wants to answer those prayers. We are very close to this time now, if we have not already started into it. So we want to be among those who do know how to properly pray.
Let us look at the matter of faith momentarily. Turn to James 5. We are very familiar with this scripture for anointing, but let’s read James 5:13. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” Now when we read these, we are going to know that He means: beg, desire, require, crave. “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
Verse 16: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” It is referring to a righteous human being, man or woman, mankind. It does not have to just be the elder. Your prayers and my prayers must be fervent. To be effective they must be fervent, and then they will avail much.
Our righteousness is like filthy rags, so you know you and I are not righteous. So one of the ways we obstruct our prayers is to let our sins stand in the way, whether it is the actual committing of the sins or the fact that we, in our minds, cannot let them go. When that happens, we feel worthless and useless and think why would God want to hear my prayers anyway? I am such a lousy, creepy, so and so; why would He want to listen to me anyway? That is never to get between us and God in our prayers. We are going to get into that. That should never be a factor because it is not our righteousness. It is Christ’s righteousness in us that make us worth hearing.
We have to be fervent. We have to be persistent. We have to be willing to beg, crave and desire but allow Christ’s righteousness in us to be righteous. Do you follow me? We are never going to be good enough to get our prayers heard or even listened to. So that is not a factor. That is not what we are being told here.
Taking another look at James 5, verse 16: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.” That is why prayers for the sick should also include asking for forgiveness. Christ’s sacrifice for us, that is His death for our sins, is part of the equation. No man is righteous but Him. By Him we are cleansed so our prayer can be the prayer of a righteous man. The subject of healing will be dealt with more in depth in a future study. Suffice it to say that GOD DOES HEAL TODAY, AND HE WANTS TO! If we are fervent and we have His righteousness, then the prayer avails much. Do not let Satan put into our minds that we are not good enough to pray. That is what he would love to do – cut us off from communication with our Father and Jesus Christ. He would like to cut off this conversation. We have to beg, crave and desire in order to have Him hear us and answer our prayers. So do not let Satan ever interfere in that way because that is what he will try to do.
I looked up the word “fervent” in the concordance. It said some interesting things: zeal, ardor, comes from the root word that also means “hot.” So our prayers are to be zealous, hot and full of ardor. Ardor is not a word that is used very often anymore. It is an old fashioned term but ardor means: extreme vigor, energy, intensity, strong or burning heat, passion. So when we pray to be fervent, we need to be passionate about our prayers, we need to be HOT. Our prayers need to be full of INTENSITY and ENERGY.
Who likes talking on the phone with somebody when it is a totally dead-end conversation? Do you know what I am talking about? You have to generate every comment, and you cannot get an interest going on any subject. Right? You have all been there before. Or you have had a conversation with someone where you are doing well if you get them to nod! They just will not give on their side of the conversation. They will not put themselves into the conversation.
Put yourself in God’s shoes. Does He really want to listen to people who do not put themselves into the conversation? They do not put any zeal in it. They do not put any interest in it. They have no ardor, no feeling. Do they really desire, do they crave, are they really interested in this prayer getting an answer? Well, we all know the answer to that. We have all been on a one-way conversation, and maybe sometimes we have been the one on the other end (just do not feel like generating a conversation).
Well, we must have the two sides to have a good conversation. When we pray to God we have to have two sides. He says I eagerly want to help, speedily. I want to give to you. I will always supply My children with everything they need. Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and I will give it to you. That is what He wants us to do – with zeal and with energy. We should show Him that, yes, we are His children and we love to be His children. We want to go to Him and ask Him these things. We want to put our lives in His hands. We are seeking to be righteous. We want to grow in holy righteous character. But when we have fallen down, beg for forgiveness when we go into our prayer. Do not look at my sins, God, please. Do not look at them. Hear my prayer. Hear my supplication. When we pray this way, we have an active, living prayer like Christ’s.
When you have time, look at individual prayers. We should look at how Christ did it. He was more in depth. If you have time, examine just how He talked to His Father. Did He say to His Father, “Dad, you know I am going to be crucified tomorrow and if You have anything to say or do about it, would you please do something.” No, He did not pray that way. “God, I have five fish here but it would be neat if I had more.” It is not going to happen. That is what we need to learn, and we need to learn from Jesus Christ Himself and what He had taught the apostles. Faith is a part of it because faith shows that we believe it.
I want to spend some time in Hebrews. Please turn to Hebrews. Hebrews is critical to effective prayer. We have to understand the concept of a high priest. We have to understand Christ is our High Priest. We have to understand the concept of faith. Then when Christ asks, “Will I even find faith when I return?” We can say, “Yes.” There are not going to be too many of us, but there will be faith, because I am going to have it and we are going to have it. When I say “I,” I am using that in a figurative sense, not John Blanchard. “We,” the people of God, are going to have it. Those who want to do great exploits and who want to be heard by God will have it because we are promised that.
We often call Hebrews 11 the Faith Chapter. Let’s read verses 1-3: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. When we pray to God, we cannot see Him. So how do we know we are going to receive what we are asking for when we cannot see that yet either? By faith! I know I have a lot of definitions in this study, but I looked up “faith”. Faith comes from the Greek word “pistis” which means by persuasion, credence, conviction of truth and the truthfulness of God, reliance upon Christ, belief and fidelity.
So we are persuaded of the credence, that is, the accuracy and the truth of God and His truthfulness. In other words, we believe Him. We believe what He said and what He wrote, and we are thankful to Him for this. We will rely upon it. When we pray, we must believe God. We have to be convicted of it and that what He said in His word is the truth. We have to believe He is honest and what He wrote is accurate and reliable. When we accept that and we demonstrate to God that we believe what He said is the truth, He is full of credence, He is reliable and we love His truth, we are demonstrating that we trust Him. We are allowing the seed of faith that He put in us with his Holy Spirit to grow. As we use it and as we trust Him, it will grow. We will see this more here.
Let’s continue in Hebrews 11:4 “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found because God had taken him;’ for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” We cannot please God without faith.
Verse 6: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is.” (that means Enoch had faith) “…and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Well, that sounds an awful lot like what Christ said. Trust Me, have faith and diligently seek! Then our prayers will be answered.
Verse 7: “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
Verse 8: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”
Verse 11: “By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” These people’s prayers were answered because they trusted God. They had faith. “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude – innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” And we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth, waiting for the kingdom.
Verse 14 of Hebrews 11: “For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
Verse 17: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.” He believed God that through Isaac there would be generations to come, so he knew God said it. So, if God is requiring this lad at my hand, somehow He will not break His word. He believed God. Was Abraham perfectly righteous? No, we know he sinned. Every one of these people sinned.
Verse 20: “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.”
Verse 23: “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”
Verse 27: “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.”
All these demonstrated faith. They were persuaded that God was truth and that what He said was right. They gave God credence. They believed Him, and they relied on Him. We need to do that. Believe that what He wrote and what He said is the truth. We can rely on it and have full confidence in that relationship that we have with Him.
Christ is our High Priest. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. What does that mean? He is the initiator and He will finish it, but there is a whole lot in between there that really does depend on us.
How much do we believe Him? How much are we going to seek Him? How zealous are we going to be? We have the begotten Spirit of God. By using it, by trusting God, by believing Him and demonstrating that we trust and believe in Him, our faith and the Holy Spirit will grow. Christ will finish the work in us, but the fruits we bear depend an awful lot on what we do with what He gives us. Many scriptures show that. Obviously we want to learn how to pray very effectively and very well.
Effort is required. It is an endeavor. Some of the definitions we read concerning how to pray show us it is an endeavor. It is something we learn how to do. It is something we do better and better as we practice it – both faith and prayer are that way. They will grow. Then we will demonstrate that we are wanting to be like Abraham, Moses and Isaac. These are men who believed God.
So, therefore, we want to have zealous prayers and a zealous faith. We want to have prayers that are persistent, full of desire, full of energy and intensity. Let’s look at Hebrews 12 now. Verse 1: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
So recognizing that Christ is the author and the finisher, we are told to lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us. We know that not only requires us working on our character, but it also requires us asking forgiveness for the times that we fail. It is Christ’s righteousness in us that will make our prayers heard. We can be fervent then, we can be zealous and have His righteousness in us, and our prayers will definitely be heard.
I want to examine the concept of the high priest. It will help us realize that that is a very simple but profound solution to making our prayers heard. It is something we need to do. Let’s start in Hebrews 7. We are just going to look at selected verses regarding the high priest. Verse 20: “And inasmuch as He was not made priest without an oath.” This is speaking of Christ. “.(for they have become priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him who said to Him: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not relent, you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek),’ by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.”
Verse 25: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.”
Summing up: Christ is perfect forever. He is the High Priest forever. He intercedes for us. Let’s go back now and reread Hebrews 7, verse 25: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them.” Now how do we come to God in this life? We come through prayer. How are we to come to God through prayer? We come to God through Christ. When we come to God through Christ, His righteousness makes our prayer righteous! So our fervent, zealous desire, our craving to be heard and to hear back from God combined with Christ’s righteousness in us, it says here makes us saved to the uttermost! Nothing is going to interfere with that prayer! It is just as if Christ was praying to God the Father Himself! He intercedes for us it says here!
When we look at the second part of this and we see how Christ prayed, we will see what He is doing for us as the High Priest! When we pray through Him, it is as if Christ, with all of His fervency, is interceding for us just like He did in front of the apostles! Then He taught them how to do it. The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Put all of that together.
Go to Hebrews 8:1: “Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” We have an intermediary! We have an intercessor, Christ the High Priest, who is perfect! He can save to the uttermost for us! He is waiting for us to pray fervently and with great zeal and tremendous desire. He is there forever! He has been given that job.
Hebrews 9:11: “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
Can we grasp what is being said there? We have a perfect High Priest who intercedes for us and can save to the uttermost! When we feel like we are not good enough to pray and be heard, we are not claiming this promise! Back up in Hebrews 9:14: “.how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works.” Part of His job is when we feel like dirty, rotten, no-good-for-nothing sinners who are not worth a thing, is to cleanse our conscience so that we can go through Him to the Father and pray a fervent prayer as a righteous human being that will be guaranteed to be heard!
So whenever we have that guilty conscience to come between us and God in our prayer life, it is not from Christ. Satan is the accuser. Christ paid with His life to cleanse our conscience and give us a way to the Father so that our prayers can be heard. His job as High Priest is that – intercede for us, listen to us, take our prayers to the Father, wash us clean so that our prayers are from righteous human beings! It is an amazing system! We just need to claim it and pray like we believe it. It is a tremendous promise. These are tremendous things that we have been given here.
Go to Hebrews 10:11: “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” That is us! “But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.’ Then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’ Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.”
Verse 19: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God.” (that is us) “.let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We have a God who has devised a plan, He and Jesus Christ, that has given us a method, a way, (through Christ’s sacrifice) to go straight to the throne of God with a clear conscience. This is done by Jesus Christ so that we can honestly offer fervent, zealous prayers and beg, crave and desire that they be heard. We can expect and require an answer, because Christ Himself is assisting us in every way with that prayer just as if He was right in this room with us teaching us and helping us to do it. That is His job as High Priest.
When we do not feel that and experience it and live with Christ doing it, we are minimizing our prayers. In this day and age with the marvels of technology and the stresses we are under and the sin that is everywhere, Satan is constantly accusing us so that we have guilty consciences. We have consciences that tell us I cannot do this and I cannot go to God. We think I cannot pray. Why would He want to listen to me? When we think like this, we are not experiencing the full benefits of our High Priest and His job! We are not claiming those promises! Satan wants us to be among those that Christ says do you have any faith at all? Can’t you pray with any zeal? Don’t you want to have your prayers answered? Don’t you want to be persistent?
We want to be among those who understand this and use it every day. It is a privilege that we have, designed by God the Father and Jesus Christ. It was implemented by Jesus Christ in His life which makes it possible for us to go to God and be heard any time, any place, under any circumstances. We need to learn this now before circumstances get really tough. We definitely want to be among those who do great exploits and have that apostolic Christianity living in us.
Galatians 2:20: “’.it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.’” It is not just me praying this prayer with my faults, my sins and my shortcomings. It is me and my High Priest. God, I am coming to You with my High Priest who has washed me, so that I can offer a fervent prayer and beg you and crave to be heard and require an answer just like Jesus Christ did when He was on this earth. It is a tremendous gift that we have.
Turn to Hebrews 3:7: “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.” So I swore in My wrath, “They shall not enter My rest.”’”
Continuing in Hebrews 3:12. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’ For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
We know we sin just like ancient Israel. They had a sacrificial system to deal with their sins. We just went over the scriptures that show us Christ has washed us clean. Believe it! Believe that we can now go to the Great God, to the throne of God and pray with fervency and zeal, begging, craving and desiring to be heard and to be answered. We will. We need to believe it! That is why faith is important and why Christ asked the question, “Will I really find faith?”
You asked Me how to pray. I showed you how to pray. Then we also know He is our High Priest. Can we not believe that this is how we are to pray? He is our High Priest, and that makes our prayers righteous. Therefore, we can come before the throne of God and have them always heard, guaranteed. It is a perfect and beautiful system. What we supply is belief! You said it God. I believe it! He is the author and the finisher. We just have to take His word for it and believe it. It works and He works.
Hebrews 4:11 “Let us, therefore, be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.” (that is, unbelief) “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
His word is powerful. It is living and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. His word is perfect. All we have to do is believe it. Accept this system. Accept God’s ways. Everything then works as it should. Do not be discouraged. Keep working toward it, and keep growing. This should be considered our endeavor, and practice will bring improvement. Let each of us build a real lively, interesting relationship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and watch how They will respond. This relationship will prepare us well for the soon coming KINGDOM OF GOD!