Encourage Someone Today

A MASCHIL Special Edition

...that Will Take Us Through the Last Days


Ed Corley

BROTHER GUSTAV HOYER, a friend of many years and a lover of the Greek New Testament, used to tantalize me with statements like: "Every demon is armed to the teeth with thirteen weapons, and the first one is distraction." Or, "There are nine words for prayer in the Greek New Testament. They all speak of different levels of praying. The last one is attainable only by the Lord Jesus."

With that, he would leave me to discover for myself the other twelve weapons or those nine words.

Through the years, I have found out much about both demons and prayer. Still, I am certain what is left for me to know is as vast as the ocean would be if I drew one bucketful from it. This is especially so about prayer. Demons have their end, and our knowledge of them will reach completion, especially as we know ourselves in Christ. But prayer is as infinite as God Himself and touches eternity. Yet, as a practice and privilege that is ours in Christ, it is, by all standards, the most practical and valuable asset that can exist in any person's life. It avails itself to a small child, yet confounds the wisest and most spiritual of us all.

Oh, I want to become more skilled in praying! I see it is communication with God that transcends every weakness and trouble of the human flesh and brings us into the power and authority of His eternal Kingdom.

Through several months, we have been learning from Paul about praying. We are learning how the petitions of intercession recorded in his Prison Epistles will produce Kingdom qualities in us. We find his prayers specifically in Ephesians 1:15-19; Ephesians 3:14-19; Philippians 1:9,10 and Colossians 1:9-11. For many of us, what we found in these Scriptures has become the backbone of much praying.

WE ARE BY NO MEANS THROUGH with Paul's prayers, but for the present, there are some things we need to learn from the Lord Jesus--first, in Matthew 6. Then, He has some surprise lessons for us in two passages from the Gospel of Luke11:1-13 and 18:1-8. Here, He teaches us how to make the petitions of our hearts in a kind of praying that will not stop until answered.

All these passages are pregnant with meaning for the closing days. The more time I spend with them the greater the conviction grows that they are significantly for the end-time. They are about the coming of God's Kingdom upon the earth and about faith in the days before the Son of Man comes. They are about the release of His will upon earth and about provision when all natural provision is cut off.

Especially, they are about a kind of praying that the pressures of the last days will call forth in those of us who are intimate with the Lord.

Spending time with these Gospel Scriptures will strengthen our spiritual nerve and muscle and help make prayer work. They will add to the importance of what we are learning from Paul in the discipline of prayer.

First we will look at Matthew 6:5-15 where Jesus laid out FOUR IMPORTANT RULES with regard to praying.

RULE ONEWe are to learn to pray in secret, with no person knowing how much we pray.

Matthew 6
And when thou prayest, thou shalt 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 unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

WHEN THOU PRAYEST is a simple beginning to a lesson on the most profound subject there is. When is from the Greek hótan. It means "whenever" or "on whatever occasion." This removes the idea that prayer must be made in a certain place. If it is a communion not to be broken, then it can take place anywhere the soul inclined to pray may find itself.

Prayest is from proseúchomai, the most common word in the Greek New Testament meaning "to pray," used there 87 times. Adam Clarke, in his commentary on the New Testament, informs us this word is compounded from pros, "with," or "before," and eúche (pronounced YOU-kay), "a vow." He said, "...to pray right, a man binds himself to God, as by a vow."

Eúche comes from chéo, "to pour out," like an offering is poured out upon an altar. Clarke continues, "A proper idea of prayer is a pouring out of the soul unto God, as a free-will offering that is solemnly and eternally dedicated to Him, accompanied with earnest desire that it may know Him, love Him, and serve Him alone."

Then, these words from Clarke: "Prayer is the language of dependence. He who prays not is endeavoring to live independently of God. This was the first curse, and continues to be the curse of mankind. In the beginning, Satan said, 'Eat this fruit; ye shall then be as God; i.e. ye shall be independent.' The man hearkened to his voice, sin entered into the world.... The ruinous system is still pursued; man will, if possible, live independently of God..."

But we who know the Father expect to grow in our dependence upon Him as we move on toward the end. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, our understanding of praying will grow. We will pray--whenever we can, on whatever occasion we can. Indeed, we are coming on to the point where we abide without a break in this communion with the Father. The Lord Jesus pointed us to this. The Apostle Paul encouraged us on in it when he said, Pray without ceasing--I Thessalonians 5:17.

IN MATTHEW 6:5 JESUS ADMONISHED us that we shall not be as the hypocrites are. The Greek word hupocrités properly means a stage-player who acts under a mask, impersonating a character different from his own. Thus he is a counterfeit, one who acts to be thought different from what lie really is. He is a person who wishes to be taken for a follower of God, but who has embraced nothing of God's Kingdom except on the outside.

That we are to go into our closet, shut the door, and pray to our Father in secret is significant. Unlike the hypocrites who love to appear to pray, the true child does not always appear to pray. He learns to shut the door upon his private communication with God and pray much in secret.

This by no means rules out prayer meetings and "prayer partners." We could do a whole article on these subjects alone. But, it does call each believer to a private communion with the Father, each one with his own connection that knows no break. Indeed, the time may well come in every life when this is the only kind of communication allowed. Should this be so, those skilled in praying in secret will be the richer.

Psalm 91 points to this secret communion with the most High. When everything around is in turmoil, there are those who abide under the shadow of the Almighty. This is a secret place for each one who finds it. Oh, what communion there is here!

The secret place is a closet. There are those who have shut themselves in their closet, amidst all their stuff, and prayed--and God answered. And there are those who have found their place of retirement and privacy in the midst of the crowd. In the upheavals of life and in the demands of a day, while going about the necessities piled upon them, there are those who enter into their closet and pray. It calls for a discipline not hard to enter into.

What Jesus said in one of the Letters to the Seven Churches has a bearing here. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it--Revelation 2:17. What a wonderful secret relationship with the Lord is promised him that overcometh!

Then, there are these words from Isaiah: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel--Isaiah 45:3.

Then there is a wonderful thing: the Father Who sees us in the hidden place, and hears our secret petition, will give answer to our claim in the open place. That we are praying is not what is manifest, but that He is answering. Is not this the secret behind the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits--Daniel 11:32?

RULE TWOWhen we pray, we are not to use vain repetition.
Matthew 6
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

AS JESUS WAS TEACHING, He followed the above by what some call "The Lord's Prayer." Many are the souls who have taken it into repetitious use, reciting its words over and over, simply to increase the number of times they pray it. If Jesus had meant this "model prayer" to be used with tedious repetition, He would not have prefaced the giving of it with the admonition not to use vain repetitions.

Many religions of the world engage in a kind of praying that makes use of repetition, even those who propose to pray to the Living God whom we know through Christ Jesus. I once knew a young man who made his prayer, "Mercedes Benz! Mercedes Benz! Mercedes Benz! ..." He had gotten the idea that this was praying and would call into his life the object of his desire. Others have made their repetitions more lofty: "O God, O God, O God, O God! -O Lord, O Lord, O Lord, O Lord! --O living, O immortal, O living, O immortal, O living, O immortal! O Creator of the heavens and earth, etc." All this, with the hope of gaining an audience with the most High God.

These are not ways of praying that impress God. They do not bring the soul before the Throne of His grace. There is but one way in unto the Father, and that by His Son, Jesus Christ. We make this approach humbly, and at the same time boldly (Hebrews 4:16). We have a freedom to come in unto Him and gain His ear without the use of religious paraphernalia. He gives us His audience by His grace, because of Jesus.

Adam Clarke went on to say, "Unmeaning words, useless repetitions, and complimentary phrases in prayer, are in general the result of heathenism, hypocrisy, or ignorance."

Prayer is not designed to inform God, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him. Rather, it is to give us a sight of His mercy. It's purpose is to humble our hearts, excite our desires, inflame our faith, animate our hopes, and raise our souls from earth to heaven, thereby to put us in mind that there is our Father, our country, and our inheritance. Praying is the placing of all that concerns us in His hands, bringing it under the authority of His Kingdom.

As we bring our affairs and our loved ones under His dominion, we find His authority and power released in us and in our behalf--and, blessedly, through us to others, as far as our hearts will reach.

RULE THREE–We have a pattern for prayingMatthew 6:9-13.

AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER, I have recited the passage at which we are about to look as "The Lord's Prayer." Somewhere along the line, I learned it should be called "The Disciple's Prayer," but I think calling it "The Lord's Prayer" has won out with most people. This, really, is not the important thing.

We need to look carefully at the words. There are some important matters we tend not to notice in it. After years of observing it in the Greek New Testament, meditating on what it says, and praying in line with it, I believe the words are far more powerful than many of us have realized. And, quite frankly, I believe we are just approaching the time when its true meaning and full force will find release upon us. I've structured the prayer to point out its seven petitions, all of which are strong and of equal importance. The first three relate to our Father. The last four relate to us. When we bring all things relating to ourselves into right perspective with His holiness, His Kingdom, and His will, we find that the things pertaining to us will come to their right resolution--sometimes through His miracle power.

Matthew 6
After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom,
And the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

In the Greek New Testament, each of the first three points contains an important Verb, each one in the form of a Third Person Aorist Imperative.

This is a Verb form distinctive to the Greek. It is a way of saying, "Let a thing come to pass, immediately." They are each an expression of urgency. One has to do with a holy regard for God's Name. One has to do with the coming of His Kingdom. One has to do with the release of His will in the earth.

THE FIRST PETITION is Hallowed be thy name. This is from hagiasthéto to ónoma sou. It means, "Let Your Name be sanctified--now! Let it be regarded and reverenced as holy! Let all disrespect for Your Name come abruptly to an end."

This is the cry of a soul jealous to see the authority and holiness of God released in the earth--but not only in the earth, in one's life also. As Creator and Redeemer, He has the right to this honor. As the time of the end comes on, we see more of His right to ownership--as it were--in us. Thus we want to see His Name, that is called over us as the Possessor of our souls, regarded as holy.

Paul pointed to this in I Thessalonians 3:13. To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. The longing of the soul, seeing the approaching of the Day of the Lord, cries for this holy regard for His Name.

Hagiasthéto is from a word meaning "to be separated from common condition and use." It means to be regarded as holy, reverenced as pure, and dedicated to one use only, and that, a holy use. Those who are being drawn into close communion with the Father find it increasingly difficult to use His name commonly, or in anyway other than in the most pure worship.

There are those convinced they should make reference to Him by the Name whereby He was known in Israel. That name was so holy no lips could utter it. Therefore, He was called "The Name." Its pronunciation was unknown. It could only be written. In Old Testament writings, that Name was transcribed by four Hebrew consonants--something like JHWH--impossible to pronounce. Those who propose to add vowels and call Him by that name should remember it was, from the beginning, a name too holy to speak. Early modern English translators attempted to spell it Jehovah. Now, it is supposed to be Jaweh.

Frankly, I feel much more comfortable calling Him as the Lord Jesus did. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, FATHER...--John 17:1.

THE SECOND PETITION is Thy Kingdom Come. This is from elthéto he basileía sou. "Let Your Kingdom come now! Delay is no longer an option."

This cry will have new meaning when no hope remains on earth other than that the Government of God will come into control. Thus, this is the cry of a soul pressed out of measure with no expectation toward which to look except into the resources of this heavenly Government.

The Lord Jesus came to make the Kingdom of God certain in the earth. It existed in Him. When He was here, the Kingdom was at hand. Now it exists, in measure, in the lives of us who know Him. We pray that it might come in its fullness everywhere. There is, indeed, not one spot of ground on the whole globe where His authority and power will not go.

Already, we are learning to call for this coming of Kingdom power and authority whenever and wherever we face the impossibility of performing God's will. We are coming to the place where impossibilities to do what He orders are no more than incentives to pray, Thy Kingdom come! Those who look to the coming of this Kingdom have regard to the authority, the power, the provision, and the protection of it. The government of the Kingdom will reach over into all of life there is. There are four dimensions of life for every person: economic, social, political, and spiritual. This Kingdom of God is set to exercise dominion in each. When the forces of anti-Christ press their rule to the fullest, those of us who know the Father intimately will cry for His Kingdom to come. Indeed, our strong hope is that it shall. Day by day, we are seeing the proof of its possibilities.

THE THIRD PETITION is Thy Will Be Done. This is from genethéto to thélema sou. "Let Your will come into being now." This means, "It is time for what You desire to come to pass. Let it now happen!"

This is still a cry for the Kingdom to come. It comes from a soul so weary of the will and government of man or of demon forces--that it can no longer disregard what God wants. His will must now come into the picture.

That a person should have this kind of concern for what God wants will be amazing to some. But, there are those who have seen the decay and decline brought on by the strong will of man. The only will that can bring forth any lasting good is the will of the Father. Consider the endless efforts of governments to remedy bad situations, bring peace, and provide necessities. Practically all solutions revolve around what leading men decide as they draw upon the wisdom of this world and exert their wills. Never has human failure been more evident!

About fifteen years ago, I listened to a brief portion of a radio broadcast of a "prophetic conference." The speakers each had been called to give what they felt was the single most significant prophetic event of that year. The one man I heard--whose name I know not--said he could not pick out any one single event. What he felt was most significant prophetically was "the inability of governments to govern."

I knew I was to hear that. The will of man, in passing resolutions, regulating human affairs, bringing about peace, and seeing to the provision of mankind's need was proving highly in effective, even back then. Today we see that no government--democratic, communistic, a dictatorship, or monarchy--is successful. Failure--or impending failure--is all around us.Our only hope is that some souls be stirred to the point of calling forth upon the scene--in every land--the will of our Father in heaven.

THE GREEK WORD from which will comes is thélema. It is a warm word. It means "desire, design, purpose." The believer, jealous for God's purposes to come into fulfillment, urgently calls for this. Souls that allow the rule of Christ over their own wills come to know early the authority, the power, the provision, and the protection of God's Kingdom--even while other "kingdoms" are exerting their wills.

Now, here is an interesting thing about this petition. Jesus used genethéto, a form of the word gínomai, when He said Thy will be done. This word carries with it the idea of something "coming into being" more than the idea of something "being done." The primary meaning of gínomai is "to come into existence; to be created." This points us to something amazing about the will of the Father. It very often involves the impossible. We have to see this: God's will may well--and does often--have the stamp of impossibility upon it.

I have come to the conclusion that when He calls us to perform a task, forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil set out to make the performing of it impossible. Thus, what God desires can come to pass only out of the resources of the heavens where the finished work of Christ resides. That we should face impossibility more than ever in the last days is not, in itself, amazing. The forces of darkness, in their determination to drive us into defeat, will cut us off on every hand as we move toward fulfilling the call and purpose of the Lord. This will drive us closer in upon heaven's resources.

I used to think we were praying for God's will to come to pass in the earth like it is in heaven where, I imagined, angels were always doing His perfect bidding. I thought we had heaven as our example. But, it is far more; heaven is our source for the performing of His will.

Jesus exemplified this. He said, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise--John 5:19. The will for His life flowed out of the heavens where He watched the Father. Jesus moved in accord with the Father's movements in the heavens, the perfect will for His life.

Paul has something to help us here. From Ephesians 5:14-17 we gain insight regarding end-time trouble and the will of God. When the strong determination of our foe will be to cut us off, then we will rise up to call earnestly for the coming into being of God's will. The understanding of what He wants will find release in us and we will pray as never before. See these verses.

Ephesians 5
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Unwise comes from the Greek áphron which means "silly, senseless, foolish; frantic over situations." We are called upon to allow the Lord Jesus Christ to take us from all this and release in us, instead, an understanding of what the will of the Lord is.

Understanding is from suníemi. This, I think, is a wonderful word. It means having the ability to put things together. It means "to comprehend thoroughly, to perceive clearly."

Thus, we are called upon to understand what is the will of the Lord--and to pray earnestly for it to come into being in the earth. Wonderfully, we are to call for its release from out of the heavens. What a powerful resource for what God wants!

FOLLOWING ARE FOUR PETITIONS regarding Personal Need. Once we have brought things into right perspective with our Father in Heaven, the petitions of our hearts can turn toward ourselvesand others. We can then expect a release from His Throne for our daily provision, our sin and indebtedness, the trials we face, and all oppression from the evil one. These cover the range of human need and woe. I believe every matter requiring the attention of heaven fits into one of the slots provided in this guide to praying.

THE FIRST PERSONAL PETITION is Give us this day our daily bread. This means, "We have no source of daily life or provision except from Your hand. The sustenance the world has offered is now deplete. There is no source to which we can look except into the provision of Your Kingdom. It is because we are convinced of Your faithfulness, that we look to You."

Daily is from the strange and unusual Greek word epioúsion. It is used nowhere in the New Testament except in the two instances where this prayer is recorded--Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:3. It hardly found any use at all outside the New Testament. It seems to mean "that which is sufficient for a day." Thus, the supplication of this prayer is that one's daily supply of food be met. The implication is there may be no food on hand for the coming days, but that is all right--we have a Father in heaven.

This does not teach that believers should be careless in preparing for the future. It points, rather, to a time when all natural and physical preparations shall become impossible. This is because of the strong rule of the anti-Christ that, for a limited time, will oppress all believers and prevent their laying up supplies.

There are three passages that come to mind here, each impressed upon us by the Holy Spirit. First is Daniel 11:32b-34a. Then, there is what David said in Psalm 41:1,2. And, there is what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-34. It would be well for every believer to take each of these strongly to heart. We can look at some of the verses briefly here. They each point to a principle of survival in the time of trouble.

Daniel 11:32b-34a points to that time when all the forces of hell have set themselves with a vengeance against the people of God to stop them. With all resources cut off, having everything taken from them, these people continue to function. They have learned that weakness and deprivation in the time of trouble do NOT mean there will be no provision for daily living. This is one of the principles of survival for those who know the rule of God's Government in their lives.
Daniel 11
...the people that do know their God (intimately and in a way that defies all contradiction of Him) shall be strong (indeed, made strong out of weakness), and do exploits (that is, they carry on with the normal functions of life).
33 And they that understand (by giving earnest attention to learning and gathering truth) among the people shall instruct many (by imparting knowledge and understanding to them): yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days (that is, for a limited period of time).
34a Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help... (Does not this little help include the supply of food, one day at a time, as when Israel was in the wilderness and God supplied them with daily manna?)

There is something very gripping about the words shall be strong and do exploits in verse 32. Shall be strong is from a word meaning to take hold of a situation with strength, even though one is weak at its inception. Strength increases as the work progresses. It is a word describing those who have had every ounce of stamina pressed from them, only to find themselves infused with new vital power as the demands of life and work continue.

What a day! Believers everywhere finding how the Word God spoke to Paul in II Corinthians 12:9 is indeed powerful and true! And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect (brought to its fullness) in weakness. Paul added, Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Psalm 41:1,2 points to this same time. It is described by David, here and in Psalm 27:5, as the time of trouble. He tells what is the great assurance coming to those who, in times of prosperity, have cared for those who are destitute. When the time of trouble comes--apparently the same time Jesus called the great tribulation--these certain people will have full provision. It will come out of the resources of God's Kingdom wherein they have strongly invested--by giving to others. Thus, we find this second principle of survival for those who have come to know the authority of God's Kingdom in their lives. Giving to the poor in their need means you will have provision in your time of need.

Psalm 41
Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.

Jesus certainly touched on this principle when He said, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me--Matthew 25:40. Giving to the poor--even the very least and most humble--reaches into the heavens from whence all our source of living will finally come.

He touched on it further when He said, Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again--Luke 6:38.

What Jesus went on to say in Matthew 6:19-34 is some of the most powerful instruction that could be given concerning preparation for the time of trouble and tribulation. We don't have room for the whole passage here, but you should become thoroughly acquainted with it in your own Bible. Take note especially of verses 33 and 34. It builds upon the third principle of survival in the time of trouble: Making the Kingdom of God the sole object of your search brings the resources of that Kingdom over into your life when trouble comes.
Matthew 6
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

There are two terms in this passage that beg our attention. One is seek ye first. This is from the Greek zeteíte, the Present Imperative form of a Verb meaning "search after; be on the watch for; pursue; demand to know by inquiring after." A Present Imperative is a command to be continually heeded. One interpreter has said this verse means: "Make the Kingdom of God the sole object of your search." The earnest soul must not give up in this pursuit, but make it the object of all of life's quest. In this, we learn to pick ourselves up from every stumble, overcome every failure, and find the continuing strength that comes from God's enabling grace.

The second term to note is take no thought in verse 34. This is from merimnáo which literally means "to have a divided mind." This is the basis of stress, anxiety, worry and depression. Thus, it means "have no anxiety" regarding the future. A mind trained to be single on the Lord and the resources of His Kingdom can abide with peace in the time of trial.

THERE IS A COMPELLING THING about the praying of Give us this day our daily bread. Through the ages, countless believers have found meaning in this part of the prayer as they have looked to the Lord for their provision. Overall, however, it points on to the time when all provision will be cut off for believers--except from the boundless store of God's Kingdom.

The term many days in Daniel 11:33 is, I believe, prophetic language to indicate the limited period of time, relatively short, when all outward hope for believers will perish. It seems to refer to the last three and a half years of the last seven years--the thousand two hundred and threescore days of Revelation 12:6.

We gather this from a close study of Daniel 9:24-27. The two terms describing this short period are the time of trouble of Daniel 12:1 and the great tribulation of Matthew 24:21.

Everything in our relationship with the Lord leads us toward preparation for this end-time pressure. Scripture, praying, the movements of the Holy Spirit--they all take us onward toward this day. The more we become accustomed to the kind of praying toward which Jesus and Paul encourage us, and the more we live in the power and operations of the Holy Spirit, the more we are encouraged that the time of trouble will not destroy us. It will, rather, be like the final birth pangs to bring us on into that for which all creation has groaned. And not only they, but ourselves also--Romans 8:23.

Oh, what meaning Romans 8:18-23 has now!

THE SECOND PERSONAL PETITION of "The Lord's Prayer" revolves around the conflict with our own sinfulness--and indebtedness. In many believers these are areas that remain unsettled, even after years of "knowing" the Lord. Nothing is so cleansing as facing tribulation. In the time of trouble, mankind wants to be clean so as to have no hindrance in knowing the Lord. The pressures of the last days will push many on to seek forgiveness and cleansing. Of course, this cleansing can only be perfected from the realm of God's grace. Human restitution, that is, the making right of wrongs, can only pave the way for the grace of God that is revealed in Christ. Where there is no restitution to others possible, His grace will prevail for the repentant soul.

The concern over sinfulness and indebtedness runs in two directions: our own personal sin and debt, and the sin and debt that others have mounted against us. See these two verses.
Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins' for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.

That there is a difference in the two records should cause no concern. The Lord Jesus may have spoken differently on different occasions. The two words, debts and sins are similar. Debts in the Matthew verse is from opheílema. It means the offense of one who has failed in duty. It means the delinquency of someone who owes a debt. While the word "debt" most often carries with it the idea of money owed, here its meaning is larger.

Thus, we might pray, "Heavenly Father, forgive us for the way we have offended You as we forgive those who have offended us."

The word sins in the Luke verse is from hamartía. This means the "error" of one who has missed the way. It describes the departure of a person who has gotten off the path, whether deliberately or by mistake. The fact that one is a victim who has been "made" to miss the path does not resolve the guilt of a sin, nor does it make it any less of a sin. Being off the track of what is right simply means being off the track of what is right. No matter what the reason, the sin is the same and the judgment it carries with it is the same.

Those who live with a ''victim syndrome," maintaining that the error of their ways is excusable because they have been wronged, have no standing before the Lord. There is no argument for the defense of any one of us, except to come as a sinner to the Lord and accept the release from guilt He offers through his only begotten Son.

There is something more we need to see at this point regarding forgiveness, but we will take it up a little later as our fourth rule for praying.

THE THIRD PERSONAL PETITION of "The Lord's Prayer" is an unusual request--Lead us not into temptation. Temptation is from peirasmós--"a putting to the proof; a trial; a test" to see one's strength and quality. Only in a secondary sense does it mean "an allurement to sin."

Just two chapters earlier, in Matthew 4:1, we found that Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. From the viewpoint of the devil, that trial of Jesus was aimed at testing His relationship with His Heavenly Father. It is significant that the Spirit could, and would, lead Him into that test. Similar to the trial of Job by Satan, Jesus was trusted not to fail. The trial in the wilderness would not weaken Him, but rather, demonstrate that in the areas of physical, moral, and spiritual strength, Jesus was the superior One.

That kind of test is not for us. Our strength in not in ourselves. Therefore, we ask God to keep us from testing with regard to Our ability to withstand the devil physically, morally, or spiritually. Our strength is in Christ Who has already been tested in all these areas of life, and has come through, the Conqueror, in our stead.

PAUL GAVE AN ADMONITION regarding temptation in line with what Jesus taught. Concerning the relationship of a husband and wife, he said, Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency--I Corinthians 7:5. In no area of life has purity been more contested than in the area of marriage. The admonition is: guard yourself from being tested in this area. See that the stage is not set for temptation.

As far as all temptation goes, Paul says further, Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it--I Corinthians 10:12,13.

This is a warning against overconfidence in one's own ability to withstand temptation. Paul says take heed--watch out, stay on guard. We, all alike, face the same kinds of allurement. He says, "Don't be so sure of yourself that you suppose you can withstand in areas where others cannot." In other words, don't go near the fire that might burn you. Don't place yourself in a compromising situation. Stay away from all appearance of evil.

When my wife and I married over twenty years ago, we agreed together that it would be our policy never to counsel another person alone. We knew this was an area in which many had fallen into wrong relationships. Sometimes this has meant being a little awkward, but never has the awkwardness outweighed the benefit of not being caught in a situation where temptation--or suspicion--might arise.

This goes for every kind of situation imaginable. We simply ask our heavenly Father to keep us from situations where we might become susceptible to temptation.

James has some unusual advice regarding temptation. In James 1:2-5, he says we are to count it all joy when we fall, or "stumble," into different kinds of temptation. These are occasions for the trying, or, "putting to the proof," of our faith. These kinds of situations can work in us the quality of patience, that is, the ability to stand under trial and endure hardship. In other words, "If you find yourself in a bad situation where there is a possibility of failure, take advantage of it and rejoice. Call what faith you have into action and see the Lord move in you. It can be a time of growth and development to bring you on to maturity." But pray to avoid trials and temptations that bring you into combat with the devil.

James adds this powerful word to the above: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him--James 1:5. The context of our asking wisdom is in that of undergoing temptation. God will make a way of escape; He will give the necessary wisdom to come through the trial.

THE FOURTH PETITION of what we are calling "The Lord's Prayer" connects with the previous one. Since the Lord put them together, let us see them together. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil--Matthew 6:13a.

It is clear that deliver us from evil should be translated, "Deliver us from the evil one." Evil is from the Greek ho ponerós. The first little word is a Definite Article meaning "the." It points to that which is specific and definite.

Ho ponerós is a term Jesus used to specify the devil. It is an interesting word. In a physical sense, it means that which is bad, good-for-nothing, useless. In a spiritual sense, it means that which is toilsome, grievous, and oppressive. In a moral sense, it means that which is worthless and cowardly. It even has a political sense: that which is of a baser sort. Jesus lumped all these meanings together and called the devil "the evil one."

It is significant that "the evil one" will try and bring all these bad qualities over into the physical, spiritual, moral, and political realms of our lives. Thus, the Lord Jesus taught us to pray: deliver us from the evil one.

Deliver is from the Greek rúomai. It means "to drag out of danger; to rescue; to save from peril."

This prayer almost supposes that we are, at times, going to get caught in the snare of the devil. If it happens, we can call on our heavenly Father to rescue us--even, if need be, drag us--from the enemy's trap.

This prayer is for the time before we are perfected in relation to the enemy. In Christ, we are now complete. But there are multitudes of believers who have continued to live in the realm of uncertainty as to who and where they are in Him. The time of trial, called by Paul the evil day in Ephesians 6:13, will be like the birth pangs of the age pushing us into the perfection the Lord Jesus has obtained for us where the enemy has no more access.

Many are the times when we are confronted with satanic situations in which there is no way of escape, except through the miraculous intervention of our heavenly Father. We are learning in these times not to panic, but to recall the gifts that are given us in Christ Jesus, invoke His Name, and thus, withstand the enemy who confronts us.

PAUL PUTS FORTH A WONDERFUL outline of triumph in Ephesians 6:11-14 by using the words stand and withstand. Many of us are somewhat familiar with this passage, but let us structure it out here and take note of these positive words of triumph regarding our conflict with the enemy. When we see what this passage lays out, we can better comprehend what the Lord Jesus meant when He used the words deliver us from evil.

Ephesians 6
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, (1) that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, (2) that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, (3) and having done all, to stand.
(4) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness...

(1).. that ye may be able to stand against

That ye may be able is from a distinctive grammatical construction, in the Greek--pros to dúnasthai. It is the Present Infinitive form of the Verb meaning "to have strength," preceded by a Preposition that means "being brought to the place where one faces or confronts something." {Editor's Note: Greek Verb forms that ore Present Tense describe actions that go on and on. Forms that are Aorist Tense describe actions that are complete and to the point.} Together the words mean "that you may be brought to the place of having sufficient strength to do something--always." That there is an Infinitive here means there has been another action preceding all this making it possible. This prior action is: put on.

Put on what? The full heavy armor that God gives you in Christ. This is the kind of armor that will stand in the heaviest battle. This is what brings you to the place where you are able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Now let us look at to stand. It is from the Greek sténai, an Aorist Infinitive form that means "to make a stand--complete and final." Actually, it means "to take a military stance, firm and immovable." This is a stand taken promptly, decisively, and without the possibility, or thought, of retreat--eyeball to eyeball, as it were, with the enemy. There is no fear here!

(2).. that ye may be able to withstand...

Withstand is a wonderful word that comes from antisténai. A powerful word for us, it is the Aorist Infinitive sténai again, preceded by anti. This is just like in "anti-Christ." It means "to stand against, or in opposition to." Now think of this: when the anti-Christ arises in the land as the one who is "against" Christ, then there will arise from among us a company "against" him. We will become "anti-anti-Christs."

Who is the strongest? There is something powerful on our side backed by God's eternal Covenants--the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and His enthronement at the right hand of the Father, and the fact that we are joined with Him in His triumph.

What satanic prince, or demon under him, can withstand this?

(3).. and having done all, to stand.

It is apparent having done all means "having made full preparation for battle and having come through every skirmish whole." The possibility of this is ours in Christ. The Aorist Infinitive sténai appears again. Through all the trial we continue with a firm stand. As we abide in Christ, there is no possibility--or even thought--of retreat or withdrawal. What a deliverance this is from the evil one! Instead of being weak, and unable to withstand him, we are strong to stand up to him face to face. We can claim the ground that is ours in Christ, and declare unto him his defeat--he, who was just declaring ours.

(4) Stand therefore...

This is from stéte, an Aorist Imperative form of the same Verb. It means, "Take your stand, with a clear decision and a brave finality. You will not have to waver or move from it."

ALL THIS is powerfully reminiscent of "Daniel truth." Just see one verse here: But the judgment shall sit, and they (the saints) shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end--Daniel 7:26.

THE CONCLUSION to the prayer calls for an exaltation of the Father and His Kingdom. His rule reaches from the heavens to spread through all the earth. It is a kingdom affluent with power and splendid in its glory.

The exultation included in this brief outline of a prayer found its longer form in David's prayer when he committed the responsibility of his kingdom to his lesser son, Solomon. This pointed prophetically to his far greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I Chronicles 29
10 Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said. Blessed be Thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.
11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.
12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and Thou reignest over all; and in Thine hand is power and might; and in Thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.
13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise Thy glorious name.

RULE FOUR-We must forgive others if we are to receive forgiveness.

Matthew 6
For if ye for give men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

It can be no clearer. Forgiving precedes, and clears the way for, being forgiven.

As we listen carefully to the Lord Jesus, we find that the forgiveness for which we plead in prayer will be based on the forgiveness we extend to others. There is something rather beautiful at this point of the prayer. We must be careful not to overlook it. It comes from the words forgive us as we forgive. The Greek for the first forgive is áphes. It is an Aorist Imperative form of the word meaning "dismiss us from the guilt of what we have done." The way it is recorded means it is a plea asking for the instant removal of guilt. Acts of penance, after which a person can be regarded as free, are not to be considered. Indeed, if we could become free from the guilt of our sin by performing some penitential work, there would be no need for a Savior. Thus the forgiveness for which we are taught to plead is an instant thing. But, it is based on our willingness to forgive.

The Greek for the second forgive is aphíemen, a Present Tense form of the same Verb. It means as "I am in the act of forgiving." Thus the prayer means, "Forgive me now as I am presently forgiving, and will continue forgiving, those who have offended me."

Forgiving others sets us free to receive forgiveness. It opens the channel through which forgiveness flows to us. Our forgiveness of others is an active thing. It not only releases its power in us as we forgive, it extends it over into the lives of those we forgive. If we hold grudges, resentments, bitterness, or thoughts of retaliation against others, it becomes impossible for us to receive forgiveness. Holding on to unforgiveness keeps the bondage strong in those who have offended us--and makes us liable to receive further offense from them.

NOW--on to the further lessons from Jesus on praying:

THE PRAYER as it is recorded in Luke 11, bears a striking similarity to what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:9-13, except that in Luke there is no amen. The disciples had asked Him to teach them to pray. He laid out the basics of "The Lord's Prayer," but the lesson did not end as it did in Matthew. Jesus proceeded with a story setting forth a point about a kind of praying that will not stop till the answer is released from God.

1 And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

This request of the disciples was straightforward and clear. They did not ask to be adjusted in their praying, or to know a better way of praying. They asked simply to be taught to pray. It was almost as though they were novices and ignorant as to what they should do in bringing their petitions before God. What humility! May it be in us.

What the Lord taught regarding prayer in Luke 11:2-4 is so similar to what is recorded in Matthew 6:11-13 that we will take no more time considering it. Except this: In Luke, there is no conclusion to the prayer as there is in Matthew. Jesus went on with a story to illustrate something more about praying. Let us take note of this story.
5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his IMPORTUNITY he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

The relationship of the two men in this story is a warm one. They were friends. Yet their positions were not equal. One had; the other had not. The one friend was making appeal for yet another friend in greater need than he. This exemplified poverty of spirit and illustrates what Jesus said in Matthew 5:3--Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The word poor simply described a beggar, one who has nothing to present before another except his need. But, there is some thing exemplary here: the need is that he might feed another who apparently could not obtain his own provision.

USING THIS MAN who delays to give an answer to illustrate how God answers prayer may seem incompatible with the character of our Father in heaven. Yet, we have to remember it is the Lord Jesus, closer to the Father than anyone else, who presented this story. He knows things about praying none of us could imagine.

This story reminds us of the midnight tryst between Jacob and a man in Genesis 32:24-30. When it was over, Jacob, changed in nature, said, I have seen God face to face. That was no easy "prayer meeting," but out of it Jacob became Israel. Persons throughout the Scripture, and through the ages, who have waited long on the Lord--sometimes with strong crying and wrestling--have presented proof that this kind of praying brings results that the cursory trip-to-the-store kind of praying does not. It changes the person praying.

The language of the story Jesus told is stronger in the original than is conveyed in the King James translation. When the man who owned the store, and held the bread, responded to his friend's knocking, he said something which meant, "Don't keep holding out to me such a wearisome and vexing demand. You are obnoxious in your request."

There is every indication the man making the request had not knocked only once, and softly, to see if perhaps the store owner might still be awake. He knocked loud and long, beyond the bounds of propriety. He showed no regard for the man asleep with his children. He only had regard for his own need--and that the man in the house could supply that need. But consider that the need and the urgency of the man knocking was that he might have something to give to another person.

He got his request, not because he was a friend of the man on the other side of the door, but because of his IMPORTUNITY.

Importunity? What is importunity? From the Greek word aneídeian, it is, if you please, "pertinacious solicitation without regard to time, place, or person." It means to have no shame or modesty. It is a quality of a brash and rude person who shows no respect for others. It is opposite to the reverence with which we are admonished to serve God in Hebrews 12:28. Yet Jesus taught that this quality in a person praying gets through to the answer. It is prayer based solely on necessity and the knowledge that there is an answer available through God.

How could Jesus use the story of so disdainful a person to illustrate that deeper level of prayer into which He was leading His disciples?

I don't know how He found the liberty to do this, but He did. And there are lessons for us to learn from it.

That man "prayed" to his friend for two reasons. One, it was an absolute necessity to have an answer. Two, he knew the man inside held the answer.

He made no reference to his rights as a friend. He made no appeal to his own goodness or worthiness. There was no sense that he had anything rightfully coming to him. There were but two factors involved--he had a need, his friend could meet that need.

So, there is nothing in the story to help teach about the rights and privileges of prayer that become ours when we become related to the Father through the Lord Jesus. It is simply setting forth that when we have a need so pressing--or oppressing that we cannot continue with it, there is someone who can relieve us if we but persist in our push unto Him. This is not the prayer of vain repetitions. This is the prayer of desperation, of a man, who if he does not receive his request, will be shamed. And he will NOT be shamed. But take note. The man making the request was not selfish. He was poor, he was ill-prepared for his visitor, but his life and his request did not turn on himself. This "praying" he was doing was even an inconvenience in his own affairs. He, too could have been sleeping, but he was out making a request for someone else.

This is intercession.

IN THE VERSES FOLLOWING, Jesus continued with His lesson on praying. He brought out, in a clear and precise manner, what we are called to do when we pray. What He said by no means opens the way for vain repetitions. It shows rather, how the cry of an earnest heart can come before the Throne of God. This kind of praying arises from a faith that will not die but persists in asking, seeking, and knocking till the answer comes.
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

In the Greek, the three actions Jesus associated with this kind of praying carry forward what we have already noted. They point to the kind of praying that refuses to go unanswered. Each of the words is in the form of a Present Imperative. An Imperative is a way of giving a command or of telling someone what to do. When the Imperative is in the Present Tense, it means the action is to go on and on--ceasing not.

Jesus told the disciples to ask and keep on asking, never ceasing till what they were asking for was given. He told them to seek, and keep on seeking, never ceasing till they found what they were looking for. He told them to knock and keep on knocking, never ceasing till the door at which they were knocking opened.

For every one that asketh (and asketh, and asketh, and asketh) receiveth; and he that seeketh (and seeketh, and seeketh, and seeketh) findeth; and to him that knocketh (and knocketh, and lenocketh, and knocketh ) it shall be opened.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

What we receive from our heavenly Father in this kind of praying will be a good thing--released and produced in us by the Holy Spirit. This quality of praying, waiting before the Father with a supplication that will not cease, leads to a quality in us where the only real answer that matters is the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the scene.

We recall the story of Luke 11:5-8. A man wanted provision for his friend traveling in the night. There is no greater provision any of us can give another than what comes through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Wonderfully, when this comes upon us, it causes our every personal need to diminish, and it overflows to meet the needs of others.

LATER, JESUS TAUGHT another important (and surprising) lesson about this kind of praying. In it' however, we see pure supplication, not intercession, for it involves not the need of another, but one's own urgent need.
Luke 18
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray (from proseúehomai, discussed earlier), and not to faint (lose spirit, or cave in with despondency);
2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man (therefore he was sovereign, answerable to no one):
3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her CONTINUAL COMING she weary me.
And the lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge His Own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?
8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.
Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?

Whereas the key in the lesson recorded in Luke 11 is importunity, in this one it is CONTINUAL COMING. That the judge should represent God and the widow us, is as strange as the two friends in the earlier story. But again, it was Jesus telling the story so we listen.

Take note of the widow. She was weak and hopeless. And she had a problem, an adversary, someone who spoke against her. Perhaps he was out to take away her livelihood. Whether the adversary was demonic and attacked her soul, or whether it was a man who attacked from without and withheld the necessities of life, we do not know. In either case, her adversary was real. She could not and she WOULD NOT, go on with the trouble he was bringing. And, there was but one who could help--the unjust judge.

The judge was sovereign, answerable to no one, with no quality of pity or mercy. He was not bound to give in to the request of anyone. But, he held the answer to the widow's need. So she came, and came, and came before him.

She waited at his door in the morning. She followed him to his office. She besought him at his desk. She continued long, and perhaps loudly, in her demand before him. She was as brash and rude as the man who knocked at the door of his friend. She did not faint in her supplication until she got what she wanted--indeed, until she laid hold on what was demanded in her life. And she got it, not because she was poor or because she was good; not because the judge was indebted to her; not because she followed the right and prescribed course in approaching such a dignitary. She received an answer to her demand because of her continual coming.

There is no attribute of a merciful God found in the judge except that he had power and authority to grant the widow's request. There was no appeal to his mercy, no appeal to his grace, no appeal to his goodness. All we can see is that he, and he alone, could grant a request and deliver from an adversary. Thus, the appeal was to his ability to deliver from oppression.

This kind of praying makes no appeal based on theology or a proper idea about God. It does not press through on the basis of redemption, rights, or knowledge. Only a cry is evident. The utter necessity of an answer carries this kind of praying on through every forbidden zone to touch the One Who alone can help.

David had found this when he wrote Psalm 34. A lonely and destitute man, in the company of his enemy, bereft of wisdom or power, he found deliverance and testified the following:
Psalm 34
I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

I REMEMBER a time, a dark period that hit my life over thirty years ago. An elderly Pastor in New York City sat me alone on the front bench of his church and preached to me. He said, over and over, "Don't try, Brother Corley. Cry! Don't try. Cry!." What advice! Months later, for a period of time, the only Scripture I could recall was Psalm 34:6. What a Word to hold onto in a time of trial! I cried, and cried, and cried--and the Lord heard me.

WE NEED TO TAKE NOTE of a few terms from the story. The widow "prayed," Avenge me of mine adversary. This means, "Obtain justice for me in this situation in which someone has risen up against me. This is no time to consider what is right or wrong. I am helpless! Therefore, I appeal to you to liberate me from this unfair and one-sided, over-stepping of my rights."

The judge would not for a while. This means, for a certain period of time, it was not his pleasure, or desire, to answer her request. This bears striking connection to what we learn from both Daniel and Jesus regarding the time of trouble that will come at the end of the age. Hope will grow dim on earth--and only the adversary will seem to have the upper hand. Indeed! In verses 7 and 8, Jesus connects this lesson with the time of the end. What a pointed question He asks after telling of the unjust judge! It directs us toward the kind of supplication that will bring us through the days of trial preceding His return. Look at these verses again. And shall not God avenge His Own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?--Luke 18:8.

Wonderfully, from the sovereign Throne of God will come a release of what is just and right. This will come first upon His Own elect.

Who are these elect? Colossians 3:12 gives a pretty clear answer. Writing to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul says, Put on therefore, as the elect of God... Then, he proceeds to lay out the spiritual clothing with which we, the elect, are to adorn ourselves.

Why does He bear long with them?

I don't really know. We all ask why prayer is sometimes so long in receiving its answer. Perhaps in the waiting some qualities necessary for life in His Kingdom find their release in us. We do perceive this: in the waiting, a kind of faith that reaches through trial and failure finds its release in us. This faith believes, not because it receives its answer, but because it has a confidence that God, in His sovereignty, is bringing to pass a work far greater than that for which we know to ask.

We take note that His response will come speedily. This does not mean a rapid answer comes to rapid praying. It means that when the answer does indeed come, it will come with a quickness that bespeaks a miracle. Jesus asked a question to close His lesson on praying. It shows that what He was teaching relates to the time of the end. Will He find faith on the earth when He comes? Then, faith shall have been tested and purified. Through the darkness of not hearing in the tribulation, yet continuing to believe, a quality will emerge to make us strong for His eternal Kingdom.

THERE IS A WORD in the Greek New Testament, among those nine mentioned at the beginning of the article, that I believe describes this praying. It is deésis (pronounced de-AY-sis). It means strong supplication arising out of dire necessity for an answer. It describes the kind of praying that arises from the stong demands of the heart. The Verb to whic it is akin is déomai. It means "to beseech; to make supplication." It means to have a need and to make an urgent request that it be granted.

What a word this deésis is! There is absoluteness about this kind of praying. There is a factor in it that says, "There is no use in considering not granting my request, for IT MUST BE GRANTED, and I KNOW YOU CAN GRANT IT!"

Faith is not the most important factor in this kind of praying, even though it is the foundation for it. It is knowledge that counts. Knowledge finally overtakes and replaces faith. It knows the answer is resident in God.

SOME OF THE PLACES where deésis, or its kindred Verb, occur are very enlightening.

It was the kind of praying Zacharias did before his son, John the Baptist, was born. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer (deésis) is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John--Luke 1:13.

It was for God's own purposes that John be born. He was foreseen in the Scriptures (Malachi 4:5,6). Yet, the burden for his birth fell on Zacharias. For that reason he prayed and prayed and prayed with a supplication that would not give in till John was conceived in the barren old womb of his wife. It is worth noting that this kind of praying got the attention of the Angel Gabriel (Luke 1:19). He came to announce that the petition was being granted.

Then there was Anna, about 84 years of age, a prophetess, ...which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers (deésis) night and day--Luke 2:36,36). Her heart was taken with desire for the Redeemer to come. The urgency and the necessity for Him to arrive was, as it were, conceived in her womb of intercession. Of a certainty He would come. The Scripture demanded it. The faithfulness of God demanded it. The need of mankind demanded it. But Anna's heart also demanded it, so she prayed and prayed until He came, and she both beheld Him and held Him.

There is another interesting account about Jesus as He engaged in this kind of praying. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed (deómai) for thee, that thy faith fail not...--Luke 22:31,32.

Frequently, with the Lord Jesus, prayer was not a briefly stated matter, but one that took hours--all night long, or even days. In an issue that involved a demanding adversary and a disciple He loved, he prayed and prayed and prayed. See the word deómai in the above verse. It is that kind of praying. Jesus knew Simon Peter was prone to lose heart. Because of this, He would not let him go. In spite of His omniscience (knowing all things) and His omnipotence (having all power), in spite of His union with the Father, He prayed and prayed with an earnest supplication that demanded an answer.

When Jesus beheld the multitudes scattered and worn out like wounded sheep, He was moved with compassion and said, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray (deómai) ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest--Matthew 9:37,38).

What urgency He was imparting! He was saying, "Do not give up making supplication to your Father. Press through to Him Who is the Lord of the harvest, beseeching Him to put forth laborers into the harvest field."

Oh, what awaits the people who will hear this admonition from the Lord!

In Luke 21:36, Jesus spoke more to His disciples about the close of the age, and admonished them to this kind of praying, coupled with watching. Watch ye therefore, and pray (déomai) always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Taking a longer view of this verse, we find it saying: "Make it your practice to be awake and watching (alert to the season and time in which you are living), praying with strong supplication, that you may be strengthened to overcome and make your escape in the things about to come to pass."

It is as though He was saying, "You are important to my purposes. If you are sown in the world as sons and daughters of My Kingdom, I want you strong, and not defeated during the season of severe trial that is sure to come. Therefore, learn to watch and to do the kind of praying about which I've been teaching you."

IN PSALM 106 there is a searching, and rather fearful, statement about people determined to have their way before the Lord. Their persistence in a kind of praying brought their request, but their souls were made lean. But look at the context of the statement. The verses preceding give insight as to why the leanness came.
Psalm 106
Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.
13 They soon forgat His works; they waited not for His counsel:
14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.
15 And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

Verses 13 and 14 tell us what went wrong. We can learn from this. Take the four statements in these two verses and turn them around. Remember His works. Wait for His counsel. Put down the lusts of the flesh. Tempt not the Lord in your living. Add to these the two powerful parts of verse 12 and you will have a powerful movement forward in the mercy and grace of the Lord.

HEAVENLY FATHER, release within me the spirit of supplications. My ability to pray and wait upon You is weak. Therefore, strengthen my heart. Let there come in me an increase of desire to spend time in Your presence. TEACH ME TO PRAY!

In Jesus Name,

© 1995 Berean Ministries






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