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-- © GodSpeak International 1998 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Richard Lang
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Al Vesper

Prayer-School Course


Lesson Two


In this first lesson, as Jesus begins his teaching concerning prayer, His first concern is for our various needs.

In Matthew 6:7-8, Jesus lays down two basic principles concerning prayer. On one hand, He warns us against heaping up meaningless prayers like the pagans do, such as the use of prayer wheels and so- called worry beads as used by various false religions such as in Buddhism. Just heaping up many words will not guarantee that God will hear your prayers. Later, as we shall see in Luke, Jesus does give some rather strong guidelines concerning persistence.

Jesus then assures us that our Heavenly Father is already very much aware of our needs even before we ask. Yet, his foreknowledge does not preclude our asking, for as we shall see in John as well as in Matthew and Mark, asking is a primary factor in prayer. Having given us these couple of introductory remarks concerning prayer, Jesus plunges us into seven guidelines of how to pray with success, commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer, which we will consider in a separate lesson of this study on prayer.

But first let us consider the topic given us by Jesus that our needs might be met through prayer. As you consider this, you begin to see one of the keynotes of prayer - prayer is a gift of God through which your various needs might be met. In this study, we will see that the Lord's focus is upon meeting our needs even to the extent of supplying our needs before we ask.

"Prayer Meets Our Needs"

"Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear." Isaiah 65:24.

When you consider this verse it might seem far too remote for what you are doing today. Nevertheless, through our 30 years of experience, we have learned that it has a great deal to do with the things that are happening here and now. This verse really began to make sense in our life not too long ago when a number of things happened in a very fascinating way. During a time when we were totally unemployed, we saw the hand of the Lord at work on our behalf.

One evening on our way to a Bible study, Holly asked me how much we owed in various bills. I simply said that we had a need for approximately $500, a figure that I just sort of pulled out of the air. Having said that, we then went on to talk about other topics. We never even prayed about that need. We didn't give it one more thought. That evening following the study, one of the ladies came up to Holly and asked, "Does the number 500 mean anything to you?" Holly told the lady, "Yes, it does!" The lady replied, "I know what I need to do." And with that she took out a pen and wrote us a check for five hundred dollars.

We had not prayed in the usual way. Nor, had we even hinted at our needs during the Bible study. We did not even ask for prayer for our finances. And so the Word of God proved true, "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear."

During our lifetime, there have been other moments when we have experienced answers to prayers which were never prayed, which in some cases were not even a part of the conversation. They were simply a passing thought. But such things ought not surprise us. After all, doesn't Jesus tell us, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him." Matthew 6:8b.

During the same period of unemployment, a friend of ours invited us to come to lunch. As we were on our way, a thought popped into my head, "You will receive a thousand dollars from your friend." I mentioned this to Holly and we both laughed, for we knew that our friend was as broke as we were. However, upon our arrival at her home, she told us that she had just finished a business deal and she was giving us the tithe: $1,000!

Your Father knows your need; He does! But, even more than this, you have a further promise in the words of Paul, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

By bringing these three verses together, you have a very exciting prospect of seeing all of your needs taken care of by your Heavenly Father, who loves you. He knows your need, and He supplies your need. "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear."

Most recently while driving, the steering wheel began to shake as though the front wheels needed balancing. But, since we had no money to have them balanced, we simply made every effort to drive with caution. Every day the problem seemed to be getting worse. Still, Holly and I made no concerted effort to pray about our tires, or even to talk about our need.

As the days went by an inner voice kept pestering me to have a mechanic check it out. Finally, I went to his shop hoping the problem would simply be a minor adjustment of the balance. But, this was just not the case. He showed me that the tires were coming apart - a very dangerous road hazard, and I would need four new tires at a cost of about $200, which I knew that we did not have.

Here was a vital need concerning the safety of the car, one that I was not aware of, one which only the Lord knew. Still, we had no money. What would we do? While I was mulling this over, the man had gone to the phone and was returning to tell me that a set of tires was waiting for me at a local shop. When I offered to make payments, I was told that there was no charge. Again we had not prayed or made any effort to make our financial need known. "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear."

In Matthew chapter six, Jesus gives to us a very precious illustration concerned with food and clothing and the various needs of life, urging us to reflect on the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. The admonition of Jesus at this point goes far beyond our ability to comprehend, that your Heavenly Father will do even more for you because you are of greater value than the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Because our Abba Father has already supplied all of our needs: food, clothing and shelter, we no longer need to trouble ourselves about them even as Jesus tells us that, "the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." Matthew 6:32. Once again Jesus is reminding us that God knows our needs for the second time in the same chapter. Furthermore, because we have food, and clothing and shelter, we are now free to "Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [of the Kingdom] shall be yours as well."

This phrase that you are of greater value is truly phenomenal. God, your Father, knows your need, and because of your value he fully intends to supply that need. The most astonishing aspect of our God is that He does know our need. It is so sad to hear some folks say that the Lord is far too busy running the universe that He has no or little time for their needs, so that they are reluctant to share them with Him. No, God knows your needs; He knows even the most mundane as the following testimony shows.

One day we went to the video store to return our partially used movie rental card and let the manager give it to some person who would appreciate it. He asked me why and I said that we were moving and would no longer need it. With that, he quickly punched out the remaining spaces and told me that we could rent any video, including a first run film, for free. Once again, even with something as mundane as a video, we learned that our God does know our need as well as our desires, and that He is faithful to provide them in spite of the fact that we have not even asked.

Many folks are very familiar with Phil. 4:19, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." For years I never saw the relationship between God knowing our need in Matthew and God supplying our need in Philippians. Then, about a year ago it hit me - a kind of a revelation - that the two verses were complimentary. God knows our need and He supplies our need. By the very fact that He knows a need means that He has supplied the need. The two go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other.

And, for that matter, you cannot have a need that He does not know. He just simply knows. He knows because He abides in you and you abide in Him. It is that simple. Still, there is a hinge pin between the need and the supply. And that is in the asking. Remember, Matthew tells you that He knows the need even before you ask. The implication here is that you need to ask. In a subsequent lesson we will take a closer look at the entire topic of asking.

If you ask me to explain all of this, I cannot even begin to fathom the intricacies of all that is coming forth from this study based on three very simple verses of Scripture, which seem to have at their center and core the intent of making us aware that, "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear." Just the very fact that He hears is absolutely astonishing. The very Creator of the universe has a love for you which is so rich and full that He actually takes the time to hear you. Even more astonishing is the fact that He answers, and his answer comes so quickly, you do not even have the time to call out or to speak.

This is absolutely incredible. It goes far beyond our ability to even conceive of how much the Lord wants to do for each of us. Isaiah makes this observation, "From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear; no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for Him." Is. 64:4b. No one can conceive of a God who burns with a passionate desire to work for those whom He has created and are willing to wait for Him.

This realization, that God desires to work for you, is a strong encouragement for you to pray with confidence. In fact, each of these verses is intent on showing you just how strongly the Lord wants to make provision for your need. I encourage you to draw upon these passages by confessing with your lips, "God knows my need, even before I ask." Say it several times until it begins to flow into your spirit. Then, begin to do the same thing as you say, "My God shall supply my need out of his riches in glory." Then, you may even desire to meditate upon the phrase, "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear."

Let your entire being be flooded with the understanding that your Abba Father desires to "work" for you, provided you wait on Him. Waiting on the Lord has to do with meditation upon his Word, that you might prosper in all that He has given you in his Word, because his Word will not return to him void.

God's desire to supply your need has been the emphasis of this study. It is the keynote of what Jesus is giving to you as He teaches on how you ought to pray. I urge you to make every effort to fill your prayer time with meditation on the Word. Let the Word be the very center and core of your prayers. An example: If you are in need of healing, then your prayers need to be filled with verses concerned with healing. This means that you are going to have to step out in faith and find those verses. The more you find, the greater your success. You may even be led to the very one that deals with your particular need - in just the same way that the Lord led me to a verse about the city of Salem, as being our new home.

As for believing: Believing comes when you simply say, "I believe." Do not let your feelings rule. You may not feel like a believer. That's OK. Holly and I do not always feel like believers. Nevertheless, we have learned that what we say has much more to do with what we get than with what we feel.

Paul tells us, "I speak because I believe." Believing is speaking. Speak what you believe. Let these verses flow back and forth as you continue to meditate upon them. 2nd Cor. 4:13.

We never cease to wonder at the vast richness of God's Word. In one of our other studies concerning prayer, we have considered the teachings of Jesus as recorded for us in Luke chapter 11 - in particular, the parable concerned with the importunity of one's neighbor. As I was about to finish this study on God's provision for our needs, the Holy Spirit showed me that the parable on importunity also deals with God's provision for our needs. The very last verse of that parable tells us, "Yet, because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatsoever he needs." Lk. 11:8b.

This is just one further affirmation of just how much our Abba Father desires to make provision for our various needs - even in a time of importunity.

-- © GodSpeak International 1998 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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