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-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Keith Gerner AVMuk@aol.com
EDITOR:Lucy Deliganis


A Life Changing Experience

By Keith Gerner

Lesson 8
Prosperity and Success

My friends have often come to me, saying they love to pray because they hope to prosper and have success. When I was in the British army, I worked with a sergeant who loved to play the lottery. If one had just the right numbers on his lottery ticket, he would get the jackpot.

One day this sergeant came to me saying, "I've done it! I've done it! Prosperity, success, I'm rich!" That night he came to me and confessed that he had forgotten to mail in the ticket! What a pity to have missed it! And yet, by missing out in prayer, one can miss so many things. "If you gain the world and lose your own soul, you have gained nothing," said Jesus.

In this eighth lesson, I want to deal with the subject of prosperity and success. Let me say that I do not serve the Lord for what I can get out of Him. I believe in the book of Job. Particularly where he was deprived of his money, health, and even his family for a period. The Lord had to say to Satan that Job was not serving Him for what he could get out of Him. In other words, Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

We are not praying with feedback in mind. We are praying simply because we love the Lord. If you have been with me in this lesson series, you will know, however, that God makes promises. And the Lord promises that He will reward openly the one who secretly engages in prayer. In fact Jesus says in Matthew 6:6, "When you pray, go into your room and close the door, and pray to your Father Who is unseen or in secret, and your Father Who sees what is done in secret will reward you openly."

Now, because of this I find that many people are not prepared to pray because they are not seen openly. Yet, this is so important because what you do in private will definitely equip you for open miracles. Jesus knew this. Mark 1:35 says that Jesus would get up very early each day for guidance and prayer.

I have found several other instances of blessing which resulted from prayer. For instance, in the life of Moses, he was alone on the mountain and given the full details of the moral code for the nation and of the tabernacle. In fact, in Exodus 19:23, Moses had to assure the Lord that the people could not come up the mountain. God asked Moses to put limits around the mountain and set it apart as a Holy Place. Then the Lord spoke the words that we find in Exodus 20:1-18. The people saw the thunder and they heard the trumpet. They trembled with fear. So Moses spent time alone with God. I believe that many of our problems will only be solved by time alone, moving with God.

Immediately following this, the Lord openly placed His glory on the mountain while the people stood back in awe. Look at Exodus 17:9-10. Moses said to Joshua to choose some of their men and go out and fight the Amalekites and that tomorrow he would stand upon the top of the hill with the staff of God. While Joshua was fighting, he was supported by the prayers of Moses, Aaron and Hur. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but when he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. So, intercession is vital.

Another feature of Moses' life was that he was openly transformed by this secret time of prayer on the mountain. When Moses came down in Exodus 34:29, the skin of his face shone as he talked. When the children of Israel saw the face of Moses and the skin shining, he had to put a veil on his face. This is the Holy Spirit shining through a person, which is really our inheritance.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul says that "we all with unveiled faces, reflect the glory of the Lord and we are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory." Smith Wigglesworth said, "I spent a time in prayer. When I came back, two clergymen cried that my presence convicted them of sin! And they gave their hearts to the Lord." So Smith Wigglesworth came back with a tremendous anointing and visible Presence of God after spending time with God in prayer. This has happened one or two times to me when I have "disappeared" and people have seen Jesus. I think it is very important that we as Christians let His beauty shine through us.

Another person in the Old Testament who spent a long time in prayer was Elijah. We are told In James 5 that Elijah was similar to us in many of our feelings. But his secret prayer was the key to his open victory on Mt. Carmen. In 1 Kings 18:36, Elijah stepped forward and said, "Lord, let it be known I am Your servant, and I have done all these things at Your command."

In verse 38, the fire of the Lord fell and burnt up the sacrifice. The wood and the stones even licked up the fire in the trench. So, the open manifestation was a result of secret prayer. Also, I find Elijah's continued intercession brought rain again openly to Israel.

In 1 Kings 18:42, Ahab went off to eat and drink. Elijah prophesied there would be rain. He had to climb to the top of Mt. Carmel, putting his face between his knees and watch with his servant the little cloud (verse 44) come off the sea. You will find many prophecies will come your way, but you have to pray them in. I believe this is applied to righteous believers today.

James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to one another, pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." Verse 17 and 18 say, "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. He prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit."

So Elijah's secret prayer was powerful enough to raise the dead son of the widow when he stretched himself in 1 Kings 17:21-24. We have seen two dying people raised by the power of prayer.

The third person that I love to read about in the Old Testament was the praying King Hezekiah. He prayed when he became ill (2 Kings 21). The prophet Isaiah told him that he was going to die and not recover. But King Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed. In 2 Kings 20:3, he says, "Lord, remember that I have walked before You faithfully with wholehearted devotion and I have done what was good." And before Isaiah had left the middle court (verse 4), he was told by God to go back. Isaiah said, "This is what the Lord, the God of your father, David, says, 'I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. I will heal you. On the third day from now, you will go out to the temple of the Lord.'"

So when you get a prophecy, or see a vision that is going to be a problem, do not give up. Begin to pray! In Ezra's life, personal prayer brought public conviction to the whole nation. In Ezra 10:1, while Ezra was praying, confessing, weeping, and throwing himself down in the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites, men and women, gathered around him. They wept bitterly. "Let's make a covenant," they said. So Ezra rose up and all were under oath and made a covenant. They assembled the crowd (verse 12), and the crowd said that he was right. "Let us do what we say and make a covenant with God, as to turn away His fierce anger." (verse 14)

When England prayed, great miracles happened at Dunkirk. The sea was a millpond. God delivered the British army from the hands of the enemy. I see here that in the early church that after a secret prayer meeting they were given boldness and miracles (Acts 4:29-31). The place was shaken. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with boldness. By the apostles, many miracles happened.

Prosperity, I believe, can follow godliness, and in the life of obedient prayer. In Deuteronomy 4:40 God says, "Keep My decrees and demands that you may live long in the land the Lord Your Father gives you." So God promises blessing to obedient people. Not only that, but He promises they would enjoy the fruit of their obedience.

Isaiah 3:10 says, "Tell the righteous it will be well with them. They will enjoy the fruit of their deeds." This theme, I believe is taken up in the New Testament where Paul teaches that godliness is profitable in this life. 1 Timothy 4:8 says, "Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."

This has been our experience. God has answered prayer so many times in meeting needs. Examples, of course, abound in scripture. In Genesis 39:3, we look at the story of Joseph. His master saw the Lord was with Joseph, and the Lord gave him success in everything he did. Joseph may have started in prison, but through prayer he became the prime minister.

Nehemiah was blessed in the palace because the gracious Hand of God was upon him. Nehemiah 2:18 says, "the King, my Master, granted my requests." Verse 18 says, "I told my nobles in Jerusalem about the gracious Hand of God upon me. So they said, 'let us start rebuilding.'"

Daniel prospered under two opposing dynasties. In Daniel 5:30-6:2, God sent His angels to protect Daniel. Verse 22 says, "He shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me because I was found innocent, and I have done nothing wrong before You."

Someone said to George Mueller, "Are you trying by your orphanages to help the poor?" "No," he said, "I am trying to help Christians see that God answers prayer." In fact, George went to buy another house and the man was out. He said to the wife that he wanted this house to help some orphans. When he came back the next day, he told the owner that he had prayed, feeling that God wanted him to come back. "That's right!", said the owner. "God spoke to me overnight. I was going to charge thousands of pounds for the house, but God told me to cut the price in half!"

Look at the story of Cornelius in Acts 10:2. His family was devout and God-fearing. An angel came in at three in the afternoon saying, "Your prayers and your gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering." In fact, when Peter came to preach to him in Acts l0:34, he said, "I now realize and know it is true, that God does not show favoritism. He accepts men from every nation that fear Him and do what is right." Immediately the Holy Spirit was outpoured, so that even the prayers of those who are not professing Christians were heard in heaven.

Jesus found food for thousands. Remember the Lord's prayer? Jesus says, "Give us this day our daily bread." Jesus fed four thousand and five thousand people. We have had this experience over the years of God supplying food and money regularly for thirty-five years. This cannot all be an accident!

What, then, is our prime objective in prayer? Getting our needs met? No. The prime objective is seeking the Kingdom of God. Prosperity is a by-product of prayer. Seek first (Matthew 6:33), said Jesus, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added as well. When the kingdom is first sought, these other things are added.

Solomon, for instance, in a time of prayer was given a choice. God asked him, "Do you want to get rich? Do you want long life or wealth?" (1 Kings 3:11). "No," he said. "I want wisdom, to be of service." Because his motive was pure, God said to him, "Since you have not asked for this, not for long life or wealth, or asked for the death of your enemies, but you have asked for discernment, I will do what you have asked. I will also give you a wise and discerning heart. There will never be anyone like you, and I will give you what you have not asked for. Riches and honor in your lifetime so that you will have no equal among the kings of the earth." Isn't that wonderful? As we put God first in the kingdom, these things are added.

I find other scripture promises to the same effect. Exodus 23:25 says, "Worship the Lord, Your God. His blessing will be upon your food and water. I will take away sickness from the midst of you." Deuteronomy 30:9 says, "The Lord will make you prosperous in the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, and the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your fathers."

The power of the secret prayer, as I see it, is unlimited. When it is reinforced by self-denial and fasting, positive praying can shift the demon power of the enemy. In fact, in one case where the disciples were unsuccessful, Jesus had to say to them (Matthew 17:21), "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." So there were certain heavily oppressive demonic presences that need that kind of power.

If you pray and abide in Christ, you can ask what you want and find unlimited answers. Jesus says this in John 15:7, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you can ask what you will and it shall be done."

A butler found C. T. Studd late at two o'clock in the morning reading his Bible. He asked him what he was doing. C. T. Studd answered, "I am making sure that Jesus' words abide in me so that everything He has commanded me, I am doing."

And so, you find right through the life of C. T. Studd that whatever he wanted or needed, God supplied! He was in the midst of the Congo and had a toothache. He looked down the river and saw a canoe coming. In it was a white man. "Who are you?" C. T. asked. The man replied, "Oh. I am a dentist from London that was sent to you by God." God always provided for that man because he always did exactly what God told him to do.

I also believe that with praise, prayer can open prison doors. At midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises. The earthquake came and the foundations of the prison were shaken. Everyone's hands were loosened. And so, that secret prayer can still set people free.

One servant of God went and found his mission work on national television. There was a lady that was being scratched by demon forces. They took hair from under her fingernails known to no human being or animal. She also heard voices. But when this Christian man came and rebuked these things in the Name of Jesus, the lady was set free. This was on national television! This was a tremendous testimony to the power of God, and as a result this man was given a major place to preach the gospel.

I believe examples of this power in prayer can be found in the life of Jacob. Jacob wrestled with God as we read in Genesis 32:24. In the life of Stephen, we see his prayer to forgive those who were persecuting him. This prayer was answered by the conversion of Paul on the Damascus Road.

I think if we compare Acts 7:58 with Acts 9:3 and even Acts 26:14, where we Jesus said, "Paul, Paul, you are persecuting Me." We see that through Stephen, people saw the Lord. And so in 1 Timothy 4:8, bodily exercise does profit a little, but godliness is profitable for everything! So, if we are going to spend time in the gym looking after our bodies, I think we need to spend time in prayer!

Prayer is going to feed our soul, and it has a promise of godliness of this life that is for now, and also that which is to come. Personally at age 65, I am looking forward to the life which is to come because we know in answer to prayer, God is moving.

I came home from American in 1997. A lady pulled up before me in her car and stopped. She said, "You led me to Jesus. You prayed for me when I was 12. Now I have prayed. I have a Christian husband, and lovely Christian children. I am looking forward to spending more time with you in eternity."

For where a man's treasure is, there is his heart also. That is true prosperity! We prosper as our soul prospers, says the Epistle of John.

-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

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