Allow me to begin this presentation by making it clear that I am not diminishing the importance, the necessity, or the power of prayer.
Prayer is one of the means of communication between the soul of Man and God. Without communication, no relationship can be very meaningful. I say "one" if the means of communication, because God also speaks to us through His Word and through the details and circumstances of so-called every day life.
When in prayer, we do most of the talking and God listens. In the study of God's Word, we do most of listening while the pastor-teacher does the talking. It is through the circumstances and the details of so-called every day life that we the manifestation of what God has been saying to us, rather we have been listening or not.
Many, many times, I have been blessed as a result of personal prayer requests that I have made, and the prayers that others have made in my behalf.
At the same time, we have misinterpreted Scripture (Mark 11: 24) if we think that by making things a matter of a prayer request, that God is obligated to fulfill that request in our timing, if at all.
The, "I want it, and I want it now!" attitude is a manifestation of the self-centered, fallen nature. The attitude of a Christ-centered, disciple is that, "I want what God wants, if and when God wants me to have it."
Errant conclusions, that appear to be based on Scripture, are often the result of basing one’s position on one or two selected verses of Scripture that seen to support our position, while ignoring others that also speak on the same subject. The devil, and/or those who do his bidding, are masters in the art of putting a "different sin" on what God has actually said or intended (Gen. 3/Matt. 4/Luke 4). While the devil IS more than willing and able (Luke 4: 6) to “bless,” and thereby encourage, a sinful lifestyle or environment, God is not. This, in part, accounts for the prosperity of the wicked while the born again believer is subjected to divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6).
Sometimes, at the immediate answer to our prayer requests is “No” because we, or the persons we are praying in behalf of, are out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God. Until one is born again, he/she is out of fellowship with God. Born again believers are out of fellowship with God as a result of sin that has not be confessed (1John 1: 9) or forsaken (John 8: 11).
Any (James 2: 10) ongoing sin that has not been confessed (1John 1: 9) and/or forsaken (John 8: 11) takes the ones involved out of fellowship with God. The only thing that a born again believer out of fellowship with God can count on receiving is divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6). Anyone seeking the favor of God while our of fellowship may be barking up the wrong tree. Anyone seeking the favor of God for others who are out of fellowship with God may be barking up the wrong tree. Being in fellowship (James 4: 4) with the devil's world (Luke 4: 6) is what puts one in a position to receive the benefits that the world has to offer. Being in fellowship with God is what puts one in a position to receive the blessing of God.
* * *
Sometimes the immediate answer to our prayer requests is “No” because it would violate the principle of “free will” that God has given and will not recall to each and every soul that He creates. Thank God that He places limits on just how far the impact can go when it comes to the exercise of free will. Had the human race been left to its own devices, it would have self-destructed long ago.
* * *
Sometimes the immediate answer to our prayer requests is "No" or "NOT RIGHT NOW" is because our prayer life (if we even have one) has become one of "meaningless repetition (Matt. 6: 7, 8).
“And when you are praying, do NOT use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard (and receive their requests) for their many words (Matt. 6: 7, 8 NASB italics mine).”
One of the dangers of doing the exact same anything on a regular basis is that we find ourselves going through the motions without the proper focus of attention to do us any good. Like Christmas carols in the malls that we hear being played over and over again, beginning in October, there comes a point in time when we do not even hear them anymore in our conscious minds. The same thing can happen in our prayer life.
There are those who, for instance, who recite what is commonly called The Lord's Prayer or the Our Father on a regular basis, but have no clue as to what they are actually praying for to take place.
Advanced disciples are well aware that before His earthly, 1,000 year (Rev. 20: 6) "Kingdom comes," when His perfect "will is done here on Earth as it is in Heaven, that the world is going to go through the worst period of human history. It will be so dreadful that if it were not cut short by the Second Advent, there would be no life here on the planet (Matt. 24: 22). Thank God that the Church will be instantaneously (1Cor. 15: 52) taken up in what theologians have named the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 15, 16) BEFORE this period of the Great Tribulation takes place. Praying for His Kingdom to come means to pray for the Rapture, that if it happened today, would instantaneously (1Cor. 15: 52) remove every born again believer from planet Earth, bringing to an immediate end our earthly lives and experiences. It also means that anyone on Earth that has not been born again would be be left behind, and be subjected to the horrors of the Great Tribulation. Again, I am not saying that we shouldn't be praying for such things, only that one should know exactly what it is that he/she is asking God to bring about.
When He gave His disciples what is commonly referred to as The Lord's Prayer or the Our Father, He did so to establish a MODEL and/or a format for prayer that one should follow in order to establish a well-rounded , appropriate, and meaningful prayer life. He was teaching His listeners HOW to pray!
“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father...(Matt. 6: 9 NIV)."
"After this manner therefore pray ye; Our Father...(Matt. 6: 9KJV)."
“Pray, then, in this way: "Our Father...(Matt. 6: 9 (NASB)."
Reciting the Lord's Prayer or any of the many "prayers" recorded in such passages as the Psalms is fine, providing that it is NOT being done by rote; that one understands what it is that he/she is actually praying for, and that the subject matter of the given prayer is relevant to the issue that it on one's mind. The ears of God is just as interested in communicating with you via your own words, about anything that in on your mind.
The practice of doing penance, in the form of specific prayers being recited over and over again in order to receive absolution through a human priest (1Tim. 2: 5) is a practice and product of man-made religion. The 1John 1: 9 forgiveness is based on the "finished-John 19:30 NASB)" work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The 1John 1: 9 requirement is to make a confession (acknowledgement) of one's known sin(s) to God.
I still remember that the concluding line to the bedside prayer that I was taught as I child to recite. It was, “and make me be a good boy. Amen.” I must have recited that prayer by rote (Matt. 6: 7) thousands of times (365 times a year) throughout the course of my early childhood.
“When I was a child, I used to speak (pray) like a child; when I became a man (spiritually more mature), I did away with childish things (1Cor. 13: 11 NASB italics mine.”
Since my childhood (1Cor. 13: 11) I have learned that because of the free will that God has given to each one of us, He usually don’t “make” anyone do anything. The answer to prayer requests, asking God to violate the free will that He has given someone is “No.” This includes the God-given free will of our spouse, our children, or any of the people that we (or they) interact with throughout the course of our/their lifetime.
What we can pray for is that God will place the one’s we pray for or about in a scenario that they will "see the light" and then can choose to exercise their free will in a positive way. Note that sometimes the answer to such a prayer request is for God to allow all Hell to break out in the lives of the one’s prayed for, if this is what it will take for them to see the light.
* * *
Sometimes the immediate answer to our prayer requests is “No” because we do not really believe that God will do what we ask of Him (Mark 11: 24). This is what it means to pray in faith. Either you believe that God can and will (if it is His will to do so) do so, or you do not.
* * *
Sometimes the answer to our prayer requests is “No” because what we are praying for is contrary to the individual plan that He has in mind for us, or for the person(s) for whom we pray (Luke 22: 42). We know what we want. We may know what others want. But we do not always know what God wants for us or other people. We can all look back and thank God that He did NOT always give us what we/they wanted!
* * *
God's answer to prayers calling for a change in either the present or the future location or the environment of departed soul is NO. Such things are determined by the choices that each individual makes before he/she departs this world.
In the case of Adam, God first created the body. After creating the body, God created and placed the soul of Adam into the body at the same time that God-breathed through the nostrils of Adam (Gen. : 7), the breath of natural life into his body. Later, God created what would be the body of the woman (Eve) from Adam's rib. Scripture tells us that God brought the woman (Eve) to Adam, but does not go into detail about her receiving the breath of life or her soul. There is no reason not to believe that she too, became a "living soul" when she, like Adam, took in her first breath of natural life.
After the creation of Man, God (and not the biological parents (John 3: 6) continues to create the soul and places the soul in the body of His choosing when the body that the biological parents reproduce, comes forth at birth. Scripture teach that is is when the first breath of natural life is taken, simultaneously with the placement of the soul, that the end result is a living (human) being (Gen. 2: 7).
After the Fall of Man, a combination (that God designed) of both divine and the human activities continues to produce human beings, but the soul is spiritually dead and in need of regeneration (Titus 3: 5), aka known as being born again. This is why a human soul that has everlasting life, MUST be born again (John 3: 5, 7) in order to receive eternal life. Every soul has everlasting life, having been created in the likeness of God. However, only the souls that are born again have eternal life. It is eternal life that enables one to spend eternity in Heaven.
"...for whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3: 16 NASB)."
Scripture teach that it was NOT in Nazareth (Luke 1: 26) where Mary c-o-n-c-e-i-v-e-d the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ that God the Son came into the world, but that it was on the night that she gave b-i-r-t-h in Bethlehem (Luke 2: 4, 6) that the angel announced to the shepherds that the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ had come into the world (Luke 2: 10).
"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you news of great Joy which will be for all the people; for TODAY in the city of David (Bethlehem) there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2: 10 NASB italics mine)."
Some believe that the soul enters the body at conception, but regardless of one's position as to when the soul is placed in the body, Scripture makes in perfectly clear that is at the moment of physical death of the body that the soul departs (Gen. 25:8, 17/Gen. 35: 29/Mark 15: 37/ Acts 5/5/ Acts 12: 23).
In the case of the Lord Jesus Christ, His physically dead body was wrapped in clothe and placed in a tomb, while His spirit/soul (that departed His body while ON the cross- John 19: 30), descended to the Paradise Section of Hades. This was just as He had foretold in His conversation with the condemned man on the cross next to His (Luke 23: 43). This Paradise of Hades was where all the departed souls of the righteous went to until the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ took place. There are no longer any souls in the Paradise Section of Hades.
In its day, the Paradise of Hades is NOT a place of suffering or atonement. It was place of conscious comfort (Luke 16: 25). All of the suffering and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ took place (and was finished-John 19: 30 NASB) while He was physically alive, shedding His blood, ON the cross. His resurrection, three days later, was to provide tangible evidence that He had risen, confirming that God the Father approved and accepted the sacrifice that He made on the cross as full payment of the world's sin debt (1John 2: 2).
There is another section of Hades that IS a place of agonizing, conscious, suffering (Luke 16: 24). Some refer to this section as the Torments of Hades, but the name is not important. Scripture teach that those who were in the Torments of Hades could see the Paradise Section, but can not cross into it (Luke 16: 26).
As of the resurrection of the Lord of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no longer any souls in the Paradise of Hades. Departed souls (2Cor. 5: 8) of believers go to the Third Heaven (2Cor. 12: 2) when the soul leaves the body at the moment of physical death. As indicated in such verses as (Rev. 6: 9, 10), believers consciously reside in the 3rd Heaven with God in interim bodies (2Cor. 5: 1).
Moses, whose physical body was buried by God (Deut. 34: 6) some 1500 years earlier, appeared in some form of an interim body during the Transfiguration Event of Matt. 17: 1-8, along with Elijah.
The departed soul of the dead man in Luke 16: 23, 24) also had some type of interim body capable of feeling pain in the Torments of Hades, as his earthly body had been buried when he died (Luke 16: 22).
The born again believers in Heaven will replace their interim bodies with their with their bodily remains they left behind when their body remains and/or dust (Gen. 3: 19) are raised in glorious resurrected form when the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 16, 17) takes place. Believers, who are on the Earth when the Rapture takes place, have their earthly bodies transformed into their glorious resurrected bodies (1Cor. 15: 51-53) and are instantaneously gathered together with those who had departed over the course of the Church Age. This group of believers NEVER experience physical death (1Cor. 15: 51), and never experience an interim body. As long as one is alive here on Earth, he/she could be a part of this group of believers if the Rapture takes place during the course of their lifetime.
The entire "Church," consisting of departed born again believers who had been in Heaven in interim bodies, and the born again believers who were on the Earth the Rapture takes place, are united and forever more will be with the Lord. This includes the future era when the Lord returns (at the Second Advent) and establishes His 1,000 year Kingdom, here on Earth (Rev. 20: 4).
In the meantime, the Torments of Hades continues to be the location where spiritually dead, departed souls of unbelievers descend to and remain until the future event recorded in Rev. 20: 13 takes place. The agony that the souls in the Torments of Hades is NOT for the purpose of making atonement. The one and only means of atonement was the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ while on the cross. Having rejected God's one and only means of atonement, the souls that find themselves in the Torments of Hades had "died in their sins." The souls that find themselves in the Torments of Hades have nothing positive to look forward to, as they will spend all of eternity in what the "lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) after the Rev. 20: 15 event takes place. For the souls in the Torments of Hades, the window of opportunity to be saved has closed, and will not be reopened for all of eternity future.
"And the sea (the force securing the gates of Hell) gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they (the souls in the Torments of Haded) were judged according to their deeds (Rev. 20: 13 NASB italics mine."
Being judged according to their deeds points out the futility of trying to either earn or retain salvation through good deeds. This is made evident by what happens after all of their good deeds are examined and they come up short, evidenced by the fact that ALL of the unbelievers that had been in the Torments of Hades are thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15). They were thrown into the lake of fire, not because of their good or bad deeds, but because their names had not been written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Rev. 20: 15). The ONE and ONLY way, as of the Church Age, that anyone can be assured that his/her name has been written in this book is by being born again in response to being presented with the Gospel Message and then believing in it. This is why the Lord Jesus Christ told Nicodemus (and us) that one MUST be born again (John3: 5, 7).
Is your name "in the Book?"
There is NO soul in any corpse, in any morgue, in any funeral parlor, in any casket, in any urn, or in any cemetery. The only thing there is the decaying bodily remains or dust. Every departed soul is presently in an interim body with God in the 3rd Heaven, or is in the Torments of Hades.
There is no need to pray for the well-being of a departed soul that is already in Heaven. There is no prayer, funeral, or religious ritual that can get a soul presently in the Torments of Hades into Heaven. Such prayers is like asking God to change yesterday's weather. The answer is NO! The time to address the eternal destiny of one self or others is while the person is still here on Earth while there is still something that can do about it!
This highlights both the "blessed assurance" and/or the ominous consequences of what will be the end result of one's chosen response to the Gospel Message. The same message that assures believers of eternal life and a home in Heaven, assures unbelievers of an eternity in the lake of fire. The lake of fire is NOT a place of extermination, but one of never-ending separation from God.
* * *
Sometimes the answer to the prayer requests of a Christian husband is ‘No” because of the way that he mistreats his wife (1Pet. 3: 7).
“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life (equally saved), so that your prayers will not be hindered (1Pet. 3: 7 NASB).”
One's Christian wife is not only a spouse, but a sister in the Lord. However you treat a child of God is the way you treat God Himself.
The same principle of hindered prayer applies to a Christian wife who disobeys God by not respecting the authority of her husband, (Eph. 5: 33). In a Christian Marriage, the husband is the one in the position of marital authority, responsibility, and accountability for all that goes on under his roof. Disrespecting the ones that God has placed in positions of authority is to disrespect God (Romans 13: 1). Times have changed; God has not.
* * *
Sometimes the answer to prayer request is “No” after experiencing the “downside” of being allowed to have our own way. One may later want to have things go back to the way things were (1Sam. 8: 18). As the old sayings goes, one may get what he wants, but may not want what he gets. Its a hard lesson to learn, but there is nothing like having to endure in the mess of one's own creation. If the reaping of the seeds that one has sown (Gal. 6: 7) is the lesson that God has in mind, the answer to prayer requests for relief will be NO, or at the very least, NOT RIGHT NOW.
* * *
Affirmative prayer responses are not always based on the “worthiness” of the petitioner.
No one was or could be any more worthy of having a prayer request granted than the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet a different way other than the way of the “cup (His impending crucifixion)” that He prayed over three times (See vs. 39, 42, and 44 of Matt. 26) was NOT to be. I believe that it was not the physical agony that He dreaded, as much as it was the immanent separation from God the Father that He would (and did) experience when the sin debt of the entire human race was placed on His humanity (Habakkuk 1: 10). When raising the "another way" issue for the third time in prayer (vs. 44), He got His answer, evidenced by the fact that it was then that our Lord acknowledged that it was to be the will of God the Father that would prevail, and NOT His own.
* * *
Timing is a critical issue when it comes to receiving an affirmative, negative, or a not right now answer to a prayer request.
If we are praying for one thing to take place when it is the divine time for just the opposite, the divine answer to our prayer request will be “No,” or at the very least, “Not right now.” God in more interested in what we need, and not necessarily what we want. We are here to fulfill His plans; not ours.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1 NASB lists several examples of when it is the divine time for one thing and the divine time for just the opposite to take place.
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is “a” time for every event under heaven (here on Earth).”
“A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.”
“A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up.”
“A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.”
“A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;” A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.”
“A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away.”
“A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak.”
“A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.
If we had the omniscience (all knowledge) of God, we would know what "time" it was. But not knowing what time it is, the advancing disciple makes his requests known, and then leaves the outcome in the hands of God, believing that God works out all things for the best of those who love God (Romans 8: 28). Note that the principle of all things working out for the best does NOT apply to everyone, but to those who "love" God (put Him first) and are called according to His purpose. Here in the Church Age, being called to His purpose refers to the post salvation spiritual life, as outlined in Scripture.
God’s viewpoint and human viewpoint are not always the same. Human viewpoint "makes sense" to the human mind. Divine viewpoint will NOT always make sense, and will therefore require the application of faith to accept. God is more concerned with building our faith rather that advancing our earthy prosperity.
The classic example is the opposite ways in which God and (most) human beings view physical death. I say most, because Paul, for instance, found himself torn between two opposing desires. One was to go home to be with the Lord, the other was to remain here on Earth to serve the spiritual interests of others. There are many souls that reach a point that they pray for death rather than suffer any longer with no realistic prospects of recovery.
The process of physical death is the last spiritual battle that many disciples are called to engage.
Many never see it coming and leave this world at a time and under circumstances that neither they or those who knew them anticipated. Others are called to endure a very extended process of dying. If so called, how one handles that battle will speak volumes about the quality of his/her faith. In the real of spiritual combat, God assigns the most difficult missions to His greatest servants. Just look at the cross!
God’s viewpoint, expressed in (Eccl. 7: 1), is that the day of physical death (for a born again believer -Psalms 116: 15) is better than the day of his/her physical birth into the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6). On the day one comes into the world, the battle for his/he soul begins. On the day of his death, the battle is over and he goes home to be with the Lord. Note that the day of departure for an unbeliever IS the worst day of his life, as the window of opportunity to be saved has closed.
Human viewpoint celebrates birthdays and grieve on the anniversaries of the day that fellow believers went home to be with the Lord (2Cor. 5: 8).
If not handled properly, the devil will make use of the adversity, hurt, pain, frustration, and disappointment that some of God’s answers to prayer will generate. The devil will use the opportunity bring to raise doubts and questions as to the value of making prayer requests in the first place.
If successful, the devil can destroy what should be, the ongoing, intimate communication that should be developing and taking place between a born again believer and God.
Open, free, and mutual conversation is a fundamental element in ANY relationship. When the lines of communication break down, so does the intimacy of the fellowship. Like two strangers seated side by side on a bus, they may both be headed for the same destination, but there is no fellowship along the way if no communication takes place.
Severing of diplomatic relations and communication is a prelude to war in both the realm of both natural and spiritual warfare. When in fellowship with the world, one is at enmity with God (Romans 8:7/James 4: 4). When one's thoughts (Proverbs 23: 7) are under the influence of the self-centered nature within us (Romans 7), there is an environment of hostility (Romans 8: 7) between us and God. The first indicator that one is not in fellowship with God is his/her lack of interest in God or the things of God.
Prayer requests are only one part in the prayer life of an advancing disciple. But like some older Christmas decorations, when one bulb does not light, the entire line can go dark until the broken bulb is located.
Ongoing fellowship and communication with God are fundamental part of the type of post salvation spiritual life that God has designed for the Church Age. No wonder the devil will do all he can do to destroy or discourage meaningful communication with God.
A born again believer NEVER loses his/her salvation, but will not walk in fellowship with God IF he/she chooses to allow the inherently hostile (Romans 8:7 NASB to get the better of him/her when the answers we get to prayer requests are not what he/she wanted. Adding more salt to the wound is the fact that those who we (not God) deem unworthy receive the very things that we ask for in prayer. The devil knows just what buttons to press and when to press them for maximum effect in the real of spiritual warfare.
Humans cannot feel hostility and experience intimate fellowship at the same time.
It is easy to be a “Christian” when one is experiencing all the blessings associated with God, but it is another matter to keep God as one’s “first love-Rev. 2: 4 ) during the days of adversity (Job 2: 10), suffering (1Pet. 2: 21), persecution (2Tim. 3: 12 ), rejection (Luke 14: 26), and hardships (2Cor.4: 8-11), that ARE or that WILL BE a part of the post salvation spiritual life of an advancing discipleship.
While not having the power to do anything about the integrity of one’s salvation, he (the devil) can do much to destroy the quality of one’s post salvation spiritual life. Trying to “cash in” on what weak believers would call “unanswered” prayer is certainly a part of the devil’ strategy.
Advancing disciples have learned that there is NO SUCH THING as an unanswered prayer. EVERY prayer requests receives an immediate answer of YES, NO, or NOT RIGHT NOW. It's not that God didn't answer a prayer. It's that we often don't like the answers we received. If and when to do His will becomes the driving force in our post salvation spiritual life, there will be no "our will" in the picture.
Of the three, it is the NOT RIGHT NOW responses that can be the most challenging, especially if one disobeys the commands of (Phil. 4: 6, 7) and allows him/herself to become anxious instead. The best anti-depression prescription out there is a daily dosage and application of Phil. 4: 6, 7.
“Be anxious for n-o-t-h-i-n-g, but in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, that surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4: 6, 7 NASB).”
Having made ANY issue a matter of prayer, one can then be assured that the end result will reflect either the direct (what God does) or the permissive (what God allows) will of God.
The advancing disciple will feel the immediate impact, hurt, and disappointment as anyone else. The difference is that the advancing disciple will quickly recover, acknowledging, as did the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 22: 42), that we are here to do and to deal with what is His will, not ours. As in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ, doing the will of God can be a painful experience. No one who knows what they were talking about will tell you that the road of discipleship is an easy one. There has never been a disciple worth his salt that his/her walk with God has not cost him/her something. The ones who desire to accomplished the most, will often be called to pay the higher price.
If the Lord Jesus Christ had chosen NOT to go any further in the plan of God AFTER receiving a “No” response to His prayer request in the Garden, we would all be headed for the Hell that each one of us truly deserves (Romans 3: 10/Romans 3: 23/James 2: 10/1Cor. 15: 17).
Q. Did the Lord Jesus have a choice regarding how He would respond to the "No!" answer that He just received in the Garden?
Remember, the Lord had separated Himself by a short distance from where His disciples were (sleeping) in the Garden. While there alone, He prayed three times before receiving His "No!" answer (Matt. 26. 39, 42, 44). It was right after this that He returned to where His disciples were (sleeping), when those seeking His arrest approached the camp. Peter responded with violence, cutting off an ear of one of the group that had been sent from the chief priests and elders of the people (Matt. 26: 51). In verse 53, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ still had the option of appealing to God the Father, Who would at once put at His disposal more than twelve legions (thousands) of angels), if that was what the Lord Jesus Christ chose to do. Jesus ordered Peter not to resist, as His arrest was part of the plan of God (Matt. 26: 54). It was then that His disciples ran off, leaving the Lord Jesus in the custody of those to whom He had been betrayed.
The Lord had made it perfectly clear (Matt. 16: 21), especially to Peter (Matt. 16: 22, 23), that He and they were going to Jerusalem where He would be handed over and crucified. The Lord Jesus Christ has made it perfectly clear (John 10: 18) that His own participation was of His own choosing. But like Peter, so many of us, in so many ways, we just don't seem to get with the program that the Lord has in mind, but instead, do what comes natural to us.
"No one has taken it (His life)from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative...(John 10: 18 NASB italics mine).
The same "angelic rescue" option that He spoke of at the time of His arrest (Matt. 26:) was still available to Him while nailed to the cross. He was, in fact, challenged to do just that and come down from the cross (Matt. 27: 40). But for the same reasons, chose to remain there. One of those reasons can be seen each time we look in a mirror.
Prayer is one of the means of communication between God and Man. In prayer, Man does most of the speaking while God listens. In Bible study, God does the talking while we (should) listen. As a general rule, one cannot both speak and listen well at the same time. As Eccl. 3 7b puts it, there is a time to be silent and a time to speak.
One part of the prayer life of an advancing disciple calls for making prayer requests known to God. Making a request and placing an order is not the same thing.
What percentage of one’s prayer requests reflect the things that the petitioner wants vs. the percentage of the things that God wants is a good indicator of where one is in his/her walk with God. Weak believers are still self-centered. Advancing disciples are Christ-centered.
As I indicated in the opening paragraph, I would never dispute the necessity and the power of prayer. But as we have noted in this presentation, if we are to advance in the post salvation spiritual life and are going to keep the devil “at bay,” there is the need to properly handle the “No!” and/or “NOT RIGHT NOW!” answers that we ARE going to experience while here on Earth.