THE RELENTING OF GOD
“…the Father-heart holds itself open and free to listen to every prayer that rises through the Son, and that God does indeed allow Himself to be decided by prayer to do what He otherwise would not have done” Andrew Murray (ref#19, SEVENTEENTH LESSON).
“And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people” (Ex 32:14 ESV).
But, notice the conversation between the LORD and the intercessor, Moses: the LORD says: “…I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, lest I destroy you on the way” (Ex 33:3 NAS).
The LORD continues: “…’The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth;…who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin;…” (Ex 34:6-7 NAS).
Moses, finding fellowship with God an absolute necessity, listens very carefully to the LORD and replies: “…I pray, let the LORD go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate; and do Thou pardon our iniquity and our sin…” (Ex 34:9 NAS). The LORD answers Moses’ prayer and goes up with the Israelites.
“God has so made it that by means of intercession certain types of blessing come upon men” Oswald Chambers (ref#23, p396).
Actually GOD loves to relent of His wrath. In Scripture He is constantly warning us of our sins, begging us to leave them and ask forgiveness in prayer. A couple more examples:
“…Jeremiah spoke to…all the people, saying…mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you” (Jer 26:12-13 ESV).
“…let them intercede with the LORD…that the vessels that are left in the house of the LORD…may not go to Babylon” (Jer 27:18 ESV).
HOW PRAYER AFFECTS GOD
“The answering hand of God waits for the lifted hand of man…” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p17).
“That which is true of the promises’ of God is equally true of the purposes of God. We might say that God does nothing without prayer. His most gracious purposes are conditioned on prayer. His marvelous promises in the thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel are subject to this qualification and condition: “Thus says the Lord GOD: This…I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them…” (Ezek 36:37 ESV) E.M. Bounds (ref#54, p37-38).
“God’s ultimate will is unchanging, but the way in which he chooses to realize this will is dependent on the prayers of his children” Donald Bloesch (ref#31, p31).
“Prayer affects God more powerfully than His own purposes. God’s will, words, and purposes are all subject to review when the mighty potencies of prayer come in. How mighty prayer is with God may be seen as He readily sets aside His own fixed and declared purposes in answer to prayer” E.M. Bounds (ref#54, p38).
“The God who determines the end determines the means; and if God in His infinite wisdom is determined that He is going to bring certain things to pass as a result of and in answer to the prayers of His people, I ask with reverence, why shouldn’t He Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Dec 21st)?
“That it can alter His purpose, effect any change in His will, or afford Him information, no one supposes for a moment. And yet, that it should be an ordained medium by which finite weakness seems to overcome infinite strength, a human will seems to turn the divine will, and man’s shallow mind seems to pour knowledge into the fathomless mind of God; that it should arrest a threatened judgment, remove an existing evil, or supply for a present need—these are marvels in which, like all others of divine revelation, I submit my reason to my faith, receiving and adoring what my reason cannot completely comprehend, unless I were God” Octavius Winslow (ref#135. June 3rd).
GOD’S REACTION TO PRAYER II
“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him” (Prov 15:8 ESV).
“There are some people to whom He will not give audience. Sin shuts men out….”If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Ps 66:18 ESV). Unbelief shut men out “…without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6 ESV). An unforgiving spirit shuts men out “…if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15 ESV). An unstable mind shuts men out“…the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.…that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;” (James 1:6-7 ESV). A condemning conscience shuts men out “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;” (1 John 3:21 ESV). A self-seeking motive shuts men out “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3 ESV) Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p106).
“God is determined to have His child as pure and clean and white as driven snow, and as long as there is disobedience in any point of His teaching, He will prevent none of the working of His spirit” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 30th). “Prayers that lack sincerity and faith cannot be heard” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p126).
GOD’S REACTION TO PRAYER I
“he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer” (Ps 102:17 ESV).
“…wherever there is a heart that is full of sorrow, lips that are quivering with agony, a deep groan, or a penitential sigh, the heart of Jehovah is open. He marks it down in the registry of His memory. He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is opened at last, there will be a precious fragrance springing up from it” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 3rd AM).
“…he forgetteth not the cry of the humble” (Ps 9:12 KJV).
“Do not think that your prayer, however weak or trembling, will be unregarded…. Our God not only hears prayer but also loves to hear it” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 3rd AM).
“God delights to hear prayer. He has allowed His people a thousand times over to be tried that they might be compelled to cry to Him, and learn to know Him as the Hearer of Prayer” Andrew Murray (ref#143, p90).
THE TRINITY IN PRAYER
“…the doctrine of the…Trinity…is…the way in which it were possible for man to be taken up into the fellowship of God, and his prayer to become a real factor in God’s rule of this earth” Andrew Murray (ref#19, SEVENTEENTH LESSON).
“Oh, what a costly and precious privilege is prayer!…with the throne of grace accessible moment by moment; with the Holy Spirit disclosing each want, indicating each petition, and framing each request; with Christ at the right hand of God presenting the petition; and with a Father in heaven bowing down His ear and listening so He can answer, surely we may ‘trust and not be afraid” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Jan 24th).
“Christ intercedes for us in heaven, the Spirit intercedes for us in our hearts; so graciously has God provided for the encouragement of the praying remnant” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (ref#18, [Rom 8:26-28]).
“…what encouragement is here: the Spirit creates within us holy desires, the Son presents them, the Father understands and approves them” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p154). “’O Lord Jesus Christ, let Thy grace be with us; O God the Father, let Thy love be manifested unto us; O Holy Spirit, let Thy saints enjoy much of thy communion” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p193).
PRAYER AND FASTING
“Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God and cry out to the LORD” (Joel 1:14 ESV).
“The faith that can overcome…stubborn resistance…is not possible except to men living in very close fellowship with God, and in very special separation from the world in prayer and fasting….faith needs a life of prayer in which to grow and keep strong…prayer needs fasting for its full and perfect development….Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible; fasting, the other, with which we let loose and cast away the visible” Andrew Murray (ref#19, THIRTEENTH LESSON).
“Fasting and prayer are proper means for the bringing down of Satan’s power against us, and the fetching in of divine power to our assistance. Fasting is of use to put an edge upon prayer; it is an evidence and instance of humiliation which is necessary in prayer, and is a means of mortifying some corrupt habits, and of disposing the body to serve the soul in prayer…” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (ref#18, [Matt 17:14-21]).
“…fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, to sacrifice ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God” Andrew Murray (ref#19, THIRTEENTH LESSON).
PRAYER—THE CHIEF PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH
“…my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’” (Isa 56:7 ESV).
“…if in every Church united effectual prayer were regarded as one of the chief purposes for which they are banded together…who can say what blessing might come to, and through, those who thus agreed to prove God in the fulfillment of His promise….Most Churches think their members are gathered into one simply to take care of and build up each other. They know not that God rules the world by the prayers of His saints; that prayer is the power by which Satan is conquered; that by prayer the Church on earth has disposal of the powers of the heavenly world” Andrew Murray (ref#19,FIFTEENTH LESSON).
“…it is when we know ourselves to be united to Christ and one with Him, and representative in a true fashion of Himself, as well as when, in humble reliance on His work for us and His loving heart, we draw near, that our prayer has power, as the old divines used to say, ‘to move the Hand that moves the world,’ and to bring down a rush of blessing upon our heads” MacLaren Expositions on Holy Scripture (ref#242, [John 14:12-14]).
“All the doings of a Christian man, if done in faith, and holding by Christ, are Christ’s doings, inasmuch as He is the life and the power which does them all. And Christ’s deeds are reproduced and perpetuated in His humble follower, inasmuch as the life which is imparted will unfold itself according to its own kind; and he that loves Christ will be changed into His likeness, and become a partaker of His Spirit” MacLaren Expositions on Holy Scripture (ref#242, [John 14:12-14]).
“The prayer of faith links man’s petition to the power of God. All men believe in the power of prayer to influence mind, develop character, and sanctify motive and will, but that is not all. Prayer is force. Prayer changes things. The Lord God of Elijah had sovereign and omnipotent power, and these were at the command of the prayer of faith” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p88).
Paul felt himself the member of a body, on the sympathy and co-operation of which he was dependent, and that he counted on the prayers of these Churches to gain for him, what otherwise might not be given. The prayers of the Church were to him as real a factor in the work of the kingdom, as the power of God” Andrew Murray (ref#19, FIFTEENTH LESSON).
SEEKING THE SPIRIT
“…your heavenly Father is…ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks” (Luke 11:13 CEV).
“The Holy Spirit is the first of the Father’s gifts, and the one He delights most to bestow. The Holy Spirit is therefore the gift we ought first and chiefly to seek” Andrew Murray (ref#19, SEVENTH LESSON). “…we must first secure the Spirit’s presence and grace; then we can move out in powerful praying for all kinds of…needs” Jim Cymbala (ref#161, p126).
“Do you earnestly desire the…Spirit?…As sure as you ask for it, sincerely, humbly, believingly, seeking it in the name of Jesus through the cross of Christ, you shall have it….Seek it with your whole heart; seek it diligently and perseveringly. Seek it day and night, seek it in all the means of grace, seek it in every way of God’s appointment. Seek it especially in the name of Jesus, as the purchased blessing of His atoning blood” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Nov 12th).
“The apostles had never said, ‘Lord, teach us to preach’ or ‘Lord, teach us to lead worship.’ But they had asked, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ (Luke 11:1). Something about Jesus’ ability to commune with his Father in heaven fascinated them” Jim Cymbala (ref#161, p125).
“…you are on earth and He is in heaven;…you are a worm of the dust, a creature crushed before the moth, and He the Everlasting. Before the mountains were brought forth He was God, and if all created things should pass away again, yet still were He the same…ask the Spirit of God to put us in a right frame of mind so that every one of our prayers may be a reverential approach to the Infinite Majesty above” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p29).