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CHAPTER 4
FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD 
THROUGH PRAYER
•••

4.2  Endorsed Prayers For Spiritual Communication

Isaiah 30:1-3

"'Woe to the rebellious children', says Yahweh, 

"who take counsel, but not from me

and who make an alliance, but not with my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin, who set out to go down into Egypt, 

and have not asked my advice

to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to take refuge in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore the strength of Pharaoh will be your shame, and the refuge in the shadow of Egypt your confusion."


God rebuked the children of Israel because they didn't seek "counsel" and "advice" from God. Israel was being threatened militarily by Assyria. But instead of asking God for advice and listening to God's counsel, Israel made an alliance with Egypt.


The Endorsed Prayers for spiritual communication are prayers for knowledge of God's will, enlightened eyesight, revelation, wisdom and words for witnessing... Five prayers.


Child of God, I have a question for you. In your time of need will God communicate information to your mind when you ask for it? If your answer to this question is "yes", you are correct. But if your answer is "No", you are correct as well. This is explained, from the scriptures in micro-subchapter 4.2a below. But first, I would like to tell you a story... a true story.



1945

Years ago, I had a business partner who was one of the Marines who served in the battle of Iwo Jima in World War 11. I called him Mr. Wofford. 


He told me the account of his landing on the beaches at Iwo Jima. The troops had been loaded onto amphibious troop carriers from the troop transport ships. These troop carriers were called "ducks". Each duck carried maybe fifty marines. I don't remember exactly.


Mr. Wofford was on one of these ducks. As they approached the beach, they heard a mortar coming towards them. It exploded just in front of their duck. Then they heard a second mortar flying towards them. It landed just behind them. They knew that the enemy would make a mathematical adjustment to the third shot. They knew that the next shot would blow up their duck.


The captain issued a command to abandon ship. He maneuvered the duck against the waves so that the marines could exit the duck as quickly as possible. There was very little time. 


The captain did his job well. All the marines were able to exit the duck. The third mortar shell was on target. The captain was killed when the mortar hit the duck. The rest of the marines moved towards the shore under fire to begin performing the tasks assigned to them.


Communication is critical to any coordinated group effort. The marines on the duck were saved through communication. They heard, understood and obeyed the orders from the captain. 


This subchapter is about prayers for spiritual communication. These include prayers that we may hear and understand. Subchapter 4.3 will address prayers which enable us to obey. It is titled "Endorsed Prayers for Spiritual Needs".


Here are the endorsed prayers for spiritual communication:



Endorsed Prayer: Give me wisdom!     (4.2a)

  • "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. For that man shouldn't think that he will receive anything from the Lord" (James 1:5-7).

Prayerful Observations:
Wisdom is granted by God to those who ask in faith, without doubt. If we believe that God will reveal wisdom through our prayer, He will. If we don't, He won't. Regarding one who asks with doubts, the passage says: "For that man shouldn't think that he will receive anything from the Lord." 

While God will not grant a request that was prayed in doubt because of the prayer, He may grant it for another reason. In His grace and in the implementation of His will, He may provide the information we need, though not in response to our prayer. So, our unbelief in asking for wisdom does not tie God's hands and make it impossible for Him to grant us wisdom according to His sovereign plan. 

Nevertheless, to expect a positive answer to our prayer for wisdom, we must ask in faith and without doubt. If you have doubts, ask God to increase your faith. The Endorsed Prayer for faith is presented later in subchapter 4.3.

The immediate context of the above passage is trials (verses 2-4) Even though you are a believer and a true child of God, you may not receive spiritual communication from God in your trials because you don't believe that God will communicate information into your mind. Wisdom is granted by God to those who ask in faith, without doubt. If we believe that God will reveal wisdom through our prayer, He will. If we don't, He won't. 

I believe that this requirement of doubtless faith also applies to the following four prayers for spiritual communication. If you believe that God will communicate to your mind, He will. But if you ask with doubt, you should not expect any of these prayers to succeed.

By the way, you may be wondering how to define wisdom according to scripture. Wisdom is knowing God's will so that we may do God's will. We see this in the prayer of Paul:
  • "we also, since the day we heard this, don't cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects" (Colossians 1:9-10).


This prayer for knowledge of God's will is presented in micro-subchapter 4.2c below.



Endorsed Prayer: Give me words to present the Gospel!     (4.2b)

  • "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the saints: on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News" (Ephesians 6:17-19).

Prayerful Observations:
I believe that this is the single most important passage in the Bible, for being an effective worker in God's kingdom. It deserves weeks, if not months of prayerful meditation.

This is the end of Paul's famous instructions regarding spiritual warfare, which began in verse 10. From verse 10, Paul described armor to take into spiritual battles. Prayer is not armor. Prayer is the warfare itself, using the armor described. The pieces of armor represent truth, righteousness, readiness to speak the gospel, faith, salvation and God's word. In the text above, only two pieces of armor are listed, a helmet and a sword. They represent the confidence of salvation and God's word respectively. He said to take them all, with prayer.

That is the background for the above passage. Here is the point regarding spiritual communication in prayer. Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him "that utterance may be given to me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Good News". The word "utterance" is a translation of the Greek word "logos", meaning word. Some translations render logos as "words" in this passage.

Paul asked God to put words into his mind!
Why did Paul need God to put words into his mind, so that he could explain the Gospel? Paul knew the gospel better than anyone alive. He wrote half of the books of the New Testament. He was taken up into the Third Heaven in Paradise (2 Corinthians 12:1-6). He was taught the gospel directly by the risen Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).

Paul knew that mere knowledge of the truth is insufficient to effectively deliver the gospel. We must know truth. But Paul knew that we must ask God to give us His words, speak the words He gives us by faith, and then let the Holy Spirit work supernaturally in those whose hearts God has prepared in advance to hear.

How great an arrogance it is to think that we can explain the Gospel on our own, when Paul knew that he needed to ask God to give him the words!
This is how we explain the message of eternal life to an unbeliever. This is how we present words of guidance to a brother or sister in Christ. This is how we encourage others in tragedy! This is how we take up the yoke of Christ! This is how we make disciples of all nations!

So, we should ask God to give us words. If we believe that He will give us words through our prayer, He will. If we don't, He won't (James 1:6, 7; micro-subchapter 4.2a). If we have doubts, we should ask God to increase our faith.

    


Endorsed Prayer: Fill us with knowledge of your will!     (4.2c)

  • "9 For this cause, we also, since the day we heard this, don't cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, 11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of his glory, for all endurance and perseverance with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father" (Colossians 1:9-12). See Isaiah 30:1,2; John 7:17; 10:27; Revelation 14:4.


Prayerful Observations:
Observations will be presented in five subtopics regarding the will of God:

1) Know God's Will to Please Him in all Respects, etc.:
God's will (v 9) can be known in sufficient detail to "please him in all respects" (v 10). Spiritual graces are granted to those who ask. To "please him in all respects" is possible in this life. That is one of the intended results of asking to know God's will. To "please him in all respects" is possible for those who acknowledge that they can't figure out God's will... and therefore ask God to reveal it within them. God will reveal His will through prayer. 

To please God "in all respects" is just one result of the Colossians 1:9-14 prayer. Power, endurance, perseverance, joy, thankfulness and to "walk worthily of the Lord" are also results of this prayer. If you look at the passage again, you will see all of those results. So, being filled with His will is key to the abundant life.

2) Exhaustive Detailed Specific Revelation:
The Endorsed Prayer to know God's will does not mean that God will reveal every detail of every step that you take in the direction of God's revealed will. You may make plans and then may need to change those plans. The apostle Paul did. 

  • Paul wrote, "I often planned to come to you, and was hindered so far" (Romans 1"13). 
  • Paul also wrote, "But we, brothers, being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence, not in heart, tried even harder to see your face with great desire, because we wanted to come to you--indeed, I, Paul, once and again--but Satan hindered us" (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18).

Paul knew that he was to make disciples, but he did not always know exactly when, where and how the opportunity would arise. He made plans and then had to change those plans.

3) Non-Theological and Non-Moral Revelation: 
Can we receive non-theological, non-moral revelation in this age that is not contained in scripture? For example, will God reveal that He wants you to perform ministry "A" instead of ministry "B" in your church? That would not be a revelation of a new doctrine and it is not a moral issue. It would be a revelation of specific guidance to you.

Colossians 1:9-12 above indicates that God's will can be revealed to the extent necessary for you to please Him in every respect. If God would be displeased if you chose "A" instead of "B", then He would reveal His desire according to the passage. If He didn't reveal His will in that situation, then you could not "please him in all respects" (v 10).

To posit that God will never reveal a specific will, presumes that God never cares if you select ministry "A" or "B", as long as you make your decision morally. The Bible is overflowing with examples where God chose specific people to perform specific tasks. So, that proves that God has had a specific will in some situations and revealed that specific will. The passages above which show that Paul had to change his plans indicate that God does not always have a specific will, or else God would have revealed to Paul exactly when Paul should go to Rome, so that Paul could please Him. 

4) Subjective Revelation of God's Will:
If you want to know if I am James Phillips you can determine that objectively. By looking at my driver's license, passport or fingerprint, my identity can be determined objectively. 

Can one determine the identity of another person subjectively? Let me give you an example. What if you lived in the time when Jesus Christ walked the earth during His earthly ministry. What if you actually heard Him speak, claiming to be the Son of God. What if you saw Him drive the money changers from the Temple with a whip and call your religious leaders sons of Satan (John 8:13, 44)? 

If you looked Him in the eyes could you tell if He was the Son of God, the Messiah? Could you prove beyond a doubt that Jesus' miracles were not a fraud? Moses, Elijah and Elisha performed miracles and they were not the Christ. The apostle Peter recognized Jesus before His resurrection. The apostle Paul didn't.

Some say that the Holy Spirit does not reveal information of a subjective nature but only reveals the meaning of scripture. If that is true, then how did Peter know that Jesus was the Christ? This was a subjective determination for him and for you as well. Here is the account from the scriptures:

  • "3 Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" 14 They said, "Some say John the Baptizer, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:13-17).

The revelation that Peter received in verse 17 was subjective. Peter didn't figure it out objectively by a logical examination of the facts. Peter didn't know who Jesus was by examining the scriptures. Jesus' identity was "revealed" by the "Father who is in heaven." God may have revealed Jesus to Peter as Peter considered the prophecies about the Messiah. But, Jesus's identity was "revealed". You and I have not looked Jesus in the eyes, heard Him speak or seen Him heal. So, it is even more subjective for us than it was for Peter. 

Romans 8:16 says, "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God;" This is a subjective internal witness. We just know!

5) Summary:
As we ask God to reveal His will, what kinds of things will He reveal to us? Will He tell us what college to attend, who to marry, what job to take, what medicine to take, to go on a particular mission trip, to teach a Bible study, lead a prayer group, etc? If the answers to those questions are necessary to please him, yes. If they aren't, then He has no specific will regarding the matter to reveal.

It is possible that God may not care what college you go to, because you can follow His plan for you at any college. But He may care what college someone else goes to, because He wants that person to work in the lives of specific people. I may pray for weeks about a decision and be fully confident of God's will. On another issue, I may pray without receiving guidance and conclude that either choice is equally pleasing to him.

My conclusion is this: We should pray steadfastly for knowledge of His will and be willing to obey His will , whatever it is (John 7:17). If we pray in this way and receive no guidance from God, then God is indifferent as to that decision. Personally, I tend to be confidant of God's will regarding ministry options. I am far less likely to be aware of His will regarding a business decision. I believe that God reveals His will through scripture and also subjectively with regard to existing circumstances.  

If we believe that God will reveal His will through prayer, He will. If we don't, He won't. James 1:6-7 reads "But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. 7 For that man shouldn't think that he will receive anything from the Lord."

If you need more faith, then ask for more faith by praying the Endorsed Prayer of Faith.

In the Sixth Path we Turn, Turn, Turn and Behold. We turn to Him to ask for revelation of His will. We then watch for opportunity as is written in Ephesians 6:18: "praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful".


Endorsed Prayer: Reveal yourself!     (4.2d

  • "making mention of you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:16-19).


Prayerful Observations: 
In the immediately preceding passage, Ephesians 1:3-14, Paul listed "every spiritual blessing" which we have in Christ. In verses 16-19, Paul mentions his prayers that the Ephesians would understand what God has done for them. 

In other words, Paul first spoke God's truth. Then he prayed that they would understand it. So, Paul revealed the two step process for making disciples. It is the method he used to make disciples of the Ephesians. The two step process is: Repeat the words of the Father and pray. It's easy. Jesus said that it is easy to make disciples in Mathew 11:30. He said, "my yoke is easy". 

Everything that Jesus said was a  repetition of the words of the Father: "For I spoke not from myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (John 12:49). The same is true for the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).

We understand God's words by prayer. We enable others to understand God's words by prayer. We should follow the example of Paul... speak the words of the Father and then pray that God will reveal Himself those who hear.


"we also... don't cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects" 
Colossians 1:9-10

Have a question or want to share how this book has impacted your life?