Prayer is the primary means by which God’s will is done on earth.
"And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?..." Lu. 11:1-3, 5-6.
In this passage we have an admonition as to what is to be at the center of man’s endeavors upon earth: to pray for God’s will to be done! Then, following this admonition, we have a description of the intercessor who is to succeed in praying the will of God down to earth.
Notice first of all that for us to pray "Thy will be done on earth" presupposes that God has a will for man on earth. God has a will for governments, for corporations, for universities, for labor unions, for hospitals, for lawyers, for farmers, for salesmen, for housewives, for churches, for vacations, for entertainment, for relaxation, for family life, for marriage, for parenting, for sales and purchases, for what we say, for what we think, and for our attitudes and our reactions. God has a will for everything.
Notice secondly, that the primary means by which God’s will is to be done in earth is by prayer. In reference to the
and the will of God on earth, it has been said that God does nothing but in answer to prayer. This is a great mystery. And until you accept that mystery as a reality to be dealt with 1) you will not pray much, 2) your whole Christian life will be off-center, and 3) you will miss what you are a Christian for.
It is an astounding fact that the destiny of events have been placed in the hands of praying men. PRAY, "Thy will be done!" If we pray for God’s will to be done, it will be done! If we don’t pray for his will to be done, the devil will have his way. This is one of the greatest lessons in the Bible. After God created man, he gave man dominion, power and authority over all things on the earth (Ge. 1:20). God made man the keeper of the earth. He could do that because man was in his likeness. Then man sinned; his heart became wicked. Since then Satan, through man, has corrupted the world. Satan became the prince of the world. Paul gives a sobering description of the forces the devil has unleashed in this world in Ephesians 6, "For we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against the despotism, against the powers, against world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness..." (Amplified Bible).
That’s what we are up against. And it is obvious from this that a prayerless Christian is as a sheep penned up with a pack of wolves. When the first Adam sinned, he lost control of this world and the devil took over. But now the second Adam, Christ, has come, and he has redeemed us by his own precious blood; he has given us his Spirit, and he has tailor-designed an armor by which we, through prayer, can re-establish God’s will on earth again. This is why, at the very beginning, Jesus taught his disciples, "Therefore pray ye... Thy will be done in earth." This is tremendous! This is revolutionary! This is powerful! This is wonderful! Through Christ, God has given the keys, the power to run this world, back to praying men. Hallelujah!
So, firstly then, we know that God has a will for everything on earth. Secondly, we know that God’s will is ushered in by prayer!!!
Now one would assume that Christians would crowd into churches for prayer meetings more than for preaching or gospel concerts or Sunday School. For nothing is better than God’s will, and prayer ushers in that will. There is no greater guarantee for success and fulfillment but in the will of God. One would think that Christians would spend more time on their knees than watching television. One would think that every church would have at least one REAL prayer meetingpacked out. But such is not the case.
The reason why prayer is not popular or well attended to, is because most Christians do not want God's will to be done, except when it coincides with their own wills. Thus we pray for relief from sickness, but not for God’s will to be done on our vacation. Thus we pray for our ten percent to be used correctly by the church, but we will not let God’s will enter into the ninety percent we keep. Carnality does not want God’s will to be done except when that will agrees with its own preferenceswhich leads me to my third point which is that: If we do not covet all of God’s will all of the time we can have no confidence to have some of His will some of the time. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (Ja. 5:16).
A righteous man wants God’s will all of the time, and it is he who can move the arms that move the universe. This is what we are born again for, to pray into being God’s will, God’s kingdom. This is why Jesus said, quoting Isaiah, "My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer." (Mk. 11:17). The priests wanted God’s house to be a house of ritual and sacrifice. The prophet cried out for prayer, obedience and hearing the voice of God. In 70 A.D. Jesus allowed the destruction of the templebut he allowed a section of the wall of the temple mount to remain. He left the Jews a wall to pray at. Because it was a lack of prayer, of praise, of communion with God, of obedience that led to
’s blindness to start with, he left them a wall of prayer, where now all nations come to pray and where Jew and Christian pray together. God allowed the site of the temple to be desecrated by a pagan shrine, and he put the whole temple mount in the hand of the Moslems. The only sacred thing the Jew has is the outside of the wall. The Christians in
were brought to prayer at prison walls because they refused to pray in their ornate churches. What does God have to do to get
to pray, to get you to pray, to get your church to persevere in prayer?
Jesus did not teach his disciples to preach, but to pray. It is the first responsibility of every minister to teach his parishioners to pray and to keep them in prayer.
Now then, let us look at the nature, the character and the method of the intercessor.
"And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and l have nothing to set before him?" (Lu. 11:5-6).
Observe that this story was made up by Jesus to fit the model prayer, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread." (vs. 2-3). Jesus draws us a picture of an intercessor.
The intercessor is a man who has two friends. The one is rich; the other is poor. The one has everything; the other lacks in essentials. The intercessor has one friend in heaven, and he, in the story mentioned here, has many needy friends on earth. The intercessor stands between the one who has and the one who has not, and he, through believing, and through perservering prayer, transfers the goods from the all-sufficient, abounding one to the destitute one. The intercessor brings God’s will down to earth.
As Jesus relates the story, the intercessor is visited at night. He is called upon at an inconvenient time. He is roused out of bed by someone who has neither bed nor bread. As we see, the intercessor is called upon at any time of the day. Yet he does not mind, for his life is "thy will be done." Consequently, his life is prayer.
So he gets out of bed, and he offers what he has. He has a bed, his bed, but he has no food. Our text says that "he had nothing to set before him." He could have used that as an excuse for sending the traveler on, but the law of the kingdom is as the Middle Eastern law of hospitality it allows for no excuses. The intercessor is compassionate. The intercessor is self-denying. The intercessor is industrious. The intercessor waits on God.
This intercessor had been without food. We don’t know for how long. He had "nothing to set before him." Yet, despite the fact that he had nothing to eat for a day or two, the intercessor did not have courage to petition his wealthy friend. He simply waited on God until he had a promise that would give him certain passage to the heart of his prosperous friend. For the promise, the petition that pleases the Father is never "give me day by day my daily bread." but rather "give us our daily bread!" The intercessor knows that in petitioning he must never think of his needs apart from the needs of others. He must have a larger end in mind than just himself. For the law of deliverance is found in "he that loseth his life... shall find it."(Ma. 10:39).
The coming of the friend at mid-night to his home, which was a place of waiting on God, a place of trusting, a place of love, a place of compassion, and a place of self-denial, was the beginning of the answer to everyone’s need in the house. If your home is such a place God will never be far from it.
Being now able to lose his life for a friend, being now able to pray the divinely blessed petition, "Give us our daily bread." with courage, excitement and thrill, the intercessor launches into the dark, cold night. While the village is sound asleep, while his guest is now comfortably settled in his bed, the intercessor, although physically exhausted from the lack of food, suddenly finds new strength. He finds the strength that comes from doing the will of God even as he has learned that strength from his rich friend who said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me." (Jn. 4:34).
So we see this shadowy figure making his way swiftly through the streets and alleys,
disregarding the dangers lurking in the dark. The intercessor has a petition that cannot be denied: "Give US this day our daily bread!" Hallelujah! He does not hesitate on his way to his friend for he has walked this path to the door of mercy more than any other way.
He positions himself at the door of his rich friend. It is now midnight. It is cold, it is dark, and he is the only one awake, but awake with excitement, faith, determination and anticipation. The intercessor thrusts his knuckles against the door, yet his repetitive thrusts bring no answer. Undeterred from the lack of response, he renews his efforts with greater diligence. He knocks, and he knocks, and he knocks. To him it is not a question of 'if' but of 'when' for he has a promise from the one he is trying to rouse. "Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Lu. 11:10).
The intercessor cannot be denied once he prays the Father’s will, for he read that "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mk. 11:24). He also knows that to doubt is to lose (v. 23). He remembers the words of his rich friend which he had heard him say so often, "Have faith in God." (v. 22). And if the delay is long, he knows it is only to strengthen his character, his will, his faith, his steadfastness, and his self-denial for other matters that are yet ahead.
Finally, the answer comes from within, "I cannot come..." The night goes on. Even though he hears the words of his friend, "I cannot come," the intercessor knows better. He knows the heart of his friend which says: Keep asking, keep knocking, keep coming, keep pressing; I love it!
His vigil is not abandoned. Though at times the door of grace and mercy seems like brass, though it often seems that his petition goes no further than his breath in reality, the door is like a huge microphone connected to indoor amplifiers that record his every groan and sigh. It is, of course, the Spirit which helps us in our infirmities with groanings that cannot be uttered (Ro. 8:26).
Finally, the test of faith is passed. Just as expected, the door is opened because of much importunity, and the response is overwhelming. It is not only that the intercessor receives the three loaves requested, but all that he needs.
At the crack of day while a sleepy village is waking up, as the crimson sky of the sun sheds its glories over the Judean hills, the figure of the intercessor quickly slips through the door to bring the harvest of believing, prevailing prayer to his waking friend.
Such is the spirit, the character, and the method of the intercessor who’s life is, "Therefore, pray ye... Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done... Give us this day our daily bread."
The primary means by which God’s will is done on earth is by prayer. "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (I Ti. 2:1-2).
Notice the words, first of all. That means it is more important for the church to pray than to sing, or to have preaching, missions programs or Sunday School. Yet, most every church has made prayer last of all. No wonder we had two world wars in less than half a century. No wonder the church is famishing for the lack of God’s will being done in our midst.
Remember, God has a will for everything that happens on earth: from the conversation you have over the telephone to the great summits of world leaders. But we must die to our wills to pray his will into existence.
God will bring his kingdom through praying men.
1. How is God's will done?
2. What do we wrestle with?
3. What is an intercessor?
4. What are the chief characteristics of an intercessor?
5. What changes do I need to make after reading this Call to Obedience?