I want you to learn how to pray, and when you pray, how to get an answer. Recently I found myself asking the question we all ask, WHY? Why this? Why that? And I was asking, why is it that people pray and don't get an answer? Then it was as if the Lord said to me, "It's because they give up asking". The Scripture teaches: 'Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking reverently and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, the door will be opened' (Matthew 7:7-8, AMPC).
So many people know the Lord's Prayer, they can say the prayer, they can sing it - but they don't know the reality of the words. I want you to read Luke 11, because Jesus did not end with the 'Amen' of the prayer, but actually continued, "Which of you has a friend and shall go to him at midnight and say, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine has come and I have no food in my house to give him.'" Jesus is talking about prayer! He says, eventually, if you keep knocking, your neighbour will give you what you ask, not because you are friends, but to stop you banging on the door! I want to show you the greatest lesson in prayer: don't take no for an answer, keep on asking, God will answer you!
If I could give you a gift, I would give you this verse from Jeremiah 33:3, 'Call, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things you know not.' I want you to learn to call on God - and He will answer you! Not only will He answer, but the reason I love this verse, and the reason I pray over this verse, is because God says, when He answers, He will show you great and mighty things you don't know; He will open up heaven and show you His glory. "O God, I call unto You, You have promised that You will answer me, and when You answer me, You are going to show me powerful things, something bigger than I can ever dream about."
The Bible says, 'Jesus the same yesterday, today and forever.' That's the only bit of the Bible I don't agree with. Listen carefully. In my life, the Jesus I know today is not the Jesus I knew when I was first a Christian. The Jesus I know today is a thousand times stronger and more powerful, more wonderful, than the Jesus I knew 70 years ago. The Bible says He's always the same, but to me, the Jesus I know becomes stronger every day, more powerful. Ten times more powerful this year than He was last year. A hundred more times powerful than He was a few years ago. A thousand times more powerful than when I was a young man! So who is right and who is wrong? I've discovered the truth! God doesn't change, I change. The change is this, I know God better!
My heart's one desire is to see Jesus, to experience His Glory here on earth. All through my early days, before I became a pastor, an evangelist, all the time I was growing up, when I was in school, when I was in church, Psalm 63:1-2 was the most important verse in my whole life! I said what David said, "Oh God, You are my God, I will seek for You from the early part of my life, I will search You out, Oh God, wherever You are, in Heaven, on earth, I will search for You, Oh God! I want to know who You are, I want to find You!" I want to see God's Power and Glory, not just in the sanctuary, but in the battlefield of my life; I’m desperate for His presence in the midst of my tribulation: my sickness, my financial trouble, in my prison cell. My cry to the Lord is show me Your glory. I want to see His glory as never before! The God that I serve, the God we sing about and worship - that God - I want to KNOW Him, I want to find Him, I want to SEE Him! Not just to sing, not just to worship - I want to SEE His Face, I want to SEE His power, I want to SEE His Hands! That's been my vision, my dream for 70 years - and I want more! And more!
In the Lord's Prayer we are taught to say, 'Hallowed be Thy Name'. What does that mean? I have never understood until my time in prison for Bible smuggling. But it was as if the Lord said to me, "This is where you worship." But HOW could I in the circumstances I was in? I tried to 'praise' God through clenched teeth. Can you imagine?! I was in rebellion, there was no reality. HOW could I praise God in the depths of hell? Suddenly, as I began to say those words, 'Praise the Lord', it was if the roof of the prison opened. I could hear the angel choirs, I heard the music of Heaven, I sensed the glory of Heaven - something happened in that cell. The glory of God came down! It was as if I was transported into Heaven and the glory of God came on me. I leaped up off that stool and began to run around that cell, singing, shouting, "Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, HOW great Thou art!" The glory of God filled my soul. Never in a church or prayer meeting have I ever experienced the glory of God, the very presence and power of God - as I did in that hell on earth.
When there is a crisis in our lives our only hope is Christ, our only strategy is prayer. You - we - have to get an answer from God! When Jesus was on the earth, people asked Him direct for what they wanted. - We have to do the same, but through prayer. We have to learn again the power and effectiveness of prayer.
What does the Bible say the ministry of Jesus is today? According to the Scripture the ongoing ministry of Jesus is to intercede on your behalf. Right now, Jesus is standing before the Father praying for you by name. Jesus is your personal intercessor. 'Jesus is at the right hand of God making intercession for us' (Romans 8:34). The Scripture also teaches, 'In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness; for when we do not know how to pray as we should,the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches our hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.'
Wrestling with God is a question of learning how to pray. Anyone can 'pray', especially in a crisis. But it takes a real person of faith to get an answer. We must learn to prevail in prayer until the answer comes. In Genesis 32 the Bible days that Jacob wrestled with God all night; at dawn, God turned to Jacob and said, "As a prince you have power with God and with man, and have prevailed!"