BY CLIFTON JONES
I want to express a few important things that everyone should know about: Prayer! This lesson is of such nature that anywhere we start is the right starting place. However, let’s start in the book of Numbers,
chapter 3. Let us highlight some of the components of prayer since there are so many. I know I’ve taught many times on the subject of prayer and the heartbeat of this message is also prayer.
Too many of God’s children are neglecting this wonderful privilege and right to pray. I am completely convinced that ignorance is the principle cause of negligence in the prayer closet.
Too many of God’s children are grossly uninformed and therefore, unlearned about the benefits of prayer. When we realize what prayer entails and entitles us to, what actions are conferred, transmitted and
fastened to us through prayer, it would be an indelible disgrace if we do not seek to learn to pray. Prayer is the guaranteed cure against disgrace. That ought to help us see why prayer was instituted and also see our place in God. No man will hardly leave this world without uttering some form of prayer, “Lord have mercy.” That is a form of prayer. That’s crying out. The Lord knows us, even when we don’t know Him. He still knows us!
I want you to focus on Numbers 3:6.
“Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.”
The word that captured my attention most is the word “NEAR.” Prior to chapter 3, God had claimed every firstborn, animals and people. Then told Moses, “I am getting ready to save you, so tell the Levites that I
want them to come near. Bring them near. “Well what is their responsibility. I want them to minister in the tabernacle. That will be their daily assignment. I want them to be where the spiritual actions are taking place. I want them to focus on My purpose, so bring them near.” Look at verse 12:
“And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine.”
This answers the statement I made earlier about the firstborn of everything. ” But now the Levites are mine! ” Do you not know that a large percentage of people, church people and non-church people do not
know that when God made man in the beginning, He was not just displaying His might and power. But being who He is, and having what He has, knew that all of that would be useless, if there wasn’t someone
to share it with, hallelujah! Someone said, “He could have shared it with the angels.” But sharing it with the angels would have only reached a certain level of appreciation.
“Look at God’s plan, He wants to share Himself with helpless creatures who would unconditionally, whole heartily depend upon Him.”
That ought to bring us to a different level of appreciation and worship.
We notice the main problems that people are having today, not so much that the Devil is taking the advantage of us, as we are allowing ourselves to rely too much on things and not enough on God. We are
allowing to many things to rob us of that total dependency upon Him. We act as though we don’t need God like we once did. Not many are praying for supper now! Few are praying for a ride to town. As a whole we are not praying for a roof over our heads. Many are not praying for an extra blouse or an extra shirt. As blessed as we are today naturally speaking, we almost have to flip a coin to decide which garment we are going to wear. This is the general condition of the average one of us today in the U.S.A.
The multiplying of things has a very subtle way of drawing us away from dependence upon Him. Do you know what the Lord wants? He wants to bring the Levites near. Some who reads these lines have heard me teach on prayer and some have not. But let me tell you this; any number of us will admit that we do not feel the need of a closeness and the dependence upon Him because of the abundance of material things we have
accumulated. Most of us who are working allow our job to drain us to the point we feel too tired to seek Him.
Those who are unemployed are so blessed with govern- mental assistance, not really leaving a lot of room for God.
“Now God you stay right where you are, and if I ever get in a tight, I’ll call you.”
“When things get where I don’t know what to do or can’t handle them you can rest assured that I’ll call you, Lord. But Lord, as long as things are moving along like they are now, I don’t have time to come near.
Give me some breathing room.”
God is telling his people to come near. You see, when we have more than one thing to fall back on, we usually go for the easiest or the things we are most familiar with. Why? Because it is normal to identify with what they are more accustomed to. We are creatures that detest change, especially if it’s a change for the better.
“Leave me alone, I’m going to church so let me be. What more do you want out of me, pastor? I’m coming to church.”
But notice it’s not the pastor, it is the Lord who wants the Levites to come near.
“I don’t just want you in the general vicinity; I want you to come near. I want the Levites to come near.”
When God first made man, if you notice, He placed that man in the garden. He didn’t leave him alone. God went and visited with him. God doesn’t just need things around Him, He needs someone He can
fellowship with. It is an outrage that there are so many of us who have no fellowship with the Lord to His satisfaction since He made Himself known to us.
We can go through the motions, but I’m talking about fellowshipping with the LORD! There are some so out of touch, that they can actually attend church and yet not focus on what God is saying to them. Brother, that’s some nerve or down right presumption, boldness or gall. In spite of that kind of attitude, God is still saying I need someone to fellowship with.
Many times we feel that we know what a word means, but it doesn’t damage to check them every now and then. I took the time to look up the word “relationship.” We hear that word mostly in terms of a marriage. A marriage relationship. You and your mate are having a good relationship. But my question is, “What about God?” What kind of relationship are we having with God?
What about those who have plenty good hours at home each day? Some of us don’t realize what we are doing, but at home we show just what kind of relationship with God we really have. If we have to have noise making devices going for 10 hours during the day, such as the television, VCR, or stereo, we are showing that our relationship with God is unquestionably bad (unfavorable, not sound, dilapidated,
spoiled). Our action is saying, “My relationship with God is so unsound that I’ve got to have some noise around me because I don’t know how to approach His presence.”
Prayer is our line of communication. In other words, I mean fellowship, intercourse between two people. Interchanging of thoughts of interest, a state of giving and receiving communication.
“When we attempt to pray & do not receive any communication from the Lord, I promise you, it will not be long before we drop out.”
You see, prayer is more than, “I told the Lord.” It is even more than, “I ask the Lord.” See the first thing the Lord wants us to do is develop a relationship with Him. Someone has said, “When I go to pray, I pray in my mind.” That’s a bad habit. Don’t make a habit of just praying in your mind. That’s why we were give n mouth. Enter in to His gates with your mind, is that what he said?
Psalm 100:4 “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: he thankful unto him, and bless his name.”
Look at Philippians 4:6, “BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING, BUT IN EVERYTHING BY PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN UNTO GOD.”
Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”
“There is nothing more valuable to our praying than being able to know what the Scriptures say. There is nothing that builds faith like the Word of God.”
In I Kings, Elijah stood and commanded that the heavens be shut up and that there be no rain for three years and six months. Then we read where he came back and commanded the heavens to open. This man of God was not just talking off the top of his head. He was resting on what God said He would do in Deuteronomy where God said, “If you become disobedient I will shut the heavens up that there will be no rain.” All he had to do was get God’s Word and say, God according to Your word let the heavens be shut for three and one half years. He had God’s word.
I often say when teaching on prayer, that all praying people need to be Bible students. We need to know what the Bible is saying. There are so many thousands of promises that belong to us if we will just claim
them. But if we don’t claim them, they are just promises.
When we pray in agreement with the Scriptures, we can rest assure that we are not going to pray amiss. This will deliver us from praying those human monologues. You know, just get a certain tune and ride
that horse everyday. In fact we can have it so together that we can put it on a piece of paper and say, “Lord, when I bow read this! Lord, even when I don’t bow read this! ” Without any hesitation it will seldom vary from this pattern. Since I know You can read, “I’m plastering it on the wall. Now I bow-You read.” But when we can incorporate the Scriptures in our prayers we will get God’s full attention.
Now Elijah didn’t just happen to quote in the book of Deuteronomy, “Heaven shut up.” No he didn’t do that. He stood on what he believed God meant. Jesus went to the grave site of Lazarus and he said,
“Father, I thank you that you always hear me.” How will we know that He is going to hear?
Psalms 34:15 “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.”
Dim-witted children say, “Well I don’t know if the Lord hear me! Well, do you know of any reason He shouldn’t hear? There is no wax in God’s ears. Yes, indeed, He hears without any excitement and without any loud noise. Standing on His word, He will have no problem hearing us.
Our failing to pray is an example of our reminisce to be closer to Him.
“We show our ignorance of the value of God’s presence by our absence from prayer.”
Let me say it again. Nothing shows our ignorance of God’s presence and our unwillingness for His presence like our absence from prayer.
There are people who are so distant, they can’t pray and they don’t even try. You can get them in a prayer meeting and still they won’t try. That’s not my thing, I don’t know Him well enough to talk to Him like He is a real person. That’s the reason I don’t get on my knees and tell the Lord how He heard Paul and how He heard John.
It’s not my business who God heard. I must make sure that He hears me! God was hurt when His servant failed in the garden. He was hurt. Do you know why he was hurt so bad? Because sin came between Him and His creature. Now that sin has come into the picture, my servant will be apprehensive about coming near. He is going to be ashamed to come. He is going to be afraid of me. Now that sin has entered into the
picture. He is going to run. He is going to hide. He is going to get busy. He’s going to let worrying keep him from praying.
Sin broke up a beautiful relationship. Has the question ever invaded your mind, “Did God actually come down into the garden or did he just speak?” I can’t prove anything, but I believe our God came in another
manifestation like He did when He came to help us. Too many of us have not realized that,
“Jesus’ death on Calvary was to reinstate the relationship that was lost in the garden.”
We shouldn’t get caught up in the thrill of our feelings, we should be anchored in the word of God. Jesus has fixed it so we can have a relationship and communion with Almighty God. We are not just out side
any more. We are not strangers anymore. We are not dead anymore. Come alive, we can have fellowship and intercourse with the Almighty. What a fellowship! What a joy divine.
Listen, we all know that Satan is wicked, but he is not a fool. He will use anything he can to break our relationship with the Lord. What makes Satan jealous and angry is when we have an on going relationship
with the Lord.
God, in the book of Deuteronomy 6:10, gives a notice to His people to govern their behavior when they reached the promise land. A word of warning to our young readers; don’t let anyone make you think you have to be old to have a relationship with God. All you have to be is available. He stays ready. His trip to Calvary demonstrates that He wanted to have a relationship with His people so bad that He was willing to die.
Let me say to those who are given to worries, it is one of the greatest robbers of faith that we will meet on this side of heaven.
“Worry Opens The Door For Torment.”
If we ever get worried, fear and torment is sure to attack our minds, then there’s only one prayer we can pray, and that’s “Help Lord!’ Worry, torment, fear-, fear, torment, worry – any way we say it, it equals the same thing. Satan will come to our house since he’s not a fool, but wicked.
When one seeks to have a daily devotional life, he starts the day by reading Scriptures and praying. The devil knows if one keep that up, he will cultivate a relationship with God. And once we develop that
kind of relationship we will delight ourselves in Him and it will raise our spiritual life to a level where the enemy won’t be able to control us. So the Devil has to seek out how to stop us from seeking God. The
Devil will use anything that comes to his wicked mind to put the brakes on us.
One thing he has been successful with is getting us to worry. Another one of his tactics is to get us over-busy. He love to see us working so hard that when we get a chance to read the Bible, we will be too sleepy. He want to see us so sleepy and tired until we can’t even read, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want!” If the devil can’t get us to worry or become over busy in our manual labor, he will then try to get us obligated to things that have no spiritual value; that will automatically stop you.
It is our relationship with the Lord that Satan feels obligated to bring to squeaking halt. It stirs up his deep jealousy when he sees us enjoying what he no longer can enjoy. In his rage he feels he has to stop them.
“I saw someone this morning just thrilled and having fellowship with the Lord. I just can’t stand it.”
Satan isn’t against us going to church, especially if we just come in and sit down, day dreaming, and drifting in mind; that he loves. But he is outraged at anyone who develops a relationship with the Lord.
The Lord called us priests and we are to minister to Him as priests.
“Having a good relationship with Jesus will prevent us from practicing sin. The thing that allows sin to come into our lives, is a break down in our relationship with Jesus.”
If we will maintain a good relationship with Jesus, sin may come near, but it will not take over.
The Devil knows when we are tied up with earthly things. He knows those are the times we are defenseless. How many times have we neglected the reading of God’s word to watch TV? When we start neglecting our spiritual privileges, ungodly things began to enter into our lives. Before we know it, they will have wrapped themselves so tight around us, we’ll actually think they are a part of us. We shouldn’t use our hard working on our jobs as an excuse for not spending time with the Lord. If we keep using our jobs as an excuse, the Lord is well able to fix it so we won’t have one.
Sometimes we say, “I come in and I am so tired.” He can fix it so we won’t have to go out. We can detect a difference when we start neglecting our devotional or time spent with the Lord. When the pressures of life begin to press upon us, first we notice an attitude change. How our tongue almost slipped, notwithstanding, if something isn’t done soon it is going to slip. No doubt, many of my readers can
actually spend more time on the telephone talking to a friend than they can kneeling in the presence of the Lord talking to Him.
A relationship with Jesus Christ promises us life to come, while a earthly relationship is only good for the now and here. What is a relationship? A connection of being related. You see, we are related to the Lord, He breathes into us the breathe of life and man becomes a living soul.
Much different from the other animals, he expects us to communicate with Him. Praying doesn’t stop after arising from our knees, but we should continue our communication through the day. When we think of
the soul, we think if a non material internal thing but truly it is the life of God in our spirit. The soul is the essence of man where decisions are made. God speaks to our spirits. According to Proverbs 20:27, God will reveal in our spirits information or turn the light on inside of us. I’m not saying He can’t use our mind. He allows the thoughts that He is concerned about to lodge in our mind and we find ourselves drawing closer to the things He wants us to accomplish. Through prayer, the Lord is saying, “let’s talk.” If we don’t leave the lines of communication open it will create a big problem.
Nothing complicates a spiritual life like failing to communicate with the Lord. How many hours do we spend in communication with something that won’t help our spirit? The Lord is constantly saying, “Let’s
talk.” The Lord wants you and me to say to Him what our hearts are feeling. He just want us to be genuinely sincere. Anything that is sincere is not full of a mixture or hypocrisy. It’s not full of things you’ll have to separate.
“If prayer was food and you ate like you prayed, would you be fat or skinny?”
If prayer was muscles would you be able to fight with Samson, or bugs bunny and woody woodpecker?
One day in the Airport in Frankfurt, Germany, while listening to everyone speaking unrecognizable languages, I said to my wife, “I wish I could speak several languages.” The amazing thing was some of the
people looked like me, but didn’t talk like me. I sure would have liked to have known what was being said. You know what, the Lord was saying, “All this talking going on, I wish they would learn to talk to me. They talk about how they hurt, but they won’t talk to me!”
If 10 of us from a like background go to a strange place, nine times out of ten we will stick together because we know each other and have more in common. That is the attitude that is often seen in prayer. The none prayer says, “I don’t know Him well enough to hold a long conversation. I’ll just stick with those who I know.” We sing “We need to hear from you.” I believe the Lord could be saying the same thing. When we are praying and communicating with the Lord, He reads not only what we are saying, but He knows our spirit.
Nehemiah declared in chapter I and verse 4, that he entered before the Lord with fasting and prayer and with mourning. Anything we find that will help us draw nearer to God, we need to use it. You see, some
people can serve without hardly moving a muscle, while others need to move every muscle they can. If it does us good we better do it.
“We communicate with the Lord on our level of understanding.’ I
If it help us get closer to the Lord to run 20 times around the church we should not hesitate to do it. Someone might say, “I don’t feel like I’m saved unless I dance before the Lord, if that’s the case, dance
until the heels fall off your shoes. Whatever one must do to stay inspired, please do it. Please do it. Please do it.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM; “INTIMACY WITH GOD” BY CLIFTON JONES, HIS IMAGE PUBLISHERS, 1993, PAGES 11-23. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.